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South Africa Tipping Protocol, South Africa Gratuities, & South Africa Culture

Culture &
Reports &

Do's and Don'ts in South Africa


  • DO wear what you normally would wear when in urban parts, but dress nicely. In South African urban cultures, people usually wear typical Western attire.
  • DON'T wear sneakers or shorts unless it's a casual affair, such as a barbecue, taking a walk, or going to the beach.
  • DO wear a suit for formal business meetings, and for less formal meetings men should wear a sports coat without a tie, and women should wear smart, yet casual clothes.


  • DON'T cut bread rolls. Instead, break them into small bite-sized pieces on a side plate.
  • DON'T leave food on your plate when you're done eating.
  • DO cross your knife and fork on your plate to indicate that you are still eating.
  • DO place your knife and fork closely together next to your plate to indicate that you are done eating.
  • DO put your napkin on your lap upon being seated.
  • DO be adaptable with your table manners. Because South Africa is such a diverse country, table manners can vary depending on your dining partners.


  • DO open your gift immediately.
  • DO use either both hands or your right hand to give or receive a present. Don't use your left.
  • DON'T spend more than USD 50.
  • DO give gifts such as cigars, whiskey, wine, a souvenir from your hometown, or flowers. There are no taboos in terms of giving flowers, although carnations are sometimes associated with funerals.
  • DO send a thank you note. Either a handwritten note or an email will do.

Visting Someone's Home

  • DO bring wine or flowers when visiting someone's home.
  • DON'T remove your shoes unless entering a Muslim home.
  • DO expect a meal at a white South African's home to be a poolside barbecue.


  • DO give a gift to your business associates.
  • DO use titles and last names when talking to associates.
  • DON'T rush negotiations.
  • DO schedule meetings two weeks in advance.
  • DON'T use slang or bad language in a business meeting.
  • DON'T be late! In fact, try to arrive to an appointment five minutes early. South Africans are punctual and being late is considered rude.

On Safari

  • DON'T imitate animal sounds, throw objects, or corner a wild animal. You never know how an animal will react, and it could be dangerous.
  • DO listen to the guide. Respect their judgment; they're the expert!
  • DON'T smoke while on a safari.
  • DON'T litter. It's disrespectful and can be dangerous to animals. If you bring something in, take it out with you.
  • DON'T take anything you find while on a safari.
  • DON'T feed animals.
  • DO tip the rangers USD 5-10 per guest each day. In a private vehicle, pay US 10-20 per guest each day. Gifts are also nice in addition to a tip.
  • DO tip other safari staff members (such as valets, butlers, waiters, cleaners) up to USD 5 per guest each day.


  • DON'T sunbathe nude unless you are at a designated nude beach.
  • DO wear a bikini if you're a woman, or a pair of swim trunks if you are a man. Men can wear Speedos if they want, but they might get laughed at!
  • DO be aware of South Africa's racial terminology. Black is the preferred term for those of African ancestry and white is for those of Caucasian ancestry who speak English or Afrikaans.
  • DON'T call Afrikaners "Dutchmen" and don't call Afrikaans "Kitchen Dutch." Afrikaners don't consider themselves Dutch.
  • DON'T touch someone's arm or stand too close to someone.
  • DO keep your hands and arms at your sides when standing or keep them loosely folded on your lap when sitting.
  • DON'T put your hands in your pockets, on your hips, or cross your arms in front of you.
  • DON'T yawn without covering your mouth, bite your nails, spit, chew with your mouth open, audibly sniffle, or pick your nose.
  • DO shake hands upon meeting someone.
  • DO expect women to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek.
  • DO be aware of the phrase "just now", which can mean somewhat soon or possibily in quite a while.

South Africa Tipping Customs

In South Africa, the customary tip at restaurants is 10 percent, although some restaurants charge a mandatory service fee for large parties. A small amount is occasionally given to petrol station attendants for additional services, such as cleaning one's windscreen. Toilet cleaners at service stations along major road routes are sometimes tipped when they provide good service and keep the facilities clean. "Car guards", who claim to "look after" one's parked car are often given a small tip if they are in uniform and authorized; however those without uniforms are usually regarded as a nuisance, and tipping them is not compulsory, despite the fact that they often harass motorists looking for payment.

Our South Africa Tipping Recommendations

  • Taxis and Limos: Tipping recommended, 10%

  • Airport Shuttles: Tipping optional, ZAR 5-10

  • Hotel Shuttles and Carpark Shuttles: Tipping optional, ZAR 2-5

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