Restaurant tipping in Mexico

How to read your restaurant bill in Mexico

How to read your check and what to watch  for….
A recent discussion about restaurant checks has prompted me to write a blog post, mainly because something came to my attention that I was not aware of, (I’ll get to that below)  Let me first say, you may never encounter a problem or anyone trying to cheat you on your vacation, but it does happen and it never hurts to check your bill to make sure all is correct, I do this at home, don’t you?

  • Let’s start with making sure you are only charged for things you ordered and received, if you’re going to be drinking more than a couple of drinks, I suggests you pay as you go. If you’re spending a day at a beach club and have lunch, but plan to stay  the afternoon and enjoy more drinks, pay your lunch bill and then pay for those drinks  as you go. It’s just easier to keep track that way.

Add the items to make sure the total at the bottom is correct. Most likely if there is an error, it was probably an accident, point it out to your server and have them make the correction. One time, Perry and I pointed this out to a server who had the total 10% more than it should have been and she came right out and said “that’s my tip” That was blatant trying to cheat us, because if we had not added up the total we still would have left our usual 20% tip, so she would have gotten a 30% tip! I believe in tipping generously and always do, but I do not like dishonesty.

Some more common violations according to the consumer protection  agency, Profeco

If you can read Spanish here is the complete list, it’s very long!

  • It is a violation to show all menu items in  only us dollars, prices should be shown in pesos also. Prices also must be written on some kind of menu, not just told to you by the server.
  • If you see IVA or tax with an amount next to it,  it is a Profeco violation . Some of the new computerized receipts will show a tax amount, but it is not added into your total, this is confusing becasue at first glance you think they added tax  but look at your items and total them.

Here is an example of this, it is not a restaurant receipt but it’s the same thing, the IVA 16% is not added in to my total due, but at first glance it looks like I am being charged 23.06 in tax. The 23.06 tax is already figured into my merchandise.

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  • If you see propina, tip, or gratuity with an amount added to your bill, this is a Profeco violation. This is the one I did not know about, I thought as long as they said up front that it is a tip, propina or gratuity it was not illegal, but this is not the case. They are not allowed to add the tip to your bill. I have seen suggested amounts to tip on checks, the amount if you want to leave 10%,15%, or 20%, this is fine, they are suggested amounts.

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The Gratuity of 30 added to this check is a violation according to Profeco

Please tip your servers, their wages are small and most are very hard workers. Also tip a small amount to the people who sack your groceries at a store, they appreciate it!

What if you see any of these things on your check?

Point it out, and say this is a Profeco violation, they will probably correct it right away since they don’t want you to report them to Profeco, businesses are fined for violations and some may even get shut down.   You can also just give them this tip if you prefer.

You can submit a complaint to Profeca here,

Profeco Facebook

I love this app I use on my iphone to know the dollar to peso conversion. No internet or data to use it!





  1. What if it states at the bottom of the menu that IVA is not included?
    What is the IVA in Cancun, 16 or 17% now in 2018?

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