Tipping in Scotland – ultimate guide to whether you need to or not!

Traveling in a different country can bring a lot of misunderstandings about the culture and etiquette of that place and no more so than around the topic of tipping! Should you tip in restaurants? What about hotels or cafes? The list can seem endless and the last thing you want to do is to offend people!

I’ve grown up in Scotland and visit multiple times as an adult and I’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s appropriate and what’s not in the country – don’t worry, it’s pretty laid back and relaxed, a lot like the Scottish people!

Whether you’re planning a trip to this beautiful country or you’re already here and panicking because you’d not thought to check out the customs in Scotland, this guide should help you for your time here.

Tipping is one bit of etiquette that can confuse so many travelers but it needn’t be so confusing these days with the internet to guide us! Read on for our guide to tipping in Scotland and get the scoop on what to do and what not to do!

A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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tipping in scotland

Guide to Tipping in Scotland

The overall question to answer here is:

Is it customary to tip in Scotland?

As a rule, tipping is not expected anywhere in Scotland although it is often appreciated. Most often the gratuity is offered in return for excellent service and it’s not expected just for providing a standard service.

Scotland provides a good level of minimum wage for people in the service industry so tipping isn’t an expected part of people’s wages. However, especially in the big cities like Edinburgh, living costs can also be extremely high so tips can be very helpful!

Is it polite to tip in Scotland?

Tipping does happen in Scotland so it’s not an unheard of thing, but in general there’s a fairly relaxed air about it all. You will not offend anyone by giving them a tip if you’ve received excellent service!

Similarly if you do not tip when in Scotland it’s not considered rude since it’s not expected at any point.

How much to tip in Scotland?

Although there’s no set amount to tip when in Scotland, a good general rule if you want to tip is around 10-15%. An alternative would be to offer the money in cash and tell the service provider to keep the change if it’s only a couple of pounds.

When to tip in Scotland?

You should tip in Scotland when the service you’ve received is worthy of it and always after the meal or service is completed.

What happens if you don’t tip in Scotland?

Nothing! Scottish people don’t expect tips so people won’t think any less of you or think that you are rude.

Often it’s very easy to not have to tip – your bill will be presented and you just pay! No worries!

Is it unusual to tip in Scotland?

No. Although I’ve said here that it’s not really customary or expected to tip, as it is in the US or Canada, it does happen quite a lot so isn’t considered unusual.

Can you tip dollars in Scotland?

No – dollars, or your own currency, would not be an acceptable tip in Scotland since most people would have no way of being able to change them easily. Always bring plenty of British or Scottish pounds if you think you’ll need to tip in cash.

As there are a few different scenarios that you might encounter when thinking about tipping in Scotland, I’ll now go through some of the more specific situations:

Scotland Tipping Guide – all the scenarios you need!

Tipping taxi drivers in Scotland

It could be your first encounter with a Scottish person when you get in a cab, so what’s the etiquette on tipping taxi drivers in Scotland?

Tips are not expected at any point, but are appreciated. A good rule of thumb is to give 10% of the final fare but often times people will just round up the fare to the nearest pound or bigger number. So if your taxi fare is £17 you might like to offer £20. It’s totally up to you though.

Many taxis will have a card machine so this will take away any option to pay an extra tip (although some machines will have an option to add a tip – I’ve seen this in restaurants). In this case you might like to give a tip in cash so that the driver definitely gets it – some electronic tips might get ‘lost’.

Tipping in hotels in Scotland

If a hotel has a porter or room service then a tip would be appreciated but not expected. A few pounds would be about the right amount.

Cleaning staff are amongst the lowest paid in Scotland (and throughout the UK) so tips are often appreciated by them, although not required. You can leave some money on your furniture or on the bed when you depart your room. A couple of pounds, or up to a £5 note, is a good amount.

Tipping at bed & breakfasts or guest houses

Tips are not usual when staying in small hotels but of course would always be appreciated. You may find that some owners will refuse to take a tip.

