Tipping Advice for Mexico

Manglar Pizzeria in Tulum, Mexico (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Tipping etiquette can vary quite a bit from country to country. I was recently reminded of this fact during our recent trip to Italy, a country where it is not customary to leave a tip at a restaurant.

That trip inspired me to do a post to provide visitors to Mexico with a bit of guidance when it comes to tipping.

Restaurants/ Bars

It is customary to tip 10% at restaurants and bars. Of course, you can tip more if you feel it is warranted. Linda and I typically tip between 15-20%.

Service Fee Added to the Bill

Some establishments will include a service fee or tip (propina) of 10-20% on the bill. Although this practice is illegal in Mexico, it is still common in tourist areas where the majority of the customers are unfamiliar with Mexican consumer laws.

The government agency that investigates and enforces consumer law violations is called Procuraduría Federal de Consumidor, or PROFECO for short.

PROFECO takes the matter of adding the tip to the bill pretty seriously and has created numerous public service announcements encouraging people to report businesses that do it.

Advisory issued by PROFECO

If you do see a service charge or tip added to the bill, you can handle it a couple of ways:

1) you can request that it be removed, or

2) you can just pay it and not leave an additional tip.

What I typically do is ask the business remove the illegal charge and then tip the server directly. That way I know for sure that they’re getting the money.


It is not customary to tip a taxi unless the driver provided you with some additional level of service such as helping you carry your groceries into your house or waiting for you while you shopped.

Private Transportation Services

If you book a private transportation company to drive you to or from the airport, it is customary to tip the driver. The amount of the tip will depend on the distance traveled but a good rule of thumb is around 10%.

All-Inclusive Resorts

Many all-inclusive resorts will advertise that the tips are already included. In spite of that, we always tip because we know how little the employees get paid and how hard they work.

If you would like to learn more about this, check out Tipping at All-Inclusive Resorts.

Gas Stations

All of the gas stations in Mexico are full service, meaning that the attendant will pump the gas. It is customary to tip 5-10 pesos if the attendant provides some additional service such as cleaning the windows or checking the pressure in the tires.

Grocery Stores

The majority of the baggers are unpaid volunteers and work strictly for tips. it is customary to tip 2-5 pesos per bag.

If you would like to learn more about this, check out Mexico: Why You Should Always Tip Your Bagger.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Tipping is certainly the norm in Mexico and this article does not cover every possible tipping opportunity. While visiting Mexico, feel free to tip often and well. The hard-working people that you meet will certainly appreciate it.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

26 Comments on "Tipping Advice for Mexico"

  1. Kristia Snider | February 25, 2018 at 1:36 pm |

    We ran into this a few weeks ago in Playa. Horrible service, overpriced, and not that good. They added the tip to the bill. We paid it but left nothing extra. Will never eat thete again. Every other restaurant we went to was wonderful, great service and we tipped at least 20%.

  2. Tipping is a personal decision, and the amount mostly depends on the situation and experience. With that in mind, it is important to base it upon where you are, and how much the employees get paid. In Mexico, the pay is very low.

  3. Thanks for this informative post about tipping. Your comment about tipping the server directly is relevant: we’ve lived on the “left coast” of Mexico for 12 years full time, and have experienced something that surprised us. In most restaurants, the tips are pooled together and divided among all the servers, even the kitchen staff in some cases. And we know of circumstances where the owner also takes a cut – as much as 50%. Not sure if it is always practical or possible to tip the server directly, but this is something to be aware of.

  4. I was reminded of this old joke by my Canadian condo mates:
    The difference between Canadians and canoes…..
    Sometimes canoes tip!

    (It would probably be told with Americans and canoes, too, but the alliteration is lost!)

  5. Thanks, Paul – we moved from Portland Oregon to Mazatlan 5 months ago and your blog has been an incomparable source of very helpful information and advice. This column on tipping is no exception – I am pleased to be tipping the baggers sufficiently in the grocery store and now I know better than to tip the cab and pulmonia drivers too much.

  6. Suzanne Warner | February 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm |

    Even though we are by no means wealthy, we always consider how much less, the hardworking Mexicans have. We always take extra cash just for tipping, even the janitors sweeping walkways at the resort. P.S. We are from the US.

  7. The Warners are on the right track. The hard
    working people of Mexico are big hearted and hospitable. The economy is tough. It seems very easy for me , and American, to tip more since my country’s currency
    Is worth seven to ten pesos more per dollar than
    just a couple three years ago.

  8. We are Canadians living in Ajijic, on Lake Chapala. Your blog is appreciated. Many of our friends here are also Canadians and all are generous tippers, unlike many Americans here. The old stereotype may not hold true.

