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General Info about Wales

Visa Requirements
On arrival in the United Kingdom, a person must show a valid national passport or other document satisfactorily establishing his/her identity and nationality. Entry clearance and Visa requirements are as for the United Kingdom as a whole.

Currency
The currency used in the UK is the Sterling pound and it’s divided into one hundred pennies. The coins in circulation are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and £1. Notes come in denominations of £1 (coin is now more common and notes have been discontinued in England), £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. Some Scottish banks including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank, do issue their own sterling notes which are legal tender throughout the UK. Occasionally, however, some places in England are reluctant to accept them.

Language
Wales is officially a bilingual nation – around a quarter of the population speak welsh, which is the strongest survivor of the Celtic languages. It is predominantly spoken in the Northern and western areas of the country. English is also spoken throughout the country.

Climate
The weather in Wales tends to be mild and variable. The coastal areas can be very warm in the summer. Walkers and climbers need to be aware that the weather in upland areas is very changeable throughout the year. The best weather is between the months June – September.

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.

It is strongly advised that you take out medical insurance before travelling.

Time Zone
Greenwich Mean Time.

Opening Hours
Shops open from 9am–5.30pm Monday – Saturday. Some may open on a Sunday between 10am-4pm or 11am–5pm, but this is not common practice with all shops. Businesses are open from 9am–5pm Monday to Friday.

Tourist Offices
Tourist Information Centres are the best place to obtain information and can be found in all of Wales’ larger cities and towns. Staff are highly trained, and have excellent knowledge of their particular area. Normal office hours are 10am–5pm.

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 hotel or 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
You can bring in and take out bank notes, travellers cheques etc, in any currency and up to any amount. There is no restriction on the amount of travellers’ cheques changed. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted.

For the purpose of changing money the general opening hours for banks are:
9.00am – 5.00pm Monday – Friday
9.30am – 12.30pm Saturday, there may be slight variations, for example larger city centre branches may be open until slightly later, and those in the smaller towns may remain closed on a Saturday.
Please note that the Euro (€) is not yet widely accepted everywhere in Wales.

Electricity
standard voltage in Wales and the UK is 240 volts AC/50Hz.

Telephones
Telephoning Wales form abroad the international dialling code is +44. The town code then has to be dialled omitting the ‘0’.

Post Office
Post offices in Britain are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30pm and from 9:30am to 12.00pm on Saturdays.

Tipping
Tipping in Wales is not compulsory, but if you have enjoyed the meal/service it is at your discretion. Taxi drivers and hotel porters are often given a small tip for their service, but again this is to the individual’s discretion.

Public Holidays
New Years Day (January 1st), Easter (March/April), May Bank Holiday (first Monday in May), Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May), Summer Bank Holiday (last Monday in August), Christmas Day (December 25th) and Boxing Day (December 26th).

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

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