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Information on Berkeley and the Bay Area


Some local customs

Taxes:  Visitors from outside the country should be aware that prices in the US are quoted without the sales tax which applies to almost everything except food bought from a (super)market.  In the Berkeley area the sales tax is 8.25%, so if you see an item priced at $20 its cost to you will actually be $21.65.  Sales tax applies to meals in restaurants.

Tipping:  It is customary in the US to tip waiters in restaurants, the drivers of taxis or shuttle vans, "skycaps" at the airport and various other people who are underpaid (though not the lowest paid).  To follow custom, about 15% should be added to the pre-tax amount of the bill presented in a restaurant, about 10% to a taxi or shuttle fare, and $1 or $2 given to a skycap per bag handled.  Note that this means a meal priced at $20 in a restaurant actually costs you about $26!   Workers at fast-food counters, coffee shops, etc, do not generally expect a tip but there is often a jar on the counter in which a few coins may be left.

Smoking: Smoking is forbidden in most "public accommodations" in California.  This includes  work areas such as airports and university buildings and all restaurants.  People who wish to smoke must step outside to do so.   Fortunately for them the climate is mild and pleasant.


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Last update: 03/15/2001