25 Funny International Laws You’d Never Know Were Real
You might want to remember these surprising and strange laws next time you're traveling to avoid embarrassment, fines, or worse!
New place, new laws
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. Check out these other everyday things you didn’t know were illegal.
Vicks inhalers are forbidden in Japan
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.
Don’t eat on church steps in Italy
Be careful where you consume a relaxing lunch or a 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. Read up on these bizarre things that have been banned around the world.
Keep your top on in Fiji
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.
Feed the pigeons and you’ll break the law in San Fransisco
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 hefty fine. Citizens are even encouraged to report pigeon feeders to the city’s police department.
Leave your Bible at home in the Maldives
In the Maldives (where you can find this glow-in-the-dark beach), 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 afoul of the law, don’t bring a Bible along on your trip. You probably never knew that these books were banned.
Watch your camera in Kazakhstan
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. Find out why it’s illegal to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night, too.
Don’t smoke in Jamaica, mon
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. And, if you hear tourists in Jamaica referring to 420, know what that means.
Pack a breathalyzer in France
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.
Pucker up at your peril in the United Arab Emirates
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. If you’re married, here are more surprising laws you’re probably breaking right now.
Keep your pants on in Greece
The Greeks and indecent behavior don’t mix. If you’re the type of person who gets a laugh out of mooning other folks, 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.
Bathing suits are for the beach only in Barcelona
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.
Butt out and chew carefully in Singapore
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. Check out these 50 things that are banned in the United States.
Don’t empty your piggy bank for purchases in Canada
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.
Follow baby-naming guidelines in Denmark
Parents-to-be can only get so creative with their baby name brainstorming. Under Denmark’s Law on Personal Names, their final choice must come from a pre-approved list of 7,000 names. If they want to go with something more unique, they need to get government approval. Around the world, these children’s rights aren’t universal, but really should be.
Apparently, residents of Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia) can get crazy with their water guns. In 2001, Governor Chea Sophara banned the sale and import of all water guns to cut down on accidents and incidents of people maliciously using the toys. He worried their use could cause social unrest and disrupt security during the Khmer New Year. These things will probably be illegal in the next 50 years.
Bike responsibly in Mexico
You’ve heard of reckless driving, but in Mexico, they’re also concerned about bikers. Anyone riding a bike may not lift their feet from the pedals because they could potentially lose control. It sounds a little crazy, but lawmakers are really just looking out for bikers’ safety.
Don’t get people wasted in Australia
Bars and taverns all over the world have one primary purpose: to serve alcohol. However, any Australians with a liquor license are prohibited from engaging in “practices or promotions that encourage rapid or excessive consumption of liquor,” the law states. Getting patrons too drunk down under could result in a $12,600 fine. Check out these 10 unusual American liquor laws.
Keep it down in Canada
The city of Petrolia in Ontario could be easily mistaken for Bomont, the fictional town from the movie Footloose. Dancing isn’t banned, but excessive noise is, which means no singing, whistling, and yelling between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
No high heels in Greece
Well, the historic parts of Greece. Officials prohibit anyone from wearing high heels at certain ancient locations because they could actually damage the site. NPR reported that food and drink are also banned after maintenance workers found nearly 60 pounds of gum under the seats of a theater built in 161 A.D. The right to wear heels isn’t exactly harrowing, but unfortunately, some rights around the world still aren’t universal.
Be respectful of money in Thailand
We’re not talking about spending it wisely. Stepping on Thai money, called Baht, is illegal because it has the likeness of the Thai royal family on it. Defacing any image of the royal family has been against the law since 1908, and it could land you in jail. Not nearly as serious, but a lot more likely: watch out for these things that can get you banned from Facebook.
Visit your parents if you live in China
In 2013, China passed the Elderly Rights Law, which stated that adults are required to visit their aging parents “often.” No word on exactly what “often” means, but if people fail to comply, the court could force them to visit their parents a certain number of times each month.
Don’t bring Polish potatoes into Britain
In 2004, British officials banned the importation of potatoes that came from Poland. But it’s not because the Brits have anything against the Polish. The law was put in place because there was an outbreak of ring rot (a disease that can ruin potato crops) on Polish potatoes. While that law has a reasonable purpose, the same can’t be said in the U.S. Check out the strangest food laws you’ll find in every state.
Don’t cheat on exams in Bangladesh
Everyone should know that cheating on a test is wrong. Many schools, especially universities, threaten expulsion if students are caught cheating, but in Bangladesh, the stakes get even higher. Children 15 or older can actually go to jail if they cheat on their final exams.
Listen to Canadian musicians in Canada
Bring on the Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, and Justin Bieber tunes. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission states that all English- and French- speaking radio stations that play “popular music” (think American Top 40 hits) must make sure that at least 35 percent of that content is from Canadian artists.
Don’t swear in the Caribbean
Keep that sailor talk in the United States! Saint Kitts, also known as Saint Christopher Island, has a strict law against using profanity in public, and not complying could get you arrested. That’s what happened to rapper 50 Cent when he let a curse word slip at a concert in 2016. Those cops don’t mess around. Here in America, don’t miss the 50 dumbest laws in every state.