Traveller Tips.


Travelling by car or motorcycle in Britain is slightly different from your own country. Therefore we created a special traffic page up where you can read more about this subject.

Currency & exchanging money One Pound

Britain’s unit of currency is the Great British Pound (sterling) – GBP. The symbol for the pound sterling is £. The British monetary system British money is based on the decimal system – there are one hundred pence to each pound. Coins have the values of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes have the values of £5, £10, £20 and £50. Scottish £1 notes are still in circulation in Scotland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have some different coins and notes from the mainland but the monetary system is the same.

Bringing money to the UK

If you are an EU citizen and travelling from within the EU you can bring in and take out bank notes, travellers' cheques, letters of credit etc. in any currency and up to any amount. Please note that from 15 June 2007, if you are travelling to or from a country outside the European Union (EU), you will need to declare any sums of cash of 10,000 Euro or more (or the equivalent in another currency) to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Currency limits

Changing money & exchange rates Mastercard

Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, post offices, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres. To see today’s exchange rate visit the Financial Times currencies website.

Bank opening hours

Banks are generally open from 09:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday. However, opening hours are can differ considerably from branch to branch. All banks are closed on public holidays and some banks in Scotland close for an hour at lunchtime. Many banks have 24-hour banking lobbies where you can access a range of services via machines. Visitors from overseas should check with their own bank whether they will be able to gain access to these facilities.



Obtaining money when banks are closed

Some banks are open on Saturdays and a few are open for a few hours on Sundays. If you need British currency when the banks are closed, you can obtain it at larger high-street travel agents, in exchange offices in large department stores, at counter desks in larger hotels or at one of the many independent Bureau de Change. Regulations require all Bureau de Change to clearly display all exchange rates and full details of any fees and rates of commission.

Maestro ATMs (cash machines)

You’ll find Automated Teller Machines (ATM), or cash machines, as we often call them, at most banks, high streets and shopping centres. You can use international credit cards, debit cards and bank cards at ATMs providing they have a four-digit PIN encoded. As a general rule, any cash machine that displays the Visa badge can be used by Plus cardholders and those displaying the MasterCard badge can be used by Cirrus cardholders.

Credit cards

All credit cards that bear the Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo are widely accepted in Britain. If your card does not bear one of these logos, you should ask the retailer in advance if you can use it, or check if your card’s logo is displayed at the payment area. You should be aware that retailers can charge more for goods and services bought by credit card, but they must display a clear indication if any price increase applies.


The voltage used in Scotland is 240 Volts AC at 50HZ. Most power sockets are designed for standard 3-pin square plugs. Electrical appliances in Britain generally use the British standard plug with 3 square pins. Plug socket adaptors and power transformers are widely available, you can buy them at most airports, electrical shops and hardware stores.


The quality of tap water in Britain is very high. You can usually drink from all taps that supply waterBritish Telecom to kitchen areas. Bottled water is also common and available in all local grocery shops and supermarkets.


Gas is often used in homes for cooking, central heating and to heat water. Some cookers may use both gas and electricity, for example they may use gas for the hob and electricity for the oven.

Car fuel

Most cars in Britain run off petrol, but there are also a large number of cars and lorries that run off diesel. Petrol is usually sold as either Four Star (usually a red pump), or Unleaded (usually a green pump); both types are available for most petrol stations. You will also see an increasing number of electric, or electric-petrol combined and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars on the road.

Measurements & conversions

Kilometres & miles SPAR winkel
1 mile = 1.609 kilometres
1 kilometre = 0.621 miles

Litres & gallons
1 gallon = 4.546 litres
1 litre = 0.220 gallons

Kilos & pounds
1 pound = 0.453 kilos
1 kilo = 2.204 pounds


Travelling to Britain with dogs and pets  

Dogs, cats and ferrets from certain countries are able to enter Britain via selected ports of entry under the pilot Pets Travel Scheme without quarantine – provided certain conditions are met. See more on our special page.


Your passport or EEA National Identity Card must be valid for the duration of your stay in the UK.


You may need to acquire a visa before you travel to Britain, if you are not a British citizen or a citizen of one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Nationals from some countries will need a visa whatever the reason they are travelling to the UK, while nationals from other countries may only need a visa for a particular reason; for example, to marry and live with a British citizen.

If you have a valid passport and UK visa, you will normally be granted entry to the UK. When you arrive in Britain your visa tells UK immigration:

  • The reason you are travelling to Britain
  • How long you are allowed to stay
  • The last day you are allowed entry
  • Entry clearance follows strict rules and procedures.

For full details about visa requirements and application procedures, visit UK Visas.

Accessible toilets in Britain

Where there are public toilets in Britain, you'll usually find an accessible toilet. Accessible toilets have large floor space, grab bars, low level sinks and hand dryers, and sometimes an alarm (a red string which reaches the ground) for emergencies.

You might find that many accessible public toilets in Britain are locked - this is to prevent vandalism and misuse of the toilets.

The National Key Scheme (NKS), operated by the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR), offers independent access to over 7,000 locked accessible toilets in Britain. RADAR supplies keys that unlock toilets that are a part of the NKS.

One key, which costs £3.50, unlocks any of the 7,000 toilets that are registered with the scheme. RADAR makes no profit in supplying keys but needs to make a small charge to cover the costs of supply. You can keep your key for future visits to Britain.

For more information on the National Key Scheme or to buy a key, visit RADAR - National Key Scheme .

Other accessible toilets can be found in places such as Tourist Information Centres, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, train and bus stations, ferry piers and many of Britain's tourist attractions.

Changing Places

Fully accessible public toilets for disabled people are available in the UK and there is an ongoing campaign to increase their number. Changing Places provide safe, clean toilets with hoists, changing areas and room for up to two carers.

To find out where you can find fully accessible public toilets in Britain and for more details of the campaign, check the Changing Places website.

Guide dogs in Britain

If you're travelling to Britain with a guide dog, you are advised to contact the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) before booking your trip.  

Tipping & service charges

Tipping is not always appropriate in the UK. If you feel the service was good and you want to show your appreciation, here is a guide to customary practice:

Most hotel bills include a service charge, usually 10-12%. Where a service charge is not included in a hotel restaurant, it is customary to give 10-15% of the restaurant bill. For rooms, you can leave an optional amount to room staff.

Many restaurant bills include a service charge; make sure you check the bill to avoid tipping twice. Where a service charge is not included, it is customary to leave a tip of 10-15% of the bill. Some restaurants now include a suggested tip in the bill total.

10-15% of the fare



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