Tipping and Taxes

All restaurant bills carry a 10 percent automatic tip so most Tico’s don’t leave an additional tip.  If service has been exceptional (which most times it is) leave another 5 percent, it’s not required or expected but nice if you have received good service. There will also be a 13 percent sales tax added to all restaurant bills, making the final bill 23 percent more than you were expecting.  On many menu’s you will have 2 rows of prices, the first row is before tax and the second is with tax.  Not that you have a choice on whether or not to pay these taxes.

The 13 percent sales tax applies to all goods and services except fees to independent professionals like doctors and lawyers.  The sales tax on airline tickets is only 5 percent.  The sales tax on hotel rooms is the usual 13 percent with an additional tourist tax of 3.9 percent, for a total of 16.9 percent.

You don’t tip taxi drivers but should tip bellboys, hotel maids and tour guides.

For more information on tipping or taxes email us at



There is not a big culture of tipping in Costa Rica, and Ticos rarely do it. A service charge of 10% is usually already included in restaurant bills, as well as the 13% sales tax levied on all goods and services. Most menus have two columns-one for the actual price of the dish, and the another for the price including tax. If service was really great, tip 5% more. As Americans, we usually over do it and try to make sure they get 15-20% tip if we get good service, which the service here is as a rule FABULOUS.