United Kingdom Tourist Information

What Is Britain? Britain comprises Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland, and is one of the 15 member states of the European Union (EU). Its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Britain constitutes the greater part of the British Isles. The largest of the islands is Great Britain. The next largest comprises Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Western Scotland is fringed by the large island chain known as the Hebrides, and to the north east of the Scottish mainland are the Orkney and Shetland Islands. All these, along with the Isle of Wight, Anglesey and the Isles of Scilly have administrative ties with the mainland, but the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and the Channel Islands, between Great Britain and France are largely self-governing and are not part of the United Kingdom.

Although the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom they have a special relationship with it. The Channel Islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy in the 10th and 11th centuries and remained subject to the English Crown after the final loss of Normandy to the French in the 15th century. The Isle of Man was under the nominal sovereignty of Norway until 1266 and eventually came under the direct administration of the British Crown in 1765. Today the territories have their own legislative assemblies and systems of law, the Isle of Man also has its own system of taxation. The British Government is responsible for their international relations and external defence.

With an area of about 242,000 sq km (93,000 sq miles), Britain is just under 1000 km (about 600 miles) from the south coast to the extreme north of Scotland and just under 500 km (around 300 miles) across at the widest point. The coastline of Great Britain is 14,549 kms (9,040 miles) with England and Wales, including islands taking up 5,214 kms (8,389 miles) of this figure and Scotland, including islands 9,335 kms (5,800 miles). The most northerly point on the British mainland is Dunnet Head, north-east Scotland and the most southerly point Lizard Point, Cornwall.

What Travel Documents Do I Need?

A person must on arrival in the United Kingdom or when seeking entry through the Channel Tunnel, produce on request by the Immigration Officer:

(a) a valid national passport or other document satisfactorily establishing his/her identity and nationality:


(b) such information as may be required to establish whether he/she requires leave to enter the United Kingdom and, if so, whether and on what terms leave should be given.

Do I Need An International Certificate Of Vaccination?

No, but you should check if one is needed on your re-entry into your own country.

Financial Information

Currency: Sterling (£1 = 100 pence)

Notes: £50, £20, £10, £5

Coinage: £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, 1p

Exchange rate: $1 = £0.65 (approximate)

Bank Opening Hours

In all of Britain (see below for details on the Channel Islands) weekday opening hours are generally 09.30 to 16.30, but a few banks open earlier. Opening hours are decided by the individual banks and may differ considerably from branch to branch depending on the location. Many branches have 24-hour banking lobbies where a range of services can be obtained through machines.

Visitors from overseas should check with their own bank whether they will be able to gain access to these facilities. Some banks are open all day on Saturday (usually based in busy shopping centres) and some are now open on Sundays for a few hours. All banks are closed on Sundays for a few hours. All banks are closed on public holidays.

When are the school holidays?

The main summer holiday is from mid-July to early September. Children also have 2 weeks holiday at Christmas and at Easter, plus a week in mid-October and in mid-February. Exact dates vary between each education authority.

What Is The Voltage?

The electricity supply voltage throughout the European Union was standardised on 1st January 1995. The voltage at which we presently supply electricity falls within both the existing range and the new range and will not need to be changed.

This means that you do not need to take any action or adjust your appliances.

If you are a residential or business customer and use a single phase supply, we are presently required to supply you with electricity at between 225.6 and 254.4 volts; after standardisation, the range will be between 216.2 and 253 volts. Our declared voltage will be 230 volts.

When Are The 'Pubs' Open ?

(Please note that Jersey and Guernsey have slightly different opening hours and regulations)

Pubs in England and Wales are permitted to open for the sale of alcoholic drinks throughout the day, from 1100-2300 on weekdays in England and Wales. On Sundays, licensing hours are 1200-2230 in England and Wales. Persons must be 18 years or over to buy and consume alcohol in a bar. In England and Wales children under 14 years of age are allowed into pubs which hold a children's certificate. They must be accompanied by an adult and are restricted to those areas which have been certified suitable for young children.

In Scotland pubs and clubs are permitted to open for the sale of alcoholic drinks from 1100-2300 on Mondays to Saturdays and 1230-1430 and 1830-2300 on Sundays. NB The afternoon gap may be bridged with a regular extension. Licence holders may apply for occasional or regular extensions to their permitted hours which allows many premises to open late. For example, in Edinburgh, during the Festival many city centre pubs may remain open to 0100.

In Northern Ireland pubs can open at whatever time they wish, but are only allowed to sell alcoholic drinks between 1130-2300 during the week and 1230-2200 on Sunday. Many pubs are allowed to apply to the courts for additional permitted hours which enable them to sell alcohol until 01.00 on weekdays and 00.00 on Sundays on condition that food or entertainment is provided.

Enjoy your visit to Britain!

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