Tipping Etiquette in Iceland

8 Nov 2019

Tipping Etiquette in Iceland

When traveling, it is not unusual to encounter customs and rules about a new place, or even feel completely confused on what is and isn’t acceptable. Tipping etiquette is a topic that definitely falls into this category.

When it comes to tipping in Iceland, the myths and stories floating around are sometimes astounding. From travelers expressing their desire to tip, but skip it because they’ve heard it is either illegal or offensive, to being confused about how much to tip. The following information should to help answer common questions.

In Iceland, tipping isn’t expected in service industries, as it is in other countries, like the United States. This is because Iceland has unions in place to ensure employees are fairly compensated, based on industry standards. Granted, those working in industries such as car rental, touring, restaurant, taxi, and other customer-service businesses generally work for a lower hourly wage.

Should You Tip?

Tipping employees in Iceland is not expected, but it is very much appreciated. Likewise, if an individual offers to give you a free tour of an area, or helps you out in some way, their motive isn’t to get money from you. Rather, it is because Icelanders enjoy taking care of others and being cordial. If you feel inclined to tip, pay for gas, or buy them a meal, go for it!

Why are there Tipping Jars in Fast Food and Café Venues?

Perhaps you’ve noticed tipping jars near the registers at small bars, fast food restaurants, or cafés. The money donated to these jars is used to fund employee social gatherings, as a way for staff to have fun together outside of work. Don’t feel pressured to donate, but if you want to give any spare coins or say thank for a great experience, feel free to chip in.

Is it Different for Lavish Restaurants?

The same protocol applies for tipping in high-end restaurants. If you have the desire to show your appreciation for great food, or fantastic service, rest assured the kind gesture of extra money will be valued.

Tipping Etiquette for Tour Guides and Car Services

As previously mentioned, anyone working in a service industry is likely making lower-end wages, yet these individuals are also some of the friendliest, selfless people you’ll encounter. They enjoy helping others and sharing their knowledge of Iceland. Conversely, many of the tour guides as well as car shuttling and rental services work privately or have more flexibility in their schedules. This often results in customers receiving a more personalized, in-depth experience. If you happen to connect with someone that provides exceptional service, feel free to reward him or her with a monetary gift. You might just make their day.

Bottom line, tipping is not expected in Iceland, nor is it rude, or discouraged. Feel free to ask, or simply do what makes you feel good.

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