Money / Currency exchange / Insurance

British currency

Britain’s currency is the pound (£) sterling. There are 100 pennies, or pence (p), to a pound.

Coins are issued in bronze denominations of 1p and 2p, and silver denominations of 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p. There is also a gold-coloured £1 coin, and a silver and gold £2 coin.

Paper notes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20 and £50.

Using euros in London

Even though Britain has yet to join the single currency, it is still possible to spend euros in London (just).

Only the really big businesses will accept them, though – major chain stores like Body Shop, Debenhams, HMV, Marks & Spencers, Selfridges, Topshop, Virgin, WH Smith’s and Waterstones.

Credit and debit cards

Cash machines are available throughout London, but may charge a small amount for withdrawals (typically £1.50–£2.00) – look out for the notices on the facade or front screen.

The following credit cards are all widely accepted in London: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.

Lost credit cards

If you have lost your credit card then try phoning one of the following numbers:

American Express:call 0127 369 6933

Diners Club:call 0125 251 3500

JCB:call 0207 499 3000

Mastercard / Eurocard:call 0800 964 767

Visa / Connect:call 0800 895 082

Money transfers / Exchange

Foreign currency can be exchanged and transferred at banks, post offices and the numerous money-changing outlets in tourist areas and train stations.

Most post offices offer a commission-free money exchange service, and banks tend not to charge commission on sterling traveller’s checks associated with the business.

The following hours are a rough guide, and vary from business to business.

Banks:9 AM–5 PM (Mon–Fri); 10 AM–1 PM (Sat)

Post Offices:9 AM–5.30 PM (Mon–Fri), and 9 AM–noon (Sat)

Money-changing outlets:8 AM–10 PM (Mon–Sun)

Currency exchange rates

The following chart shows the approximate exchange rate. If you need an exact figure, try visiting xe.com.

Currency converter – exchange rates for foreign currency in London
Australia - Dollar$1 = £0.42£1 = $2.40
Canada - Dollar$1 = £0.46£1 = $2.17
China - Yuan¥1 = £0.07£1 = ¥14.4
Europe - Euro€1 = £0.68£1 = €1.46
India - Rupee1Rp > £0.01£1 = 81Rp
Japan - Yen¥1 > £0.01£1 = ¥207
New Zealand - Dollar$1 = £0.39£1 = $2.56
USA - Dollar$1 = £0.56£1 = $1.60

Holiday insurance cover

All visitors to London should ensure that they have adequate insurance prior to their arrival.

Many people believe that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will provide free health care, but this is not always the case.

Your holiday insurance policy should cover all of the activities that you plan to do whilst on your holiday.

NHS care without insurance

We recommend obtaining a comprehensive travel insurance policy before your arrive, but the NHS will generally treat the following people free of charge: Anyone who has been in the UK for at least 12 months; Anyone who has come to the UK to take up permanent residence; Refugees, or people who are seeking refuge in the UK; Students and trainees whose courses require more than 12 weeks employment during their first year.

The NHS provides the following services free of charge: Treatment in Accident & Emergency departments; Emergency ambulance transport to hospital; Compulsory psychiatric treatment.

UK health agreements

The citizens of some countries are entitled to receive emergency medical care in the UK, even without travel insurance – but they must ensure that the correct steps have been followed prior to their departure.

EU citizens can be treated on the NHS – provided that they have an E111 form signed and stamped before they leave their home country.

Some non-EU countries also have reciprocal health agreements with the UK: Anguilla, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Falkland Islands, Hungary, Macedonia, Malta, Montserrat, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovenia

Please note that the United States and Canada do not have a health agreement with the UK, and a comprehensive travel insurance policy is recommended.

 
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