Australian Embassy in United Kingdom
The Strand, London WC2B 4LA
(Corner of the Aldwych and the Strand. Nearest Tube station: Temple)
Tel +44 (020) 7379 4334
Fax +44 (020) 7240 5333
The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.
Great Britain / The European Union
The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain, which covers England, Wales and Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom belongs to the European Union, along with the twenty-seven other countries that have joined the European Union (EU) since its inception in 1958 as the European Commission. The United Kingdom joined in 1973.
England is on GMT time meaning that it is 10 hours behind Australia. During Daylight Saving Britian is 11 hours behind Australia. Begins: Last Sunday in March at 1.00am Ends: Lat Sunday, in October at 1.00am. To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.
Voltages and Plugs
Great Britain use 240 volts (50Hz). Plugs have three flat prongs in a T shape.
To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit
Although the United Kigdom is a member of the European Union, it is not part of the EURO-zone and therefore at present retains its local currency, the Great British Pound (GBP), often represented by the symbol £. 1 Pound = 100 Pence. Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 Pence and 1 and 2 Pounds. Notes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 Pounds.
Credit Card and ATM machines
ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. They are common in all tourist towns and cities. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards. ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends in smaller towns.
Please note that using a credit card in a growing number of foreign countries usually requires a new “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.
Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaux and larger hotels, though you may get a better exchange rate at the ATMs.
Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.
Telephone & Communication
Most mobile telephones work in Great Britain and coverage is excellent. Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. Mobile phones can be very useful for SMSing (especially if you get lost!). International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.
Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provide prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.
Internet access is widespread and available throughout Great Britain. Many hotels and cafes now offer access, some you need to pay while others have free Wi-fi zones.
If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.
Business Hours in Great Britain
Shops 10.00–18.30* Monday–Saturday, 11.00–17.00* Sunday. *Larger shopping areas and centers may stay open later, sometimes up to 22.00, especially in busy periods.
Banks 09.00–17.00 Monday–Friday, 09.00–12.30 Saturday (limited branches)
Post Offices 09.00–17.00 Monday–Friday, 09.00–12.30 Saturday (main offices only).
Shopping & VAT
Australian visitors to the United Kingdom and Ireland can reclaim the Value Added Tax (currently 20%) on certain purchases. VAT can only be claimed on items you physically bring out of the country, such as clothing, electrical goods and gifts etc. You must reclaim VAT before you leave the European Union – once you return to Australia it is too late. For more details please refer to the ‘A Traveller’s Guide to the Retail Export Scheme’ available at customs points.
- We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents in. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
- Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
- It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room.
- Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.
What to Pack
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable. During some of our tours you will be attending evening performances. Formal evening wear is not required, however, smarter casual wear would be appropriate (no jeans).
Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest
- comfortable walking shoes (very important) While on tour you will be visiting towns cities and sites that often have uneven cobblestone pavements or rough paths hence flat shoes with grip are recommended.
- sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
- folding umbrella and/or light raincoat
- ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
- prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor
- extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)
No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask before photographing someone, they may try to obtain money from you.
Clothing (Churches, Mosques and Monasteries)
Although ‘foreigners’ do not have to adhere to a strict dress rules, women should wear a head covering (ie a scarf) in active churches. Men must remember to remove their hats in religious buildings. In churches it is polite to stand around the edges of the building, rather than in the centre. It is acceptable for foreigners to light candles.
Staff in Scotland restaurants are often paid very low wages and tips of 10% are expected. When dining as a group on ASA tours, this 10% tip is included in your tour cost, but when dining alone remember to add this tip unless you consider the service to have been unsatisfactory. Some restaurants include a service charge which makes it unnecessary to tip. Taxis will also expect a 10% tip on top of the fare, as will upmarket bars, although you are not expected to tip in a local pub.
We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.
Average minimum/ maximum Temperature (°C).