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Frequently Asked Tourist Questions

What are the opening times of shops in Scotland?
Shops usually open Monday to Saturday, from 0900-1730/1800hrs. In popular visitor areas, many shops stay open until later in the evening during the summer and in towns there is late night shopping until 1900/2000hrs on Thursday evenings throughout the year. Many stores open on Sundays, particularly in the larger towns. In smaller communities opening times may vary. Check details with your local Tourist Information Centres.

Where can I get tax free shopping?
Value Added Tax (VAT) is 17.5% and is applied to goods and services. Non-EU visitors to Scotland can reclaim it on goods only, by using the Foreign Exchange Tax Free Shopping arrangements. You can reclaim VAT at participating stores. A Tax Free Shopping form is obtained and completed at the shop where you must also show your passport. The form has to be presented to HM Customs and Excise as you leave the UK.

What bank notes can I use in Scotland?
Scottish banks issue their own bank notes for all denominations, which differ from English notes, but they are of the same value and are accepted elsewhere in the UK (although you are best to change 1 notes for 1 coins before you leave Scotland). English notes are accepted in Scotland.

Where can I change currency?
In Scotland banks usually give the best exchange rate for foreign currency. Many banks offer this service. They usually open Monday - Friday between 0900 - 1600/1700hrs (some open until later on Thursdays and a few open on Saturday mornings). It is also possible to change money, in airports, larger rail stations, travel agents and some larger hotels (if you are a resident); there is usually a handling fee and commission.

Can I use my credit card in Scotland?
Main stores, hotels and restaurants in Scotland will accept the majority of credit cards. It is advisable to carry some Sterling; for example, many smaller accommodation establishments such as B&Bs are unlikely to accept credit cards; this also applies to other small businesses.

How much do I tip in Scotland?
There are no definite rules for tipping. If you feel that you have received good service then you may wish to leave a tip. This is most common in restaurants, where the tip can be up to 10% of the bill, but you should check to see if a service charge has already been included. Tipping in hotels is also at your discretion. It is not normal to tip bar staff, although they may be offered a drink. Taxi drivers are often given a tip, particularly on longer journeys and if they carry your luggage, with 50p-1.00 normally being sufficient.

What is the weather like in Scotland?
Scotland's position on the edge of the European continent with sea on three sides means that the weather is very varied. Records show that May and June are usually drier than July and August (when the average monthly rainfall, for example, in Edinburgh is at its highest.) Even so, Edinburgh's annual rainfall is only slightly greater than London's and many of the east coast towns have less annual rainfall than Rome. Generally speaking, the east coast tends to be cool and dry, the west coast milder and wetter. More importantly, if it rains, with Scotland's ever-changing weather patterns, it will probably not last for long. Besides, with Scotland's longer summer daylight hours - the midsummer sun sets in Shetland at 2234 hrs - you have plenty of time to fit in your excursions. Average temperature in the Summer is 15-22 degrees centigrade.

What happens if I become ill on holiday?
Holidaymakers who become ill while in Scotland are eligible for free emergency treatment at National Health Service Accident and Emergency hospital departments. If, however, you are admitted to hospital as an in-patient, or referred to an out-patient clinic, you will be asked to pay unless you are a citizen of a European Community country, or a national/resident of a country which has a reciprocal health-care agreement with the UK. It is best to take out insurance cover before travelling. Your travel agent can give advice. You do not need an International Certificate of Vaccination for entry to the UK, but one may be needed for re-entry to your own country. Scotland does, however, have midges, small flies that bite, so if you are travelling in the Highlands, you should pick up some midge-repellent at a chemist.

When do restaurants and pubs open and close?
Restaurants (including those in hotels) in towns usually open 1200-1430 hrs for lunch and 1800-2400hrs for dinner, but in the countryside they are likely to close earlier. Last orders are often taken 45 minutes before closing. Many restaurants/bistros/cafes and pubs are open all day in cities and larger towns. The standard opening times for pubs are 1100-1430hrs and 1700-2300hrs Monday-Saturday, 1230-1430hrs and 1830-2300hrs on Sunday, but many pubs open all afternoon, while some have a late licence, especially at weekends. Most pubs also serve coffee, snacks and meals.

What should I pay in a restaurant or pub?
The price of food and drink varies considerably. As a general guideline, eating out in a pub at lunchtime will cost from around 5.00; in a restaurant it is usually more expensive, but you can get business lunches, with a restricted menu, at a very reasonable cost, around 5. For dinner expect to pay from 15.00-20.00. There are many restaurant guides available to help you make your choice, but you can also ask the Tourist Information Centre or someone at your accommodation may be able to advise you - local recommendation is best.

Pubs are generally cheaper than hotel lounges for alcoholic drinks. A measure of whisky (25 or 35 millilitres) costs around 1.40, single measures are also known as nips. A pint of beer costs around 1.90 or more. Scottish draught beers are usually ordered by the pint or half-pint. The English term bitter isn’t usually used in Scotland (heavy or export are the nearest equivalents). When in doubt, order by the name on the tap or ask the person behind the bar for advice.

