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England is the largest nation comprising the United Kingdom and it is home to the country’s primary parliament, in Westminster. It is also home to the largest city in the UK, London, one of the most visited capitals in all of Europe. England also has other top tourist cities, including Manchester and Birmingham. The English countryside is also a well sought after attraction, from the rolling hills of the Lake District to the beaches near Blackpool. England is often confused with the terms ‘Britain’ or the ‘UK’, when in fact each is different.
Passports & Visas
Citizens of EU and EEA countries, most of North and South America, Japan, Israel, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to visit England.
Obtaining a US passport
The US Government Website is where to start.
For more information on UK Visas, visit the UK Border Agency website.
Provides consular assistance to U.S. citizens
United States Embassy
55/56 Upper Brook Street
LONDON, W1A 2LQ
For the Passport and Citizenship unit, send an email to email@example.com or call  (20) 7499-9000 and follow the prompts.
For the Special Consular Services unit, send an email to SCSLondon@state.gov or call 020-7499-9000 and follow the prompts.
Recorded information is available 24 hours/day, seven days/week, at  (20) 7499-9000.
England Tourist Information
Culture and History
For an extensive history on England, including everything from the monarchy to the economy, check out the History of England.
Currency in England
England uses the British Pound. Cash machines (ATMs) are available throughout the country and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. While British banks do not charge fees for foreign credit cards, be aware that your bank might.
Driving in England
England drives on the left side of the road and drivers should make themselves comfortable with this layout as quickly as possible. Drivers in England are typically well-mannered and it is courteous to wave where a thank you to another driver is expected. Driving anywhere near inner London is not recommended – traffic is heavy and congestion charges can make it an expensive trip. Check out our tips for driving in Britain before you leave.
Electricity in England
Electricity is 220volts and outlets take “British standard” three-pronged plugs. Make sure your appliances can accept the higher voltage of power (American outlets provide 120 volts) or you’ll need a converter and an adapter. Some appliances and computers can accommodate either 120 or 220 volts either automatically or with just the flip of a switch on the appliance. (Check it out before you buy.)
Etiquette in England
Most all English people are very polite and well-mannered, if not reserved. Table manners are of high importance; in all everyday situations, it is appropriate to say “please” and “thank you”. The English are masters at queuing; do not attempt to ‘cut’ in the line or you will likely be reprimanded. Lastly, it is unwise to attempt jokes about typical English clichés, such as commentary on the Queen or about accents. Such humor will just be met with contempt.
Public Hours in England
Most shops are open Mondays – Saturdays 9am to 5:30pm, although supermarkets stay open until 10; some larger supermarkets stay open 24×7. Sunday shopping is typically 10-11am to 4-5pm.
Safety in England
Rough drunkenness is a common complaint in cities large and small; it is wise to avoid large groups if at all possible. Overall, crime in England is relatively low, however, most towns have rough areas so it is important to always remain alert.
Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT)
Tipping in England
Tipping is expected in restaurants, although in some establishments a service charge is already included. A typical tip would be 10% for good service. It is not necessary to tip in a bar or pub.
Weather in England
The weather can be different from one side of England to the other. The west coast tends to be more rainy due to the incoming weather from the Atlantic. Summer temperatures can reach over 70F, and winter temps can (but infrequently) drop below freezing. Winter also sees the occasional snowfall; travelers should be forewarned that when the snow falls, much of the English transport network comes to a halt.
Main Sights in England
England has a plethora of sights to see:
- Top Ten Sights of England
- Cornwall, Blackpool, and Devon have excellent beaches, if the weather is right.
- Popular city stops include Manchester, Birmingham, and Bath.
- London is all but a must-see for all travelers. Check out our Top London Sights and then explore some day-trips , including a stop at the Neolithic monument Stonehenge.
- The white cliffs of the southern coast are a popular stop for nature lovers.
- Historians and architecture buffs will love all the castles in England.
Getting Around in England
The UK has extremely good airline coverage, both domestic and international. London has five airports; be sure if you are making a connection you know if you must depart from another airport, which can be time consuming. For more information on inter-airport connections, check out the London transfer service. Manchester is another major hub, but almost every ‘large’ city has competitive air service.
