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Leaving for Great Britain

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Know before you go


Useful addresses

Tourist offices

Britain does not operate tourist offices abroad, but travellers can consult its websites. http://www.visitbritain.co.uk and http://www.visitbritain.ie/

Embassies

British Embassy – 29 Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – t 01 205 3700 – http://britishembassyinireland.fco.gov.uk/en/


Documents

European Union nationals: identity card or passport, even expired (if within less than five years).


Health

Also see Know before you go.

Emergencies

Universal European emergency number: t 112.

Ambulance, police, fire brigade: t 999.

Doctors and hospitals

Foreigners can go direct to one of London’s private Medicentres. Alternatively, London and the rest of the UK are equipped with NHS centres, affiliated to the British National Health Service. Nurses’ appointments must be booked. Health care costs vary.

Chemists

Open Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm and on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.

Money

Currency

The pound sterling (£) is the currency of the United Kingdom.

Scotland, the Anglo-Norman Islands and the Isle of Man have different coins and notes despite the common monetary system.

Banks / exchange

Banks are open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm; some are also open on Saturday mornings.

It is possible to change money in exchange offices, travel agencies and hotels, but the commission charged is often higher than in banks and exchange rates can be very variable.

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques

International credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere.

Traveller’s cheques can be used as payment (sign the back of the cheque and indicate your passport number and date of use) or exchanged for cash from banks at a fixed commission charge.

Budget / cost of living

The United Kingdom is not cheap and a double room costs an average of £80, a meal in a restaurant between £20 and 30 per person. A quick snack costs around £10-12/person and a beer from £3.

Post

Post offices are open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday morning from 9am to 12.30pm. Postage rates to send a standard letter or postcard (up to 20gr) abroad: around 50 pence.


Eating out

Where to eat

Pubs and sandwiches are cheaper than traditional restaurants, as is another great British institution, the fish and chip shop. Pubs serve hot, filling food (such as pies and ploughman lunches of cheese, salad, pickles, rolls and butter), often in a traditional setting. Most department stores and supermarkets stock a huge choice of sandwiches ranging from egg and cress to shrimp and mayonnaise.

Tips

It is customary to leave a 10-15% tip in restaurants. Cab drivers are also traditionally given a 10% maximum tip, as are hotel porters (50-70 pence per suitcase).

English breakfast and afternoon tea

Hotels and B&B establishment all serve the ubiquitous English breakfast: cereal, eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice; this will be topped up with sausages or black pudding, baked beans and other delicacies should you ask for a Full English Breakfast.

Afternoon tea is another British ritual, served between 4 and 5pm: tea (with cold milk), savoury sandwiches, scones, English muffins and fruit tarts.


Electricity

The voltage in the UK is 240V (50Hz) and electric sockets are adapted to 3-pin plugs. If you need an adaptor, these can be purchased quite easily and some hotels lend them free of charge to guests.


Embassies and consulates

Irish Embassy – 17 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7HR – t 0207 2352171 – http://www.embassyofireland.co.uk/


Health

Also see Know before you go.

Emergencies

Universal European emergency number: t 112.

Ambulance, police, fire brigade: t 999.

Doctors and hospitals

Foreigners can go direct to one of London’s private Medicentres. Alternatively, London and the rest of the UK are equipped with NHS centres, affiliated to the British National Health Service. Nurses’ appointments must be booked. Health care costs vary.

Chemists

Open Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm and on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.

Money

Currency

The pound sterling (£) is the currency of the United Kingdom.

Scotland, the Anglo-Norman Islands and the Isle of Man have different coins and notes despite the common monetary system.

Banks / exchange

Banks are open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm; some are also open on Saturday mornings.

It is possible to change money in exchange offices, travel agencies and hotels, but the commission charged is often higher than in banks and exchange rates can be very variable.

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques

International credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere.

Traveller’s cheques can be used as payment (sign the back of the cheque and indicate your passport number and date of use) or exchanged for cash from banks at a fixed commission charge.

Budget / cost of living

The United Kingdom is not cheap and a double room costs an average of £80, a meal in a restaurant between £20 and 30 per person. A quick snack costs around £10-12/person and a beer from £3.

Post

Post offices are open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday morning from 9am to 12.30pm. Postage rates to send a standard letter or postcard (up to 20gr) abroad: around 50 pence.


Public holidays

1 January

2 January – Scotland only

Good Friday

Easter Monday – England and Wales

1st Monday of May – May Day Bank Holiday

Last Monday of May – Spring Bank Holiday

1st Monday of August – Summer Bank Holiday - Scotland

Last Monday of August – August Bank Holiday - England and Wales

30 November – Saint Andrew’s Day - Scotland

25 and 26 December

Pubs

Pubs are open daily from 11am (12.30pm Sundays) to 11pm, sometimes with a break from 4-6pm. Under 18-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult and will not be served alcohol. Drinks are ordered and paid for at the bar.

Shopping

Opening hours

Shops are open Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm. Many shops outside London close early one day a week (ECD), on days which vary from town to town.

Shoe sizes

Women: 35 = 21/2 Men: 40 = 7

36 = 31/2 41 = 8

37 = 41/2 42 = 9

38 = 51/2 43 = 10

39 = 61/2 44 = 11

40 = 71/2 45 = 12

41 = 81/2 46 = 13


Telephone

Calling the United Kingdom from abroad

00 + 44 (country code for the United Kingdom) + area code without the 0 + number of the person.

Calling home from the United Kingdom

00 + country code. For Ireland: 353.

National calls

Dial the full 11-digit number wherever you are in the UK.

Weights and measures

1kg = 2.2 pounds 1 pound = 0.45kg

1km = 0.62 mile 1 mile = 1.61km

1l = 1.76 pints 1 pint = 0.57l

1m = 1.09 yard 1 yard = 0.92m

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