Tipping in Israel: when and how much?

Tipping in IsraelOne of the most awkward scenarios you can find yourself on any vacation is worrying about whether or not you need to leave a tip…

In Israel things are no more obvious, so we’ve decided to write up a few tips (no pun intended!) to help you on your travels around the Holy Land.

The first point to remember is that tipping is always at your discretion. If you do chose to give a tip, the common rate in restaurants is to tip between 10% to 15%. While a tip of 15% to 20% is generally considered to be a very generous tip, we’d recommend it, especially if you’ve received excellent service. Just so you know, a lot of the staff at restaurants rely on tips to boost their low wages; some will deserve a bigger tip, some not. Having some extra cash is always handy for a tip, though many restaurants now let you add the tip on your credit card (though some restaurant staff complain that they never see these tips…).

Tipping is also common in bars. Similar to restaurants, tipping bartenders 10% to 15% is the common range whilst tipping above 15% is considered to be a generous tip and best reserved for outstanding service. Though if you sit at the bar and all the barman is doing is handing over your drink, some argue that you don’t need to leave a tip.

Unlike in many other countries, it is not common to tip hotel staff. Equally, and perhaps surprisingly, it is not standard to tip taxi drivers. Also, if you are going on a tour, again, it is not common to tip your tour guide.

Giving 5-10 shekels is usual for food deliveries, including pizzas and grocery home deliveries. When it comes to more domestic matters, tips are  usually paid to removal companies (depending on how many guys are doing the moving, but you might have to pay some 200 shekels between the lot of them) but not to handymen.

Another area where you might expect to tip but where it is not common to do so in Israel is hairdressers. Although if you are being washed or cut by someone who doesn’t own the salon, you should probably tip a few shekels.

Lastly: don’t stress too much about tipping. If you feel the service you’ve received deserves it, then give!

More: Read our FAQ and other Travel Tips for more great tips!

9 Comments

  1. Sara

    December 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Just a note about tipping tour guides: If you take a free tour, such as free walking tours around the Old City of Jerusalem, the guides get paid _only_ by tips. So if you enjoy your tour, be sure to let them know!

  2. Jenni

    December 12, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I take exception to a number of issues that you write.
    It is EXTREMELY common to tip a tour guide, in fact if you enjoy their tour you should do so. Site guides make very poor salaries and rely on tips. Licensed guides make a government set rate but you should feel free to tip him or her. Also if you stop to eat it is customary to offer to pay for their meal.
    Hairdressers also, especially trainees, earn very little. The rule is that you don’t tip the owner of the salon but you do tip employees.
    A 20% tip at a restaurant is beyond extremely generous. However, something that is unique to Israel which you don’t mention at all is that it is considered good manners to tip your server at a simcha hall. If you attend a wedding or Bar Mitzvah at a hall and the service is good each person should leave 10 NIS on the table. This is unheard of abroad but is the local custom in Israel and should be observed. (Many Olim are unaware of this and often cause offense by not doing so).
    By all means if a service is terrible or you were not happy with a service then don’t leave a tip.

    • Ashley

      December 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks Jenni, some good points!
      Although I’ve been here 20 years and never seen anyone leave 10 shekels for their wedding server… I’ve seen dominant family members stuff a few notes in to the hands of the server, but never seen individual guests put down 10 shekels.

      • Anonymous

        August 17, 2014 at 11:47 am

        Well, I’ve been here 35 years and she’s right. It is what’s done.
        It is also Absolutely! expected to tip Tour Guides, and v. generously so if he or she made your trip extra special.
        Why would you say it is not done?
        Hotel chambermaids and waiter’s in hotel buffet dining halls also
        appreciate a gratuity. At wedding halls tips are often collected by one of the guests at your table and handed directly to the table’s waiter, usually a student. (Though it is not required to tip, like at a restaurant, it is the proper ettiquette).

    • Anonymous

      April 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Always tip guides always tip chambermaids

  3. David R.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    An old edition of Lonely Planet that I used when I was in Israel said something like: “It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers in Israel; they are happy just to rip you off fair and square.”

  4. Stav

    December 18, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I am Israeli and some of this is wrong – it is DEFINITELY customary to to tip hair salon employees (those who wash your hair or give you a manicure, not the owner). Something around 5-10 NIS would be okay, but definitely not less.

    Also, the vast majority of restaurants and cafes still can’t add the tip on a credit card. Tourists will sometimes write on the bill to add a tip; this can’t be done. As a rule with very few exceptions, tips can only be cash.

  5. Loukas

    May 15, 2017 at 7:37 am

    I am at israel right now and they almost forced you everywhere to gibe tips. This is a very bad country.everybody tries to rob you.

    • Ashley

      May 15, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Sorry to hear of your experience Loukas – do you have any specific encounters you can share?

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