Who knew that you could be fined for feeding a pigeon in Venice or could be arrested and detained for photographing government buildings, palaces and military installations in Saudi Arabia?
These things could seem innocent to several people but could be some of the reasons why people pay hefty fines and are arrested and detained abroad.
“Every year British nationals find themselves on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly, resulting in fines or in some cases arrests or even jail sentences,” says Charles Hay, Director of Consular Services in a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK following the FCO British Behaviour Abroad Report 2013.
Some examples of weird laws
|Netherlands||Don’t carry or use drugs. While the Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of so-called ‘soft drugs’ this exists only for designated areas. Possession of prohibited substances or buying them can carry a prison sentence||Arrest, detention|
|Venice||Feeding the pigeons is against the law||Fines|
|Japan||It is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into Japan||Fines|
|Barcelona||It is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beach front area in Barcelona||Fines|
|Singapore||Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited||Fines|
|Thailand||It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand||Large fines and confiscation|
|Italy (Florence)||It is an offence to sit on steps and courtyards or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of churches and public buildings in Florence||Large fines|
|Saudi Arabia||In Saudi Arabia photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited||Arrest and detention|
|Barbados||It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing||Fines|
|Nigeria||It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria||Fines, confiscation|
|Fiji||Sunbathing topless is prohibited||Fines|
|Maldives||Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited for non-Maldivians and visitors||Arrest, detention|
How to avoid such consequences?
One can easily avoid these circumstances by researching travel destinations thoroughly in advance. It is worth keeping in mind that the laws of the land are in force irrespective of the persons nationality.
“Consular staff often find that travelers are unaware that local laws apply to them and many British nationals think of their British passport as a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” adds Charles Hay.