London Guide: Tips & Checklist
Useful tips and recommendations
Arriving in the UK
Entry requirements for the UK are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. You do not need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to the UK.
UK Border / passport control
Automatic E-Passport gates are in operation at London Stansted Airport. As a citizen of the EU, UK, an EEA country or Switzerland you will probably be directed to use these gates at the UK border rather than queuing to present your passport to a border force officer. Citizens of other countries will need to see a border force officer and have their passport stamped.
Using the automatic passport gates is quick and easy. Please remember to remove glasses if you are not wearing them on your passport photograph.
- Open your passport to the photograph page and place it face down on the reader. Hold it in position.
- Look ahead at the screen and wait until the it turns green.
- Remove your passport from the reader and walk through the open gate.
Don’t worry if your passport is rejected. In that case you will be asked to present your passport to a border force officer instead.
Bringing things into the UK
Please be aware that as the UK is no longer part of the EU, there are restrictions on what you can bring into the country from EU countries. You are responsible for knowing your limits and what you cannot and cannot bring with you.
Returning to Germany
Entry requirements for Germany are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. You do not need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to Germany.
Bringing things into Germany
There are restrictions on what you can bring into the country from non-EU countries. You are responsible for knowing your limits and what you cannot and cannot bring with you and for declaring goods to customs on arrival if they exceed your personal allowances (Reisefreimengen).
If you purchase food to eat on the return journey, you should be aware that if these contain meat or dairy products, for example sandwiches with cheese or meat fillings or cakes with fresh cream, you will need to either consume or dispose of them before you enter the country.
Don't forget to bring your phone / tablet / laptop charger with you, but be aware that you will need an adapter to use these in the UK (where three-pin plugs are used).
Good to know: The bathroom in your hotel room should have a two-pin socket (intended for electric shavers) that you can plug a charger into.
Healthcare / EHIC
Carry your valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in case you need emergency medical treatment in an NHS hospital. This is usually on the back of your German health insurance card.
Money and payment
We recommend using your debit card to obtain money from cash machines (ATMs) as this is likely to be cheaper and give you a better exchange rate than currency exchange desks at the airport or bureaux de change in the city. In particular, we would advise against exchanging money at the airport.
As a rough guide: 1 pound is worth approximately 1.15 Euros (1 Euro = 87 pence)
It is quite normal to make even small purchases using a debit or credit card in the UK and cards are very widely accepted. You should, however, be aware that your German bank may charge you a fee for using your card in an non-Euro country, so we would advise you to check. Contactless payment cards are widely accepted in the UK for transactions up to £100.00.
If you lose a debit or credit card during your stay, you can have it blocked by calling +49 116 116 or +49 30 4050 4050.
Travel and transport
Download the TfL Go app for iOS and Android.
Please keep an eye on your Oyster Card balance towards the end of the week as you are likely to need to add a small amount of credit. You can check your balance at a Tube station at any ticket machine with a display. Most ticket barriers show the remaining balance when you touch into and out of a Tube station.
On the Tube and trains: You should always touch in and out with your Oyster Card by placing it on the yellow card reader, even if the barrier is open. If you don't, you might be charged too much for your journey.
On buses: Only place the card on the reader to touch in when you get on the bus, but not when you get off.
Avoid card clash: Card clash happens when you accidently touch more than one card on a yellow card reader at the same time. The Oyster Card uses the same technology as contactless debit and credit cards, so you should make sure that you always remove the Oyster Card from your wallet before placing it on the card reader if you have other contactless cards with you. If you don't there is a chance that your contactless bank card will be debited with the fare for the journey as well.
If you happen to use a taxi at any time, it is polite to give the driver a tip of 10% of the fare, though rounding up the fare to the nearest pound and telling the driver to "keep the change" is also perfectly acceptable, particularly on short journeys.
You will notice that pedestrians do not always observe the red and green men on traffic lights. In contrast to Germany this is not illegal. It can, however, be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with the road layout, so always look left and right, observe signs and markings on the roads, and remember: in the UK people drive on the left!
Telephone and Internet
Although the EU roaming regulations no longer apply to the UK, most German mobile providers continue to treat the UK as an EU country. If you have a contract directly with Telekom, Vodafone or o2, then calls, texts and mobile Internet use will be charged at the same rate as in Germany, i.e. calls and texts within the UK and to Germany will be covered by a flatrate and you will be able to use your inclusive mobile data.
If your contract or prepaid card is with a different provider, please check that you will not incur any additional charges whilst roaming. The latest information we have is that EU roaming also still applies for customers of 1&1, ALDI TALK, Blau, congstar, klarmobil, freenet and winSIM, bit this is not an exhaustive list.
This information is provided without any guarantee, so please check with your provider to avoid any unpleasant surprises!
Be aware that calls from your German mobile phone to non-geographical numbers in the UK (e.g. 0345 / 0870) or Germany (e.g. 0180) are not covered by flatrates and can be quite expensive. This also applies to 0800 numbers which are only free within Germany or within the UK if you are using a SIM card from a UK provider.
Free WiFi is available in the hotel and is widely available in many locations around the city. Near to university sites and buildings you may find that you are automatiucally logged into the EduRoam network. Please do be aware that just like in any other city, free WiFi connections in cafés, coffee shops, etc. may not be secure, so we strongly advise against using these for anything that involves the transmission of sensitive data, in particular online banking.
Food and drink
As those of you who have been to the London before will know, and students who have taken part in previous study trips will tell you, you will not be short of options when it comes to eating and drinking. Remember that an Indian meal, fish and chips and afternoon tea are already on your agenda.
Tip: The hotel serves a continental breakfast. If you are looking for something more substantial one morning, maybe try a "full English breakfast" - served all day in many cafés.
It is common for a service charge (often 12.5%) to be included in your bill in restaurants. This is voluntary, but you would be expected to pay it unless you are particularly unhappy with the service. Where no service charge is added, it is polite to add a tip of 10%.
Museums and galleries
Many museums and galleries in London do not charge for admission. You may have to queue at busy times and some locations require you to book a slot in advance, so pleasae check the website for details. Choose where you want to go carefully as there are not enough hours in the day to look at everything there is to see for free.
Theatre and musicals
If you really want to see a particular show then you will probably want to buy tickets in advance. If you are flexible and just want to see what you can get tickets for at the last minute, try the TKTS booth in Leicester Square or visit the on-the-day TKTS website. Not surprisingly, Fridays and Saturdays are the most expensive evenings.
If a trip to Oxford Street, one of London's busiest shopping streets, is ony your agenda: in the last couple of years a large number of American Candy and Souvenir Stores have appeared. They sell American candy products at highly inflated prices and many of them are currently being investigated for tax fraud and other suspicious activities. However tempting the sweets might be, you might like to consider supporting other London businesses instead.
Besides traditional shopping areas, consider visiting the following markets: