11 Common Things That Can Get You Into Trouble in Foreign Countries
Some of the things you do every day may be completely forbidden in other countries, so it’s really important to explore the rules and culture of the country you are going to beforehand.
Bright Side made a list of common things that may land you in prison in some countries. Check them all because some of the laws are really crazy.
11. Chewing gum
The streets in Singapore are amazingly clean, and the number of laws concerning this point helps a lot. They have huge fines for littering, spitting, and smoking in public areas. And the selling of chewing gum in the country is totally banned — you can get a fine for trying to import it. Only certain chewing gums, which are allowed for medical purposes, can be found in pharmacies.
10. Wearing improper clothes
In many Muslim countries, in order to not attract unwanted attention in public places, you should dress modestly, especially if you are a girl. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, they should be loose, and underwear should not be visible. Iran and Saudi Arabia demand that women fully cover their arms and legs and wear a headscarf. In Iran, if you don’t follow the dress code, the maximum penalty will be a request to make it correct. But in Saudi Arabia, you may end up in prison.
9. Stopping on the Autobahn
You are not allowed to run out of gas on the Autobahn in Germany, a highway system controlled by the government. You can’t stop there for any other reason either. Walking there is also strictly prohibited for your own safety. All of these things will cost you a fine for endangering yourself and other drivers.
8. Cutting down a cactus
Some native plants in Arizona, USA, are protected under state law. If you cut them down, it’s considered theft and can send you to prison for a few years. Cactus theft is pretty high, and it takes dozens of years for them to grow, so these measures are necessary to protect native flora from being destroyed.
Jogging in groups was banned in the East African country of Burundi based on the argument that people use the activity as an excuse to organize "uprisings" and a cover to plan subversive activities. You can jog alone, but 2 people constitute a group. Some people go to prison for that.
6. Living together before marriage
The United Arab Emirates has a strict law to prevent people from living together before marriage. If you do so, the police may come to your place and put you in prison. And without a marriage certificate, you can’t stay in a hotel room with your partner.
5. Celebrating Valentine’s Day
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan banned their people from celebrating Valentine’s Day because it is not a Muslim tradition, and it focuses on love that isn’t directed toward God. Valentine’s Day cards, any kind of advertisements, and internet memes are strictly prohibited in those countries and are punished with imprisonment. Rallies against celebrating Valentine’s Day were also held in 4 cities in Indonesia.
4. Public displays of affection
Kissing in public can get you in trouble if you are in Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, or Oman. In these places, it is considered to be a socially unacceptable behavior and is punished with fines and imprisonment. You should also avoid displaying affection in India, Indonesia, and Thailand.
3. Eating in public
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink anything during daylight hours. In the United Arab Emirates, a person who publicly eats or drinks during the day in Ramadan, or encourages the act of eating or drinking publicly, can face imprisonment or a fine, even if they are not Muslims.
2. Insulting the King
Avoid talking disrespectfully about the royal family when you are in Thailand. The King is worshipped there in a way that westerners can hardly understand. The definition of an insult is not really clear, so even dropping or stepping on money with the King’s image on it may send you to prison.
1. Drinking alcohol
Alcohol is against the principles of Islam, so before going to any Muslim countries you should check out the country’s laws. In Saudi Arabia, it’s completely banned. Checking of baggage at the airport is very strict so that no one can bring alcohol into the country. It’s also impossible to buy it anywhere. If you’re caught drinking, you will face long-term imprisonment.
There are also severe restrictions on consuming alcohol in Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Libya, Bangladesh, Sudan, Yemen, the Maldives, and some parts of India.
Have you been to any countries on this list? Was your behavior there decent? Or maybe you know some other interesting laws and restrictions? Share your experience with us in the comments!
Preview photo credit KARIM SAHIB/AFP