If you’d like to leave a tip when you’ve left your room for the cleaning staff (often poorly paid and outsourced by many guest house owners) then you can simply leave some money on the night stand or furniture in the room. A couple of pound coins or a small note (£5) is acceptable

Tipping in restaurants in Scotland

If you’re wondering on what to tip a waiter or waitress when visiting restaurants in Scotland I’ve got you. While tips are not required they are often very much appreciated in the restaurant industry where an average of between 10 -20% is acceptable and the lower end of that being the norm.

Service charges are often included in the prices of Scottish restaurants – if this is the case it will be stated on the menu. If it is included already then you shouldn’t need to tip further, unless you really want to!

Tipping for afternoon tea in Scotland

Like restaurants, many places that offer afternoon tea in Scotland might also factor in a service charge. If this is the case then you won’t need to add any further tips on to the price. Check the menu to see if it’s already been included.

If you do want to offer a tip to your server then 10-15% is a good idea. Again, not expected or compulsory!

Tipping at cafes in Scotland

Cafes generally don’t include service charges in their prices and so tips can be offered if the service is worthy of it – 10% is a good amount.

Sometimes you’ll pay at the start of your meal when you order in a cafe which can make giving tips a little awkward. If this is the case and you want to leave a little something you can always leave some money on the table when you go.

Sometimes smaller cafes will have a ‘tip jar’ where any tips are shared amongst all the workers in the cafe.

Tipping at bars in Scotland

When out for a drink in Scotland you might be wondering if you should tip the barman or woman – the answer is that it’s not necessary but as always will be appreciated by them.

You can round up your bill and tell them to keep the change or offer to buy them a drink.

Like cafes, some bars or pubs in Scotland will have a tip jar where any tips would be put and shared amongst all the workers.

Tipping takeaway drivers in Scotland

Ordering takeout in Scotland? We do some lovely takeaway food in the country and many places will have delivery drivers who will bring your food to you door – so do you tip them?

Tipping delivery drivers in Scotland used to be commonplace and you’d give them slightly more than the bill while telling them to keep the change. Nowadays with the advent of online ordering it makes it a little more awkward to give them a tip but they are still very much welcomed.

If you do order online perhaps have a small amount of change to give the delivery driver especially if they are prompt and courteous with your order!

firth of forth boat tours
Tips on boat tours in Scotland are not necessary, but they’ll also not be refused and will be appreciated if you feel it was worth it!

Tipping tour guides in Scotland

If your trip to Scotland is going to include a tour, perhaps on a boat trip round the Forth Bridges or a walking tour of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile then you might be wondering if you should tip your tour guide.

Tips are never expected on tours, whether it’s a short guide around an attraction or a longer day trip, but will be very much appreciated if offered.

As with many other services, tour guides could be tipped if you feel that they have done a great job for you. Whether that’s making you laugh on a walking tour in the rain or keeping you informed of some of Scotland’s amazing history – the tour guides in Scotland are a class above!

If you’re on a free walking tour then a tip is a great idea (although still not necessarily required) as it may be the only way that that guide makes money.

Tipping golf caddies in Scotland

If you’re heading to play golf in Scotland then you might be wondering about if you need to tip a golf caddy if you hire one for your rounds of golf.

Golf caddies will be paid a fee for their job on the course but tips are a good idea and would be welcomed, especially after carrying your golf bags on a wet, hot, cold (insert any Scottish weather) day for you! A typical tip for a golf caddy would be around £20 – £30.

Tipping hair dressers in Scotland

Are you thinking about going to the hair salon when in Scotland? It’s another area where tipping is often done, even by locals, so what’s customary?

In hair dressers a tip is often around 10% of the final price or you could round up your bill to the next big number. Sometimes hair dressers will only be employed as freelance within a salon so if you’re really pleased with their efforts on your hair you might want to give them their tip directly.

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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?

YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!

Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.

Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?

YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable

I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland

How to book accommodation in Scotland?

For hotels I recommend Booking.com

For apartments and cottages check out VRBO

Will my phone work in Scotland?

Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.

If you need a SIM for use in Scotland I recommend GiffGaff which you can get and set up before traveling.

What to pack for Scotland

Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.

See my post about what to pack for Scotland

Do I need midge spray for Scotland?

YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.

Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!

If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.

What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?

I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks

Where to get flights for Scotland

Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.

Do I need a visa for Scotland?

Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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