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UK CALLING GUIDE |

Calling To/From UK Long Distance

Calling to United Kingdom

Making Calls while in United Kingdom

Making Calls while in United Kingdom

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Information About the UK Telephone System

Historically, private companies and local councils organized the telephone system in the UK.  By the early twentieth-century, however, the Post Office had taken over the bulk of telephone service in the kingdom.  In the early 1980s, the Post Office was reorganized as British Telecom (or BT).

There are currently more than 35 million land lines and more than 60 million cell phone lines in use in the UK.    In fact, there are more cell phones than people! 

Important Phone Numbers To Know if Traveling to the UK

In London, the U.S. Embassy is located at 24 Grosvenor Sq., W1 (tel. 020/7499-9000; Tube: Bond St.). The embassy is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm. For passport and visa information, you will need to go to the U.S. Passport and Citizenship Unit, 55-56 Upper Brook St., London, W1 (tel. 020/7499-9000, ext. 2563 or 2564; Tube: Marble Arch or Bond St.). Passport and Citizenship Unit hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 11:30am, and Monday and Friday from 2 to 4pm.

There is also a U.S. Consulate in Edinburgh at 3 Regent Terrace (tel. 0131/556-8315).  Hours are Monday through Friday from 1 to 5:30pm.

Other Important Information to Know About the UK

Time Zone:

GMT + 1.00 hours (late March to late October).  Otherwise, at GMT. Current time in London.

Currency:

One pound is currently equivalent to 1.97 U.S. dollars.  Current exchange rate.

Population:

As of July 2006, 60,441,457 (86% white British; 5% white other; 1.8% Indian, 1.3% Pakistani; and smaller numbers of white Irish, mixed race; black Caribbean; black African)

Holidays:

National holidays in the UK include New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, May Day, Spring, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.  Northern Ireland also celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.  There have been calls for holidays honoring other patron saints in England, Scotland, and Wales. 
When a holiday falls on a weekend, the date of the holiday is usually postponed until a weekday.  The holiday is then referred to as a “bank holiday.”  However, workers are not automatically entitled to time off for public holidays.

Language:

English is the official languages, though several other languages have been recognized as legitimate regional languages.  These include Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, and Cornish.  English speakers should have no trouble communicating anywhere in the kingdom.

Climate:

Generally temperate and humid.  Summers are warm and damp, and winters are fairly mild.  Conditions can be windy and wet, but rain rarely lasts more than a few hours.  The eastern regions are typically drier, and southern regions tend to be warmer.

Fun Facts About the UK

  • The United Kingdom is made up of four “home nations”: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • The UK has an extensive privatized train network.  Parking and traffic can be difficult within urban areas so stick to the excellent public transportation, particularly in major centers like London.
  • “Take-away” is the equivalent of “take-out” food in the United States.  Take-away shops in the UK range from fish and chips shops to Indian shops, all sources of affordable and tasty food.
  • London is considered a shopping capital of the world.  Avoid tourist areas if you’re looking for bargains.  Flea markets can be great sources of unique and inexpensive gifts.
  • Though British cuisine is largely considered bland, a dramatic increase in ethnic food has g diversified dining opportunities.  Southeastern and Eastern Asian restaurants are especially plentiful.
  • The UK is one of the most expensive countries in the world, but salaries are also among the highest globally.
  • In Britain, drugstores are called “chemists.”  You can obtain a list of emergency chemists at any local police station.
  • Manners tend to be formal in the UK.  For example, you should stand when someone enters a room and use titles to address people with whom you are not familiar.
  • Among the regional specialties popular in the UK are black pudding, a sausage made of congealed of pig’s blood, and deep fried Mars bars.
  • In 2004, the UK hosted over 300,000 foreign students.  The kingdom has been a center of learning for 1000 years and has many distinguished universities including Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Pub culture is a huge part of nightlife in the UK.  Remember pub etiquette: don’t tap on the bar when you want the bartender’s attention, and don’t be too rowdy if you’re a non-local in a local pub.
  • Tip cab drivers 10% to 15%.   If the driver helps with your luggage, make sure to tip extra.
  • While English is the official language, over 200 languages are spoken in the UK.
  • The UK is only 35 km from France and easily accessibly via the Chunnel that runs under the English Channel.
  • July and August are busy months in the UK.  Be prepared for crowds on the coast, at national parks, and in popular towns like Oxford and Bath.
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