Are their facilities for people with disabilities?
The Scottish Tourist Board assesses accommodation for it’s disabled visitors. The three categories of accessibility, drawn up in close consultation with specialist organisations, reassure you that the property either provides unassisted wheelchair access; assisted wheelchair access or access for those with mobility difficulties. Look for the Scottish Tourist Board access information in brochures.

Wheelchair Hire/Loan

Edinburgh – Manual and electric wheelchairs and scooters can be hired in Edinburgh from Medacos. Tel: +44 131 221 9191. Local delivery can be arranged.

Glasgow- Free loan of manual chairs can be arranged from Kincaid. Tel: +44 141 570 5000

AberdeenSee a page of information here.

Disability Scotland has a comprehensive bank of disability information. Enquiries can be answered on all aspects of disability, except the purely medical. The holidays database includes information on hotels, guest houses, bed & breakfasts, self-catering, camping and caravanning, and sports and leisure facilities.

Two full holiday directories are published, one covering the rest of the UK. Contact:

Disability Scotland, Princes House, 5 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, EH2 4RG.
Tel: +44 131 229 8632

Can I use my electrical equipment in Scotland?
Voltage is 240v 50Hz. Most establishments in Scotland have square-pin sockets for 3, 5 and 13 amp fuses. You can buy an adapter at your departure airport.

What side of the road do I drive on in Scotland?
Remember to drive on the left hand side of the road.
Remember to give way to the right on roundabouts.
Many of the roads in the Highlands and Islands are single track with passing places. Driving on them demands a slow speed and awareness of cars coming the other way.
By law, it is compulsory to wear seatbelts in the front of any car, and in the back if you have them.

Can I work in Scotland?
There are many different types of opportunities for working in Scotland, however it is not always easy to find out about them. This sheet is designed to make this task easier. On entering the United Kingdom work visas and permits should already have been obtained; E.C. nationals are free to live and work in the United Kingdom, others should check when applying for visas. If there are enquiries about permits the address to contact is :

The Department for Education and Employment
Overseas Labour Services, Moorfoot, Sheffield S1 4PQ
Tel: 0114 2594074 - Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm. Fax: 0114 259 3728

Types of Work

Hotel and Catering
The hotel industry needs people throughout the year particularly in the summer; all information centres have full lists of hotels in the area and around Scotland. Hotels and restaurants may advertise in newspapers or local job centres and its always worthwhile applying independently either in person or by writing. There are private employment agencies who specialise in this sort of work.

Agricultural Work
Most work of this kind is to be found on the East coast around Aberdeen-shire and Angus It takes place in the summer months mainly picking fruit and potatoes. Work may be advertised in the local papers and for fruit picking the local information centres throughout Scotland will be able to help further. In particular the Blairgowrie area of Perthshire has an abundance of fruit picking farms.

Conservation Work
Most of this work tends to be voluntary. Two major organisations worth contacting are the National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Conservation Projects:

National Trust for Scotland, 5 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh EH2 4DU Tel: 0131 226 5922
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, 36 St Mary's Street, Wallingford, Oxon. OX10 0EU. Tel: 01491 839766 Fax: 01491 839646

Also the national body for dealing with the environment Scottish Natural Heritage will be able to supply names.

Scottish Natural Heritage
12 Hope Terrace, Edinburgh EH9 2AS
Tel: 0131 447 1784

Other Types of work

There are of course many other kinds of work as well as hotel and catering work which are popular in the summer. The Scottish Tourist Board produces a fact sheet on multi activity centres who may employ instructors on a seasonal basis. The Board also produces brochures on a number of specific activities, eg; Cycling, Snowsports and Winter activities as well as a general holiday brochure on Scotland, detailing accommodation providers. If you have specific qualifications then specialist magazines or individual employment agencies may be able to help.

Where to Find Work

Every large town has a job centre. Job centres are state run and advertise many different kinds of jobs within the area the staff in the centre will contact the employer and arrange any interview. Listed below are the most centrally located job centres in the 3 main cities.

Edinburgh City Job Centre
11-13 South St Andrew Street, Edinburgh EH2 2BT
Tel: 0131 456 3300 Fax: 0131 456 3325
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm, Monday - Thursday, 9.30am - 4.30pm Fridays.

City Job Centre
Hellenic House, 87-97 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 2EB
Tel: 0141 800 3200 Fax: 0141 800 3280
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm, Monday - Thursday, 9.30am - 4.30pm Fridays.

City Job Centre
11 Chapel Street, Aberdeen AB10 1SQ
Tel: 01224 802727 Fax: 01224 802760
Opening hours: 9am - 4.30pm, Monday - Thursday, 9.30am - 3.30pm Fridays.

Employment Agencies

Employment agencies tend to be private and more specialised than the job centres. They may offer positions from clerical/secretarial work to accountancy and nannying . They deal with temporary contracts as well as permanent positions. Employment agencies can be found in the yellow pages (Business phone directory.) Local libraries will normally have the yellow pages for their area.

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