Tipping and Etiquette in Brazil



Tipping in Brazil is not usually expected or given. In most cases, Brazilian customers will only offer an extra if there was some exceptional, nonstandard service. However, if you are a foreign visitor with a favorable exchange rate and can afford to be generous, the service staff will appreciate it. At almost all restaurants and bars, a common “serviço” charge of 10% is included as a line item at the conclusion of the “conta” or bill. The 10% service charge is not required by law, despite the fact that it may appear to be so. However, most people do pay it unless there’s a compelling reason not to (e.g., an exceptionally poor service or no service at all – at restaurants where you weren’t waited on). Some waiters may complain or react badly if you refuse to pay the 10 percent service fee, even though it is optional.

Tipping at bars, pubs and nightclubs

In Brazil, the term “bar” does not refer to a club or an indoor facility with music. It is rather used to refer to restaurants where people typically order starters and drinks and are generally accessible to the public, with no bouncers or other security measures. To put it another way, a bar is a type of informal restaurant. Bars typically do not handle cash. You request your bill from the bartender in a bar or restaurant, and he delivers a total (usually including complete information). You choose how you’ll pay and then hand over the money, check, or card. The waiter or bartender will bring a card reader machine to swipe the card in front of the customer since most cards in Brazil are chip cards.

In Brazil, American-style interior bars are often referred as “pubs,” whereas Brazilian versions of the word “boite” (boate) or “balada” (São Paulo) are used. Clients are carded at pubs and nightclubs, and they are generally given a card or a piece of paper on which their orders will be recorded by a bouncer or hostess. When a customer leaves, the card or paper must be handed in at a cash register inside the business, where he or she will pay his or her bill and a 10% service fee may be added to the final amount. As a result, bartenders aren’t paid in cash and tipping them isn’t widespread.

Cab drivers: to tip or not?

Make sure you understand the differences between a regular cab and a radio taxi. Radio taxis exist in major Brazilian cities and have set fares determined by the destination. As a result, radio taxi drivers do not utilize taximeters. Regular cabs are those that use taximeters to travel around town. They’re generally an alternative at airports since they wait outside the arrival terminal, lined up, ready for clients to arrive. In Rio de Janeiro, radio taxis must be booked inside the terminal; whereas normal cabs must wait outside of it, line up, and wait for customers to come.

No other tip is required or expected. A taxi from the airport may charge a R$3 per case surcharge in addition to the fare. This is supposed to happen on rare occasions, and they have the right to demand it. However, if they apply this fee, they should definitely take your luggage out of the car for you. There are also specialty or radio taxis available. These tend to offer fixed prices for trips without using a taxi meter. Because you’re already paying a higher rate for these cars, tipping isn’t necessary.

Tipping at hotels 

If the bellhop takes your luggage to/from your room, give them a gratuity. A token amount (R$5 to R$10) is acceptable in this case. For exceptional service, the chamber maid should be rewarded (about R$5 per day).

Tipping beach vendors

Tip the person who rents you a chair and umbrella at the beach, serves your meals, and keeps an eye on you throughout your beach visits. The next time he sees you, he’ll remember you with greater care. In Rio de Janeiro, beach umbrellas and chairs are often rented by vendors for a set price, so double-check what price you’re paying before renting them.

Tipping organized tours 

Organized excursions (particularly boat trips) usually pass the hat at the conclusion of the trip, asking for a tip. It is up to each member how much and if they want to give to the crew.


The typical greeting between friends and strangers is a kiss on the cheek. Kisses on the cheek are customary among women and males when they first meet. Men shake hands or give a light backslap as a greeting to each other. Unless they are related or have known one another for a long time, men don’t usually embrace frontal-frontal hugs aren’t common between guys unless they’re close pals

Brazilians are quick to make friends, but they can be easily hurt by genuine viewpoints. It’s unusual to bring polemical arguments or opinions that could be offensive to one of the participants in a discussion. Brazilians, on the other hand, prefer to discuss specific issues with great care. Nonetheless, while many Brazilians dislike their own nation, foreign tourists should avoid criticizing Brazil to locals and should also avoid discussing contentious domestic issues in an acerbic tone (e.g., racial relations, social conditions).

When hosting someone, it is polite to open the door for them as they depart your home. In Brazil, the “OK” sign formed with a hand that is otherwise common in the United States is an obscene sign and should not be produced. Brazilians are notorious for being late, and meeting friends is considered acceptable if you are up to 15 minutes late. It’s fine to be a little late in certain areas of the country; however, overall it’s best to arrive on time. E-mails unanswered, Facebook or SMS messages may be interpreted as disinterest and might anger Brazilians.

Author: Kate Desserie Salvador

Kate loves to travel and write. She has been to many different places and has seen and experienced a lot of different things. This has given her a lot of material to write about, and she enjoys sharing her stories with others. She hopes to continue traveling and writing for many years to come.

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