Are Restaurant Surcharges Mandatory?

December 8, 2006

I have lived in Costa Rica for almost 12 years and have always assumed that restaurant tips (10% servicio) and taxes (13% impuesto de venta) are included on all menu prices and bills. But I am not sure whether this is in fact the law or just general practice. In recent years I have seen a number of restaurants, mostly in beach towns, say tips are not included in the price. Three guidebooks I checked, including The Tico Times’ Exploring Costa Rica, say tips and taxes are always included but don’t say whether it’s legally required. Could you clarify whether this is the law?

Richard Tandlich

San Rafael de Heredia

According to Marco Chávez, a representative of the Economy Ministry, it is mandatory for restaurants to add 13% sales tax and a 10% service charge to all items on a food menu, and the prices listed on the menu must include both taxes. To report restaurants that don’t include these surcharges on their price lists, call the National Consumer Commission at 284-8888.

 

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