British Embassy Madrid – Press release
Travelling Brits warned to watch out for unusual laws and customs
Foreign Office encourages residents and visitors to be aware of local legislation
Playing bingo, snacking while sitting on a monument or feeding pigeons may seem innocent enough to many British citizens, but these are just some of the reasons why people have found themselves faced with hefty fines or in some cases arrested or detained abroad.
Every year Brits are caught out by local laws and customs which might seem harmless in the UK, but some of which carry serious consequences abroad. Such incidents can easily be avoided by researching travel destinations in advance and taking note of updates and warnings issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
A recent FCO report identified that more than a quarter (27%) of cases requiring consular assistance were for arrests or detentions, highlighting the value of familiarising oneself with local laws in order to steer clear of trouble.
Some unusual overseas laws and customs to watch out for include:
|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|
|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|
|Venice||Feeding the pigeons is against the law|
|Singapore||Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited|
|Thailand||It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand|
Large fines and confiscation
Charles Hay, FCO Director of Consular Services said:
“Consular staff often find that travellers 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. While consular staff will always try to assist British nationals who find themselves in difficulty abroad, we can’t interfere in another country’s legal processes.”
“We want Britons to have a great time when they travel abroad so it is a good idea to research the country they are visiting before they travel. Country specific laws and customs can be found at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice .”