London

ABOUT THE CITY

London is the capital city of the United Kingdom. It is the most populous city within city limits in the European Union. Its diverse population draws from a wide range of peoples, cultures and religions, speaking over 300 different languages.

London is today one of the world’s leading area for business, financial and cultural centers. Its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the major global cities.  And one of the best things about moving here is you already speak the language!

Often called “The Green City,” London has a number of open spaces. The largest of these in the central area are the Royal Parks of Hyde Park and its neighbors Kensington Gardens and Holland Park Gardens at the western edge of central London, and Regent’s Park on the northern edge. Visit often, there is always something to enjoy.

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    Overview

    London is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom, and is the most populous city in the European Union. An important settlement for nearly two millennia, London is an international leader in finance, and its involvement in politics, education, entertainment, fashion, media and the arts contribute to its status as a major global city.

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    Districts

    Greater London consists of 32 local boroughs that form the basis for London’s local government. The names of several boroughs—such as ‘Westminster’ or ‘Camden’—are well-known and self explanatory, others less so, such as ‘Hackney’ or ‘Tower Hamlets’.

    A new comer’s London, however, is more easily defined geographically: Central, West, East, North and South London.

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    Geography

    Today, “London” usually refers to the London region of England, which is coterminous with Greater London. At the heart of the conurbation is the small, ancient City of London which was historically the entirety of the city. Londoners generally refer to the City of London simply as “the City” or the “Square Mile.” London’s metropolitan area grew considerably during the Victorian era and again during the Interwar period with expansion halted in the 1940s by World War II and Green Belt legislation and has been largely static since.

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    History

    Although there is some evidence of scattered pre-Roman settlement in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans in AD 43, following the Roman invasion of Britain. This settlement was called Londinium, commonly believed to be the origin of the present-day name, although a Celtic origin is also possible.

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    Economy

    London’s biggest industry is finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to the UK’s balance of payments. The City is the largest financial centre in London, home to banks, brokers, insurers and legal and accounting firms. A second, smaller financial district is developing at Canary Wharf to the east which includes the global headquarters of HSBC, Reuters, Barclays and the largest law firm in the world,

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    Monarchy

    Dating back over ten centuries, the Monarchy plays an important role in the UK and Commonwealth. Monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom.

    In a monarchy a king or queen is Head of State. The British monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. This means that, while The Queen is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament.

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    Religion

    When Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine to bring England into the Catholic fold in 597, it was intended that the envoy should become “Archbishop of London,” as the city was remembered as the capital of Roman Britain. In the event, the saint received his most hospitable reception in the Kingdom of Kent, and the archiepiscopal see was founded at Canterbury.

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    Holidays

    The US and UK share many of the same holidays and most are celebrated in similar fashions, such as New Years, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas to name a few.

    The UK also has a number of holidays that the US has carried over, such as St. Patrick’s Day and others that are rather unheard of in the United States, such as Boxing Day, Guy Fawkes Nights, Burns Night, St. George’s Day, St. David’s Day, St. Andrew’s Day and Pancake Day.

    Boxing Day

    Boxing Day (December 26) is so-called because it is a time when tradespeople receive a Christmas box – some money in appreciation of the work they’ve carried out all year. Traditionally it is a time for visiting family and friends and indulging in more feasting, Boxing Day is a popular day for football matches and other sporting events.

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    Click here to see London Weather.

    By Car

    Although the vast majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, travel in outer London is car dominated. An inner ring road (the North and South Circular) and an orbital motorway (the M25) are intersected by a number of busy radial routes — but very few motorways penetrate inner London. In 2003, the congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £8 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of central London.

    Drivers License

    If you want or need to change your driving license for a GB driving license, you must complete the application form D1 that is available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) form ordering service and Post Office branches. You will need to enclose original documentation confirming your identity, and a passport style color photograph. Send your completed application and the appropriate fee to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BT.

    Public Transportation

    Oyster Card

    Oyster is London’s travel smartcard.  It can be used on virtually all London Public Transportation. You can load your card with cash and use it to pay fare, or you can load it with a season bus pass, and have unlimited use. Oyster cards are reusable, so when your travel value (cash) runs out, you can just refill it.

    Oyster cards with Travelcards are valid on Tube, DLR, tram and National Rail services within your chosen zones and across the entire London bus network.

    Oyster cards with Bus Passes are valid across the entire London bus network and on trams. You can also use Oyster to pay as you go on Tube, bus, DLR, tram, and some National Rail services.

