When traveling, it is not unusual to encounter customs and rules about a new place or feel completely confused about what is and isn’t acceptable. Tipping etiquette is a topic that 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 help answer common questions.
In Iceland, tipping isn’t expected in service industries, like in other countries, like the United States. This is because Iceland has unions to ensure employees are fairly compensated, based on industry standards. Granted, those working in industries such as car rental, touring, restaurants, taxis, and other customer-service businesses generally work for a lower hourly wage.
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 somehow, their motive isn’t to get money from you. Instead, it is because Icelanders enjoy taking care of others and being friendly hosts. 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 generally 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 you for a great experience, feel free to chip in.
Is it different for Lavish Restaurants?
The same protocol applies to tipping in high-end restaurants. If you want to show your appreciation for great food or fantastic service, rest assured somebody will value the gesture of extra money.
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, helpful people you’ll encounter. They enjoy helping others and sharing their knowledge of Iceland. Conversely, many of the tour guides and 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 who provides exceptional service, feel free to reward them 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.