Wales is a diverse country with people from a range of ethnic, national, religious, or cultural backgrounds. This includes thousands of people from across the world. This section of the website explains important things for you to know about Welsh communities.
Our laws state that people must be treated fairly and equally. It is illegal to treat another person less well because of their:
- Gender Identity (where this is different from their gender at birth)
- Whether they are married or not
- Religious beliefs
- Sexual orientation
We regard all people as equal. This is guaranteed by the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998. If you are treated badly because of one of these differences, this may be considered to be discrimination or a hate crime. You can report this to the Police or through Victim Support Cymru to receive support.
All children in Wales have rights guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. More information about these rights and support can be found on the ‘Staying Safe’ page on this website.
In Wales, people are free to follow any religion or belief. Christianity is the largest religion in Wales. Almost a third of people in Wales do not follow any religion at all. Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist followers are increasing in Wales.
The laws of Wales are decided by the ‘Senedd Cymru’ (the Welsh Parliament) and the UK Parliament. Laws are not made by religious organisations or leaders. Laws are not made by religious organisations or leaders.
We welcome people to Wales from all over the world but we expect them to follow these rules when they are living within our community.
‘Community cohesion’ is a term we use to describe how everyone in an area can live alongside each other with mutual understanding and respect. British people are usually reserved and well mannered. Neighbours like to politely greet each other by saying ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, or ‘good afternoon’. Even those who do not speak Welsh fluently may use Welsh language greetings – ‘shwmae’, ‘Bore da’ or ‘Prynhawn da’.
British people value good manners. Say ‘please’ when requesting something or ‘thank you’ when you have received something. ‘Excuse me’ is a polite way of gaining attention. Bad manners could include spitting or urinating in a public place other than a toilet. Litter should always be put in a bin. British people try to recycle as much waste as possible.
Making too much noise on the street or late at night may lead to complaints from your neighbours. Keeping pets under control and your gardens tidy will prevent complaints.
It is against the law to smoke in many public places in Wales. This includes all shops, restaurants, buses, trains, factories and cars if children are present. You can be fined up to £200 for smoking in one of these places. You must be at least 18 years of age to buy cigarettes. You can smoke in your own home or places designed for smoking. ‘Help Me Quit’ can support you to give up smoking.
There are also restrictions on the use of alcohol. You must be at least 18 years of age to buy alcohol. There are strict limits on how much alcohol can be consumed if you are driving. To make sure you do not break these limits it is safest not to drink any alcohol if you are planning to drive a vehicle.
The Welsh Government free bus and train travel scheme started on 26 March 2022. It will continue until 31 March 2024 when a review of the scheme will take place.
The scheme is for all refugees and asylum seekers. The journeys will be free, you do not have to pay to travel on:
- all buses in Wales, except National Express and Stagecoach megabus.
- train journeys across Wales on 'Transport for Wales' trains
How do I use the scheme?
You will need to show the bus driver or train inspector one of these forms of ID:
- A valid Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This will show that someone is a ‘Refugee’, has ‘HP’ or ‘Humanitarian Protection’, or includes the words ‘Afghan’, ‘Ukraine’ or ‘Hong Kong’;
- A letter issued by the Home Office / Home Secretary confirming that you are a refugee or asylum seeker;
- A valid Ukrainian, Afghan or Hong Kong British National Overseas passport.
If you are unable to produce valid ID, then you will have to pay to travel.
If you do not follow the rules above you may be reported to the relevant authorities. This may lead to prosecution by the police.
If you have a full driving licence issued in Ukraine, you may use this licence to drive small vehicles (such as motorcycles, cars, and vehicles up to 3500kgs or with up to eight passenger seats) for up to a year in the UK. The licence must cover the vehicle being driven and must still be valid. This can continue for 12 months. You can then switch to a UK licence up to 5 years after becoming resident without having to pass a new driving test. You can apply to exchange a foreign driving license here
In addition to having a valid driving license, all drivers in the UK must have valid motor insurance. It is a criminal offence to drive in the UK without insurance or allow others to drive your car without insurance.
Cars over three years old also need to pass a yearly safety check called an ‘MOT’. Many car garages can perform this check and issue you with the MOT certificate if your car passes the check. You will have to pay a fee for the MOT check to be carried out.
You must also ensure your car is correctly taxed. You can check if your car requires vehicle tax (or ‘road tax’) to be paid. The organisation in charge of vehicle tax and safety is called the DVLA. The DVLA can check if your car is taxed or has a valid MOT.
You must tell the DVLA if you change your name or address, sell your vehicle or if you have a medical condition.