    Transport for London

    www.tfl.gov.uk

    The public transport network, administered by Transport for London (TfL), is one of the most extensive in the world

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    Air Transportation

    London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

    www.heathrowairport.com

    Europe’s largest airport and the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger movement, with services from most available major airports world-wide. Flights landing in Heathrow often are delayed by up to an hour as a simple result of air traffic congestion and waiting for parking slots. As a result of Heathrow’s size and overcrowding, disembarking the plane can also take considerably longer than at London’s other airports.

    Getting to Heathrow Airport

    Taxi: Follow the signs in each terminal Arrivals areas for a taxi.

    Travel time to central London 45-60 minutes.

    Train: Heathrow has two rail services to central London. In addition to the London Underground ( “the tube” ) is the Heathrow Express service to London Paddington station.

    Bus: The Airbus links Heathrow Terminals with many London hotels and some main line rail stations. Departures every 20 – 30 minutes, travel time around 60-75 minutes.

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    Local Phone Numbers

    Emergency
    Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance 999
    Non-emergency for police 101
    Embassy
    U.S. Embassy, London24 Grosvenor SquareLondon, W1A 1AE

    United Kingdom

    Monday through Friday, 8.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m.

    [44] (0)20 7499-9000
    Consular Affairs: American Citizen Services UnitU.S. Embassy55/56 Upper Brook Street

    LONDON, W1A 2LQ

    Recorded information is available on (44) (20) 7499-9000, 24 hours a day.

    In the case of a life or death emergency involving a United States citizen call [44] (20) 7499-9000. A Consular Duty Officer is available 24 hours a day.

    The American Citizen Services (ACS) section of the Consular Section provides information and assistance to U.S. citizens in the United Kingdom. American Citizens Services consists of Special Consular Services, the Passport Unit and the Federal Benefit Unit.

    (44) (20) 7499-9000
    TelephoneWhen making an international call to London you must first dial the country code (0044), followed by the city routing code (207-Inner London, 208-Outer London) and then press the 7 digit phone number.
    BTwww.bt.com 0800 800 150
    NTLwww.ntl.com 0800 183 0123
    Telewestwww.telewest.co.uk
    One.Telhttps://signup.onetel.co.uk/ 0800 957 0700
    SuperLINEwww.superline.co.uk 0845 122 1462
    Alpha Telecomwww.alphatelecom.com   0800 279 3205
    Mobile Phone Service
    Orangewww.orange.co.uk
    Vodafonewww.online.vodafone.co.uk
    O2www.o2.co.uk
    T-Mobilewww.t-mobile.co.uk
    Cable TV providers
    Skywww.sky.com 08702 40 40 40
    NTLwww.ntl.com 0800 052 1234
    Telewestwww.telewest.co.uk 0500 500 100
    HomeChoicewww.homechoice.co.uk 0800 092 4444
    Utilities
    Electric and Gas Providers
    London Energywww.edfenergy.com 0800 096 9000
    PowerGenwww.powergen.co.uk 0800 015 2029
    Npowerwww.npower.com 08457 145 146or 08457 90 60 50
    Scottish Powerwww.scottishpower.co.uk 0845 270 6543

    Television

    As in the U.S. there are 3 basic choices of television service, aerial antenna (called terrestrial In London), cable or satellite.

    An aerial antenna on the roof or in your living room, provides comparatively poor service and just a few, basic channels, but is free. Every person owning a TV needs to pay an annual fee called the TV license. It is currently £116 per year. Revenues are used to support the non-commercial activities of the BBC. If you don’t pay the fee you are breaking the law and may face fines.

    PAL TV format is used by the UK but  NTSC is used by the U.S. The systems are incompatible, so you will not be able to operate a TV in the UK that you bought in a country not using the PAL format.

    Radio

    89.1 BBC Radio2 MOR
    91.3 BBC Radio3 Classical
    93.5 BBC Radio4 News, Talk, Drama
    94.9 BBC London Live Local News, AOR
    95.8 Capital FM Commercial Pop
    96.9 Choice FM Soul
    97.3 News Direct News
    98.8 BBC Radio1 Pop, Indie, Chart, Dance
    100 Kiss 100 FM Dance
    100.9 Classic FM Light Classical
    102.2 Jazz FM Jazz, R&B
    103.3 Greek Greek
    103.8 RTM Music, Talk
    104.9 XFM Indie, Alternative, Britpop
    105.4 Melody MOR, AOR
    105.8 Virgin Commercial AOR
    106.2 Heart AOR

    Newspapers

    London has three daily newspaper titles – the popular Evening Standard, plus two free titles, Metro and Standard Lite which are distributed every morning at London tube and railway stations. The independent weekly listings guide Time Out Magazine provides concert, film, theatre and arts information.

