The local emergency telephone number is 999; however, the EU-wide 112 can also be used. For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the 24-hour NHS Direct (http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/) service on 0845 4647 NHS 24 in Scotland on 08454 242424
Emergencies can be dealt with under the NHS National Health Service at any hospital with a Casualty or A & E Accident & Emergency department. At A&E be prepared to wait for up to 4 hours to be seen to if the medical complaint is not serious, depending on the time of day/night. The longest waiting times usually occur on Friday and Saturday nights. Emergencies will be dealt with immediately and before any question of remuneration is even contemplated. Walk-in centres also provide treatment for less urgent conditions on a first come first served basis. They are open to residents and foreign nationals.
All treatment at an NHS hospital or doctor is free to residents of the UK. All emergency treatment is free, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. As a result, an EHIC card is infact not necessary though advised for EU travel in general, as the UK is possibly one of the only countries to provide free emergency treatment without question or identity verification. This also applies to tourists, both from the EU and outside.
For advice on minor ailments and medicines, you can ask a pharmacist there are many high-street chemists, and to practise legally all pharmacists must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC which involves a university degree and other exams and training). Notable pharmacy chains include Boots and Lloyds, and many supermarkets also have pharmacists. It is worth noting that the medicine trade is strictly controlled and many medicines available to purchase from a pharmacy in other countries eg: antibiotics can only be provided on production of a prescription written by an authorised medical professional.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases are spreading between young people, so make sure you practise safe sex. There are around 50,000 HIV victims living in the UK. Chlamydia is common enough to warrant public health screening of young people. Condoms are available in toilets, pharmacies, and supermarkets. They are also available free from some NHS sexual health clinics known as GUM clinics, which also provide free STI testing and treatment, even if you are not eligible for other NHS services.
Tap water is safe to drink everywhere, unless otherwise stated.
In general the UK is a safe place to visit; you won't go far wrong heeding the general advice and the advice for Europe.
In any emergency call 999 or 112 free of charge from any phone, including mobiles and ask for Ambulance, Fire and Rescue Service, Police, Coast Guard or Mountain And Cave Rescue when connected. Unlike many other countries, the United Kingdom does not have different numbers for different emergency services.
Late at night it is not uncommon to find rowdy groups of drunk people, especially young men, on the street, but unless you go out of your way to provoke trouble you are unlikely to experience any problems. The police have fairly wide ranging powers to fine or arrest people who are causing a disturbance, and although they can be heavier-handed in major cities they are generally tolerant. Drinking alcohol in public except outside a bar or pub is not permitted in some towns and areas of cities.
J-Walking is not considered an offense, but always try and cross at designated pedestrian crossings. Most operate a "Push the button and wait for the green man" system, but some Zebra Crossings are still to be found - identified by white stripes on the road and yellow flashing spherical lights - pedestrians have right of way but it is advisable to make eye contact with the driver before stepping into the road.
If you are bringing or hiring a car, be sure to lock the doors if you leave your car, and always park in a busy, well-lit area. Don't leave valuables on display in a parked car - satellite navigation systems are a particular target.
The age of both heterosexual and homosexual consent is 16 throughout the United Kingdom. Teenagers are generally seen as still children except those 18 or over, but always ask for proof of age, e.g. passport to prove someone's age, just to be safe. and you could be termed a paedophile and treated as such. Homosexuality is generally accepted amongst people throughout the whole country.
Racism is not common in the UK, and racially motivated violence is very rare. The main concern for Britons isn't racism; the government strongly encourages the notion of a multi-cultural society, but recent high levels of immigration have been of debate. However, the UK is generally regarded by its own immigrant population as being amongst the most liberal and tolerant of European countries in this respect, but obviously there will be some people who are exceptions. Most Britons will go out of their way to make tourists and immigrants feel welcome and it's not uncommon for police to impose harsh punishments on any form racial abuse - physical or verbal.
In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the services you need police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue. You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming. It is a very serious offence to call this number without due cause.
The UK's country code is 44. When calling the UK from overseas, dial your international access code 00 from most of Europe, 011 from the US and Canada or '+' from any mobile phone followed by the UK area code and subscriber number. If the number you are calling is shown with a leading 0 at the beginning of the area code, the 0 must be omitted when calling from overseas.
