International Student Advisory Service

Staying safe

Edinburgh is a safe city with a low crime rate, but it is still important that you pay attention to your personal safety. You should be aware of the laws in the UK and Scotland while you are living here.

Emergency services - call 999

If you need to call the emergency services, including police, fire brigade and ambulance, call 999.

Emergency services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Non-emergency services

Police - call 101, anywhere in Scotland

Fire - in Edinburgh, call 0131 228 2401

NHS 24 - call 111, anywhere in Scotland

How to stay safe

While travelling

  • Take special care of your passport, visa and travel documents
  • Keep a photocopy or scan of your passport and any visa stamps in case it gets lost
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash, and keep any money that you do carry hidden in a secure place on your person
  • Don’t put cash or other valuables in your check-in luggage
  • Label your luggage clearly so that it can be sent to you if it gets lost
  • If you are travelling on your own and you need to sleep, try using your hand luggage as a pillow so you will wake if anyone tries to tamper with it
  • Use padlocks to lock the zips on your bags and cases

Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for detailed information about the country that you are travelling to:

Know Before You Go - staying safe and healthy abroad

In your accommodation

  • Keep your bank cards safe and separate from your pin numbers
  • Keep your windows and doors closed and locked when you go out, even if you will only be out for a short time
  • Keep your curtains or blinds closed at night
  • Keep your valuables out of sight of windows
  • Make a list of your belongings, including the make, model and serial numbers
  • Take photographs of your valuables - they may be needed for insurance purposes if anything is damaged or stolen
  • Always ask unknown visitors to your door for identification (ID) before allowing them to enter your home - anyone from the University, City Council, or gas and electric companies will be able to show you their ID
  • Make sure there is a smoke alarm in your accommodation and test it regularly

Moving around the city

  • Don't walk home alone at night - plan your journey in advance, and try to stay with friends
  • Tell a friend where you are going, and when to expect you back - if your plans change, let them know
  • If you are left on your own, stay in well-lit areas with other people around you
  • If you are in a bar or nightclub, don’t leave your drink unattended
  • Keep your money secure and out of sight
  • Be aware of your surroundings

Insurance

It is important to get insurance to protect your belongings in case of theft or damage. If you have expensive equipment, such as a laptop or tablet, this is especially important.

Endsleigh is an insurance company that specialises in student insurance, linked to below, but check comparison websites to find the best deal for you.

Laws

Some laws in the UK and Scotland are important to remember:

  • The legal age to drink alcohol is 18
  • The legal age to buy cigarettes and tobacco is 18
  • You cannot smoke in public places indoors, including bars, offices and any University building
  • You must not carry illegal drugs or substances with you, or supply illegal substances to others
  • It is illegal to carry any sort of weapon, including knives and pepper spray

Driving

If you plan to drive in the UK you should know the rules of the road. If you do not obey the rules you can face fines and prosecution.

  • You must hold a full valid driving licence to drive in the UK
  • You must be insured to drive in the UK
  • Your car must have valid road tax
  • In the UK, cars drive on the left hand side and overtake on the right
  • You must not drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • You must adhere strictly to speed limits (normally 30 miles per hour in cities)
  • You must not use your mobile phone when driving