    Evening Standard www.standard.co.uk

    Standard Lite www.esadvertising.co.uk

    Metro www.metro.co.uk

    Dining

    In the 16th century the culinary reputation of Britain was on a par with France. In fact many recipes we think of as French in origin came from Britain. Despite their French names the dessert crème brûlée and blanquette de veau, a veal stew, actually originated in Britain.

    In Britain regional differences abound and result from the history, industry and fertility of areas. History determines cooking traditions and eating habits and the difference between one county and the next is often quite marked.

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    Museums

    British Museum

    www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

    The imposing British Museum exhibits the works of man from prehistoric to modern times with collections drawn from all around the world. Famous objects include the Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Parthenon and the Portland Vase.

    National Gallery

    www.nationalgallery.org.uk

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    Parks & Gardens

    London is well endowed with open spaces. The eight Royal Parks of London are former royal hunting grounds which are now open to the public. Green Park, St James Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens form a green strand through the West End. Regents Park is on the northern edge of central London, while Greenwich Park, Bushy Park, and Richmond Park are in the suburbs. Many of the smaller green spaces in central London are garden which were built for the private use of the residents of the fashionable districts, but in some cases are now open to the public.

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    Sports

    In July 2005 London was chosen to host the Games in 2012. London will be the first city in the world to host the Summer Olympics three times. London will also host one of the world’s largest mass-participation marathons, the London Marathon.

    The most popular spectator sport in London is football (soccer to us), and London has several of England’s leading football clubs.

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    London Shopping

    London’s busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, a mainstream shopping street nearly 2km long. The adjoining Bond Street in Mayfair is a more upmarket location along with the Knightsbridge area – home to the Harrods department store – to the southwest. The districts of Knightsbridge (Sloane Street), Mayfair (Bond Street, Brook Street), and Chelsea (King’s Road) represent London’s prestigious role in the world of fashion, being an international centre of fashion alongside Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo.

    Furthermore, London has a number of markets, including Camden Market for fashions, Portobello Road for antiques and Borough Market for foods.

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    Higher Education

    Liberal Arts Colleges

    Liberal arts colleges offer a broad base of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Most are private and focus mainly on undergraduate students. Classes tend to be small and personal attention is available.

    Online Learning

    Recent years have witnessed the rise of online degree programs, to allow the busy professional a chance to work at their own pace from the comfort of their home on the path to getting a degree. The costs to students are typically the same as for traditional classes— and financial aid is equally available—while the cost to the institution can be much less.

    There are online universities ranging from legitimate distance learning systems to fly-by-night degree-mills. It’s important to research a particular institution before deciding to enroll in their system. Generally, brick-and-mortar schools that also offer online classes are the safest, though there are plenty of fully accredited online universities out there.

    Nearly 3 million students are believed to be taking online classes at institutions of higher education in the United States this year. That number has been growing about 25% a year recently. Now, virtually all public higher education institutions, as well as a vast majority of private, for-profit institutions, now offer online classes. By contrast, only about half of private, nonprofit schools offer them. Online schools offer everything from Associate’s degrees to Doctoral programs with available emphases in everything from Business Administration to Criminal Justice to Nursing. Some programs require students to attend some campus classes or orientations, but many are delivered completely online. Online courses generally require a computer with a broadband connection, but are now a serious option for the busy professional.

    Public vs. Private

    Public colleges are usually less expensive. They get most of their money from the state or local government. Private colleges rely on tuition, fees, endowments, and other private sources. Private colleges are usually smaller and can offer more personalized attention and often more prestige.

    Universities

    Generally, a university is bigger than a college and offers more majors and research facilities. Class size often reflects institutional size and some classes may taught by graduate students.

    Upper Division

    Upper-division schools offer the last two years of undergraduate study, usually in specialized programs leading to a bachelor’s degree. Students then generally transfer to an upper-division college after completing an associate degree or after finishing a second year of study at a four-year college.

    London South Bank University

    44 (0)20 7815 7815

    90 London Road

    London SE1 6EN

    www.lsbu.ac.uk

    London South Bank University was founded in 1892 as the Borough Polytechnic and amalgamated with four other colleges in 1970 to become South Bank Polytechnic. In June 1992 it was granted University status by the Privy Council. With nearly 18,000 students, the university is one of the largest in London. It is a progressive, dynamic institution combining traditions of excellence in vocational and applied subjects with specialist industrial and professional links.