To phone another country from the UK, dial 00 followed by the overseas country code, area code and subscriber number.
When calling a UK landline number from any other UK number, dial the area code beginning with the leading 0 and the subscriber number. If calling from a landline to another landline within the same area code the area code can usually be omitted.
For calls to UK mobile telephones from anywhere within the UK all of the digits have to be dialled by all callers.
When the building you're in has its own internal phone system, the number for an outside line is "9" not "0", as in many other countries, which in the UK usually connects you to the reception desk.
Payphones are widely available, especially in stations, airports, etc. Payphones usually take cash minimum 40p - BT, although some private payphones may charge more; change is not given, but you can choose to continue your money on to the next call. Some newer payphones accept credit and debit cards and may even allow you to send emails and surf the web. Phonecards have been phased out, though various pre-paid phonecards can be purchased from newsagents for cheap international calls. Some BT payphones now accept Euros.
A simpler and often cheaper alternative for international calls is to use a direct-dial service, these offer vastly reduced call rates over the standard providers and don't require you to purchase a card or sign up for an account. You simply dial an access numbers which are charged at different rates e.g. 0870 at the non-geographical national rate.
Whether you are calling someone who is inside or outside the UK, it may be important to find out if the phone number being called corresponds to a landline or mobile phone as most operators have different rates for both modes within a particular country.
Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile (http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/), Vodafone (http://www.vodafone.co.uk/), Orange (http://www.orange.co.uk/), 3 (http://www.three.co.uk/) and O2 (http://www.o2.co.uk/), and all have use of 3G services as well as GPRS excluding 3. GPRS and 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte. GPRS Voice, Text, Basic Internet coverage is very well developed, covering 99% of the population, 3G MMS, Video, Internet etc coverage is also very good in the UK dependent on network, however it may lack in rural areas. T-Mobile and Orange are both run by Everything Everywhere (http://everythingeverywhe...), and therefore these two networks share eachothers signal.
There is no charge for calls that you receive on your handset except for those roaming; charges are only for calls that you initiate.
Pay as you go prepaid plans are available. Credit the phone with a top-up card or cash payment via a top-up terminal; there is no contract and no bills. Some operators also offer packages which mix texts, phone calls and/or data at affordable rates. These packages can come with your initial top-up or deducted from your balance.
If you have an unlocked GSM-compatible handset most dual- and tri-band phones are GSM-compatible you can purchase a SIM card from several electrical or phone outlets, in supermarkets, or online. Be aware prices do vary considerably â from Â£5 with Â£10 call credit from Tesco online available in Tesco supermarkets to Â£30 with Â£2.50 credit from Vodafone available at all mobile phone shops. Often bargain handset-and-SIM deals can be found, if you don't have an unlocked handset - at the time of writing you can get a very basic mobile with SIM for Â£18 from Tesco, though note that this will be a locked phone and won't work with other SIM cards.
The UK has extensive mobile phone coverage - 99% of the UK mainland is covered. Many towns and cities have 3G coverage as well.
Costs for calls can vary significantly depending on when you call, where from and where to. Calls from hotel rooms can be spectacularly expensive because of the hotel surcharges; check before you use and consider using the lobby payphones instead. Calls from payphones and wired, or landline, phones to mobile phones can be expensive too; if you have the choice call the other party's landline. Beware of premium rate calls, which can be very expensive. Text messaging from mobiles costs around 10 pence per message and picture or MMS messages cost around 45 pence 20 pence on some networks.
Calls between landlines are sometimes charged at either local rate or national rate depending on the originating and destination area codes. Some providers charge the same rate to call anywhere within the UK, except for calls to Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and Isle of Man.
