Tipping Etiquette for International Media Productions

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Awareness about the tipping customs in foreign locales can come in handy, especially when you’re filming or shooting in locations around the world and don’t want to blow your budget on unnecessary expenses.

If you were filming a commercial in Australia, the last thing you want is to leave a generous tip for the taxi driver when it’s customary to just have them “keep the change.” And if you’re heading out to lunch at an elite city restaurant after your photoshoot in Tokyo, don’t even think about tipping because it is perceived as an insult in Japan. When your media project takes you to England you don’t want to forget to tip the hotel porter who brings your bags up £1 – £2. He or she will be expecting it.

While it’s difficult to cover the tipping etiquette of all countries in a single post, here are some we think you’ll find useful when budgeting for your international film production, media project or photoshoot.

South America

Argentina doesn’t have a standard tip percentage; in fact, it’s okay even if you don’t tip. After suffering an economic depression – lasting from 1998 to 2002 – Argentinians are more careful about their money and don’t expect to be tipped or receive tips. It is however customary to part with the change on a small amount at a restaurant or hotel. In another South American country, Brazil, a 10% tip for taxis and dining is the norm so to speak, though some may also tip higher.

Middle East

In Dubai, a 10 per cent service charge is added to hotel, restaurant and bar bills. Tips may go to the waiter who served you or be divided among service staff. If you wish, you can show your appreciation with a couple of dirhams, each being equivalent to a quarter. Porters and valets are used to getting about 10 dirhams in tips while cab drivers expect to keep change on smaller amounts. In Qatar and Saudi Arabia, you can leave anywhere between a 10 and 20 per cent tip at restaurants, and reserve $10 per day for drivers and guides.


If your work takes you to Spain, keep in mind that tipping is not customary but appreciated. A 10% tip in restaurants is just about fine. The same goes for restaurants and cafes in Turkey, though you have to pay as soon as you’re served in pubs, snack bars and tea houses, and tips can be dropped into tip boxes beside the counter. In Romania, anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent will do, but there are many places that expect to receive tips in exchange for service rendered. These include bakeries, post offices, hairdressers and customs. France, England and Germany follow a 5-10 per cent tipping etiquette.

Knowing how to budget appropriately for your production or event location will save you money, stress and hassle. Keep these ‘tips’ in mind next time you take off to an exotic locale for your corporate event, fashion shoot or media production.