It’s your first time travelling outside your home country’s borders and you’re scared. Naturally, there are many dangerous places out there. Or, maybe you simply fear potential misunderstandings, such as something as subtle as showing someone the underside of your foot, which is enough to offend locals in many countries.
We don’t know how people live their lives in another culture. We are blissfully ignorant of local laws; laws we believe apply only to the citizens of a nation you just happen to be visiting.The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have identified several reasons travellers might suddenly, surprisingly, find themselves in jail because they broke the law.
These aren’t thieves or drug-runners falling prey to advanced policing strategies. They’re just travellers who didn’t know what they do back home is not always acceptable everywhere else.
“It is important to remember that laws and customs can vary greatly from country to country,” says Charles Hay, director of Consular Services, adding that what may be perfectly legal in a traveller’s home country could incur fines or jail sentences elsewhere.
The FCO adds that travellers have been particularly caught off guard in the Netherlands, Italy and the United Arab Emirates recently.
Some of the lesser-known crimes identified by the FCO are below.
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. Penalty: Arrest, detention.
Venice: Feeding the pigeons is against the law. Penalty: Fines.
Japan: It is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudo-ephedrine into Japan. Penalty: 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. Penalty: Fines.
Singapore: Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited. Penalty: Fines.
Thailand: It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand. Penalty: 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. Penalty: Large fines.
Saudi Arabia: In Saudi Arabia photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited. Penalty: Arrest and detention.
Barbados: It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing. Penalty: Fines.
Nigeria: It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria. Penalty: Fines, confiscation.
Fiji: Sunbathing topless is prohibited. Penalty: Fines.
Maldives: Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited for non-Maldivians and visitors. Penalty: Arrest, detention.
Sourced from www.travel.cnn.com, www.vagabondish.com