Useful Info for Overseas Visitors & Residents

Whether you are moving to London or visiting, here is some useful information for overseas visitors and new residents.

Holidays

There are 8 national holidays taken in London

  • New Year’s Day 1 January (2017 date: 2 January – substitute day)
  • Good Friday varies every year (2017 date: 14 April)
  • Easter Monday varies every year (2017 date: 17 April)
  • Early May Bank Holiday first weekend in May (2017 date: 1 May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday last weekend in May (2017 date: 29 May)
  • Summer Bank Holiday last weekend in August (2017 date: 28 August)
  • Christmas Day 25 December
  • Boxing Day 26 December
    (If a bank holiday is on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday)

Celebrations / Notable dates (but not holidays)

  • Valentine’s Day 14 February
  • Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day February (2017 date: 28 February)
  • St David’s Day 1 March (Wales)
  • St Patrick’s Day 17 March (Ireland)
  • Mother’s Day March (2017 date: 26 March)
  • Summer Time begins March – clocks go forward one hour (2017 date: 26 March)
  • April Fool’s Day 1 April
  • St George’s Day 23 April (England)
  • Father’s Day third Sunday of June (2017 date: 18 June)
  • Queen’s Official Birthday June (celebrated on a Saturday with ‘Trooping the Colour’, her real birthday is 21 April)
  • Summer Time ends October – clocks go back one hour (2017 date: 29 October)
  • Halloween 31 October
  • Guy Fawkes / Bonfire night 5 November (firework displays on and around 5 November)
  • Remembrance Sunday November (second Sunday. The nation wears poppies to remember servicemen and women who have fought in conflicts)
  • St Andrew’s Day 30 November (Scotland)
  • New Year’s Eve 31 December (the Thames fireworks display is now ticketed. Tickets can be purchased from October www.london.gov.uk/events)

Useful tips

  • You cannot pay with money/cash on the London buses. You must use a travelcard, Oyster card or your contactless credit card (if this is set up to work in the UK)
  • The weather can be changeable – layered clothing is always a good idea and a small umbrella.  Check out the weather forecast on this website.
  • Internet connection: There are free wifi hotspots in various cafes, shops, train stations, etc. Click here for Wifi on London transport
  • If you do not have a laptop or printer, you can use the computers in libraries
  • Order a giffgaff SIM card and you get £5 credit free when you make your first top up with £10 or more

Get a free giffgaff Sim

  • You can drink the tap water (unless there is a sign telling you not to)
  • The legal age to drink alcohol is 18 years old
  • The legal age to buy cigarettes and tobacco is 18 years old. It is illegal to smoke in enclosed public spaces including bars, pubs and restaurants and work places
  • The legal age to vote is 18 years old. To vote in a General Election you must be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen.  To vote in a Local Election you must be a British, Commonwealth or EU citizen
  • If you need assistance in knowing your rights, contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. They may be able to help you or will point you in the right direction.
  • In an emergency dial 999 for the ambulance, police and fire services
  • Recycling is common both in the home and sometimes on the street
  • If you have a dog you must clean up its mess, you may be fined if caught. Dogs must be microchipped.
  • If you are bringing your pet cat, dog or ferret into the UK click here for rules and regulations
  • Used toilet paper goes in the toilet
  • Click here to find public toilets across London and at stations
  • www.meetup.com promotes a diverse selection of groups to join, ranging from dating to business and walking to theatre goers
  • Check out the pages on this website for useful vocabulary, travel, leisure and entertainment and much more

Be Cautious
London is a big city. Don’t be scared of it but you need to be sensible:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Don’t leave bags unattended
  • Take note of what time the last tube/train runs – are there night buses?
  • Be careful of scams – for example, if there is a job advert saying you must pay them first – ask yourself if this is real, it probably isn’t
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