If the originating and destination area codes are the same then the area code can be omitted when calling from a landline. Note that local calls are not generally free unless someone you may be staying with has a particular contract with their landline provider. The following table relates the first few digits dialled to call types, so you can avoid some of the pitfalls above:
|Digits dialled||Call Type|
|01||Call to a landline at local or national rate see above.|
|02||Call to a landline at local or national rate see above.|
|03||A non-geographic number charged at the same rate as 01 or 02.|
|0500||Free call from most landlines and public payphones. Often very expensive to call from a mobile *|
|070||Call to a personal number. These are very expensive.|
|073 to 075||Call to a mobile telephone.|
|076||Call to a pager.|
|077 to 079||Call to a mobile telephone.|
|0800 and 0808||Free call from most landlines and public payphones. Often very expensive to call from a mobile *|
|0844 and 0843||Variable rate from 1p to 5p/min.|
|0845||Call at 3p per minute daytimes and 1ppm at all other times + VAT.|
|0870||Call at 6.73p per minute day-times, 3.36ppm evening and night-times and 1.7ppm at weekends + VAT.|
|0871 and 0872||Premium rate number. Variable rate from 6p to 10p/min.|
|09||Calls at a premium rate â anything up to Â£1.50/minute.|
The above prices are typical when called from a BT landline. Other landline providers may charge more. Calls from a mobile telephone will cost a lot more.
* These freephone charges can be avoided by using landline dial-around services like 0800Buster (http://www.0800buster.co.uk/).
"Two countries divided by a common language"
Speakers of American English will find some terms which differ in British English:
Biscuits - cookies
Cash machine/cash point - ATM
Cinema - movie theatre
Chips - fries, which may be "french fries" or thick-cut traditional British chips
Crisps - potato chips
Fag - cigarette only used colloquially
Lift - elevator in building; the offer of a ride in car
Lorry - truck
Motorway - expressway or freeway
Nappy - diaper
Queue - line
Return ticket - round-trip ticket
Take-away in ordering food - to-go
Toilet or Loo - washroom/restroom/bathroom/lavatory a bathroom is where you have a bath/shower, not where you relieve yourself in British English
Torch - flashlight
Please see the article American and British English for more words that differ across both versions.
English is spoken throughout the United Kingdom, although there are parts of major cities where immigration has led to a variety of languages being spoken as well. English spoken in the UK has several dialects, some of which may contain words which are unfamiliar to other English speakers. It is exceedingly common for a resident of the south and one of Yorkshire not to understand each other at first go, do not be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves. Your best bet would be to ask someone under the age of 30 as generally elderly people have thick unintelligible accents. A trained ear can also distinguish the English spoken by someone from Northern Ireland as opposed to someone from the Republic of Ireland, or even pinpoint their origin to a particular town within a county, such as Leeds or Whitby. English in Scotland and Northern Ireland can be spoken quite fast. The different dialects can be extremely different in both pronounciation and vocabulary.
Welsh is also widely spoken in Wales, particularly in North and West Wales. The number of Welsh speakers has risen over the last few years partley due to promtion in schools, but this bilingual population is still only around 30% of the total population of Wales. Government bodies whose area of responsibility covers Wales use bilingual documentation English and Welsh - for example, see the website of the Swansea-based DVLA (http://www.dvla.gov.uk/). Road signs in Wales are bilingual. Even the non-Welsh-speaking majority in Wales know how to pronounce Welsh place names. Once you hear how to pronounce a name, have a go and try not to offend!
Scottish Gaelic can be heard in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, but there are only 60,000 native speakers.
The ancient Cornish language of Cornwall, in the far south west, was revived during the twentieth century, but it is not passed down from parent to child as Welsh and Gaelic still are. Be aware, however, that Cornish place names remain and can be rather challenging to pronounce for non-locals!
Irish is spoken in some areas of Northern Ireland, particularly in the border regions.
Scots has much in common with English, and can be heard in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland where it is known as Ulster-Scots in various degrees. It can be difficult to understand, so feel free to ask someone to repeat themselves or speak more slowly. Speakers are likely to use standard English with outsiders.
All speakers of these minority languages are fluent to near-fluent in standard English but react well if you show an interest in their native tongue and culture. Inter-migration in the United Kingdom means you are likely to encounter people from all over the UK and beyond no matter where you visit. It is rare to find a place where all adults have the same accent or dialect.
There's an old joke that the people of the US and the UK are "divided by a common language", and travellers from English-speaking countries outside the UK may have difficulty catching specific words where regional accents are strong, but still there should not be any major difficulties in communicating. The British are good at understanding English spoken in a foreign accent, and visitors who speak English as a second language need not fear making mistakes. You may just get a slightly blank look for a few seconds after the end of a sentence while they 'decode' it internally. Most British people will not criticise or correct your language, although some are very keen to promote British usages over American ones when talking to non-native-speakers.
