Local laws and customs catching British nationals out abroad

27 August 2014

World Travel Insurance News

Local laws and customs for Brits

The FCO has launched a campaign to encourage Brits to better prepare for their holiday by researching the local laws and customs of their destination before travel. The FCO have carried out research that shows that while 70% of people believe that researching local laws and customs would make their holiday more enjoyable, less than half would actually make this part of their preparations when visiting somewhere new.

Every year Brits are caught out by breaking local laws and customs while abroad, and as a result find themselves faced with hefty fines or, in some cases, arrested or detained abroad.

The key messages of the campaign are:

    • Make sure you fully research the destination you intend to visit before travelling, including its laws and customs;
    • Understand what is appropriate behaviour and which activities, for example social drinking, you can and can’t undertake in your destination;
    • Being caught out by local laws and customs can carry consequences or hefty fines;
    • Visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for country specific laws and customs, including the consequences (or specific destination pages).

In 2014, the following changes in local law were introduced:

  • fines were increased to $500 for swearing publicly in certain parts of Australia;
  • new requirements were introduced for parents travelling with children in or out of South Africa;
  • e-cigarettes are now banned from being brought into the United Arab Emirates;
  • from January 2015 tourists must have passport valid for at least 60 days from expiry date of their visitor visa when travelling to Turkey.

The last thing you want on your holiday is a huge fine or being arrested over something that you do at home! Take a quick look at some of the examples below and you’ll see how easy it is to get in to trouble.

  • In Spain you can’t drink at all if you’re going to drive, the limit is far lower than home.
  • In Germany it’s illegal to run out of petrol on the autobahn.
  • In Turkey and Greece you must carry photo ID at all times.
  • In Greece indecent behaviour or inappropriate dress will get you fined and you’ll be spending a night in the cells.
  • In UAE E-cigarettes are banned and beach wear is only allowed on the beach or by the pool.
  • In Indonesia buying, possessing or using drugs will get you the death penalty!
  • In Australia you can be fined $500 for swearing in public.
  • In Singapore it’s against the law to chew gum on public transport.

Wherever you are going, the FCO’s travel advice pages have a laws and customs section for each destination and are a great place to begin your research.

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