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 
  • Good Friday varies every year (2018 date: 30 March)
  • Easter Monday varies every year (2018 date: 2 April)
  • Early May Bank Holiday first weekend in May (2018 date: 7 May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday last weekend in May (2018 date: 28 May)
  • Summer Bank Holiday last weekend in August (2018 date: 27 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)

  • Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day February (2018 date: 13 February)
  • Valentine’s Day 14 February
  • St David’s Day 1 March (Wales)
  • St Patrick’s Day 17 March (Ireland)
  • Mother’s Day March (2018 date: 11 March)
  • Summer Time begins March – clocks go forward one hour (2018 date: 25 March)
  • April Fool’s Day 1 April
  • St George’s Day 23 April (England)
  • Royal Wedding: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 19 May 2018 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
  • Father’s Day third Sunday of June (2018 date: 17 June)
  • Queen’s Official Birthday June (celebrated on a Saturday with ‘Trooping the Colour’, her real birthday is 21 April)
  • Royal Wedding: Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank 12 October 2018 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
  • Summer Time ends October – clocks go back one hour (2018 date: 28 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

Travel

  • 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)
  • Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road
  • See London Transport page

Internet & Technology

  • 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

Legal

  • The legal age to drive a car is 17 years old
  • The legal age for riding a motor bike, moped or motor tricycle varies, see website for details
  • 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 age of consent (the legal age to have sex) in the UK is 16 years old
  • 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

Need help?

  • In an emergency dial 999 for the ambulance, police and fire services
  • 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.

Animals

Good to know

  • Recycling is common both in the home and sometimes on the street
  • Used toilet paper goes in the toilet
  • You can drink the tap water (unless there is a sign telling you not to).
  • Water refilling stations are popping up around London, for example, Borough Market
  • The weather can be changeable – layered clothing is always a good idea and a small umbrella. See weather forecast.
  • Click here to find public toilets across London and at stations
  • Click here to find luggage storage in London
  • 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 vocabularyleisure 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
  • How to stay safe in the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack. Run, Hide, Tell
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