Strange Laws That Can Get You Locked Up Abroad

feeding birds venice
F Delventhal, Flickr

Getting arrested is probably far down the list of most people’s travel concerns. After all, we’re usually focused on checking museums and monuments off our bucket list — not engaging in illicit activity. But seemingly innocuous behavior can get you into trouble in many parts of the world, including things like wearing bikinis and chewing gum.

The British Foreign Office has released a warning about strange foreign laws after a report revealed that nearly a third of Britons seeking consular assistance were arrested or detained abroad. They say many travelers don’t realize that activities that are perfectly legal at home could get you locked up or fined in another country.

A few of the unusual foreign laws they highlighted include:Venice: It’s illegal to feed pigeons here.

Nigeria: Taking mineral water into the country could land you in hot water.

Singapore: Chewing gum on public transit is a big no-no.

Japan: Watch out if you have allergies. A lot of nasal sprays are on this country’s black list.

Wondering what other laws could get you locked up abroad? Here are a few more we rounded up:

Dubai: Kissing in public could land you in jail in this conservative country.

Thailand: Stepping on the local currency — which bears the image of the king — is seen as disrespecting the monarch and could get you arrested.

Greece: Wearing stilettos at archaeological sites in Greece will get you into trouble. The pointy shoes are banned because of the damage they cause to the historic monuments.

Germany: It’s against the law to run out of gas on the autobahn. Stopping unnecessarily on this fast-paced high way is illegal, and that includes those who forget to fill up their tank.

What other unusual foreign laws have you come across?

Woman held in shackles at JFK for overstaying visa

Officials at JFK might have some ‘splaining to do after they shackled a detained an Icelandic tourist for days — all because she had overstayed her tourist visa 10 years ago. Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, 33, is not happy about the treatment she received upon arriving at JFK — she’s even called the experience the most humiliating of her life.

Lillendahl was arrested at JFK and interrogated for two days. During that time, she was held in a cell, had her hands and feet chained, was not permitted to call relatives and was even denied food and drink for a period of time. Now the Government of Iceland has asked US Ambassadors to explain the incident.

According to Iceland’s foreign minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, “In a case such as this, there can be no reason to use shackles. If a government makes a mistake, I think it is reasonable for it to apologize, like anyone else.”

Can’t say I disagree.