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7 unusual laws and customs from around the world that you didn’t know about

6 March 2019

Chewing gum, wearing fancy dress or feeding pigeons are all acceptable acts in the UK. However, as innocent as these may seem, these are some of the reasons why many British citizens get into trouble abroad and sometimes face paying hefty fines or even face being arrested or detained. Customs that are commonplace and accepted in the UK may not be in other countries and could carry severe consequences. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office highlights that a lot of cases abroad could be avoided by simply researching travel destinations in advance and staying up-to-date with local news and warnings.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most unusual laws and customs from around the world.

1. Venice – Feeding the pigeons is against the law.
This is especially for St Mark’s square in Venice where the enormous amount of pigeons is said to be contributing to the decay of buildings and monuments and pose a potential health risk. If caught feeding the pigeons, you would be fined on the spot!

2. Caribbean – No camouflage attire in the Caribbean.
According to the FCO, it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing in Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent.

3. Spain – Illegal beachwear
It is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beach in many parts of Spain. This includes the seafront promenade and adjacent streets. The FCO warns that if caught doing so, fines will be imposed.

4. Japan – illegal over-the-counter drugs
Taking some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into Japan are illegal as well as products containing codeine which can be found in Vicks inhalers. Japan has strict laws about what prescription and over-the-counter medicines can be brought in. Many of these are very common in the UK, so check FCO advice if you are planning in bringing any medication into Japan.

5. Netherlands – Drugs are a no go.
The FCO warns that “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.” Be extremely careful when travelling about and make sure you’re familiar with the local laws and customs in the Netherlands.

6. Greece – No mooning.
The FCO warns visitors that indecent behaviour, including mooning, is not tolerated in Greece. The police will make arrests, if caught behaving indecently, and hefty fines or even prison sentences will be imposed. The FCO adds that, “some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and therefore against decency laws.” To ensure you’re travel aware before visiting Greece, take a note of the local laws and customs and avoid getting yourself in a difficult situation!

7. Singapore – drop the gum.
It is important to note that a range of behaviours which are tolerated in the UK are not necessarily tolerated in Singapore. On-the-spot fines are common for certain actions deemed unacceptable. These include chewing gum (which is also illegal to bring into the country), smoking in certain public areas and littering.

For travel advice, information and tips, simply head over to The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website and their Travel Aware page to help you plan your trip and stay travel aware! Follow the FCO on Twitter @FCOtravel, watch their videos on YouTube and add them on Facebook @fcotravel to get instant access to all of the latest travel updates.