Etiquette & Customs (in short)
The British might seems a bit formal at first, but they have a relaxed attitude to practices and attitudes.
- The handshake is the common form of greeting
- Avoid prolonged eye contact as it makes people feel uncomfortable
Gift Giving Etiquette:
- If invited to someone’s home, it is normal to take along a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers
- The British exchange gifts between family members and close friends for birthdays and Christmas
- The gift need not be expensive, but it should usually demonstrate an attempt to find something, that is related to the recipient’s interests
- Unlike many European cultures, the British enjoy entertaining people in their homes
- Although the British value punctuality, you may arrive 10-15 minutes later than invited to dinner. However, if going to a restaurant, be on time
- The fork is held tines down so food is scooped on to the back of the fork. This is a skill that takes time to master!
- Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate
- When in a pub, it is common practice to pay for a round of drinks for everyone in your group
- If invited to a meal at a restaurant, the person extending the invitation usually pays. Do not argue about the check; simply reciprocate at a later time
Should you leave a tip in restaurants or bars?
You can leave a tip, but you don’t have to.
As in many European countries, the bill includes a service charge. So make sure to check the bill itself; there is no need to leave any extra tip in addition to this amount. A service charge is not the same as a tip.
People sometimes give 5 or 10% of the bill as a tip or round up to an even number. It depends on how happy you were with the service.
United Kingdom is in general a peaceful place, but there can always happen thefts of mobile phones, cameras and other valuable things. Be aware of pickpockets around various sights especially around cathedrals and other places where tourists gather.
Most travellers will not experience any issues or problems on their holiday in either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. It can happen, but it can also be prevented by some simple precautions as:
- Do not “flash” cash or expensive items
- Visit only the cash machines during the day or early evening
- Do not leave expensive items visible in cars
Places you should avoid in London:
- Brixton – Area are not safe day and night
- Edmonton – Avoid day and night, part of this area is not safe
- Peckham – Avoid day and night, part of this area is not safe
- Tottenham – Avoid after dark, part of this area is not safe
Places you should avoid in Edinburgh:
- Grassmarket – Use caution, you do need to be careful. Avoid after dark
- Meadows – Avoid after dark, part of this area is not safe
- Muirhouse – Avoid day and night, part of this area is not safe
Places you should avoid in Cardiff:
- Grangetown – Use caution, you do need to be careful. Avoid after dark
Places you should avoid in Belfast:
- Altnaveigh Park – Use caution, you do need to be careful. Avoid after dark
- Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods: Don’t wear symbols with (IRA, INLA, FTQ, UDA, UVF, RHC) or Union Jack flags
Emergency numbers in United Kingdom (free call)
In case of any emergency call:
- 112 or 999 – National emergency number
- 112 or 999 – Fire Brigade
- 112 or 999 – Police
- 112 or 999 – Ambulance
The caller must:
- State the location where assistance is needed
- State their name and telephone number
- State what happened, and if it is still happening
- State how many people need help
- State if there are weapons involved