United Kingdom

Travel advice and general information about the United Kingdom.

This is not official advice. If you need help, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

About the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign country and Commonwealth realm located in West Europe, which is constituted of the four nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The latter three nations have devolved legislatures and laws can therefore vary across the United Kingdom.

Population: 66 million

Language: English, Welsh, Gaelic

Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)

Religion: Christianity (57%) – England and Wales (46%), Scotland (43%), Northern Ireland (79%)

Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 93/100 (Free country)

Head of State: His Majesty King Charles III

Head of Government: The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak MP

Crown Dependencies: Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Mann

Overseas Territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and Turks and Caicos Islands

Information for Barbadian nationals

Entry requirements

This information pertains to the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies only. The entry requirements for the British Overseas Territories may be different and are not covered by this article.

Barbadians do not need a visa to enter the United Kingdom for tourism purposes, or to visit friends / family. You can usually stay in the United Kingdom as a visitor for up to six months, but this is at the discretion of UK Border Force. Not needing a visa does not mean that you are guaranteed entry into the United Kingdom. You will still be assessed by an immigration officer on arrival to determine your suitability for admission.

Immigration is a reserved matter for the UK Parliament and the entry rules are therefore the same across the United Kingdom. There are no border controls between England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Please be advised that the British government will be introducing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system in the near future. Persons entitled to travel to the United Kingdom without a visa will soon need to get an ETA prior to travel. It is believed that an ETA will become mandatory for Barbadians by 2025.

Getting to the United Kingdom

There are year-round direct flights available to and from London Heathrow with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Various airlines also offer seasonal direct flights to and from London Gatwick, and to and from Manchester, during the winter season.

Flying via British Airways

British Airways offers year-round direct flights to and from London Heathrow and seasonal direct flights to and from London Gatwick usually between November and April.

Flying via Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic offers year-round direct flights to and from London Heathrow and seasonal direct flights to and from Manchester Airport usually between November and March.

Flying via Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus offers seasonal direct flights to and from Manchester Airport usually between November and March.

Flying via Norse Atlantic

Norse Atlantic offers seasonal direct flights to and from London Gatwick usually between December and April.

Using third party booking sites

It is best to book flights directly with airlines or reputable travel agencies. To compare prices between different airlines, use Google Flights.

Currency and payments

The currency in the United Kingdom is called the pound sterling (GBP). £1 is equivalent to 100 pence. Foreign currencies are not accepted by local businesses as a means of payment.

The following Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories also use the British pound sterling, or their own pound sterling pegged at par with the British pound sterling, as their official currency:

Crown Dependencies: Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man

British Overseas Territories: Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha.

Some of the above mentioned territories or dependencies issue their own pound sterling independent of the Bank of England. These currencies are only legal tender within the territory or dependency to which they belong. They are not legal tender in the United Kingdom. However, the British pound sterling is also accepted in those territories or dependencies as they are exchangeable at par for the local currency.

Due to the close proximity of Spain to the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, the euro is sometimes accepted in Gibraltar as a means of payment, but usually at an unfavourable exchange rate. Likewise, due to the close proximity of Cyprus to the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the euro is sometimes accepted in Akrotiri and Dhekelia as a means of payment, but usually at an unfavourable exchange rate.

Coins

The old-style £1 coin, which had a distinctive yellow-gold appearance and smooth corners, is no longer legal tender. The new £1 coin, shown below, can easily be differentiated by its 12-sided shape and two-tone appearance (gold and silver).

Horizontal display of pound sterling coins
From left to right: 1p – 2p – 5p – 10p – 20p – 50p – £1 – £2

Banknotes

Pound sterling banknotes are made from a polymer substrate similar to the new Barbadian banknotes. The older sterling paper banknotes are no longer legal tender.

Horizontal display of pound sterling banknotes
From left to right: £5 – £10 – £20 – £50

From mid-2024 onwards, new polymer banknotes will start to appear with the portrait of His Majesty King Charles III. These banknotes will be circulated alongside the current polymer notes that portray Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and will remain legal tender.

Colloquial phrases

The informal term quid (pronounced "qwid") has the same meaning as pound. For example, "5 quid" means £5.

Local laws and customs

There is zero tolerance to the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in the United Kingdom. Persons convicted of drugs-related offences can expect long prison sentences and heavy fines.

It is illegal to carry, purchase, sell, or enter the United Kingdom with, certain types of knives.

Driving a vehicle

You must drive on the left-side, like in Barbados.

Familiarise yourself with the Highway Code (applies to England, Wales and Scotland). For Northern Ireland, read the Highway Code for Northern Ireland.

There are many speed cameras in the United Kingdom. Speed limits are expressed in miles per hour (mph). Always observe the speed limit. Road traffic laws are strictly enforced in the United Kingdom. Unless road signs indicate otherwise, the speed limits are as follows—

A 'carriageway' is like a highway in Barbados and a 'motorway' is like a super highway.

Pedestrians are not allowed on a motorway. You will be arrested by police if you walk or cycle on a motorway.

Never drive or park on the hard shoulder of a motorway. The hard shoulder is the side of the motorway for emergencies only. You must only use the hard shoulder in a genuine emergency (e.g. if your vehicle has broken down). Never use the hard shoulder to overtake vehicles or to avoid busy traffic.