    University College London

    44 (0)20 7679 2000

    Gower Street

    London – WC1E 6BT

    www.london.ac.uk

    Founded in 1826, UCL was the first university to be established in England after Oxford and Cambridge, providing a progressive alternative to those institutions’ social exclusivity, religious restrictions and academic constraints. UCL’s present community of 27,000 staff and students is engaged in productive partnerships around the world.

    University of East London

    020 8223 3333

    Docklands Campus

    4-6 University Way

    London E16 2RD

    Stratford Campus

    University House, Romford Rd

    London E15 4LZ

    Duncan House

    Stratford High Street

    London E15 2JB

    www.uel.ac.uk

    UEL keeps pace with developments in the world of work and the modern economy through innovations in areas of study -take a look, for example, at the wide range of programmes offering Information and Communications Technology modules. EUL offers flexible degree scheme means that as well as the core modules of your chosen programme, you can elect to take other modules from different subject areas to broaden your knowledge or tailor your programme to your specific areas of interest or career path.

    University of London

    44 (0)20 7862 8000

    Senate House

    Malet Street

    London

    WC1E 7HU

    The University of London is the largest contact teaching university in the United Kingdom and in Europe.[32] It comprises 20 colleges as well as several smaller institutes, each with a high degree of autonomy. Constituent colleges have their own admissions procedures, and are effectively universities in their own right, although all degrees are awarded by the University of London rather than the individual colleges. Its constituents include multidisciplinary colleges such as UCL, King’s and Queen Mary and more specialised institutions such as Imperial, the London School of Economics, the SOAS, the Royal Academy of Music and the Institute of Education.

    University of Westminster

    44 (0)20 7911 5000

    Headquarters Building, 309 Regent Street,

    London W1B 2UW, UK

    www.wmin.ac.uk

    Since its foundation in 1838 as Britain’s first polytechnic, the University of Westminster has been closely involved in the business, professional and academic life of London.

    Postal Service

    Royal Mail

    www.royalmail.com

    Royal Mail is the national postal service of the United Kingdom. Historically, the Royal Mail was a government department, but it has been a state-owned company since 1969.

    Within the U.K.

    Most first class mail is delivered the next working day. The cost starts at 32p. Free certificate of posting is available when sending from a local Post Office.

    Overseas

    Airmail gives you the power to reach people wherever they are in the world. It’s economical, easy to use and fast. And it’s available from all Post Office™ branches. Over 1400 scheduled flights and 85 airlines to make sure your mail gets there fast – so even when you can’t be there in person, we’ll make sure your message gets through. You can send a letter weighing up to 20g anywhere in Europe for 44p and to the U.S. for 72p.

    Services

    Medical advice, NHS Direct 0845 46 47

    National directory enquiries 118 000 or 118 118 or 118 500

    International directory enquiries 118 811 or 11 88 66 or 11 88 99

    U.S. Embassy

    U.S. Embassy, London

    [44] (0)20 7499-9000

    24 Grosvenor Square

    London, W1A 1AE

    United Kingdom

    Monday through Friday, 8.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m.

    Consular Affairs: American Citizen Services Unit

    U.S. Embassy

    55/56 Upper Brook Street

    LONDON, W1A 2LQ

    Recorded information is available on (44) (20) 7499-9000, 24 hours a day.

    In the case of a life or death emergency involving a United States citizen call [44] (20) 7499-9000. A Consular Duty Officer is available 24 hours a day.

    The American Citizen Services (ACS) section of the Consular Section provides information and assistance to U.S. citizens in the United Kingdom. American Citizens Services consists of Special Consular Services, the Passport Unit and Federal Benefit Unit.

    Electricity & Time Zone

    Electricity

    England uses 50 Hz and 240 Volt systems, the U.S. uses 60 Hz and 115 Volt systems. They are incompatible, but you can use transformers, or power converters, to adapt e.g. U.S. electronic equipment to the UK power system. Plug adapters are sold by most shops selling electric equipment.

    Time Zone

    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in London and New York City at 12:00 UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:

    London Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 00:00 hour =

    12:00pm

    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 05:00 hour = 7:00am

    London does observe Day light Savings time and refers to it as British Summer Time.

