Before You Arrive in the UK
Which North American appliances will work in the U.K.?
Most North American appliances can be used in England, although they will probably require a transformer. Transformers can be expensive so you should consider buying some U.K appliances upon arrival. Electricity in the U.K. is based on different voltage and frequency. Therefore, appliances with synchronized motors such as hair dryers, should not be used because of the difference in frequency.
Generally, if a device has been designed to create heat it will require an expensive transformer (i.e., toasters, griddles). The good news is that stereo and television electronics do not require particularly expensive transformers. Other light electronics such as power tools, sewing machines, etc. are usually not a problem either.
To determine the correct size transformer needed, check the power rating of an appliance. Power ratings on electric appliances are indicated in “watts” or Kilowatts: 1 Kilowatt is equal to 1,000 Watts. On some appliances amperes are used instead of watts. To find the power rating in watts, multiply the number of amperes by the voltage of the appliance. For instance, an appliance marked 3 amperes, 110 volts, has a power rating of 330 watts. You should use a transformer rated at least 10% higher than the wattage of your appliance. For example, a 1000 watt transformer powers a 750 watt appliance.
Transformers are available at www.tlc-direct.co.uk and at many local electrical shops. AWBS members can purchase used transformers, as well as many small British appliances, in the classified ads at www.awbs.org.uk.
Lamps need a plug adapter and will require U.K. light bulbs. Gas grills can be used with adapters that are available from BBQ stores in the area.
What should I stock up on before I leave the U.S.?
Stores in England now carry many products familiar to Americans. There are some things you might want to bring that will make your transition smoother and surroundings more familiar. Home leaves, business trips back to the States, and visitors from the States are good sources for products but it is nice to get in a supply for the start.
Bring some of your family’s favourite non-perishable food items, spices and seasonings. Foods that taste familiar can help reassure everyone while you acquire new tastes and favourites. There are dealers of American non-perishable goods that make products available at a premium price. These are always a special treat.
If you bring your beds, you need to bring all your bedding and linens. Bed sizes and linens are different in the U.K. and do not fit most US sized beds.
TIP: Houses, staircases, and bedrooms can be a bit smaller in English homes. When choosing your new home in the U.K., be sure to confirm that your bed, if a queen-sized or king-sized one, will fit up the staircase and/or in the room. Headboards and frames may also not fit in secondary bedrooms. This has been an irritation for some families in terms of storage or buying new beds.
Until you know what medicines are available in England, bring a supply of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines that are often needed by your family.
Clothing is more expensive in the U.K. than in the US and the styles and sizes can fit very differently. It is a good idea to stock up before you leave. School uniform items are available in England, but many families find that shopping for them is overwhelming at the start. Consult your Divisional Handbook and stock up on basics.
If your child plans on joining Girl, Boy or Cub Scouts, try to purchase uniforms before arriving in England. Uniforms can be difficult to order from the U.K. Further information on transatlantic Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and uniforms can be found at: www.tac-bsa.org/mayflower.htm.
Although Girl Scout uniforms vary by each girl’s preferences, the following items are typical:
Daisies (Kindergarten): apron, leggings
Brownies (1st – 3rd grade): vest, light blue sweatshirt and leggings
Juniors (4th-6th grade): vest, khaki pants with polo shirt, zip-up sweat jacket
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com for more information.
What should I NOT bring?
School supplies! Because paper size is different in the U.K., papers, notebooks, and binders from other countries may not be compatible.
The Lower School distributes all necessary school supplies to students.
The Middle and Upper Schools will notify students of supplies needed. Plan to buy these materials once you arrive in the U.K.
How do I arrange to bring my pets to the U.K.?
You will need seven months to complete the criteria for your pet to enter the U.K.
Please consult the following web site for detailed information: www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/index.htm
**Information reprinted with permission from the TASIS Admissions document 'Getting Settled.'