English, Irish, and Ulster Scots are the official languages, and, as with the Irish Republic, visitors should have no problem with English wherever they go. Some of the smaller, out of the way communities may speak Gaelic among themselves, but not with visitors. The Northern Irish tend to speak faster than normal, which can be indecipherable to the non-local in a pub setting when the Guinness is flowing.
Northern Ireland uses pounds sterling (GBP, £), and it has its own style of pound. It is 1:1 with standard sterling of the mainland, but be sure to exchange any Northern Ireland pounds on exit as they cannot be used in Britain. Large shops and restaurants may accept euros also, but this is not the norm overall. US dollars are not accepted, so change monies at the airport, ferry terminal, or bank, or indeed draw cash on your local account through ATMs. Major (chip and PIN) credit cards are accepted everywhere; travelers checks (pounds sterling) less so.
Northern Ireland follows the rest of the UK, with GMT in winter and British Summer Time (one hour forwards from late March) in the summer.
The power supply is 240V/50Hz (same as the UK mainland), utilizing three-pin plug sockets (oblong earth pin at the top). Plug adaptors from the US two pin are available at the airport and electrical suppliers in any town. iPhones and most new laptops can be charged on both the US and UK power supplies.
The calling code for Northern Ireland is the same as in Britain, +44, with the code for the whole province 28. Public call boxes are on most city streets and are usually a combination of coin, phonecard, and credit card operated. Newsagents sell prepaid phonecards. Belfast has lots of WiFi hotspots, and there are a growing number in the other main towns, especially in Derry. Internet cafés are also a common feature of towns and most hotels have internet connectivity in one way or another.
Duty-free allowances into Northern Ireland are 200 cigarettes (or 250g of tobacco), a liter of spirits, four liters of wine, and gifts to the value of £300 equivalent. Passengers coming from, or heading out to, another EU country cannot purchase duty-free, but can of course travel with duty-paid items. Duty-free limits heading back to the US are 200 cigarettes, one liter of spirits, and gifts to the value of US$400.
Tourist Information Centre, 59 North Street, Belfast: +44-28-9023-1221, or http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/.
Consulates in Northern Ireland
American Consulate General: +44-28-9038-6100 Canadian Consulate: +44-28-9127-2060 Dutch Consulate: +44-28-9077-9088 Italian Consulate: +44-28-9070-9415 New Zealand Consulate: +44-28-9264-8098
Emergency services: 999