This information is for Ukrainians who are in Wales under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
If you have brought a vehicle to Wales, and it is taxed and registered in your home country, you do not need to:
Declare the vehicles to customs
Pay any customs duty, or import VAT on the vehicle.
This allowed under the 'Temporary Admission' (TA) rule.
Under TA, imported goods or belongings must not be altered (but can be repaired. and must be re-exported within a set time (normally 6 months).
But, Ukrainians who are in Wales for more than 6 months can apply for an extension.
To do this you must:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send them a copy of your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), or any other evidence of your permission to remain in the Wales.
They will grant an extension up to 3 years.
(The C110 is an optional form which provides evidence that your vehicle 'temporary import' status. You can show this if you are stopped on public roads by the police or a customs official.)
It is compulsory to register a birth or death in the UK. A birth must be registered within 42 days in the county where the birth occurred. If the parents are not married then both parents must attend the registration if they want both details to be included on the birth certificate. Either parent can register a birth if the parents are married to each other. Appointments must be made with the Local Authority. A death must be registered within 5 days in the county where the death occurred. It is the duty of a relative of the deceased person to register the death.
The electoral register (or electoral roll) lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in elections. You must register to vote if you are asked to do so and you are permitted to vote. If you do not, your local Electoral Registration Office could fine you £80. Ukrainian visa holders living in Wales are ‘Qualifying Foreign Citizens’ for the purposes of voting. You can register to vote in Welsh Parliament and Local Government elections.
Lots of services in Wales need you to make an appointment before you can receive help. This is because services are often very busy. Appointments may be as short as 10 minutes so it is important that you are not late for the time slot you have been given. If you are late, the appointment may be cancelled and you may not get another time slot for weeks. If you know you will not be able to make it to the appointment you should make sure the service knows. They may be able to make changes to help you. If you need to use a different language during your appointment, make sure you tell the service this when you are booking your appointment. It may be possible to book an interpreter to help you be understood.
Most services operate during what is known as the ‘working week’. This means Monday to Friday. This also usually means between the hours of 9am and 5pm. ‘Shift work’ often refers to people working longer or more flexible hours than this.
In the summer, the clocks in Wales are moved forward by one hour. This is called ‘British Summer Time’ or BST. BST starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. In October, the clocks are moved back by one hour. Between the end of October and March is known as ‘Greenwich Mean Time’ or GMT.
Post offices provide many services. These include helping you to send mail, checking forms for passports or licenses and some basic savings accounts. You can find out more about their services here. Each local area will have libraries and leisure centres offering a range of services. Find out more on the ‘Your Local Area’ page.
Most residents in Wales will need to pay for a range of services.
‘Council Tax’ is payable on nearly all types of accommodation. You are responsible for paying this if you own the property or are named on a lease agreement. If you fail to pay your Council Tax you may be taken to court. You may need to register with the Local Authority to pay Council Tax.
You are liable for paying Council Tax for your property. This is a set amount for the financial year which runs from April to March, and you can pay this monthly. Council Tax is a tax which goes to your local authority for local services such as care, social services, police and local facilities.
You may be entitled to a discount or exemption, for example, if you are living alone. Your local authority will be able to let you know. Advice about discounts is available at: https://gov.wales/council-tax-discounts-and-reductions-information-leaflet.
You have a responsibility to pay the right amount of income tax. Income tax is a set percentage of your yearly income. If you are employed by someone else, it is often deducted from your monthly salary through a system called Pay As You Earn (PAYE). If you are not employed by a company or another person but earn an income, you have a responsibility to declare that income and pay the right amount of tax. The amount of tax you pay depends on how much you earn. You can check this at https://www.gov.uk/estimate-income-tax
Foreign income of United Kingdom residents is taxed as United Kingdom income. To prevent double taxation, the United Kingdom has agreements to allow tax deemed paid abroad to be offset against United Kingdom tax.
If you are living in your own property you are likely to have ‘utility bills’. These include bills for water, electricity, gas and telephone or internet access. Most people pay these bills monthly but utility companies often offer a range of payment options.
You must have a ‘TV License’ if you watch or record live or ‘on demand’ programmes on a TV, computer or other device. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you watch these programmes without a license. You can find out if you need a TV license and apply for one at the TV licensing website.
Ukrainian Visa holders are entitled to work. When you receive your wages you may find that ‘Income Tax’ and ‘National Insurance’ have been deducted from your pay. These taxes are deducted from most working adults in the United Kingdom to fund the Government. The National Health Service (‘NHS’) is also funded in this way.