A few examples of words that overseas visitors may not be familiar with:
Wee - small Scotland, Northern Ireland, some English people, can also mean to relieve yourself England
Loch - lake Scotland
Lough - lake Northern Ireland
Aye - yes some parts of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and North England
Poke - ice cream served in a wafer cone Northern Ireland; a paper bag, especially one containing chips or sweets Scotland
Downing Street - used to refer to the Government similar to White House referring to the President of the United States
Cymru pronounced 'Cum-ree' - Wales Wales
Cockney rhyming slang is not a language but a collection of terms, some local and temporary, others so long-lasting that they are used by many people who don't realise that they are rhyming slang. Example of the latter: "raspberry" for the derisive noise called "Bronx cheer" in the US - derived from "raspberry tart", rhyming with "fart".
British people have historically been very tolerant of swearing, when used in context. It is considered far less shocking to say taboo words like "Cunt" or "twat" compared to in America, and can even be a term of endearment depending on the situation. Tourists should get used to hearing the word "mate" and "boss or "bruv" to a lesser extent in London a lot which is used in informal interaction frequently male only between strangers and friends alike, and is something similar to calling someone "buddy" or "pal". The use of affectionate terms between the sexes such as "darling", "love" or "sweetheart" is common between strangers and is not meant in a sexist or patronising manner. Furthermore, British people are prone to apologising for even the smallest things, much to the amusement of some and can be considered perhaps rude to not do so. An example such as bumping into you will warrant a "sorry" and is really more like "pardon" or "excuse me".
British Sign Language, or BSL, is the UK's primary sign language. When interpreters are present for public events, they will use BSL. In Northern Ireland, both BSL and Irish Sign Language ISL see use, and a Northern Ireland Sign Language, or NISL, is emerging from contact between the two. Users of Auslan or New Zealand Sign Language may understand BSL, as those languages were derived from BSL and share much vocabulary, as well as the same two-handed manual alphabet. On the other hand, users of French Sign language and related languagesânotably ISL and American Sign Languageâwill not be able to understand BSL, as they differ markedly in syntax and vocabulary, and also use a one-handed manual alphabet.
The Royal Mail has a long history. Postboxes are still the traditional red colour although there are green and gold Victorian "Penfold" boxes retained in some areas and an historically important blue box in Windsor. Mail can also be posted at post offices.
The Royal Mail has introduced a new system where post within the UK is priced on size and weight. You can find size charts at all post offices but bear this in mind when sending a larger envelope, parcel or packet. Postage stamps cost 34p/24p domestic 1st/2nd class for envelopes up to C5 size which are less than 5mm thick and less than 100g, 48p Europe up to 20g, 54p Worldwide up to 10g. Stamps can be bought at supermarkets, newsagents and tourist shops. Domestic first-class mail can usually be expected to arrive the following day; second-class mail may take several days. Signage on all postboxes displays the final collection time at that location typically about 5:30PM on weekdays and noon on Saturdays, as well as details of later weeknight collections that are available in many areas from a central postbox or sorting office. Deliveries are likewise made six mornings per week, Monday to Saturday. There is generally no post on Sundays or Public Holidays.
If you wish to send something heavy, or want to send a larger letter or packet within the UK, then you will have to get it weighed and/or measured at the post office. The staff at post offices are very helpful, but avoid the lunchtime rush at around 12-1.30PM when there is often a long queue and 30+ minute waiting times.
One interesting side-pursuit is to look at when the postboxes were built since some can be very old. The 'R' stands for Rex/Regina and the first letter the initial of the monarch reinging when it was built. E.g. A postbox built after 1952 would have the initals 'E II R'. Finding a box with the initials 'VR' Queen Victoria, pre-1901 is possible, but quite a feat.
The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz AC. Visitors from countries such as the US and Canada, where the voltage supply runs at 110V 60Hz, may need a voltage converter which can be picked up in most specialist electronic shops. Many appliances needed whilst travelling such as laptop chargers, shavers and the like are designed to run off both voltages, however check on the label before setting off.
