General Information



Chicago law prohibits smoking in public buildings and most bars and restaurants.

Cab Fare
  • Most cabs can accept credit card payments. That said, it’s wise to ask your driver ahead of time, particularly if you’re not carrying enough cash to cover your fare.
  • Cab fare in Chicago starts at $3.25 as soon as you enter the vehicle. From there, your fare will increase $0.20 for every 36 seconds of elapsed time. A clearly displayed meter is a fixture of every cab, which allows you to monitor fare increases.
  • Most cabs charge flat rates for transportation downtown to and from the airports (O’Hare and Midway). Typically, these rates are posted in your cab.
  • If you’re sharing your cab with one passenger, there is an additional $1 charge. For each passenger extra, there is an additional $0.50 charge.
  • To compensate for rising gas costs, a new city ordinance allows a surcharge of $1 to be added to all fares when the average price for a gallon of gas exceeds $3.20 in the Chicago area for seven consecutive business days.
  • It’s standard to tip the driver about 15 percent of your total fare. If your driver helps you with your baggage, and additional $1 or $2 per bag can be added.
  • Tipping is customary, but not necessary if you feel you’ve been mistreated or received particularly poor service. Ask to speak to a supervisor first, skipping a tip is sometimes perceived as insulting.
  • In restaurants: tip servers 15-20% of the bill. Bartenders should receive roughly $1 per drink with extra compensation for specialty cocktails. In self-serve food establishments, tipping is optional. If you’re receiving food that is delivered, a suggested tip is around 10% of your bill.
  • In hotels: if the concierge arranges tickets, a dinner reservation or another specific service, tip a minimum of $5. Valet drivers should receive $2 or $3 and the doorman should be given $2 for hailing a cab or assisting you with luggage.
  • As spas and salons: Leave a 20% tip for your stylist or service provider.
Prescription Drugs
  • Carry a copy of your prescription for any or all drugs you are taking in the U.S.
  • Some drugs that are common or legal in other countries may require a prescription or could be totally illegal in the U.S.
  • You are required to report all imported medications to U.S. Customs
  • Carry all prescription medications in their original and intended containers.
Cell Phones and Other Electronics
  • If you’re visiting Chicago from another country, many of your electronics may require an adapter to operate with the 110 voltage socket in the U.S. Many of these adapters are available at airports and electronic stores.
  • Without an international plan, many cell phones will not work in the U.S. Check with your service provider before visiting Chicago.
Sales Tax
  • A 9.5% tax is applied to all non-perishable goods. A 2% tax is applied to grocery items and medical supplies.
  • An additional 1% tax applies to food and beverage purchases in the downtown area of Chicago.
  • Car rentals in Chicago are taxed at a rate of 20%
  • Hotel rooms in Chicago are taxed at a rate of 4.5% of the gross rental or leasing charge
  • Soft drinks in Chicago are taxed at a rate of 9%
  • Bottled water carries a tax of $0.05 per bottle.