Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Ask the Expert

Do I need to leave a tip in Iceland?

By Staff

  • No need to tip You will not offend anyone by not leaving a tip, but many service sector workers do welcome the extra income. Photo/Vísir

The short answer is no: You don't need to tip because workers in service and restaurant industries in Iceland are paid according to sectoral wage agreements which are supposed to guarantee a minimum living wage. At restaurants and bars the wages of the servants, baristas and bartenders are all included in the price. The same applies to taxis and all guided tours.

That does not mean tipping is frowned upon
This does not mean, however, that tipping is banned or frowned upon by Icelanders. Many servants, bartenders and tour guides work for relatively low hourly wages, and tips can be an important addition to their take-home pay. The minimum annual pay for for workers who belong to Eflíng, which includes most restaurant workers, is 28,000 USD/24,000 EUR.  

Read more: Icelanders unsure how to respond to the growing prevalence of tipping

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A tip jar Many restaurants and bars share tips among the staff. Photo/Matt Eliason

Many tour guides and restaurant workers also work long hours at relatively low hourly rates. Some in these industries therefore have started to expect to get tipped. Some restaurants have even started to offer patrons the opportunity to leave a tip when they pay by credit card.

But no Icelander would tip, and no one would expect them to.

Read more: 10 useless Icelandic phrases you should not bother to learn

At many restaurants and bars all tips go to a communal fund which the staff uses to pay for get-togethers. In other cases the tips are shared at the end of the evening by the staff. 

Ok, but if I want to tip: How much?
The amount obviously depends on the situation and the total bill. In cases where the tips go to a communal jar any loose change will do.

Remember that the 1 krona coins are worth roughly 1 penny each while the 100 coins are closer to one dollar/euro.

tipping, small change
Small change Don't hand your guide loose change after a long tour. Photo/Vísir

If you are leaving a personal tip to your server or tour guide leave a banknote. An absolute minimum would be a 500 króna bill, which pays for a cup of coffee. A more generous tip would be one or two 1,000 króna bills. An exceptional guide on a long tour might deserve 5,000 ISK.  

Also, remember that while your server or guide might be able to exchange foreign banknotes, foreign coins are useless in Iceland.

So, to be absolutely clear, you don’t need to tip while travelling in Iceland. But please keep in mind that we are not discouraging tipping. If you want to tip to reward for exceptional service, go ahead, just keep in mind that it’s never an obligation and nobody will be offended if you don't tip.

 

 

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