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General Info about Edinburgh, Scotland

Visa Requirements
EU citizens may live and work free of any immigration controls. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are generally allowed to stay six months without a visa.

Currency
The pound sterling is the currency used in Scotland as well as the rest of Great Britain. Scottish banks also issue their own banknotes. These notes are generally accepted in England.

Language
The language spoken in Edinburgh is English. Scottish Gaelic is spoken is some areas of Scotland.

Climate
Edinburgh tends to be cool and dry, with winter temperatures rarely dropping below freezing. The Gulf Stream winds keep the temperature relatively mild. July and August are the warmest months. Despite its reputation, the city has less rainfall than Rome!

Medical Care
Medical care is free to residents of the UK. If you are from outside England, even if you are a member of an EU member state, you may be required to pay for any medical treatment.

Time Zone
Edinburgh is located in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone (GMT) which is one hour behind Central European Time (CET) and five hours ahead of Easter Standard Time (EST).

Opening Hours
Shops in Edinburgh are generally open between 9am-6pm, with late night shopping on a Thursday. More and more shops open now on Sundays from 12pm-6pm. Banks are usually open between 9.30am and 3.30 or 5.00pm.

Tourist Offices
The city’s main tourist office is located above Waverley Train Station (3 Princes Street). When the office is closed there’s a 24-hour computerised information service at the door.

The tourist office open form Mon-Sat 9am-6/8pm, Sun 10am-6/8pm.

Tax
A 17.5% sales tax (VAT) is levied on all goods and services in Britain. It does not apply to books or food. By law it must be included in your restaurant bill. With regards to shopping, this tax can be claimed back on goods taken out of the country by non-nationals but not all stores participate in this 'Retail Export Scheme' so, before purchasing, look for a sign or enquire.

Currency Exchange
Currency can be exchanged at all Tourist Information Centres, at most banks and at agencies throughout the city. Travellers cheques are widely accepted in banks. Banks generally offer the best exchange rates although they can vary considerably from place to place. Commission is sometimes charged for cashing travellers cheques in foreign currencies, but not for sterling travellers cheques, provided you cash them at a bank affiliated to the issuing bank. Cash points (ATMs) are very common.

Electricity
The current used in Edinburgh is 240V.

Telephones
The international code for the UK is +44. The area code for Edinburgh is 0131. If you're calling from outside the UK, dial the international code of the country you’re in, drop the first 0 for Edinburgh and dial the number.

If you’re dialling overseas from within Edinburgh, dial 00 (international access code), the country code, then area code and the local number.

Different public payphones either take coins, credit cards or prepaid phonecards (and sometimes all three). The minimum cost is 10p, but some payphones (such as counter-top ones found in many pubs) require a minimum of 20p. Phonecards can be bought from post offices & many newsagents and can be used in phone boxes with the green phonecard symbol.

Post Office
The central post office is in St James Shopping Centre, off Leith St near the bus station. Open Mon 9am-5.30pm, Tues-Fri 8.30am-5.30pm, Sat 8.30am-6pm, Closed Sun.

Tipping
If you eat in a Scottish restaurant you should leave a tip of at least 10% unless the service was unsatisfactory. Some restaurants include a service charge on the bill, in which case a gratuity is unnecessary.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel there as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.

In Scotland they take place on January 1st (New Year’s Day), 2nd January, March/April (Easter), first Monday in May (Early May Bank Holiday), last Monday in May (Spring Bank Holiday), first Monday in August (Summer Bank Holiday), December 25th (Christmas Day) and December 26th (Boxing Day).

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