First time UK visitor information
Passports and Visas
On arrival in the United Kingdom, you must show a valid national passport or other equivalent official document that satisfactorily establishes your identity and nationality. You may need to acquire a visa before you travel to Britain if you are not a British citizen or a citizen of a European Union member country. For full details and information, please visit UK Visas before booking flights or holidays to the UK.
Money & exchange rates
Britain’s unit of currency is the Great British Pound (sterling) – GBP. Please note the Euro is generally not accepted within the UK as payment!
Foreign currency (including the Euro!) 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 xe.com website.
All credit cards that bear the Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo are widely accepted in Britain. Very few places are cash only. Some chip shops, buses and small cafe's may be cash only but the overwhelming majority of machines, shops and outlets (inc. taxi's and parking!) now accept card payments.
Email and communications
Telephone boxes are still used within the UK although increasingly less so and usually accept coins or cards. Many public phones also offer additional services such as email, internet or sms service.
Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and public areas offer a Wi-fi service, often free of charge. There are also many internet café’s throughout Britain.
The international dialling code for Britain is +44 and this should always replace the 0 in a UK number when dialling from an international number.
Most dual and tri band mobile phones that have GSM 900 or 1800, will work via roaming in Britain. Check with your mobile phone provider before you leave that the ‘roaming’ function is activated on your phone. To use a UK sim card you will also need to ensure that your phone is not ‘locked’ to a specific network provider.
There are 4 major mobile phone network providers in the UK, all of which provide a ‘pay as you go’ option rather than a contract. Anyone can buy and use a ‘payg’ sim card. With the Great British Trips pack you will receive a free UK Sim card on the Lyca network. This network is especially for making cheap overseas calls so the price is one of the best around.
What things cost
Here's the approximate cost of a few daily items:
- A hotel breakfast - £6-£18
- Dinner (3-course, no wine) - £20-£100
- Lunch snack/sandwich - £3-£6
- Postcard stamp to anywhere abroad - 105p
- Cola can - 40p-£1.50
- Pint of beer in pub - £2-£4
- Single cash underground ticket - £6
- Oyster and Contactless Underground fares
It is a requirement of Great British Trips that all customers have their own private travel insurance which covers all potential medical expenses.
If you become ill while visiting Britain, you can get free emergency treatment in the Accident and Emergency departments of National Health Service hospitals. However, if you are admitted to hospital as an in-patient, or referred to an out-patient clinic, you will be asked to pay unless you meet certain exemption criteria.