Tipping in Belize

Belize's San Pedro Lobsterfest

I have created this guide to tipping in Belize to clear any speculations and hopefully offer some insight. Knowing when, what or who to tip is easy for a few but for others it’s hard, especially when travelling. Because let’s face it, when you travel you’re distracted – you want to be fair but you aren’t sure what’s locally acceptable, and to make matters worst, the exchange rate may be a bit dodgy. I hope my simple guide helps you out.

First let me start off by saying that I am biased to tipping, I worked in the service industry for several years so I will always tip, even if the service is bad. But of course tipping is up to your discretion and not mandatory.

Who expects a tip

Most individuals who offer you a service at hotels and restaurants expect a tip. They are giving you a customized experience and to be honest, they aren’t being paid much. Yes that’s not your problem but don’t tell me you didn’t know the same goes for the local server at your favourite neighbourhood deli? If they were paid more, more than likely you would pay double for the service you’re receiving.

Tour guides also fall under this classification.

Who doesn’t expect a tip

Cab drivers, street-food and art and craft vendors don’t expect to be tipped. Contrary to the USA or Canada, cabbies work for themselves and make a decent living. Only if you want to keep a reliable taxi around, I recommend you tip them – they will quickly go from ordinary driver to chauffeur.

What percentage is ok?

I say 10 to 15 percent is average and 20 is for exceptional service . Here in Toronto I usually tip 10 percent for bad service, 18 for good service and 20 – 25 for excellent.

You do not want to tip

That is ok, don’t tip, it is not mandatory. It is just a nice thing you can do for an individual. In Belize, it allows fathers to send their kids to school, it allows mothers to buy their daughter’s Quinceañera dress, and it allows teenagers to pay for college (I’m talking about me). Minimum wage is $2.50, your beer costs $5.00…whoa that sucks, right?

Best ways of tipping

Cash is king. Period. But if you only can tip with a credit card, it is ok. The reason cash is better is because credit card companies charge a fee and some of the gratuity money will be taken away. There is also the occasion that the hotel/ restaurant will rip off the employees and keep the money. Yes it is a thing.