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Mexican Tipping Protocol, Mexican Gratuities, & Mexican Culture

Culture &
Reports &

Do's and Don'ts in Mexico


  • DON'T wear shorts if you wish to blend in. Aside from beaches and northern areas, shorts are seldom worn by Mexicans.
  • DO dress nicely for business situations. A suit and tie is fine, and women may also wear conservative dresses. In very hot regions, it's acceptable to wear lighter clothing, but don't wear overly casual clothing, such as t-shirts or flip-flops.
  • DO dress casually for social occasions.
  • DO take off sunglasses and hats if entering a church.


  • DO rest your wrists on the edge of the table while dining.
  • DON'T sit until told where to sit.
  • DON'T begin eating until the host does.
  • DO understand that only men give toasts in Mexican culture.
  • DO indicate that you are finished eating by putting your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs going downwards and the handles facing right.
  • DO leave a little bit of food on your plate when you are done.


  • DON'T give red flowers or marigolds. However, white flowers make a nice gift.
  • DO open a gift upon receipt.

Visting Someone's Home

  • DO be fashionably late! Thirty minutes late is appropriate. Arriving early or even on time is considered rude.
  • DO bring flowers or sweets for your host.


  • DO make an appointment at least two weeks in advance and confirm a week before. Confirm the meeting one last time upon arriving in Mexico.
  • DON'T be late! However, your Mexican business associates may be late. Mexicans have a very relaxed view of time, but as a foreigner, you should make the effort to be on time.
  • DO be patient. Negotiations may proceed slowly.
  • DO have written material translated to Spanish.
  • DO hire an interpreter.
  • DO pick your negotiating team carefully. Have someone on your negotiating team who is an executive but do not include a lawyer.
  • DO expect haggling and prepare accordingly.


  • DO shake hands upon meeting someone.
  • DO follow the lead of who you are greeting. Hugs are often shared among friends, as well as a light kiss on the cheek for women.
  • DO understand that "estupido" is considered a bad word in Mexico, and it means much worse than "stupid."
  • DO say "salud!" when someone sneezes. To not do so is considered rude.

Mexican Tipping Customs

Tipping in Mexico is also similar to the United States. In Mexico a tip is known as una propina in Spanish. It is usually from 10 to 15%.

Meals have a 10% to 15% tip (this includes fast food deliveries). This tip is usually left by most people in restaurants, although it is not so common in street restaurants or stands, where the tenders usually have a can or box where people deposit coins.

In Mexican bars and night clubs it is often seen that they charge directly into the bill the 15% of the total amount (taxes included) which is illegal in most cases because of the imposition of the tip and because they calculate the 15% with taxes included.

In large groups, or in night clubs the barmen expect the customers to deposit their tip in a cup left on the table before serving the drinks. This way, the service they give is in function with the tip they received.

Viene vienes ("Car guards")
It is also customary to give a tip to the person who sometimes guard the car as if they were valet parking; in Mexico these people are often called "viene viene" (literally: "comes, comes") and usually people give them from 3 to 20 Mexican pesos depending on the zone, although viene vienes sometimes ask for bigger sums of money when the car is left close to a night life area.

Retail stores (supermarkets)
In medium and large retail stores such as Wal-Mart there are uniformed helpers, usually children or the elderly, who bag the products just after the clerk has scanned them. This role is called cerillo (Spanish for "match"). It is common for these helpers to not have a base salary, so all the money earned is from the tips people give them. Most customers give from 2 to 5 Mexican pesos depending on the quantity of products. Cerillos also put the bags in the cart and if the load is large they can even help bringing it to the car and unloading the bags; in these cases they normally receive more than 15 pesos.

Tipping is not expected in cabs or buses, except when it is a tour. In some populated Mexican restaurants wandering musicians enter, play, and expect the customers to pay something, although this is voluntary. In filling stations, the workers usually get from 2 to 5 pesos for every gasoline load. In stadiums people give a small tip to the person that shows the place where they should sit. Tips are also given to bell-boys, to barbers and people that work in similar services.

Our Mexican Tipping Recommendations

  • Taxis and Limos: Tipping optional, 10%

  • Airport Shuttles: Not required

  • Hotel Shuttles and Carpark Shuttles: Not required

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