Local Customs and Laws
When planning a trip overseas a little bit of research can save you an enormous amount of embarrassment, and money. The number of Brits arrested abroad rises every year, and no-one wants to spend their holiday in a foreign prison or incur heavy fines because they’ve upset the local populace by flouting local customs and by-laws.
Here are our top tips for avoiding encounters with the law abroad;
- Be careful what you wear. In some countries, such as Egypt, women are expected to keep their arms, legs and torsos covered.
- Whilst it is acceptable throughout most of Europe for women to sunbathe topless, it is not acceptable in most Arabic and Indian countries and also in many parts of the USA.
- Also watch your footwear. In some places women are banned from wearing high heels/shoes at historic or religious sites. In some countries it is offensive to walk around in bare feet.
- In countries such as Thailand, you are expected to carry your passport or ID with you at all times. If you fail to produce ID when asked you could be arrested and/or fined.
- Remember your manners. In some countries you can be fined for swearing, spitting, chewing gum and littering. In Hong Kong you will be fined for littering and spitting.
- Sex in public is never acceptable and in Arabic countries it is punishable by imprisonment and a hefty fine.
- Mooning or streaking on holiday will always result in arrest and a fine.
- The FCDO recently alerted gay travellers that homosexuality is still unfortunately illegal in some popular travel destinations.
- In some countries, such as Greece and Spain, it is now illegal to smoke in indoor public places.
- In France all drivers and motorcyclists, (including foreign visitors,) are required by law to carry breathalysers in their vehicle. Anyone who does not comply will incur an immediate fine.
It is important that you familiarise yourself with local laws and customs before you go away. For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), check our handy Know before you go page.