  9. Hi Paul
    My wife and I are planning to move in Los Cabos in a year +/-, we are fans of your blog… thanks for doing it, it is very helpfull.

  10. Thanks for this informative post. i would like to point out that at some restaurants if a server is “caught” taking a tip directly they may be fired. This has happened to several waiters I know. So before I give a tip directly I ask if it is okay.

  11. My family had a bad experience with tipping in 2017 in the Cancun area. Their were 8 of us and after a wonderful meal we left what we though was a nice tip. I believe it was 200 pesos. After paying our bill and giving the server his tip, he came back with the bill (by that time I was the only one still seated at the table) and tip and said that the tip wasn’t enough. I was speechless, not knowing what to say I gave him more pesos (I can’t remember how much more). That sure left a sour taste in my mouth, for my whole family. Thinking back on it I wish I would of taken what tip we had left and walked out without leaving him a tip at all.

    • What a bummer. I’m glad you didn’t take back your original tip even though that would have been my initial reaction too. I can picture my Mexican friends in a similar situation (which of course wouldn’t have happened), just giving the server an incredulous look and walking out without saying anything or giving a bigger tip.

    • That would definitely keep me from ever going back there.

  12. Bear in mind that the price before tip already includes IVA of 16%. So a tip of 15% is generous. Maybe more for breakfast.

  13. Thanks for the info regarding tips especially 10% in restaurants. I’ve read some ugly exchanges on a couple of expat FB sites when we foreigners try to impose our social norms here in Mexico, that is tipping 15 to 20%. Mexicans do not tip that much, period. They’ll tip up to 10%. Of course there are always exceptions but if the majority of Mexicans tip 10% or less that is the norm. Overtipping, if that’s what you want to call it, is of course everybody’s prerogative but it’s not as harmless as it seems. If an American or Canadian overtips in their home country the server thanks their good fortune and that’s the end of it. However, when an American or Canadian “overtips” in Mexico a feeling of animosity is created between Mexican servers and their own countryman/woman. My daughter and son-in-law, both native born Mexicans are both servers and the info what I’ve shared above comes as much from them as my personal experiences. They both state, and say their fellow servers agree, they’d rather serve Americans (they make no distinction between the US or Canada) because of the anticipation of a larger tip. To me it’s a bit sad when people don’t want to serve their own countrymen/women (who are doing things that are normal in their culture) because the of actions of outsiders/us. (A similar situation happens when Americans/Canadians “over pay” their domestic help.) When we go out to eat as a group (I’m the only one that’s not Mexican) I ask what I owe when the bill comes and leave the tipping to them. I do agree with the person above that says, if possible give the tip directly to the server. I always tip cash even if I pay with a credit card.

  14. Your blog was posted on a FB page for a 5 star all inclusive in Mexico where there was a debate going regarding tipping. Seems many from the UK do not tip restaurant and bar servers so find it odd to tip when on vacation. I am Canadian and we always tip at an all inclusive, and tip very well. For a 10 day stay we will tip out a minimum of $500CDN and one year spent $1000CDN in tips alone. I know how hard the employees work and for very little pay. Our breakfast buffet server at a resort last year worked 6am-2pm at one resort then caught a bus to work 3pm-11pm at a different job. He then had a very long bus ride home to try and catch a few hours sleep only to get up and do it all over again….and he was the nicest guy, always friendly and smiling! He got 2 days off per month. We have never had poor service at a resort in Mexico, everyone is always friendly, smiling and goes above an beyond to make our vacation amazing…so we show our appreciation for their hard work by tipping and are happy to do it!

  15. Here in Baja Sur, the wild west if you will, tipping has been an on going issue. 15 years ago there was no such thing and tipping was not expected. For instance, after many gringos started tipping ( me included), the next year was much more expensive for a meal, and the next year, the same. After befriending some locals I learned the prices went up because “they” all felt we could and wanted to pay more. So I guess we enabled their human instinct. Cant blame that on the locals at all. It was what we created. Now the funny thing is we are paying double what we should and are still tipping.

    Now in a different position as I am married with an educated Mexican woman, I just do the smart thing and leave it up to her. 10 to 15 is normal unless awful service or if someone expects more then it rapidly becomes nada

  16. John and wife Ari | February 28, 2018 at 8:45 pm |

    Maybe not the place to through mud but after reading some posts here about Canadians vs Americans and who tips more….we will say the most “codo” (cheap) people here are the “nooks” hands down and by far!

  17. I am wondering if you are supposed to tip the barber or not. I realize that you may not be the person to ask 🙂

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 8, 2018 at 8:56 am |

      Interesting question. I’ve never been to a barber in Mexico; however, Linda does tip her hairdresser (is that even the term anymore?)

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