Tipping in Costa Rica: A Guide to Expressing Your Gratitude

Tipping in Costa Rica is not mandatory but a gesture of gratitude for exceptional service. In this guide, we will explore the tipping practices in Costa Rica, including the required 10% gratuity and other accepted tipping amounts.


Mandatory 10% Gratuity In Costa Rica

Restaurants and cafes add a 10% service charge to the bill, which is compulsory. This means that you are not obligated to tip, but you may choose to do so if you feel that the service and food quality are exceptional.

The 10% service charge was previously kept by the restaurant owners, which resulted in employees being ripped off. However, new laws are now in effect to prevent this practice. As a result, the 10% gratuity now goes to the employees, making it a fair and just system.


Accepted Tipping Amounts

While the 10% gratuity is mandatory, it is always appreciated to tip additional amounts for exceptional service. Here are some accepted tipping amounts for various occupations in Costa Rica:

  • Adventure Guides: up to $5 USD for a large group, up to $10 USD for a smaller group
  • Bartenders/Waitresses: 5% – 15%
  • Bellhops: up to $5 USD
  • Housekeeping: $5 USD to $10 USD per night
  • Instructors: up to $10 USD for a large group, up to $20 USD for individuals or couples
  • Restaurants: 5% to 10%
  • Shuttle Drivers: $2 USD to $5 USD
  • Grocery bag helpers who take your groceries to the car: $1 USD to $2 USD


When you need specialized direct assistance, the tip should generally be higher. Remember that these amounts are on an immediate basis, but you may choose to tip more or less depending on your experience.


Tip Jars or Boxes

There is more flexibility with tip jars or boxes, but you should still aim to tip the minimum amount for good service as expected by their profession. The tipping percentage may be smaller than expected in North America, but that is because of the 10% “tax” added in Costa Rica, which lets you tip less out of pocket.


Calculating Your Tip When you pay for your meal in Costa Rica

You are paying the price of the food, the 13% sales tax, and the mandatory 10% gratuity or “service tax” before you get to the tip. To simplify the calculation, add 10% of the total to the bill. For example, if you pay $8 USD for a hamburger and $2 USD for a drink, that’s $10 USD total for the meal. Plus, $1 USD for the 10% gratuity “tax” and $1.30 USD for the 13% sales tax. That is $12.30 USD before you get to the tip. If you tip 10%, you’d add another $1.23 USD.



Tipping in Costa Rica is not mandatory, but showing appreciation for exceptional service is a nice gesture. The 10% gratuity is compulsory, but you may tip additional amounts for good service. Remember to carry cash in small denominations and calculate your tip by adding 10% to the total bill. By following these guidelines, you can express your gratitude and contribute to fair tipping practices in Costa Rica.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions

Is tipping mandatory in Costa Rica?

Tipping is not mandatory in Costa Rica, but a 10% service charge is t to the bill.

Can I tip in addition to the 10% service charge?

Yes, you can tip in addition to the 10% service charge if you have an exceptional dining experience.

Is Costa Rica accustomed to tipping?

No, Costa Ricans are not accustomed to tipping, as the 10% gratuity is already included in the bill.

How much should I tip adventure guides in Costa Rica?

You can tip adventure guides for up to $5 USD for a large group and up to $10 SD for a smaller group.

How much should I tip bartenders and servers in Costa Rica?

You can tip bartenders and servers 5% to 15%serversll.

Should I tip shuttle drivers in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can tip shuttle drivers from $2 USD to $5 USD.

Should I carry cash for tipping in Costa Rica?

Yes, it’s recommended to carry cash in small denominations for tipping in Costa Rica.

What’s the total amount I should expect to pay for a meal in Costa Rica?

You should expect to pay the price of the food, plus a 10% gratuity, plus a 13% sales tax, before adding your tip.



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