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What’s the tipping culture in Denmark you should know about?

Beyond the complexities of tipping etiquette across cultures, tipping in Denmark can just be physically difficult. Here's how to handle it.

What's the tipping culture in Denmark you should know about?
Should you tip at Danish restaurants? Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The short answer 

Tipping in Denmark is certainly not expected, but it’s certainly not frowned upon either. If you’ve received excellent service, you can either round your bill up to the nearest 10 or 100 kroner or aim for 10 percent of your total, which is considered generous.  

One exception, according to several travel websites including Fodor, appears to be hotel porters. These sources recommend tipping them between 1 and 5 kroner per bag. 

Restaurants that cater to tourists, particularly in Copenhagen, seem to be more likely to present opportunities to tip — but you shouldn’t feel pressure to do so. 

READ MORE: What wages can you expect when working in Denmark?

The reasons why, and how tipping can be tricky in practice 

It’s not just that people in the service industry are paid a living wage (they are) and receive universal social benefits from the Danish government (they do) — it’s that cash simply isn’t king in Denmark. 

Over the past twenty or so years, it’s become uncommon to carry cash in Denmark (both the higher-denomination bills or lower-denomination coins) and most transactions are by card or the now-ubiquitous MobilePay app. So while in Spain it’s very easy to leave a few Eurocents on the table if you’ve received exceptional service, it can actually be a challenge to tip in Denmark if you don’t have any pocket change (which you won’t). 

If you do pay by card, it’s very rare to receive a receipt to sign (unless you’re paying with a foreign credit card), meaning there’s no opportunity to fill in the ‘tip’ line item. Some card readers at cafés and restaurants have begun offering an opportunity to tip by percentage, but often the person checking you out will select ‘no tip’ before they even hand it to you to approve the charge. 

READ ALSO: Why is Denmark opposed to an EU minimum wage law? 

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Danish police station spends 56,000 kroner on hotdogs

Danish police departments have spent surprisingly large portions of their budget on sausages and bread, according to a newspaper report in the Nordic country.

Danish police station spends 56,000 kroner on hotdogs

The hotdog with rødpølse (“red sausage”), remoulade relish, pickled cucumber and dried fried onions is a Danish classic and arguably the Scandinavian country’s signature street food.

Although the number of pølsevogne (sausage wagons) in Denmark is declining, they appear to be as popular as ever among the country’s law enforcement.

Records requests by newspaper Jyllands-Posten have revealed some eye-popping expenses for ‘opening parties’ for new local police stations or nærpolitistationer

The newspaper found that the Central and West Zealand Police forked over more than 88,000 kroner for a community party to celebrate the opening of a station in Asnæs — a town with a population of 4,158 in 2022, according to Statistics Denmark. 

From that impressive budget, 56,187 went to the rental of a hotdog van.

The amount covered around 2,000 sausages and hotdogs at 28 kroner a pop, Jørgen Bergen Skov, director of Central and West Zealand police, told Jyllands-Posten in a written comment.

The purpose of the event was to make the local community aware of the new police presence in Asnæs, he said.

Meanwhile, North Jutland police spent a combined 64,966 kroner on opening parties in Aars and Brønderslev. This included 12,515 kroner spent on “sweets and lollipops” for both events and 23,686 kroner on a hotdog truck for the Brønderslev event.

“I am surprised that so much money can be spent on the opening of a local police station when you know how tight the economy is in police districts, where every krone must be accounted for,” Heino Kegel, chairman of the Politiforbundet police union, told Jyllands-Posten with regard to Asnæs’s high tab. 

The reported amount seems to be an outlier compared to other police districts, he also said.

A total of 20 new local police stations have been opened across Denmark, with opening events costing over 10,000 in several cases, the newspaper writes. The new stations were provided for in a 2020 political agreement.

READ ALSO: Are these the most ‘Danish’ things you have ever seen?