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Prepare / Packing
What to bring if you are coming to the UK to study or work
General advice
Packing (c)
  Electrical goods
  Hand luggage
  Medicine / toiletries
  Food / cooking items


Don't bring too much - you will buy more things while you are in the UK
Don't try to carry too much. Remember that you can send things by post (but it may take time to arrive)
Make sure that every bag is labelled with a contact address and telephone number both in the UK and in your home country (in case it is lost), but be careful that the address cannot be seen easily
Make a list of what you have packed in each bag (in case it is lost), as well as a list of important numbers (passport number, insurance number, travellers' cheques numbers, credit card number) and contact addresses and telephone numbers
Check the limit for the weight of your bags. Excess baggage charges can be expensive.
Your airline may have restrictions on the number of your bags or their size, especially for hand luggage which you wish to carry onto the plane.
You may be able to buy second-hand goods from advertisements in local newspapers, from message boards in shops, or from a bulletin board on the internet
Take some small reminders of home (eg photographs of friends or family, or letters)
You may want to carry some small gifts from your country (but it is not common to give gifts except to close friends or to people who have given you something for free)
Check what you are allowed to carry to the UK. The British embassy in your country should be able to advise you about this (to find their website, select Links and choose your country's area and name).

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If you intend to travel around the UK or Europe, take a rucksack (backpack) with an internal frame.
A small bag or backpack is useful for taking your things to school or work or for taking day-trips.
A suitcase with wheels is easier to move, especially if you need to use public transport to get to your accommodation.
A money belt (worn around your waist) is a safe way to carry your money when travelling.

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Keeping warm and dry
To find out about the British climate, see the Met Office site at
Winters can be cold. If you are coming at a cold time of year (eg October to March), you can either bring gloves, scarves (American English: mufflers) and boots or you can buy them in the UK. The type of indoor clothes you wear at home or school depends on how well the house or school is heated.
Summer evenings can be cool, so you may need some long-sleeved shirts or blouses or a scarf to keep you warm late at night.
You will need an umbrella, and perhaps a waterproof jacket / raincoat. You shouldn't bring Wellington boots (American English: rain boots): if you need these, you can buy them once you are in the UK.

Daily items
You will probably want to bring mainly comfortable casual clothes for daily use. British people are usually quite relaxed about their clothes, and don't mind if you keep wearing the same things. You may want to bring at least one set of clothes which you would feel happy to wear on a special occasion or in a smart place.
It may be worth bringing plenty of underwear. Remember that if you are living in student accommodation or with a host family, you may not be able to use a washing machine as frequently as you do in your country.
Some women find it difficult to buy bras that fit them well, so it may be easier to bring these with you.
If you are very small or large, you may want to bring clothes with you in case you find it difficult to find ready-made clothes in the UK.
Towels can be bought in the UK, or may be provided at your accommodation, so it may be enough just to bring one small towel with you.

Sports clothes
You can buy sports clothing and equipment in the UK, but you may want to bring your own running shoes (known as trainers in the UK, or sneakers in the US) and short trousers.
If you enjoy swimming, bring your swimwear. There are public swimming pools in most large towns; this may be a good form of exercise which you can do by yourself. In the UK you can usually choose if you want to wear goggles and swimming hats in a pool. Swimming in the sea is not common (the water is usually quite cold).

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For many electrical goods (eg hairdryer), you may be able to take small travel versions and use an adaptor plug.
The electricity supply in the UK is 240 volts alternating at a frequency of 50 Hertz.
Check if any electrical goods you bring can work at this voltage (otherwise you will need to buy a transformer).
Plugs in the UK may be different from those in your country; you may need to buy an adaptor plug in the UK.
Try not to bring heavy items; you can usually buy these things in the UK, maybe second-hand from someone who is going back to their country.

A walkman and a few tapes or CDs of your favourite music may help you to feel more relaxed.

Take a camera and some films. Films can be relatively expensive in the UK. APS (advanced photographic system) cameras are not so popular in the UK and APS films can be expensive to develop. You may want to consider taking a digital camera; if you have a computer you will be able to send photos to your family and friends.

A laptop computer can be useful for studying or for keeping in contact with your friends and family. However, there are a growing number of internet cafes where you can pay for access to the internet, and many schools will provide some access to computers for their students. If you bring a computer, you may want to buy insurance against loss or damage. You should carry a receipt showing when and where you bought your computer; customs officers may ask you if it is for your own use (if it is not, or if you have owned it for less than 6 months or have lived outside the European Union for the past 12 months, you may have to pay import taxes).
A small alarm clock is useful.

Take a small dictionary (either electronic or a book) and a phrasebook to help you to translate things from English to your own language; you can buy an English-English dictionary after you have arrived.
Take a book in your own language, to keep you company when you first arrive. You may want to take a guide book.
Try to avoid carrying too many books, if you can buy these in the UK.

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Remember to keep key travel documents in your hand luggage. These include:
- Your passport, travel ticket and insurance documents.
- Letters (written in English) from your bank in your home country, and from UK contacts from your school (or course organiser) and from the owner of your accommodation (for example your host family).
- Money, credit cards and travellers' cheques (keep a separate record of the numbers, in case they are lost or stolen).
- Any maps you need to reach your accommodation (you can buy local maps when you are in the UK), plus pen and paper.

In case your main baggage is lost, you may want to take a set of underwear in your hand baggage.

* Note that for security reasons special rules have been introduced in 2006 which affect the size and contents of hand luggage at UK airports. Check the website of your airline or airport for the latest details. See also: Travel/Transport/Air

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You can buy toothpaste, shampoo, soap or deodorants in the UK, so only take small amounts of these (if the bottle is large, you can put some into a smaller container to save space). If you carry a spray can, for safety make sure that you pack this in your hand luggage.
If your skin is not white, you may find it difficult to buy make-up outside the major cities.
Some people who are used to washing their bodies before having a bath may want to take a small plastic container for bathing (some accommodation in the UK only has a bath, and no shower, and hot and cold taps are often separate).

Women's items
Sanitary towels or tampons can be bought easily in the UK, but for your comfort you may wish to take a small supply with you to give you time to find something that makes you feel comfortable. Some women ask their families to send sanitary towels to them by post, because they find British ones too thick or long.
If you are taking contraceptive pills, you may want to bring supplies with you. The pill is available free in the UK, but only under a doctor's supervision (using a written "prescription", which is taken to a pharmacy to obtain the pills). It may take time for you to register with a doctor in the UK, and the type of pill may be a little different from the one you used in your own country.

Men's items
Condoms are easily available from pharmacies in the UK.

You may want to bring some medicines (but if you do, make sure that these are clearly labelled and cannot be confused with illegal drugs or dangerous materials).

* Note that for security reasons special rules have been introduced in 2006 which affect the carrying of liquids and gels on flights leaving UK airports. Check the website of your airline or airport for the latest details. See also: Travel/Transport/Air

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Usually it is better not to bring food with you. You may be able to buy food from your country in London and other major cities. You can ask your family to send some things to you later if you miss something and cannot find it in the UK.
You can buy some cheap pans, rice cookers and other cooking tools after you have arrived in the UK (see: Prepare/Arrival).

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