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Etiquette Tips when visiting the United Kingdom

Flying to London? Below is a list of common English etiquette; from how to properly eat peas to how to do business in England. Enjoy your trip to the UK.


British Etiquette Tips: horseman of queen's guard in London

 

1. UK Dress Attire

  1. DO wear conservative clothes, even though business dress codes are typically fairly relaxed in England
  2. DON'T wear a men's shirt with pockets. If the shirt does happen to have pockets, don't put anything in them.
  3. DON'T wear striped ties. Solid or patterned ties are preferred.
  4. DON'T wear loafers, if you're a man. Wear shoes with laces instead.
  5. DO dress formally if invited to tea.

2. UK Table Manners

  1. DON'T slurp your soup or lift the soup bowl off the table.
  2. DO smash your peas with the back of your fork.
  3. DO eat most of your food with eating utensils. However, the following food is usually eaten with your hands: sandwiches, potato chips (called "crisps" in the U.K.), corn on the cob, and fruit. Also, food served during Afternoon Tea is also often finger food.
  4. DON'T talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open.
  5. DON'T put your elbows on the table.

3. UK Tea Etiquette

  1. DON'T pour tea from the teapot right after it's been made. Wait for it to steep for a few minutes.
  2. DO cut a scone in half with a knife, spread jam and clotted cream, and eat the halves open-faced.
  3. DO know the difference between "High Tea" and "Low Tea." Low Tea is in the afternoon, at 4 PM, and High Tea served around 5 or 6 PM. Low Tea has declined in popularity over the years.
  4. DO RSVP as soon as possible if invited to tea.

4. UK Pub Etiquette

  1. DO order both food and drink at the bar. A barmaid or barman will bring your food to the table.
  2. DO order beer. Frozen mixed drinks, such as margaritas, are virtually unheard of in pubs England, but you can get simple cocktails like Gin & Tonic and Rum & Coke (but the mixer is often served separately from the spirit).
  3. DO finish up your drink if a barmaid or barman rings a bell. This means that they are preparing to close. The first ring is for "last call" and the second means the bar is closed, but you have twenty minutes to finish up your drink.

5. UK Tipping

  1. DO tip if the service was satisfactory and if you can afford to do so.
  2. DO check the menu or the bill to see if a gratuity was included.
  3. DO tip porters, a helpful concierge, and taxi drivers.
  4. DON'T tip at a pub.

6. UK Body Gestures

  1. DON'T make the "V for victory sign" with your palm facing yourself. It's considered to be an offensive gesture.
  2. DO tap your nose if you are saying something that should remain confidential.
  3. DO be aware of keeping personal space when in public and do not touch others in public.

7. UK Greetings

  1. DO shake hands with someone upon greeting them.

8. UK Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO give your host a gift. Flowers, a bottle of wine, or chocolates all make a nice gift.
  2. DO arrive on time. If an invitation says "6:30 for 7", it means you shouldn't arrive any later than 6:50. Don't be too early, though, because your host may not be ready yet.
  3. DO write a thank you note to your hosts following your visit, or at least call them to thank them for their hospitality.
  4. DO let your host know of any dietary restrictions in advance, if you are invited to a meal.

9. UK Business Meeting Etiquette

  1. DON'T bring a gift. It is usually not a part of doing business in England.
  2. DON'T rush a business decision. Business decision-making happens much slower in England than in the U.S.
  3. DON'T sit with your arms folded during a meeting. This could send the message to your colleagues that you are disinterested in the meeting.
  4. DON'T ask personal questions, such as asking about income, occupation, or background.
  5. DON'T be late. Always call if you expect to be more than five minutes late.
  6. DON'T move to a first name basis until invited.
  7. DO send a letter after the meeting that summarizes the meeting, including the final decision and what the next steps to be taken are.
Keep the above guidelines in mind during your trip to England. The U.K. is a very proud nation, and although they are not likely to be easily offended, it is a good idea to adhere by some general rules of thumb when it comes to etiquette. Have a wonderful trip to England!
 
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