British plugs have three flat, rectangular pins which form a triangle. These sockets are the same used in Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and several other former British colonies. It is possible to force a thin Europlug with no earth pins into the socket, however this is not recommended for obvious reasons. Most shops will sell plug adapters.
Note that during the Christmas and New Year holiday period much of the country shuts down. During the week leading up to Christmas people will travel to their hometowns to visit their family, meaning that the motorway traffic can be very heavy and trains are much more crowded. Also, many people rush to shopping areas to stock up on food and drink and last-minute gifts. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day Dec 26th and New Year's Day most businesses will close including supermarkets and most restaurants and bars although major hotels remain open. If you need to purchase food, drink or cigarettes on these days then most petrol gas station convenience stores will still be open but almost everything else is closed, and on Christmas Day itself even many of these are closed. Many large shops are open and extremely busy on Boxing Day. If you don't have a car then avoid travelling on these days as the only available transport in many areas is taxis, which will charge up to three times the regular price. If you have a car then it is much better as roads are almost empty on Christmas Day and parking is often free - however many petrol stations are closed on Christmas Day except those at Motorway Service Stations, which must be open by law so plan your journey carefully if you will need to refuel. In many areas, bus and train services finish much earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, and do not run on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Buses also tend not to run on New Years Day, outside of major cities. During the week between Christmas and New Year, many transport services operate revised schedules and it is advisable to check with operators.
Internet cafÃ©s can be found in cities and towns; check the city pages for details. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though time is rationed. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access either via their cable TV system or WiFi, although the prices are quite steep www.spectrumineractive.co.uk provide the Scottish YHA with a network of broadband and WiFi-capable Internet terminals.
A number of ISPs charge nothing for Internet access by telephone modem - they get their payment from the phone company; local call costs are time-related. Examples are GoNuts4Free (http://www.Gonuts4Free.com/), DialUKT (http://www.DialUKT.com/).
There are some Wi-Fi hotspots, although intentionally publicly available wireless is not yet widespread outside central London. Most McDonald's restaurants in the UK now offer free WiFi. Many coffee shops offer paid Wi-Fi. The most you should pay for Wi-Fi access across the UK is Â£1 for half an hour. Many chain cafÃ©s will charge more for no extra value.
Most of the UK is covered by UMTS/HSDPA 3G coverage, giving download speeds up to 7.2Mbps, and GPRS coverage is extensive. 3G data services should roam seamlessly onto the UK networks, or you can purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card for which credit can be purchased in the same way as for mobile phones. For example T-Mobile stores will give you a free SIM-card on which you can load any amount you want. Access cost Â£2 per day, Â£7 per week.
It's acceptable to address someone by their first name in most social situations. First names are sometimes avoided among strangers to avoid seeming overly familiar. In very formal or business situations first names are not commonly used until people are better acquainted. The best strategy is to use what they introduced themselves with. Officials, however, like policemen or doctors will invaribly call you by your title and surname, for example "Mr Smith".
The British can be extremely indirect when requesting things from people they do not know. It is common for Britons to "ask around" questions when requesting something: for example, one would be more likely to say something along the lines of "Where can I find the changing room?" when in a clothes shop, rather than "Where's the changing room?". Although asking questions directly is quite common, it can sometimes be seen as overly abrupt or even rude.
Similarly, saying 'What?' when not understanding something can be considered rude around authority figures or people you don't know, so 'Pardon?' is more appropriate to use in situations with a stranger or a superior. British people apologise a lot, even when there is absolutely no need to do so. For example, if someone trod on someone else's toe by accident, both people would normally apologise. This is just a British thing to do, and dwelling on it e.g. "What are you sorry about?" will mark you out as a foreigner. Often a British person will request something or start a conversation with 'sorry'. It isn't because they feel sorry, but it is rather used instead of "excuse me" or "pardon".
Allow some personal space between you and others in queues and elsewhere. You will usually find this in such places as cinemas. Generally, unless people know each other, you will find they will usually choose to fill up every row of seating and keep as much distance of possible until there is a requirement to sit directly next to each other. Exceptions are in very crowded situations where this is impossible, like on the Tube.
