Information

by Cristina  

Language

England is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the official language in UK is British English.

Name

England is one of the countries which make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Island (UK or Great Britain, in short). It is the most populous constituent of the UK and accounts for over 80% of the UK’s total population.

Time Zone

England is located on Greenwich Time Zone (GMT) and during the summer it observes Daylight Savings Time (British Summer Time which is GMT+1).

Counting and numbers

Dates in England (as in all over the UK) are written with the day first, then the month and the year. A common way to write a date would be: 15 May 2008.

With written numbers, commas and decimal points are exactly the same as in US, but swapped from what you are used to in Europe. So £10.10 means 10 Sterling Pounds and 10 pence.

England uses both the metric and imperial systems for measurements and Celsius for temperatures. Although the European Union Commission set the deadline for 2010 for the entire UK to complete the full transition to Metric, Britain is still allowed to use several imperial measurements (i.e. Pints, Pounds and Miles) but many stores already started using only the metric system for measurements.

You can find a conversion tool here

Electricity and plugs

The standard electrical voltage in England is 230 V / 50HZ, so you will need an adaptor unless you come from another European country (where the same system is used). The commonly used plug in England has three rectangular prongs forming a triangle. If you need an adaptor and/or converter, you can buy one as soon as you enter the country. Make sure to read the instructions on your electronic device before plugging it anywhere.

Currency

England’s currency is Pound Sterling (GBP or £) subdivided in 100 pence (singular: penny), the same as all over the UK. Denominations include 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2 coins, the rarely used £5 coin and £1 (used in Scotland only), £5, £10, £20 banknotes and the rarely used £50 and £100 (only in Scotland and Northern Island) banknotes.

In less formal contexts, British pound is also used (and you’ll find this term all over the online booking systems), although it’s not the official name, while a common slang term is “quid”. After the adoption of Euro, the Pound Sterling became the world’s oldest currency still used.

Check this conversion rate tool before planning your vacation.

Banks and ATMs

Currency exchanges are available in the airports, at the rail stations, at exchange bureaus and at any bank. Banks are generally open from 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday to Friday. Depending on the bank there might be some exceptions as the banks can open later or close earlier.

It’s a good idea to exchange some money before you arrive in England in order to avoid the lines at the ATMs located in the airport. ATMs are sometimes referred to as “cash machines” or “cash points”. Look at the back of your card to see what network you are part of so that you will avoid the high fees for withdrawing money abroad. Also make sure you know what your daily withdrawal limit is.

Credit cards can be used in England, with a preference for Master Card and Visa. American Express cards are allowed less frequently. When using the ATM or paying with the credit card make sure to keep all the recipes for up to six months after the date of your vacation.

Traveler’s checks are less used because ATMs offer 24 hours access to cash. However they can be exchanged and the commission ranges between 1% and 4%.

Using the telephone

The country code for England (as all over the UK) is 44. To call England from US first you need to dial out of US and then into England, so that’s 011+44+ area code +local phone number. To call an English number from within the city, just dial the number you were given. To call US from England, first dial 00 to dial outside UK, then 1 to enter the US followed by the area code and the local number, so that’s 00+1+area code + local number.

There are three types of public phones in England; those that accept coins, those that accept phone cards and those that accept only British Telecom phone cards and credit cards. When using the coin phones, insert the coin before dialing (10p minimum).

A very good option is to ask your cell carrier what network to log onto while in England and use the roaming feature. Travelers coming from Europe will have a great advance if they already have Orange or Vodafone cards in their home countries since both carriers offer very good plans for using the cards abroad.

Useful telephone numbers

Ambulance, Police, Fire, Mountain Rescue and Coast Guard: 112 or 999

Visa information

European Economic Area Citizens, which include all European Union countries and Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland, do not need a visa to enter England (UK). Nationals of the following 10 countries need a visa when staying in the UK longer than six months: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the USA.

On the Foreign Office page you can check what kind of visa you need to enter UK.

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