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?

Good News, Ladies! Now You Can Wear Pants In Paris

Paris
Are you a woman planning a trip to Paris? Well, now you can pack a pair of pants without fear of running afoul of the law. The BBC reports that it is now legal for women to wear pants in the City of Love.

The city government has finally struck a law off the books dating back to 1800 that required women to get police permission before “dressing like a man.” Around the turn of the past century, concessions were made to ladies riding horses or bicycles but in general, fairer sex had to stick to skirts.

The law, of course, has not been enforced in many years. It isn’t the only odd law on the books. Every state and city has a few antiquated regulations that the local government doesn’t remember existing, let alone trying to enforce. There are a bazillion websites on the Internet listing weird laws.

Many of these are apocryphal, however. One I heard while living in Arizona stated that it’s illegal to wear suspenders in Nogales. The law supposedly dates back to Prohibition. Nogales, being a border town, was full of gringos heading south of the border to get drunk. It still is. Back in Prohibition days, the story goes, some tried to smuggle bottles back over the border into the U.S. and wore suspenders to keep their pants from falling down from the extra weight. The bullshit-cleaning website Snopes actually checked and found that no such law ever existed.

For every old weird law that gets eliminated, a new one crops up. Live Science has a great list of weird state laws that took effect at the beginning of 2013. In Oregon, for example, it’s now illegal for employers to post job openings if they won’t consider hiring someone who is unemployed. Perverts will be disappointed to learn that it is now illegal to have sex with a corpse in Illinois. It used to be that if you got caught with a cadaver the worst you could be charged with was criminal damage to property.

Um… since when are corpses considered property? Whose property?

[Photo courtesy Procsilas Moscas]