In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from the wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades.

The questions `when?` and `how much?` that surround tipping can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies. This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.

Tipping is part of the culture in Israel and similar to the Western world. The amount you tip is at your discretion, the common amounts to tip in restaurants and hotel are generally the same percentages as in America between 10, 15 or 20%. Wait staff tends to make little in wages and tips are a part of their livelihood. It is also better to receive cash for tips as the amounts added to credit card bills usually don`t make it to the wait staff.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use New Israel Shekel?

The official currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). US Dollars are not accepted. You will need to exchange your dollars for Shekel upon arrival; there are ATM machines inside the arrivals hall at the airport. You can also exchange your money at the local banks and some hotels.

Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?

In restaurants leaving a tip of 10, 15 or 20% of the total bill is pretty typical, with 20% being a very generous tip for outstanding service. The best way to tip your wait staff is with cash as the amounts left on credit cards bills rarely make it to your server.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

Hotel staff in Israel will appreciate any tips they receive for their service. Normally tipping the bellman 5NIS per bag is standard and leaving the housekeeper with around 5-10NIS per day is reasonable. If you utilize the concierge at your hotel, leaving them with a few shekels for their service would be appreciated, and if you plan on ordering room service you should tip around 5% - 10% of the bill. Always check your bills to make sure a service charge was not previously added.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Tipping taxi drivers in Israel is not a common practice and generally, drivers do not expect to receive tips. The locals do not normally tip taxi drivers so if you were to leave a few extra shekels they would be very pleased, you can also round up to the nearest shekel and have them keep the change.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

Tipping your tour guides in Israel is very common and the amounts usually depend on if the guide is self-employed or employed by a company. For example, if you take a tour with a self-employed guide then normally they automatically include an amount for gratuity in the total cost of your tour. Always double check your bill and if not included then be prepared to leave a tip of around 15%. If the guide is employed by a large company then a tip of around 15% should be given to the guide and around 120-150 shekels for the driver.

Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?

Leaving a tip at spa`s in Israel is not a common practice. However, if you are happy with the service then you are free to leave the therapist a tip at your discretion.

Final Thoughts:

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. This is also true for hotel staff, however, if you should encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.

When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.