United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs

UK business customs are similar to those in the United States. The UK is a diverse and multi-ethnic society.

Some fundamental cultural differences between the U.S. and the UK remain. Variations in pace and style may be most noticeable, and sustained personal contact with potential business partners is expected. Prompt acknowledgment of correspondence, longer lead time for appointments, adherence to appointment schedules and greater formality in the conduct of business is the norm.

British executives typically communicate by phone and e-mail. The British are less likely to seek legal advice and guidance than their U.S. counterparts, although a litigation culture is developing along the lines of the U.S. model – i.e., no win, no fee cases have recently been permitted.

Travel Advisory

The State Department’s Consular Information Sheet for the United Kingdom provides information for travel to the United Kingdom. The State Department’s Travel Alerts provides information on travel warnings.

The U.S. Embassy London website has information for both U.S. visitors to the UK and for UK citizens seeking to travel to the United States.

Visa Requirements

UK Visa Information can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website, as well as the British Embassy in Washington website.

The UK uses electronic gates at the border for UK citizens, EEA nationals, and citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.

For nationalities not already using the e-gates upon entry, Registered Traveler is a fee-based service to expedite entry into the UK.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website.


The local currency of the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling (£, GBP). Visa and Mastercard are accepted widely throughout the UK, while American Express is only accepted in the major cities. Many businesses in the UK’s major cities are now cashless and accept contactless credit card payments. 

LINK is the primary ATM network in the UK and most ATMs offer free cash withdrawals, although foreign withdrawal fees may apply. In major cities, ATMs from US banks can be found.  Traveler’s checks may not be used in lieu of local currency and must be exchanged for cash at a bank before use.


Wireless internet connection is widely available across the UK in hotels, cafes/restaurants, and transportation hubs. Internet Service Providers also provide wireless connection in public areas for a small fee. 

Most U.S. cell phone carriers offer international plans that extend to the UK. Alternatively, SIM cards can be purchased at all major transportation hubs in the country. The UK power socket differs from that of the U.S. in both voltage and shape, with  the U.S. operating on a 120V supply voltage and the UK outlets provide a 240V. Depending on the U.S. appliance or electrical item voltage limit, either a plug adaptor will be required (for appliances capable of 110-240V) or a step-down Transformer (for items only capable of 110V).


The UK is easily accessible from most major airports in the United States and Europe. The UK’s main access points are its airports in London (LHR, LGW, STN, LTN), Manchester (MAN), Edinburgh (EDI), Birmingham (BHX), Bristol (BRS), Glasgow (GLA), and Belfast (BFS). The UK can also be entered from Europe via train using the Eurostar high-speed rail service, which stops in London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet, and Ashford. It is also possible to drive from France to the United Kingdom via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

Within the UK, there are several viable public transportation options, including the National Rail system, buses, and city specific railways. Taxi and car services are also available in major cities. 


The UK does not have an official language. Welsh is however the official language of Wales. English is the de facto language of the UK and is its primary business language. Please note that British English does differ from American English in both spelling and vocabulary. 


The UK is home to the National Health Service, which is a publicly funded healthcare system. While the NHS remains free for ordinary residents, travelers may be charged for using NHS services. Please consult the Department of Health and Social Care’s guidance for overseas visitors. UK private healthcare is alternatively available for those who wish to take out a private plan with an international provider. Overall, both countries have similar world class health outcomes.

Consult the Center for Disease Control Notice for Travel in the United Kingdom for information on recommended vaccinations and the current public health status of the UK. 

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

From the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March, the UK follows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). During the other half of the year, the UK uses British Summer Time. Both time systems are 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Note that the UK typically uses a 24-hour clock instead of the 12-hour clock used in the U.S. 

Business hours in the UK generally run from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The UK celebrates several Bank Holidays each year. The name and date of each holiday can be found on the government’s Bank Holiday website. In addition to these official holidays, some UK businesses close for extended periods during July and August as many UK workers take time off during this time. 

Temporary Entry and Personal Belongings

A government-issued passport is needed when entering the UK. You may also need to declare certain goods upon entry into the UK. Please see the governments advise on Entering the UK for more information.