Bus service in England is limited to local/regional transport services.
Boats and Ferries
England has several ferry port services. France can be reached from Dover, Newhaven, or Portsmouth. Spain can be reached from Portsmouth or Plymouth. Ireland can be reached from over six cities, and there is also ferry service to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark. Check out the major carriers for more details:
England’s rail network is extensive, although not nearly as thorough as that on continental Europe. Information about routes and service can be found on the National Rail website. Eurorail service connects England to mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
Car Rental in England
Car Rental companies include the standard set of brands, and it is recommended to make your booking before leaving home. American citizens are permitted to drive with a U.S. driver’s license for the duration of a visit to England; i.e., as long as their status is that of tourist and not resident.
In the cities, a taxi can be hired on the street but it typically is easier to either phone ahead or go to a taxi stand, as there are not enough taxis to go around. In rural locations, you must phone ahead for your taxi.
The National Health Service, commonly known as the NHS, provides free healthcare throughout the country. Should you require medical treatment, it is best to have your accommodation contact a local physician’s office. Emergency treatment can be had at any nearby emergency room, called A&E (Accident and Emergency). Be prepared for a wait as most A&Es are overcrowded.
No permit is required to carry medication in your luggage. However, you should pack your medication in its original containers and/or have your doctor’s prescription with you. Customs officials will have to be satisfied that you are not importing more than would be necessary for your personal use, taking into account the drug type and length of stay (for no more than three months).
Lodging in England
The large cities offer mostly hotel-style accommodation with the occasional rental apartment. Villages and rural towns focus on bed and breakfast or bungalows with a varying level of services included. It is popular in areas like the Lake District to go camping.
For some tips and deciding what’s right for you, check out our London Hotels with a view post, as well as youth hostels , 3-star and budget hotels , and 4-star and luxury hotels.
We also have covered hotel recommendations in Bath.
Public Holidays in England
New Year’s Day (January 1)
Early May Bank Holiday (first Monday in May)
Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May)
Summer Bank Holiday (last Monday in August)
Christmas Day (December 25)
Boxing Day (December 26)
Telephones in England
UK phone numbers start with an area code of four digits followed by the six digit number. The exception is London, where the area code is three digits and the number is eight digits.
When dialing to the UK from abroad, drop the leading zero in front of the number. When calling within the UK, keep the leading zero.
Example (within UK): 07747 – 3334444
Example (outside the UK): 011 44 7747 3334444
Useful Country Codes:
USA and Canada 1
Call 999 if you are in an emergency and an operator will connect you with the police, ambulance, or fire department.
Returning to the US
Customs,VAT & Duty Free
When you return to the U.S., you’ll need to declare everything you brought back that you did not take with you. If you are traveling by air or sea, you may be asked to fill out a Customs Declaration Form provided by the airline or cruise ship. Keep your sales slips. Try to pack the things you’ll need to declare separately. Read the signs in the Customs area; they contain helpful information about how to clear Customs.
For complete information on Customs, look at the U.S. Government Customs Website
Value Added Tax (VAT) Refund Information
We have found it such a hassle to try to reclaim the VAT tax that we simply do not bother. If however, you will be spending a great deal of money, it might be worth the many steps you will need to go through. Also, remember that a 7 percent V.A.T. (Value Added Tax) tax is added to rates for all restaurants and hotel rooms. Service is included. This 7% V.A.T. tax on services is not refundable.
Travelers to England from outside the EU are entitled to a reimbursement of the 16 % V.A.T. (Value Added Tax) they pay on all purchases as long as the purchases add up to no less than 90 Pounds in the same store and on the same day. The vendor must provide the purchaser with a duly filled out invoice which includes the price of each good, the V.A.T. paid for each item, as well as the identification (name and address) for both vendor and purchaser. The goods must be brought out of the England within three months from the date of purchase.
At the time of departure from England, and before checking in your baggage, you must bring your invoice(s) and the merchandise purchased to the British Customs in order for them to process your V.A.T. refund claim (there is a specific booth for this purpose just prior to the entrance to the international area at the international port, gate or airport).
If you are a U.S. or Canadian resident, you may qualify for a personal exemption which allows you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying customs duties, excise taxes, or Value Added Tax.