    Government

    Political parties controlling the London borough councils as of 2006.The administration of London takes place in two tiers — a city-wide, strategic tier and a local tier. City-wide administration is coordinated by the Greater London Authority (GLA), whilst local administration is carried out by 33 smaller districts.

    The GLA is responsible for strategic planning, policing, the fire service and transport. It consists of two elected parts — the Mayor of London, who has executive powers, and the London Assembly, who scrutinize the Mayor’s decisions and can accept or reject his budget proposals each year. The GLA is a recent organization, having been set up in 2000 to replace the similar Greater London Council (GLC) which was abolished in 1986.

    The 33 local administrations are the 32 London boroughs and the City of London.

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    Healthcare

    Health Information Service

    0800 66 55 44

    NHS Direct 0845 4647

    www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

    Medical service in the UK is organized through the National Health Service (NHS), which employs 1 million people. Normally the NHS covers all medical expenses. There may be payments for dental or specialized medical treatment. You don’t need private medical insurance, but it may be worthwhile anyway to escape some of the weaknesses of the NHS, particularly long waiting lists for specialist treatment by doctors or in hospitals. You will also be entitled to better quality service. However, for routine medical treatment you would still go to the GP; private medical insurance complements the NHS, it does not replace it.

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    Moving Companies

    U Pack we ship

    (866) 258-8725

    International Shipping company with offices in both the United States and Europe. UPakWeShip specializes in International Shipping and overseas moves to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other destinations.

    LTV Relocation

    (800) 787-2323

    When an international transfer is undertaken, the complexities can seem overwhelming, spanning continents, languages, and customs. No need to worry. As international shippers, we handle all the necessary steps for you.

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    Currency & Banking

    The pound (symbol: £; banking code: GBP), divided into 100 pence, is the official currency of the United Kingdom. The term “British pound” is also used when it is necessary to distinguish the unit of currency from others that have the same name. The slang term “quid” is very common in the UK.

    The pound was originally the value of one Troy pound of sterling silver (hence “pound sterling”). The currency symbol is the pound sign, originally _ with two cross-bars, then later more commonly £ with a single cross-bar. UK notes come in denominations of £5.00, £10.00, £20.00 and £ 50.00. Coins in the UK come in denominations of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1.00and £2.00

    In finance, the exchange rate (also known as the foreign exchange rate, forex rate or FX rate) between two currencies specifies how much one currency is worth in terms of the other.

    For example an exchange rate of 0.6981 pound (GBP,,£) to the United States dollar (USD, $) means that GBP 0.6981 is worth the same as USD 1. The foreign exchange market is one of the largest markets in the world. By some estimates, about 2 trillion USD worth of currency changes hands every day.

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    Taxes

    Inland Revenue

    www.hmrc.gov.uk

    Taxes in the UK are administrated by the Inland Revenue. Go to their website for almost any question on taxes in the UK. The website’s self assessment section guides individuals and businesses through completing and returning tax forms electronically.

    Property Taxes/Council Tax

    Property taxes are called Council Tax. It can be paid in monthly installments if you desire, and easiest by direct debit. It is calculated by property values and number of occupants.

    Income Tax

    Income Tax is taken from your pay, and is a flat tax. You will have no forms to fill out every year unless you are self employed. The regulations on whether or not you pay taxes if you are not permanently staying in the UK are very complicated.

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    Work Permits

    Work permit visas allow UK based employers to employ individuals who are not nationals of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and who are not entitled to work in the UK. The most important thing to understand in UK work permits is that in the UK the employer applies for the work permit and the work permit is granted for a particular employee.

    Here are the steps for an employee currently outside the UK and wishing to take up a new job in the UK:

    1. Complete a new work permit application and send to Work Permits UK
    2. Once the work permit is approved, a visa application will need to be made at the British Embassy or Consulate where the employee is resident. The visa is endorsed in the employee’s passport.

    Once the visa is approved at a British Embassy or Consulate or a further leave to remain (IED) application is approved from within the UK it gives the employer permission to employ a specific person in a specific job at a specific location

    1. Once a Work Permit has been granted, it (the original document, not simply a copy) should be sent to you by your employer as you will need it in your possession before you enter the UK. All UK work permit holders staying for longer than six months also need to get a visa (entry clearance) before travelling to the UK.

    Only if you are not a ’visa national’ and you have a work permit for less than six months can you simply arrive in the UK with your Work Permit and your passport (which should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry). On presenting these documents to the immigration officer at the port of entry, such individuals should be granted entry for the duration of the work permit.