Greetings are dependent upon the situation. In anything but a business situation, a verbal greeting such as 'hello (name!') will suffice. Younger people will usually say 'Hi,' 'Hiya,' or 'Hey' though the latter is also used to attract attention and should not be used to address a stranger as it would be considered impolite. Another British greeting frequently used by younger people is 'You all right?' or 'All right?' sometimes abbreviated to "A' right" in northern England, which basically is a combination of 'Hello' and 'How are you?'. This term can be confusing to foreigners, but it can be easily replied to with either a greeting back which is far more common or stating how you feel usually something short like 'I'm fine, you?'.
A greeting may sometimes be accompanied by a kiss on the cheek or less commonly a hug. Etiquette for a hug is somewhat complicated, so the best advice is to accept a hug regardless of the gender offering it if it is offered, otherwise a handshake is appropriate. In a formal situation or an initial greeting between two strangers, a handshake is the done thing, this should be of a appropriate firmness generally moderate firmness.
For more details on unwritten rules concerning greetings, addressing others, smalltalk etc. you may check Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox.
The Scottish are Scottish, the Welsh are Welsh, and the English are English. Referring to all of them as "English" can offend. Remember, too, most Northern Ireland Unionists would not want to be called Irish, however.In contrast, most of the Nationalists in Northern Ireland will identify as Irish and register accordingly as Irish citizens and carry Irish passports, which all people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to do if they wish. You may also find that even though all the people of the United Kingdom are legally classed as British, people often prefer to be referred to based upon which country in the United Kingdom they were born in, rather than using the collective term British. It is also common to meet someone who might say " I am half Welsh, half-English" or "my parents are Scottish and I am English".
One should avoid referring to the Falklands as being Argentinian because it is quite a sensitive issue to some: over 250 British soldiers died fighting to defend the islands from Argentinean control in the early 1980s. The Falklands remain a British Oversees Territory to this day. To a lesser extent, the same goes for Gibraltar as Spain claim it as their own.
While doing the V sign with the palm facing outward is take to indicate either "peace" or "victory" by many Britons, doing the reverse where the palm faces inward is considered to be an offensive gesture.
Same-sex displays of affection will not likely cause upset or offence apart from some areas such as the rural towns like the Yorkshire valleys and rural Lincolnshire, and in rougher parts of many cities. Cities and towns with larger gay populations include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton, Bournemouth and Edinburgh. Cities such as Brighton host pride festivals each year. Civil partnerships have been legal since 2005. However, someone looking to start a fight may decide to treat this as a pretext. Try to avoid eye contact with drunken men in city centres at night, especially if they are in a large group. It is also important to note, if in Northern Ireland, same-sex displays and activites are rarely shown, outside Belfast, where many will still hold Conservative values. Keeping in mind, while in Belfast some areas are safer than others in showing affection.
Urinating in public is now against the law, if you're caught urinating, you'll be given a telling off by the police, made to pay an Â£80 fine, and, at some areas, be made to clean up your own urine with a mop and disinfectant, which can be embarrassing to offenders.
All illegal drugs in the United Kingdom are classified under 'A', 'B' or 'C'. Class A drugs are typically regarded as the most dangerous not always the case and can attract severe penalties, especially for supplying. Class C are generally regarded as the least harmful again not always the case and thus attract lesser penalties. Remember: all of these drugs are equally illegal and you can still arrested for possession regardless of the class; the classes are used to determine policing priorities and penalties.
Class A drugs include ecstasy MDMA, LSD, heroin and cocaine; penalties will mean arrest and possibly jail even for possession. Magic mushrooms were previously legal because of technicalities in the law, but are now class A.
Cannabis is now a 'Class B' drug. A first offence for possession will usually result in a formal warning, or an on-the-spot fine. This does not apply to other Class B drugs, such as speed. Subsequent offences may result in arrest.
Examples of Class C include ketamine, some steroids, some prescription drugs such as Valium legal if they are prescribed for you, GHB, and some tranquillisers.
Prescribed drugs may sometimes require a letter from a doctor to be imported. This applies where the drug is a Controlled Drug A,B or C in the UK.
Drug use is a growing concern for authorities, with some of the highest levels in Europe. Cannabis and ecstasy are both very widely available and you could even be offered it if you are in the right location such as certain markets and clubs.