U.K. Currency, Shopping, and Customs Regulations

National currency
The national currency of Great Britain is:
Pound Sterling (British Pound), or GBP for short.

Foreign currency
import and export There is no restriction on the import and export of foreign currency in Great Britain for personal use. There is a departure fee in Great Britain.

Bank opening times

The ATMs, which work the same way as in Germany, are available around the clock and can be operated in German. In order to withdraw money with the EC card, however, you have to find one of the international ATMs, which are usually located in train stations or subway stations. You can also pay with a credit card in almost all shops and restaurants (from around 10 GBP also in most pubs). Since February 2006, in almost all shops you can only pay by entering your PIN number.

Bank opening times vary from bank to bank: in larger cities they are usually open a little longer and are often open on Saturday mornings. It is advisable to avoid lunchtime between 12 noon and 1.30pm as there are usually very long queues in the banks. Also note the numerous bank holidays in the country (see public holidays) on which banks and public institutions such as post offices and libraries are closed.

  • Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m./5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: closed


Shop opening times
The shop opening times in Great Britain are not required by law and therefore vary greatly for different regions and businesses. In the larger cities, the shopping centers and shops on the High Streets are usually open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. on weekdays and until around 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. In smaller districts or towns, however, the shops are often completely closed on Sundays. Groceries can usually be bought around the clock.
Most supermarkets are open Mon-Sat until 8 or even 10 p.m., on Sundays mostly until 4 p.m.
There are also very large supermarkets outside of the cities, for example from Tesco, Sainsbury’s or ASDA, which are open 24 hours a day. The typical corner shops, whose opening times are very individual, are also popular: in large cities they are often around the clock, in more rural areas they are sometimes closed on Sundays.
Since the repeal of various laws governing the serving of alcohol, you can often buy alcohol late into the night with so-called off licenses. However, it is advisable to inquire about this beforehand, as many shops still have a curfew to sell alcohol.

Inexpensive or country-specific goods, souvenirs
Some country-specific foods are popular souvenirs from trips to Great Britain because they are difficult to find in Germany or very expensive. You can buy particularly fine British groceries in London at Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, as well as in the excellently equipped food departments of Harrod’s or Selfridges department stores.

  • Shortbread
  • jam
  • Tea (Earl Gray/Darjeeling/Assam)
  • Chutney
  • lemon curd
  • Mince pies
  • Marmite

Importing and exporting goods
The following articles can be imported duty-free into Great Britain and Northern Ireland (when entering from non-EU countries):
200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 g tobacco;
2 l table wine;
1 liter of spirits over 22% or 2 liters of alcoholic beverages up to 22% alcohol or 2 liters of sparkling/liqueur wines;
60 ml perfume and 250 ml eau de toilette;
Goods up to a value of £ 145.

The import and export of drugs, pornographic material, weapons, ammunition or explosives is strictly prohibited. This also applies to some weapons that can be legally purchased in Germany, such as CS gas spray cans, blank guns, knives with fixed blades or snap knives with blades longer than 7 cm. The import and export of plants and animals protected under the Washington Species Protection Act is also strictly prohibited.

Units of measurement
Due to their island location, non-metric units are used in Great Britain but also in a number of other countries:

1 mile = 1,609.344 m
1 foot = 12 inches = 0.3048 m
1 inch = 25.4 mm
1 inch = 25.4 mm
1 gallon = 8 pints = 4.546 liters
1 Gallon (US) = 8 pints = 3.785 liters
1 yard = 3 feet = 36 inches = 0.914 m

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases that do not occur in Germany, Austria or Switzerland are not to be expected in Great Britain. However, you should be particularly careful:

  • Lyme disease, as a result of tick bites
  • Hepatitis A and B, an infection with hepatitis B, is only possible in people who can come into contact with blood or those who are looking for sexual contact.

Vaccination recommendations When traveling to Great Britain, the same vaccinations are recommended as in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

  • Cholera, but only among travelers who can come into contact with polluted water or contaminated food
  • Diphtheria, a vaccination against diphtheria should always exist, also in the home country
  • Hepatitis A and B, vaccination against hepatitis B, is only required for people who may come into contact with blood or who are looking for sexual contact.
  • Polio, polio, a vaccination against polio should always exist, also in the home country
  • Tetanus, a vaccination against tetanus, should always exist, also in the home country

Compulsory vaccination
There are no vaccination requirements when entering or staying in the UK.

Shopping in U.K.