Business Hours The following are general open hours; specific establishment may vary. Businesses and offices are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Banks' hours are usually Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 1pm. Many banks and other outlets offer 24-hour access to ATMs. Shops' operating hours are likely to be daily from 10am to 6pm. Most bars and nightclubs close at 2am.

Electricity The U.S. uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220 to 240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Emergencies Call tel. 911 for emergencies, fire, ambulance, or police. Emergency and urgent-care services are available at Lutheran Hospital, 1730 W. 25th St. (tel. 216/696-4300; www.lutheranhospital.org). A 24-hour Rite Aid pharmacy (tel. 216/676-5561) is located 8 miles out of the city center at 15149 Snow Rd., in Brookpark.

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Internet Access Free Internet access is available at the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library (216/623.2800; www.cpl.org), located at 25 Superior Ave. NE. WiFiCITY, In the Avenue at Tower City Center (www.towercitycenter.com), offers free Wi-Fi. Many hotels offer Wi-Fi to guests for free or at a nominal charge. If you aren't bringing your laptop with you, know that many hotels offer business centers with internet access.

Liquor Laws The legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in the U.S. is 21; proof of age is required at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so bring ID when you go out. Beer, wine, and hard liquor can be purchased at liquor stores. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car of any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption. Driving while intoxicated is considered a criminal offense.

Mail At press time, domestic postage rates were 27¢ for a postcard and 42¢ for a letter. For international mail, first-class postcards and letters weighing up to 1 ounce cost 94¢ (72¢ to Canada and Mexico). You can buy stamps and mailing supplies at any post office; to find locations in Cleveland, call 800/275-8777 or go to www.usps.com.

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Newspapers & Magazines The main local paper is The Plain Dealer (www.cleveland.com). The town's leading periodical is Cleveland Magazine (www.clevelandmagazine.com).

Pets To bring your pet to Cleveland, you must have a health certificate for your pet supplied by a state-licensed veterinary clinic. Most airlines allow pets on flights, but require pets to be at least eight weeks old. Some Cleveland hotels, such as the Comfort Inn Downtown on Euclid Ave. (tel. 216/861-0001; www.comfortinn.com), are pet-friendly.

Police For emergencies, dial tel. 911. This is a free call. The Cleveland Police Department can be reached at tel. 216/623-5300.

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Safety Cleveland does have some rougher neighborhoods, and in many areas, its violent crime rate hovers around twice the national average -- but that doesn't mean you can't visit enjoyably. To preserve your safety, take the usual common-sense precautions: Avoid deserted areas, especially at night, and don't venture into public parks at night unless a concert or another event is attracting crowds. Keep money and valuables out of sight, always lock your hotel door, and don't carry too much cash.

Smoking Smoking is prohibited in public places and places of employment, including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Exceptions include designated smoking rooms in hotels.

Taxes Sales tax is 8% and hotel tax is 15%. In the U.S., there is no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level.

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To Make International Calls To dial international numbers, dial 011, then the country code, then the phone number. The telephone system in the U.S. is run by private corporations, so rates, especially for long-distance service and operator-assisted calls, can vary widely. Generally, hotel surcharges on long-distance and local calls are remarkably expensive, so you're usually better off using a public pay telephone or a cell phone if you have one with you. Many groceries and convenience stores sell prepaid calling cards; this can be the least expensive way to call overseas.

Time Zone Ohio, like New York, is in the Eastern Time Zone, which puts it 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5).

Tipping Gratuities are not usually included in rates. Here are guidelines to follow when tipping: In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per piece of luggage and the housekeeping staff $1 per person per day (more if you've left a mess). Tip the doorman or concierge if he or she has provided you with a service, such as calling a cab or obtaining hard-to-get tickets. Tip the parking attendant 15% of the parking rate. Cab drivers should get at least 15% of the fare. In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip wait staff 15% to 20% of the check, bartenders 10% to 15%, and checkroom attendants $1 per garment. Skycaps at airports generally get at least $1 per bag, while hairdressers expect 15% to 20%.

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Water Cleveland's tap water is considered safe to drink.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.