Your guide to tipping in Switzerland

Your guide to tipping in Switzerland

While practically a requirement in other parts of the world, tipping in Switzerland is a little more complex. Here’s all you need to know about whether you need to tip in the alpine nation, where it is customary, and how much you should tip. 

Tipping in Switzerland

Like the rest of the world, tipping is commonplace in Switzerland, especially in the hospitality industry. If you had a delicious meal out or had the time of your life at a resort in a Swiss city or canton, then an extra monetary thank you never goes unappreciated.

The word "tip" itself comes from a 17th-century English slang word meaning "give a gratuity to", alluding to the fact that tips were first given as a thank you and designed to ensure that workers delivered a better service at a higher speed. In Switzerland today, tips are seen as more of a recognition of good service, rather than a payment to guarantee it.

The Swiss are big fans of tipping, with a study by the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich finding that nine in 10 people in German-speaking Switzerland, 82,3 percent of French speakers and 71,4 percent of Ticinese choose to leave a tip when they visit a restaurant.

However, with such a high cost of living and equally high salaries, some may ask whether tipping is entirely necessary in Switzerland. To help you along, here’s all you need to know about tipping in the alpine nation.

Do you tip in Switzerland?

Officially, you are under no obligation to tip at any venue in Switzerland. You are only required to pay the amount stated on your bill, and if you do not want to give a tip, you do not have to.

Unlike some countries - most famously the United States - workers in the Swiss hospitality industry do not have to rely on tips for their livelihood. In fact, restaurants and cafes in Switzerland have been required to pay their employees a full salary since 1974.

However, tipping is still customary in Switzerland as a way of commending a good service or experience. Hospitality staff usually see tipping as a recognition of their efforts, and not tipping can be seen as a sign that you were dissatisfied with their services.

It can also be seen as a way of compensating for their work, as although hospitality workers are paid a full salary, it is often much lower than the average for Switzerland. According to data from Lohnbuch Schweiz, revealed by Moneyland, the median salary of a restaurant employee is between 3.500 and 4.400 francs a month, depending on the region.

Tipping in Zurich

Swiss tipping culture is best illustrated in Zurich, a city that is regularly rated as one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Because of the high cost of living, most staff cannot afford to live in the city itself and instead must commute from other parts of Canton Zurich and even places further afield.

Offering a generous tip is seen as compensation for their efforts and a reward for a job well done.

Where do people tip in Switzerland?

Tipping is common in many different venues in Switzerland:

Tipping in restaurants in Switzerland

As with the rest of the world, tipping in restaurants, bars and cafes is a common practice in Switzerland. The vast majority of venues that offer sit-down meals and drinks will offer the opportunity to tip.

Tipping in hotels in Switzerland 

Tipping is also common and appreciated if staff at a hotel in Switzerland go above and beyond. How this is done varies by hotel, but can include leaving an envelope with money inside on the bed as you check out, leaving the envelope with reception staff, or giving the tip directly to the employee that impressed. Smaller tips given to chauffeurs, reception staff and porters are also routine in luxury hotels.

Tipping Swiss taxi services and take-away deliveries

Despite the cost, many people also tip Swiss taxi services. Especially on journeys made during unsociable hours, people in Switzerland signal their thanks to the driver by giving them a little extra. Tipping Uber drivers is also commonplace.

Finally, perhaps because takeaways are more of a rarity in Switzerland than they are in other European countries, some make an effort to tip food delivery drivers as well.

How much do you tip in Switzerland?

How much you should tip in Switzerland is highly dependent on the situation. If you are paying for a large meal or service that costs over 100 francs, typically the Swiss tip 10 percent. This is a rough calculation and shouldn’t be taken too mathematically - for a bill of 156,40 francs, it is perfectly acceptable to tip 15 or 16 francs instead of 15,64 francs.

If you are paying a small amount (less than 100 francs) it is traditional to round up your bill to the nearest 10. For example, if your bill is 74 francs, then offering to pay 80 is perfectly acceptable (meaning a tip of 6 francs or 8,1 percent). However, if the service offered is not significant, or the bill is low, it is acceptable to either forgo a tip or stick to the 10 percent rule.

Are any tips considered offensive in Switzerland?

While it may sound peculiar to some, there are situations where tipping someone is considered more offensive than not tipping. These moments include when you are giving less than a 5-percent tip, or are offering a tip of less than 1 franc. In these situations, it is best to simply forgo leaving a gratuity.

How to tip in Switzerland

There are many different ways to give a tip in Switzerland:

Tipping by cash

Using cash is a great way to leave a tip. If you use a card to pay, you can then leave a cash tip on the receipt for the server to collect later. You are able to ask for exact change if the amount of cash you leave is too much, but in these cases, etiquette dictates that it is best to just tip by card.

If you are paying for the whole service in cash, and are happy with the amount of tip you’ve put down, when the server comes to collect the bill you can utter the famous Swiss line - Es isch guet so! - and they will thank you and take the money away.

Tipping by card

Practically all bars, restaurants and cafes in Switzerland allow patrons to tip using a bank card. Typically, you tell your server the higher amount you wish to pay while they are inputting the bill into the card terminal. You then pay this higher amount, and the staff calculate how much tip you have left them.

In other cases, patrons are able to add either a specific amount or a percentage tip to their bill using the card terminal itself. Once the total amount of the meal is added, you are then free to input your own value of tip, which is then added to the total you pay. 

Of course, you are not obligated to add a tip once the screen comes up. If the tipping screen comes up and you don’t want to tip, select the correct button to skip. Also, be sure to check the terminal carefully if you are unsure whether there is a tipping screen or not - lest you accidentally promise a four to six-digit pin number as your tip amount!

Where does my tip go?

In Switzerland, there are no specific rules that state that the tip that you added must go directly to your server. Entrepreneurs are under no obligation to give tips to a specific employee unless this is explicitly stated by the tipper.

Each venue has its own method of handling tips. In some cases, the tips are automatically given to the server that received them. In other cases, particularly where card terminals are used for tips, many businesses use a “tip pot” system where gratuities are shared between all the staff working that night.

If you want to know where your tips are going, you are more than welcome to ask your server.

Tips in Switzerland

Now that you’ve got all the top tips for tipping in Switzerland, it’s time to hit the town. En Guete and Zum Wohl! 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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