Were all guilty of thinking we know it all when it comes to local laws and customs of places we visit on our travels. But are we as savvy as we think we are? For example, did you know that you could be fined for feeding pigeons in Venice!? As a result of our lack of knowledge on this topic, many British holiday makers are fined or even arrested and detained for violating such laws on their holidays.
As laws and customs can vary so greatly between countries, we feel it is very important to encourage our customers to research laws and customs in their chosen holiday destination before travelling. One way you can do this, is by using the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website and watching out for their regular warnings and updates or via their new Twitter service @FCOtravel.
So what type of things should you research before travelling? Firstly, you should make yourself aware of how the local transport works. Then make sure you know about any local dress codes, such as in Barcelona where it is illegal to wear your bikini, swimming trunks or walk around in the town bare-chested. All these things may seem relatively harmless, however you could find yourself receiving a hefty fine or end up spending the day/night in a prison cell! You should also make yourself aware of any entry requirements for the country you are visiting.
Here are some other weird and wonderful customs you would not want to get wrong:
|Netherlands||Dont 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|
Should you ever find yourself in a sticky situation (even after reading up about your travel destination!), the FCO offer a helping hand to all British Citizens. There are many ways they can help you including providing an emergency travel document if needed, providing assistance to victims of rape, serious sexual or physical assault, are ill or in hospital or are a victim of crime. They can also provide you with contact details for local lawyers, interpreters, doctors and more so its worth keeping their contact details to hand.
These are just a few ways the FCO can help you with your travel needs so get prepared and visit their website HERE to find out more!