When driving on a carriageway or motorway, you must keep in the left lane unless you are overtaking. You may be stopped by police if you remain in the right-hand lane when there is no nearby traffic in the left-lane.

Observe waiting and parking restrictions. It is against the law—

You must always indicate at a roundabout, whether you are turning left or right. If you are going straight ahead at a roundabout, you must indicate left just before you reach the exit. You may be stopped by the police if you do not use your indicators correctly.

Drivers in the United Kingdom only use their car horns to warn others of a danger. Avoid using your car horn to express gratitude to other drivers for giving way, as using your car horn like this will confuse local drivers or cause a misunderstanding. It is customary to raise a 'high-five' to persons that give way.

You can use your Barbadian driving licence to drive any type of small vehicle listed on your licence (for example cars, motorcycles or vans) for up to 12 months from the date you last entered the United Kingdom. The vehicle may have up to 8 passenger seats and must not exceed 3.5 tonnes in weight. Visitor driving permits are not required and you do not need an International Driving Permit.

Make sure you have appropriate car insurance. If you are planning to rent a car, make sure you are hiring a vehicle from a registered business as they are responsible for arranging car insurance on your behalf.

Car rental companies often require customers to have a credit card. They may place a temporary hold on your credit card during the term of your rental in case you have an accident or cause damage to the vehicle. If you have an accident, you may be required to pay a substantial excess regardless of who is at fault. It may be more cost effective to purchase car hire excess insurance as an alternative to the Collision Damage Waiver offered by rental companies if you have the financial means to pay the excess before submitting a claim.

Using gas stations

Drivers are required to pump their own fuel and enter the premises of the on-site convenience store to pay before leaving. After you place the pump into your vehicle, the cashier will electronically activate the pump at your stand.

After pumping is finished, take note of the final amount and the pump number (usually sign-posted above the pump stand). When you approach the counter, advise the cashier what pump number you used.

Credit and debit card payments are accepted at almost all gas stations in the United Kingdom.

The term gas station is not used in the United Kingdom. What we call gas stations, British people call petrol stations or fuel stations regardless of the type of fuel available. At motorway services, they are also known as service stations. In the United Kingdom, the term gas refers to natural gas piped into a building used for heating and cooking.

Fuel prices are not set by the British government and are determined by competition and market forces. Prices can therefore vary and are usually displayed at or near the entrance to a gas station, usually expressed in pence. Some supermarkets have on-site gas stations and may offer fuel at lower prices than independent gas stations in order to attract customers to shop in their supermarket.

Communication style

Don't try to mimic the British accent.

Avoid speaking in Bajan creole or using Bajan terms or idioms as the locals will not understand you.

There are many different accents in the United Kingdom and the mannerisms of British people vary depending on where they are from. They may use idioms that do not make sense, or phrases that sound unusual to Barbadians. For example, people from the English county of Yorkshire commonly use the phrase "love" when referring to another person they are speaking with, regardless of gender.

Be mindful how you respond to closed questions. Avoid responding with "no, please" in all situations as this phrase sounds unusual to persons outside Barbados and may cause confusion. If you are asked a question in which you are being offered something, you should respond with "yes, please" or "no, thank you". For all other yes/no questions, you should simply respond with "yes" or "no" and avoid using the verb "please" as this will confuse a local person or cause a misunderstanding.

Avoid saying "good night" as a greeting as this will cause a misunderstanding. In the United Kingdom, the expression "good night" is only ever used when departing. To greet someone in the late evening, even if the time is one minute before midnight, it is customary to say "good evening". If it's after 12 PM but before 5 PM, you should say "good afternoon".

Cultural differences

Never hang up the phone without saying bye. This would be considered rude, even in informal settings.

You may see public displays of affection between same-sex couples, such as hand-holding. Do not express derogatory remarks about a person's sexuality: homophobia is not tolerated in the United Kingdom.

British people are very fond of the Royal Family and feel a strong affinity towards the monarchy. You will cause offence and may be confronted if you express derogatory remarks about the King or any working member of the Royal Family.

Emergency services

To contact the police, fire brigade or ambulance services, call 999. You must only use this number in a genuine emergency or if you are reporting a crime that is in progress. To contact the police when it is not an emergency, call 101.

You cannot call the emergency services in the United Kingdom without an active SIM card installed. If you have a Flow or Digicel SIM card, make sure it is installed in your phone. You do not need to enable roaming, or have any credit, to call the emergency services.

If you are arrested or detained in the United Kingdom

The Barbados High Commission in London may be notified of your arrest. You may be able to ask the British government not to notify, but this is at the discretion of the local authorities.

If you are not sure whether the Barbados government has been notified of your arrest, you have the right to ask the police to notify Consular Services of the Barbados High Commission in London and they must comply with your request without delay.

Any person charged with a criminal offence has the right to receive a timely, fair and public hearing by an independent, impartial court and to be tried by jury. You have the right to be present at your trial and to consult with an attorney at law of your choice. You cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt. These rights are guaranteed by British law.

You are entitled to free legal advice if you are questioned at a police station. If you are charged with a criminal offence, you may be entitled to legal aid that partially or fully covers the cost of your defence if you do not have the means to pay for it.