Every year, holidaymakers are caught out by local laws and customs which are common in the UK, but can carry serious consequences abroad. By researching your travel destination in advance, and checking notices and warnings issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), this can be easily avoided.
A recent report from the FCDO identified some of the more unusual local laws and customs to watch out for, and stated that more than a quarter of cases requiring consular assistance from the FCDO were for arrests or detentions, many due to British nationals being unaware that local laws applied to them.
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.
Feeding the pigeons is against the law
It is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into Japan
It is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beach front area in Barcelona
Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited
It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand
Large fines and confiscation
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
In Saudi Arabia photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited
Arrest and detention
It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing
It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria
Sunbathing topless is prohibited
Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited for non-Maldivians and visitors
Some prescribed and over the counter medicines available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Egypt and can’t be brought into the country without prior permission from Egypt's Ministry of Health; if you arrive in Egypt without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the country and you may be prosecuted under Egyptian law; if you're travelling with prescription medication you should carry a medical certificate from your GP confirming that the medication has been prescribed for a medical condition.
Prosecution under Egyptian law
This information provided by the FCDO Travel aware campaign. Details at travel aware.
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