Playing bingo, snacking while sitting on a monument or feeding pigeons may seem innocent enough; but each of these activities is illegal in some countries or cities.
Lack of familiarity with local rules and customs results in many visitors unwittingly breaking laws and being fined, arrested or imprisoned; some of the more unusual examples are listed below.
More than a quarter of requests for UK consular assistnce relate to arrests and detentions. As a UK Foreign Office (FCO) Know before you go partner we have been asked to highlight the importance of researching your destination before you travel.
You can check FCO travel advice for any country using the drop down list in the sidebar to the right; and you can find out more about your destination such as health risks, visa requirements and weather by using our Destination Information Tools Dashboard. More Know Before You Go advice can be found on the FCO website.
In addition to the more unusual laws below, alcohol, drug and cigarette laws vary from country to country and state to state; so check before you “import” or “consume”.
Examples of unusual laws and customs:
|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|
View the full FCO campaign press release.