Facts on Scotland
Facts on Scotland are listed below. Please contact us if you have other questions!
- Passport / Visa Requirements
- Tax Refund on Goods
- Shops and Shopping Hours
- Restaurants/Pubs /Gratuities
- Voltage & Electrical Equipment
- Driving in Scotland
- Medical Assistance
- What to Wear
Passport / Visa Requirements:
Visitors to Scotland (and to the rest of the UK) must hold a valid passport before starting their journey. Please note that children require their own passports. Citizens living within the EU and most other Western countries including USA, Canada & Australia do not require visas.
Tax Refund on Goods:
US visitors to Scotland can reclaim the Value Added Tax (VAT) This service is not available in every shop, so ask before making a purchase. A tax-free shopping form should be obtained and completed at the place of purchase (remember to take your passport with you) and subsequently presented to HM Customs and Excise as you leave the UK.
The currency of Scotland is the GBP Pound (£). One pound is comprised of 100 pence and coins can be obtained in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 denominations. Bank notes are commonly divided into £5, £10, £20 and £50 amounts. Scottish banks also issue a £1 notes which can be used as legal tender anywhere in the United Kingdom. Money can be exchanged in banks, at foreign exchange bureaus and hotels. The exchange bureaus are generally open for longer than banks are but charge higher commission rates. Banks open Monday through Friday at 9:00am or 10:00am and close at 4:00pm or 5:00pm. Some banks open late on Thursdays and a few also open on Saturday mornings.
All Scottish bank notes, though different than English notes, are normally accepted in the rest of Britain, while Northern Irish bank notes are also accepted in Scotland.
Shops and Shopping Hours:
Shops generally open Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm. In popular visitor areas, many shops stay open until later in the evening during the summer, while in larger towns and cities, there is usually late night shopping until 7:00pm or 8:00pm on Thursday evenings throughout the year. Scotland also offers Sunday shopping in most towns.
Facts on Scotland: Restaurants/Pubs/Gratuities
For details on recommended restaurants, check out the VisitScotland guide to eating and drinking in Scotland at EatScotland.
Scottish restaurants, including those in hotels, usually open from 12:00 noon to 2:30pm for lunch and from 6:00pm to midnight for dinner, although these times do vary greatly. Country establishments however, often tend to close that bit earlier so it is important to pre-check. Last orders are often taken up to 45 minutes before closing.
Many restaurants, bistros, cafes and pubs remain open throughout the day for morning coffee, afternoon tea and beverages. One is also likely to come across the widely held Scottish institution of high tea, particularly in the smaller establishments in rural areas. This is a meal served between 4:30pm and 6:00pm approximately and consists of a simple main course accompanied by bread, cakes and tea or coffee.
The standard opening times for licensed premises are from 11:00am to 2:30pm and 5:00pm to 11:00pm Monday through Saturday, 12:30pm to 2:30pm and 6:30pm to 11:00pm on Sunday. Many pubs however, open all afternoon, while somehave a late license, particularly at weekends.
Pubs and Restaurants – What to pay
There are no definite rules for tipping. If you feel that you have received good service then you may wish to leave a tip. This is most common in restaurants, where it is normal to leave 10-15% of the total bill but you should check to see if a service charge has already been included. Tipping in hotels is also at your discretion. It is not normal to tip bar staff, although they are sometimes offered a “drink”, which they can take when off duty. Taxi or cab drivers are often given a tip, particularly on longer journeys. £1.00 to £2.00 would be sufficient.
Voltage & Electrical Equipment:
Voltage is 240v 50Hz. Most establishments in Scotland have square-pin sockets for 3, 5 and 13 amp fuses. You can buy an adapter at your departure airport.
Driving in Scotland:
Scotland’s roads include a motorway network in central Scotland, with dual carriageways to key places further north such as Aberdeen and Inverness. In some areas of Scotland, particularly the Highlands and Islands, there are often single-track roads, which demand extreme caution.
Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, with overtaking only permissible on the right-hand side. Visitors should also remember to give way to the right on roundabouts. Speed limits are 70 mph on motorways and dual carriageways, 60 mph on single carriageways and 30 mph in built up areas, unless otherwise stated. It is also compulsory to wear seatbelts (front and back) in Scotland.
Telephone numbers comprise an area code (always beginning with 01) and then the local number. A typical Scottish phone number would be (01224) 908123. Whenever dialing another UK phone number from within Scotland, one should always dial the complete number (both the area code and local phone number).
Should you encounter any difficulties, the local operator can be contacted toll free by dialling 100.
If calling a Scottish number from outside the United Kingdom, dial your own country’s international access code for the UK, followed by the code for the UK (44) and then the area code, dropping the first 0. Taking the above number as an example, the number would be:
International Code +UK Code +Area Code +Phone Number
** 44 1244 908123
Using Cell Phones in the UK
If you do not own the correct type of cell phone for the UK (one which uses GSM technology on either the 900 or 1800MHz frequencies), and need one for your visit, you can buy or rent one.
Visitors who become ill while in Scotland are eligible for free emergency treatment at National Health Service Accident and Emergency hospital departments. If however, you are admitted to hospital as a patient, or referred to an outpatient clinic, you will be asked to pay unless you are a citizen of a European country or a resident of a country, which has a reciprocal health-care agreement with the UK.
You are therefore strongly advised to take out adequate insurance cover before travelling – although it is unlikely that anything will happen, it is best to be covered. You do not need an International Certificate of Vaccination for entry to the UK but you should check if one is required for re-entry to your own country. Scotland does have midges (small flies) that bite, so if you intend spending time out of doors, you should pick up some insect-repellent at a chemist.
What to Wear:
Because of the variable weather, clothes should be flexible enough to allow for temperature change. Between May and September, it is often warm but a light waterproof coat or jacket should still be packed. From October to April, heavier sweaters are recommended, particularly if spending a lot of time outdoors.
In Scotland, bank holidays generally apply only to banks and some financial and commercial offices, whereas in England and Ireland, they are usually public holidays. Christmas Day and New Years Day are of course usually taken by everyone. Scottish towns and cities normally have a spring and autumn holiday and while the dates of these holidays vary from year to year and sometimes place to place, they are always on a Monday.