Your friend in London

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.


There are 8 national holidays taken in London

  • New Year’s Day 1 January 
  • Good Friday varies every year (2022 date: 15 April)
  • Easter Monday varies every year (2022 date: 18 April)
  • Early May Bank Holiday first weekend in May (2022 date: 2 May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday last weekend in May (2022 dates: 2&3 June – celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee)
  • Summer Bank Holiday last weekend in August (2022 date: 29 August)
  • Christmas Day 25 December
  • Boxing Day 26 December
    (If a national holiday is on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a holiday, normally the following Monday)

Celebrations / Notable dates (but not holidays)

  • Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day February (2022 date: 1 March)
  • Valentine’s Day 14 February
  • St David’s Day 1 March (Wales)
  • St Patrick’s Day 17 March (Ireland)
  • Mother’s Day March (2022 date: 27 March)
  • Summer Time begins March – clocks go forward one hour (2022 date: 27 March)
  • April Fool’s Day 1 April
  • St George’s Day 23 April (England)
  • Father’s Day third Sunday of June (2022 date: 19 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 (2022 date: 30 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

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)
  • 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


  • 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
  • For non-emergency health issues, see our Healthcare in London page
  • 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.


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. Download the Refill app.
  • 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
  • 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