Tourists and Visitors
Scotland is one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. It's also one of the safest.
However, as in any country, you do need to take care about personal safety and looking after your belongings so that you can have a safe and enjoyable time here.
This section gives advice on what you can do to make your visit to Scotland safer and more enjoyable.
What should I think about when booking?
- Beware of bogus accommodation adverts. If possible, book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company. Be caution if you’re booking independently and ensure you are dealing directly with the property owner or a letting agent.
- Research the property or hotel that you are booking - verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps. Do the images match those on the advert? Check whether there are any reviews for the accommodation from previous visitors.
- If dealing with the property owner ask them about the property and the area in detail. Can you confirm that what they tell you is accurate from your own research?
- Research any online reviews of the travel website, agent or accommodation. Ask what checks the agent makes on the properties that they are advertising and its owner. Does the website use the Padlock symbol to indicate the site is secure?
- When paying for accommodation in advance never pay by cash or use a Money Transfer Agent as these are not intended for commercial payments. If possible pay by credit card as this may protect your payment.
- Always check the terms and conditions to confirm exactly what you are being sold. Double check your booking before travel, particularly if there is a long gap between making the booking and arrival.
- When you’ve booked, be careful what you reveal on social media about going on holiday – you don’t want people to know your house may be empty while you are away.
- Keep a record of your personal belongings such as cameras, credit cards, passports and travellers cheques - it may help police to identify them if they do get lost or stolen.
- Take out travel insurance with adequate cover.
How can I keep my property safe in my hotel?
- Avoid leaving valuables unsecured in your room - keep them in the hotel safety deposit box or safe.
- Make sure the door of your room is firmly closed. When going out, always hand your key in to the reception staff or use the key box - don't leave it on the reception desk.
- Remember that hotel lobbies and reception areas are open to the public so don't leave your bags or any valuables lying on the floor unattended at any time.
- For more information about how to protect your property, visit our Keep your Valuables Secure advice.
How can I recognise Scottish bank notes?
Scottish banks issue notes in denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. Only the Royal Bank of Scotland continues to issue a small volume of £1 notes.
To aid identification the Scottish banks have all agreed to issue notes of specific value in the same predominant colour. Thus £5 notes are blue, £10 notes are brown, £20 notes are maroon/purple, £50 notes are green and £100 notes are red.
In addition to the normal series of notes, in recent years some banks have issued special designs to commemorate, for example, special events, anniversaries or achievements.
To obtain detailed information about the design and security features of banknotes, click on the following link and access the name of a bank in the menu or select from the corporate logos.
For more information visit www.scotbanks.org.uk
How can I keep safe when travelling across Scotland and doing activities?
Visitors to Scotland often want to explore all the country has to offer. The public transport system in Scotland is safe; however, here are some things to bear in mind when on the move:
- Stay aware when cycling, driving and crossing roads in the UK - vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road so traffic may come from a different direction than expected.
- If you are driving, make sure you have a driving licence which is valid in the UK and that your motor insurance is valid.
- It is illegal in the UK to drive whilst using a hand held mobile phone or device.
- Plan your journey ahead.
- For more advice about keeping safe whist travelling on foot, by car or public transport, visit our Keep Safe on the Move section.
- If you are cycling around the country, then take a look at our advice on how to Keep your Bike Secure.
- Scotland is a fantastic place for outdoor adventure - If you are going hill-walking or mountaineering then look at our advice on Mountain and Outdoor Safety before you set off to help you keep safe.
What laws may be different in Scotland and how can I keep safe?
We are sure you will have a fantastic time in Scotland. However, there are a few things that are important to bear in mind to keep safe. There are also lawswhich may be different to the country you have come from.
- Only buy tickets for attractions or events through authorised channels and avoid ‘ticket touts’.
- Consuming alcohol in a public place is prohibited by local authority byelaw in certain areas of Scotland. Find out if this applies in the areas you intend visiting.
- Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public areas, such as restaurants, theatres, shops, bars /pubs, trains and transport hubs throughout Scotland.
- It is against the law in Scotland to carry weapons such as knives and guns. It is also illegal to carry pepper spray or CS spray, even in self-defence.
- It is against the law to be in possession of controlled drugs, including cannabis. New Psychoactive Substances, sometimes misleadingly called ‘legal highs’,can be found on sale in Scotland. Some have been found to contain controlled drugs and our advice is to avoid them. For more information see our Keep Safe from Substance Misuse advice.
- If you lose or have your passport stolen then report it to the police by attending a police office before contacting your country’s embassy or consulate.
- For more advice about sensible steps to take when having fun while you’re here, visit our Party Safe section.
How can Police Scotland help me?
We hope you enjoy your visit to Scotland and remember that Police Scotland is here to help. Our uniformed officers are readily identifiable by the black and white chequered band on their hat and if you have any reason to believe that the person you are dealing with is not a police officer then ask them to show you their warrant card.
If anything does go wrong and you need assistance, become the victim of a crime or lose your property whilst visiting Scotland then attend at a local police office or contact us by dialling 101 or, in an emergency, 999.