Britons going abroad to explore cities, sunbathe on white sand beaches or visit landmarks need to take a few precautions before leaving their homeland. Making sure all documents required are in order is vital, as is packing necessary items for the trip. Another important check travellers must do, however, involves local laws and customs of the countries and cities they are heading to.
Failing to do so, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) previously warned, may see tourists being handed fines or even lead to an arrest.
While carrying bottled water into a country or chewing gum on public transport may be seen as innocent acts, they can have consequences in certain nations.
The FCDO regularly updates its travel advice and notes potential issues linked to travelling overseas, and those leaving the UK borders are strongly advised to check out the Government’s website.
Express.co.uk has looked into some of the most bizarre laws enforced in certain countries that must be followed by Britons abroad.
The Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on drugs – but this only applies to so-called “soft” drugs, which can be acquired and consumed only in certain areas, called coffee shops, where in turn alcoholic substances are not sold.
Anywhere else in the country, it is against the law to possess, sell or produce drugs.
The Dutch Government’s website reads: “The Dutch Public Prosecution Service does not prosecute members of the public for possession or use of small quantities of soft drugs. They do prosecute all other forms of possession, sale or production of soft or hard drugs.”
Those breaking the rules on drugs in The Netherlands are warned they could face arrest and detention.
Italy’s Floating City is commonly associated with its pigeons, given the high number of birds populating its narrow streets and its most iconic landmark, San Mark’s Square.
Feeding these animals, however, may become a high-cost affair for people caught in the act by local authorities.
Since 1997, the city has ruled tourists or locals feeding pigeons would be slapped with a fine. This regulation initially allowed people to feed the birds if they were in St Mark’s Square, but the law was tightened further in 2008, when the landmark joined the rest of the city as a no-feeding pigeon zone.
Fines currently range between £43 to £173, and aim at keeping Venice clean from pigeon droppings – highly corrosive for stones and marble – and avoiding the spread of diseases.
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Barcelona is one of the destinations in Spain most beloved by Britons.
The city is perfect both for a holiday in the sun with its beaches and for cultural tourism with its museums, churches and historic landmarks.
But people who during their stay want to mix both visiting Barcelona’s city centre and going to the beach need to remember to dress appropriately when leaving the seaside, as is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beachfront area.
Those not abiding by this rule could face a fine of up to £260.
Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited and can land offenders a fine.
It is also against the law to import gums, and since 2004 only therapeutic, dental, and nicotine chewing gum can be sold in the nation.
Singapore introduced a total gum ban in 1992, as part of then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s bid to make the country an “oasis” in terms of cleanliness and efficient transport system among other perks.
The efficient MRT system was linked to the chewing gum ban, as it was found that vandals were sticking gums between the train doors, causing them not to close fully and, as a result, slowing services down and raising the cost of maintenance.
The African country looks closely at what is imported by people crossing its borders. Among the items likely to lead to a fine and confiscation is mineral water.
The Government’s foreign travel advice page for Nigeria reads: “It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, textile fabrics, jewellery, and precious metals.
“It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities.”
The website also warns against taking pictures of government, military buildings and airports, as it may “lead to arrest”.
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