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Stockholm: When (and when not) to tip in Sweden

Posted in: Stockholm

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Swedish kronor. Photo by Steve Lokomotiv.

Traveling from the US to Europe, it’s easy to fall into the same tipping habits you use back home, like handing over 20 percent without even really thinking about it.

The tipping culture throughout Europe varies quite a bit, and Sweden is no different. However, knowing how the tipping culture works can save you some money in Stockholm and beyond, while still keeping you in the good graces of your host nation.

Swedish tipping etiquette

In Sweden, service charges are almost always included in the bill—and keep in mind that the person waiting on your table at the restaurant is making a living wage without your tips. Of course, no one will be insulted if you leave a tip. Or if you don’t leave one, for that matter.

Understanding the bill

Despite the lack of social stigma towards not tipping, receipts tend to give you the choice. If you paid with a card, you’ll receive your bill with the total amount owed, as well as a couple of empty lines, one to fill in the tip, and one to fill in the final total.

Warning: If you are in an upscale restaurant, there might be an extra line to fill in. Don’t. That line is for leaving a tip at the coat check, and unless you are visiting in winter, there tends not to be much coat checking going on.

Tipping for restaurants and taxis

In the US, there are plenty of opportunities to tip. Those same opportunities can be found in Sweden, although, tips are not expected. Haircuts (no tip necessary in Sweden), hotels (no tip necessary in Sweden), bathroom attendants (never even seen one in Stockholm, so definitely no tip necessary), and of course, the two most common tipping opportunities – restaurants and taxis.

There are ways to avoid using taxis (public transportation in Stockholm, for example), but you may find yourself in a situation where you can’t avoid a taxi ride. If you’re traveling with luggage a tip of 10 percent is pretty standard. If you’re traveling without luggage, just round up a few SEK and thank your cab driver.

Tipping at restaurants and bars has been changing recently. It is still completely acceptable to leave no tip or to only round up. A storstark for 48 SEK will become 50 and everyone is happy. However, ask around and you’ll hear that tipping is becoming more and more common. Not gratuitous tipping by any means, but a 5-10 percent tip is considered good form. Especially if you were pleased with the service.

Stockholm is an expensive city to visit and by no means should you feel obligated to leave a tip. Whether it is for the taxi driver or the bartender, tips are not expected. Instead, save your money and grab another storstark or check out just one more museum.

About the author

Marcus Cederstrom

About the author: Marcus Cederström was born in Sweden and moved to the US just before his sixth birthday. After 17 years in the US, Marcus moved back to Sweden. His daily adventures and musings are chronicled in his blog, A Swedish American in Sweden.

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3 Responses to “Stockholm: When (and when not) to tip in Sweden”

Carolina says:

Service is not at all included in most restaurants. Not if you think the waitress will earn anything on your visit. Yes you get a salary as a waitress but it´s so low you can´t live on it. You need the tip to survive. This is something every restaurant owner know so they count on you getting tip when deciding your salary…

You will always remember a good tipper but above all you never forget someone who gave just a few coins (when they had a good time) It is very rude. So don´t be suprised if the waitor spills coffee on you the next time..

James says:

If the staff don’t like the salary then they should get a better job, and don’t expect handout. The service charge is already included in all restaurant bills – their salary. There are many other low-wage jobs that don’t get any tip – why should restaurant staff get any extra for doing their job ? Like I said, if they don’t want to do their job they shouldn’t work. Don’t spread the American begging culture to Europe.

Annette says:

Why should the surgeon get extra for doing their job rather than the nurse?

Because they have earned it.

Being a waiter in Scandinavia is actually considered a carrier, unlike in the states where waiters are often considered lower class or people in between jobs. Educated waiters in scandinavia make a living of middle class people and live comfortably.

Tipping in scandinavia is customary, but it is solely based on performance. If the waiter did a lazy job you shouldn’t tip, but if you had a great time and felt appreciated, you owe the man a tip.
(And not a roundup, an actual tip.)

The term “service included” simply does not mean the same in scandinavia as elsewhere. The basic service is included, but the good servers do more for you than that and should be paid accordingly.

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