13 Funny International Laws You’d Never Know Were Real

You might want to remember these 13 surprising and strange laws next time you're traveling to avoid embarrassment, fines, or worse!

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Culture clashes can occur anytime you travel, but every once in a while they happen in some truly unexpected ways. From a harmless hug to lighting up a cigarette outdoors, these are the strange travel faux pas any globetrotter would do best to avoid.

1. Vicks inhalers are forbidden in Japan

1. Vicks inhalers are forbidden in JapaniStock/DanielTaeger
In Japan, over-the-counter allergy/sinus medications that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine such as Vicks inhalers and Sudafed are banned under Japan’s strict anti-stimulant drug laws. Medications that feature codeine are also prohibited and shouldn’t be brought into Japan.

2. Don't eat on church steps in Italy

2. Don't eat on church steps in ItalyiStock/Horst Gerlach
Be careful where you consume a relaxing lunch or refreshing beverage in Italy. It’s an offense in Florence to eat or drink while sitting on church steps or within a church courtyard. The same law applies to eating near public buildings. Snack elsewhere and avoid the fine.

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3. Keep your top on in Fiji

3. Keep your top on in FijiiStock/jodiejohnson
Fiji is a beautiful tropical paradise where sunbathing and swimming are part of daily life, but don’t get caught with your pants (or top) down. Public nudity and topless bathing are illegal here. Stay covered up and out of jail.

4. Feed the pigeons and you'll break the law in San Fransisco

4. Feed the pigeons and you'll break the law in San FransiscoiStock/Martin Ivanov
It’s illegal to feed pigeons on the streets of San Francisco. The city famous for the Golden Gate Bridge blames the ubiquitous birds for spreading disease and damaging property. If you’re caught providing food to San Francisco’s pigeons, you could face a hearty fine. Citizens are even encouraged to report pigeon feeders to the city’s police department.

5. Leave your bible at home in the Maldives

5. Leave your bible at home in the MaldivesiStock/adamkaz
In  the Maldives, public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited, and it’s an offense to import bibles into the country. To ensure that you don’t upset the locals or run foul of the law, don’t bring a bible along on your trip.

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6. Watch your camera in Kazakhstan

6. Watch your camera in KazakhstaniStock/cosmopol
Want to capture one last snapshot of your family in the airport before you board the plane? In Kazakhstan, it’s against the law. Photography in and around airports is illegal, and taking pictures of military and official buildings is frowned upon as well.

7. Don't smoke in Jamaica, mon

7. Don't smoke in Jamaica, moniStock/jzabloski
Tourists may be surprised to discover that marijuana is outlawed in Jamaica. Since 1913, Jamaican law has stated that the cultivation, use or possession of marijuana is illegal. People caught with even a small amount of the plant can face a lengthy prison sentence.

8. Pack a breathalyzer in France

8. Pack a breathalyzer in FranceiStock/zstockphotos
In France, drivers are legally required to carry a portable Breathalyzer in their vehicle. If you’re caught without this gadget in your car, you’ll be expected to cough up 11 Euros tout suite. Tourists behind the wheel, this law applies to you too.

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9. Pucker up at your peril in the United Arab Emirates

9. Pucker up at your peril in the United Arab EmiratesiStock/pidjoe
Public displays of affection—kissing, hugging, holding hands—should be avoided while traveling in the United Arab Emirates. Tourists have been arrested and thrown in jail for kissing in public. Reserve all amorous moments for private occasions behind closed doors.

10. Butt out and chew carefully in Singapore

10. Butt out and chew carefully in SingaporeiStock/Robert Herhold
Smoking laws are more severe in Singapore than they are in North America. Lighting up in public—in restaurants, on the street, in a park—will earn a stiff fine in this Asian country. Gum chewers aren’t exempt from tough regulations either. It’s illegal to chomp gum while riding on Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, and like smoking, this offense is punishable with a fine.

11. Keep your pants on in Greece

11. Keep your pants on in GreeceiStock/mbbirdy
The Greeks and indecent behavior don’t mix. If you’re the type of person who gets a laugh out of mooning other folk, you might want to keep your pants up and your belt buckled. Dropping your drawers is a chargeable offense in Greece that can bring with it a steep fine or jail time.

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12. Bathing suits are for the beach only in Barcelona

12. Bathing suits are for the beach only in BarcelonaiStock/ppart
Don’t wander away from the Barcelona seafront dressed in just your bikini or swim trunks. In this Spanish city, it’s against the law to wear swimming attire on public streets. Cover up or change out of your bathing suit if you plan to leave the beach or promenade—failing to do so will result in a financial dent in your wallet.

13. Don't empty your piggy bank for purchases in Canada

13. Don't empty your piggy bank for purchases in CanadaiStock/Huch
If you’re shopping in Canada, don’t expect cashiers to accept stacks of coins as your sole method of payment. According to Canada’s Currency Act, stores can legally refuse excessive amounts of coins. With pennies, for example, customers' payments may be rejected if they try to use more than 25 one-cent coins at one time.

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13 thoughts on “13 Funny International Laws You’d Never Know Were Real

  1. Nudity, on several beaches of Greece is tolerated, particularly in most of the islands. Wheras complaints by bathers, in cases of provocative display of nudity, may lead to police involvement, nude bathing at the far end of most long beaches or nudist earmarked such is well tolerated. Besides, finding secluded beaches where you can parctice nudism is rather easy. Cosult locals about these.

  2. HAHAHA! losers!!!!!! jm don’t take it forreals BYE LOSERS HAHA! jk

  3. Don’t make a movie about cruel prisons in Turkey. Don’t try to recreate any Lampoon Vacation scene you may have seen filmed in Europe. You can’t drive how they do in movies or “Top Gear” while visiting Europe. Don’t get in a hurry about your food order in France. Don’t talk about God on a public street in Paris. If you are a women, don’t walk near or ahead of your hubby in any Islamic country. Don’t take your US magazine to any Islamic country. Don’t walk on the grassy area in any Chinese state owned park. Don’t forget your bike license in Italy. Don’t get a part time job in Taiwan without permission. Don’t toss rocks into the grand canyon, you will get the “it could fill up” speech by a park official.

  4. How ironic, that in United Arab Emirates, you can be thrown in jail for kissing, hugging,holding hands,etc.. However, you see there politicians, and citizens kissing each other on ea cheek as the greet one another. LOL.. Backwards country.

  5. Hey Reader’s Digest … funniest laws in the world … won’t load … IE9. 

  6. would love to read it but tried 15 times and wouldnt ever load totally

  7. Strange how in Jamaica, as in the rest of the world, marijuana is illegal. It seems that the author has some bias where she thinks that everything goes on tropical islands like Fiji or Jamaica. Oh, and funnny how “the Greeks and indecent behavior don’t mix” because, you know, everybody else is all for that. Guess what Jackie Middleton, you are not in college anymore! Drugs are illegal all over the world, so is public nudity. Adultry is illegal in NY, why did that not make your list?

  8. Wow, that is so strange how in Fiji public nudity is illegal. God those people are so strange and backwards because here in the US public nudity is legal, right? Of course not! Public nudity is illegal almost everywhere, but for some reason if its illegal in Fiji then it is a ‘strange’ or ‘surprising’ law.

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