Take note of the space, and take a position on the right, are some rules that Londoners don’t joke with. It may take some time for tourists or immigrants to become accustomed to the procedure in London, even though most of these norms are considered common sense by the city’s residents.

Some may just give you ugly stares, while some can get you in trouble. So, whether you are moving to London on a visitor visa or any other type of visa, here is a handy guide to help you avoid embarrassing moments on the streets of London.

Don’t Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is avoided at all costs in London because if you do, people will perceive you as either a potential physical attacker or a sexual predator. Do not frighten them; rather, fix your gaze longingly on the advertisements hanging above their heads or on the sweaty palms of your hands.

Never Start an Unnecessary Conversation

Speaking to someone while they are going about their business is considered a breach of social etiquette in London. In general, individuals have a reputation for being extremely reticent. Someone reading on the subway is probably not interested in a conversation, whereas someone enjoying a pint at a pub might be a little more outgoing.

Never Congregate

One of the quickest ways to infuriate Londoners is by blocking their path. This can happen for various reasons, including stopping to take a photo on Oxford Street or crowding in front of a tube. If you feel the need to take a moment to pause and gather your thoughts, do your best to ensure that you are not blocking anyone else’s path.

Never Fly a Kite

Those who “shall fly any kite or play at any game to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers,” or “who shall make or use any slide upon ice or snow in any street or other thoroughfare, to the common danger of the passengers,” violate the Metropolitan Police Act 1839. This behavior not only annoys Londoners but also attracts a fine of £500. Who would’ve guessed?

Avoid Wearing a Soldier/Sailor Uniform

At some point in our lives, we have probably tried our hand at a little bit of fancy dress, but has anyone ever tried dressing up as a soldier or a sailor? According to the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act of 1906, anyone who “personates the holder of a certificate of service or discharge” is subject to one of the harshest punishments possible under weird English laws: a one-month prison sentence! Avoid wearing these uniforms out in London to avoid getting into trouble.

Never Beg for Alms

The Vagrancy Act of 1824 states that anyone who “places himself or herself in any public place, street, highway, court, or passage, to beg or gather alms…shall be deemed an idle and disorderly person within the true intent and meaning of this Act,” you have violated the law by begging in a public place. Your immigration lawyers, however, will give you detailed information to keep you out of trouble in London.

Do not make a “peace sign” with your hand

This particular hand sign, when performed backward, has the same meaning as lifting your middle finger in England. Certain gestures do not always have the same connotation across cultures, and England is not an exception to this rule. (Be extra careful when placing an order for two drinks at a bar or restaurant!)

Mind your Speech

If you come from a culture in which people share personal information with strangers or with people they don’t know very well, you should be aware that this is not the case in London.

It is equally important that you refrain from commenting on personal matters such as someone’s weight, appearance, sexual preference, and the size of their house. These are considered private and should be treated as such.

Never Disorganize Queues

In British culture, standing in line is taken very seriously. You will notice that people in the United Kingdom stand in line for various activities, from boarding a bus to purchasing tickets for the Wimbledon tennis tournament. People waiting for something will mentally register who should be served first, second, and so on, even in circumstances in which there may not be an actual physical queue.

If you jump the queues, you may be humiliated. And if need be, you may be apprehended by a law enforcement agent. So, regardless of the situation, never disorganize queues.

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