Under the Visa Waiver Programme a large number of countries are exempt from Visa requirements for non-working stays of less than 90 days. All other stays in the country require different visas. It is advised that you contact your nearest US Embassy to find out the exact requirements for entering the country.
The currency used in San Diego/USA is the US Dollar (US$) which is divided into 100 cents (¢). Notes come in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. There are larger denominations but they are rarely used. Coins used are 1¢ (penny), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), ¢25 (quarter), ¢50 and $1.
English is the first language spoken in San Diego. Other languages, such as Spanish and Italian are also spoken throughout the city.
Thanks to its proximity to Mexico, San Diego enjoys very warm summers. In the winter it has a very temperate climate, with the average temperature in January being 65˚F. The average amount of rainfall is 10 inches.
Most visitors to USA/San Diego aren’t covered medically so you will have to pay for any medical treatment received. Make sure to get travel insurance including health insurance before you go.
There are drugstores all over the city for any medication you might need and in case of an emergency you should visit one of the city’s medical centres or hospitals.
San Diego is 8 hours behind GMT and three behind EST standard time.
Opening hours for shops in San Francisco are generally between 10.00am and 9.00pm from Monday to Saturday and on Sundays from midday until 5.00pm. Offices open between 9.00am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday.
Banks are normally open from 9.00am to 3.00pm on weekdays and some open until lunch-time on Saturdays.
The main tourist office in San Diego is:
International Visitors Information Centre
11 Horton Plaza
F Street at First Avenue
This information centre is open between 8.30am-5pm from Monday to Saturday.
There is no VAT in the US but every state, county and city reserves the right to levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant bills, airline tickets etc. This tax in San Diego/California is 7-8%. Take note that rates vary and can get as high as 18% in hotels.
Also be aware that the price marked on to goods does not include the sales tax and will be more expensive when you bring it to the cash desk.
US Dollar travellers cheques are widely accepted in hotels and hostels. Sterling travellers cheques aren’t changed as widely so if you are bringing travellers cheques make sure they are US$.
Most businesses will accept US traveller’s cheques, but you are better off changing them in a bank. You will also need identification to do so.
The US uses 110 to 120 volts AC, 60 cycles. If you are using a European or an Australian appliance, you will need a 110-volt transformer and a plug adapter with two flat parallel pins. These adapters are difficult to find in the States so you are recommended to bring one with you.
When you are calling San Diego from overseas you need to dial the international access code then 1, followed by the area code (619, 858, 760 or 935), followed by the local seven digit number. If you are in the same area code you just dial the local number.
If you are calling abroad from within the US you dial 011 (America’s international access code), followed by the country’s code, area code (remembering to drop the 0) and local number.
San Diego’s main post office is located at 2535 Midway Drive, between downtown and Mission Beach. Opening hours and hours vary between 7am-5pm Monday to Saturday.
Tipping is customary all over America, usually around 15-20% of the bill. Most people in the service industry expect to receive tips. These include taxi drivers, waiters and waitresses, barmen, chamber maids, hotel bellboys and airport luggage porters.
In the US they take place on New Years Day (January 1st) Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Third Mon in January), President’s Day (third Monday in February), Memorial Day (last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4th), Labour Day (first Monday in September), Columbus Day (second Monday in October), Veterans Day (11th November), Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November and Christmas Day (December 25th).
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to San Francisco/America as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.