5,168,500 (estimated, 2008)
European Economic Area Citizens, which include all European Union countries and Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland, do not need a visa to enter Scotland (and of course, UK). Nationals of the following 10 countries need a visa when staying in the Scotland (UK) longer than six months: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the USA.
On the BootsnAll passports and visas page, you can check what kind of visa you need to enter the UK and start the process to order your visa.
Three main languages are spoken in Scotland, English being the most common and official language. Two traditional languages, Scots and Scottish Gaelic still survive, and are locally important, but are in decline around the nation as a whole.
Scotland is located on Greenwich Time Zone (GMT) and during the summer it observes Daylight Savings Time (British Summer Time which is GMT+1).
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland
Counting and numbers
Dates in Scotland (as in all over the UK) are written with the day first, then the month and the year. A common way to write a date would be: 2 June 2008.
When dealing with written numbers, commas and decimal points are exactly the same as in US, but swapped from what you are used to in Europe. So £20.10 means 20 Sterling Pounds and 10 pence.
Scotland uses both the metric and imperial systems for measurements and Celsius for temperatures. The European Union Commission set the deadline for 2010 for the entire UK to complete the full transition to Metric, Scotland (and the entire UK) is still allowed to use several imperial measurements (i.e. Pints, Pounds and Miles) but many stores already started using only the metric system for measurements.
You can find a conversion tool here.
Electricity and plugs
The standard electrical voltage in Scotland is 230 V / 50HZ, so you will need an adaptor unless you come from another European country (where the same system is used). The commonly used plug in Scotland has three rectangular prongs forming a triangle. If you need an adaptor and/or converter, you can buy one as soon as you enter Scotland. Just make sure to read the instructions on your electronic device before plugging it anywhere.
Scotland’s currency is Pound Sterling (GBP or £) subdivided in 100 pence (singular: penny), the same as all over the UK. Denominations include 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2 coins, the rarely used £5 coin and £1 (used in Scotland only), £5, £10, £20 banknotes and the rarely used £50 and £100 (only in Scotland and Northern Island) banknotes. The most common slang for the pound is “quid”. After the adoption of Euro, the Pound Sterling became the world’s oldest currency still used. The Bank of Scotland produces its own bills, with unique Scottish images on the back of each denomination. Though shopkeepers on the English border may sometimes roll their eyes, a pound is a pound, and legally they have to accept it.
Check this conversion rate tool before planning your vacation.
Banks and ATMs
Currency exchanges are available in the airports, at the rail stations, at exchange bureaus and at any bank. Banks are generally open from 9 AM to 5 PM during the weekdays. Depending on the bank there might be some exceptions as the banks can open later or close earlier.
It’s a good idea to exchange some money before you arrive in Scotland in order to avoid the lines at the ATMs located in the airport. ATMs are also referred to as “cash machines” or “cash points”. Make sure to look at the back of your card to see what network you are part of so that you will avoid the high fees for withdrawing money abroad. Also make sure you know what your daily withdrawal limit is.
Credit cards can be used in Scotland, with a preference for Master Card and Visa. American Express cards are allowed less frequently. When using the ATM or paying with the credit card make sure to keep all the recipes for up to six months after the date of your vacation in case you need to double check a transaction.
Traveler’s checks are less used in Scotland because ATMs offer 24 hours access to cash. However they can be exchanged and the commission ranges between 1% and 4%.
Using the telephone
The country code for Scotland (as all over the UK) is 44. To call Scotland from US first you need to dial out of US and then into England, so that’s 011+44+ area code +local phone number. To call a Scottish number from within the city, just dial the number you were given. To call US from Scotland, first dial 00 to dial outside UK, then 1 to enter the US followed by the area code and the local number, so that’s 00+1+area code + local number.
There are three types of public phones in Scotland; those that accept coins, those that accept phone cards and those that accept only British Telecom phone cards and credit cards. When using the coin phones, insert the coin before dialing (10p minimum).
A very good option is to ask your cell carrier what network to log onto while in Scotland and use the roaming feature. Travelers coming from Europe will have a great advantage if they already have Orange or Vodafone cards in their home countries since both carriers offer very good plans for using the cards abroad.
Useful telephone numbers
Ambulance, Police, Fire, Mountain Rescue and Coast Guard: 112 or 999