Useful Information for Travelers to London & the UK
If you have never been to the UK, you probably have more than a few "what if" questions. Here's where we provide some answers. REMEMBER: In case of emergency in the UK, dial 999.
Getting About London
AIRPORT TRANSFERS If you would like to have a car and driver waiting for you at the airport to help with your luggage and drive you to your hotel, Click here
CHAUFFEURED TOURS - See the sites in style with a knowledgeable, courteous driver/guide at your beck and call. It's more reasonable than you think. London and the UK. Click for details
THE TUBE/UNDERGROUND - The Tube is the best and cheapest way to get about Central London. Zone 1 covers from Notting Hill to Tower Hill (West to East) and from King's Cross-to Elephant and Castle (North to South). A single ticket is £1.20, but a day pass is the way to go if you're going to sightsee in earnest. The Tube is safe, well lighted and for the most part, on time.
TAXIS - You can feel safe and secure hailing a Black cab on the street...anywhere in London.
If you need there care and attention of a doctor in London you can call 24 hours-a-day and a doctor will make a house call to your hotel room, B&B, rented apartment or time share. Call 020 603 3332. You can pay cash or use your VISA or MasterCard. Charges range from about £50 to £80 and the doctors are on call on weekends and bank holidays.
Helpful Telephone Numbers
|American Embassy||020 7499 9000|
|Canadian Embassy||020 7258 6600|
|British Tourist Authority||020 7808 3810|
|English Tourist Board||020 7808 3820|
|London Tourist Board||020 7932 2000|
|IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, DIAL 999|
|A call to US or Canada||International code 001|
Shopping & Sizes
No matter what anyone tells you, size does matter. Women shoppers should add two (2) to their size when in Britain. If they wear a size 10 dress in America, they will wear a size 12 in Britain and Europe. For many that fact alone is reason enough to avoid shopping altogether. Shoes, on the other hand, go in the other direction. A size 12 American foot is a size 10 in England.
Men shoppers have a much easier time. Suits and shirts are the same on both sides of the pond. Shoes, however are a different story. If you wear a size 12 in America, you wear an 11 in England.
VAT & Tax-Free Shopping
VAT is a 20% sales tax charged on most goods. Exceptions arefood,booksand children's clothes. Visitors from outside the UK who stay less than three months may claim this tax back. When shopping, ask the retailer for a VAT 407 form. It's important to note not all shops participate and some may have a minimum purchase price (often around £75). They may ask for proof you are eligible so bring a passport or national identity card.
To get your money back, show the VAT form, the goods and your receipts to customs at the point when you depart. Customs will approve your form if everything is in order.
After customs has certified the form, it should be returned to the shop for a refund (minus an administration or handling fee), which takes about 8 to 10 weeks to come through
National "Bank" Holidays 2017
The banks are closed on the following days, but most shops and attractions are open, except those run by the government. There is no blanket policy, however, so if you plan on visiting a particular attraction, we recommend that you call to check on hours.
New Year's Day: 1 January
St Patrick's Day (Northern Ireland only): 17 March
Good Friday: 14 April.
Easter Monday (Wales, England and Northern Ireland only): 17 April
Early May Bank Holiday: 1 May.
Spring Bank Holiday: 29 May.
Orangemans Day (Northern Ireland only): 12 July
Summer Bank Holiday (Scotland only): 7 August.
Summer Bank Holiday (Wales, England and Northern Ireland only): 28 August.
St Andrews Day (Scotland only): 30 November.
Christmas Day: 25 December.
Boxing Day: 26 December.
Britain runs on 240 volt (50Hz) electric current. North Americans will need a transformer and an adapter for appliances such as electric razors, hair dryers, etc. Some hotels supply hair dryers in the bathroom.
They are unavoidable. In Britain there is the VAT which stands for Value Added Tax. The tax adds no value, of course, but the government adds 17.5% on just about everything except books, food and children's clothing. The VAT is built into retail prices and is not broken out for your convenience.
If you are visiting for less than 90 days, from North America, you can get the VAT back by showing your passport and filling out a form in the store. You will have to show a copy of the form to customs when you leave the country and they may ask to see your purchases. The VAT will be refunded by check or show up as a credit on your credit card statement.
Just like home, 10-15% is customary in most restaurants, taxis and personal services. We recommend that you examine your check in restaurants to make sure a service charge has not already been added to your bill.
Tipping is not yet typical in most pubs and bars. For help with suitcases, tip 50p - £1 per suitcase. Let size and distance dictate where in the range you fall.