Sometimes when you travel, you may find some weird laws. At least they may seem strange to you, but they are perfectly logical in the country you are traveling to. While you may think they’re a little funny, if you break some of their strange laws, you won’t be laughing.
You really want to know what these weird laws are ahead of time if you can. While some minor infractions may be overlooked, in some countries, things you never even think about may result in costly fines. Or worse yet, even get you in serious trouble.
Much of the time, I’m talking about common sense things. At least they are common sense things here in the United States. However, you might run into some weird laws when you travel to different countries. Some weird laws you never thought about could do you in, get you a ticket, or in the worst case land you in jail. Unfortunately not knowing such laws won’t help you in some cases.
Check Government Websites First
Go to government websites to check before you go on your trip. Look under “Local Laws and Customs” on the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. On the Australian and U.S. government sites, check under “Travel Advisories“.
Here in this article we won’t give you the actual laws. We’ll just tell you about those laws, the general idea of what the laws are about. That’s good enough for you to check the various laws that might affect you in the countries you visit. If you go to the consulate in the country you’re visiting you could always ask what laws you should be concerned about.
Don’t Jaywalk in Singapore and elsewhere
At one time even HAVING chewing gum was illegal in Singapore. Now tourists can have it. But don’t chew it and spit it out on the sidewalk. They ARE watching, and it could result in a big fine. They’re serious about keeping things clean and orderly. Clean, as in leaving a public toilet un-flushed could cost you a fine. And orderly, as in don’t try jay walking either. You might pay a nice big fine if you get caught.
Jaywalking is a tricky one anywhere. If we don’t know the customs in a country make sure you cross at a crosswalk. Wait for the stoplight if there is one (even with no traffic). It only costs you a few steps and a few seconds. That’s such a small inconvenience and is so much better than big trouble or a big fine.
Potential Double Trouble on the Autobahn
But in Germany, it is illegal to run out of gas on the autobahn. Not only that, it’s illegal to walk along the autobahn
. So be sure your tank is filled up!
Well this one although strange seems well meant since the high seed of the cars on the autobahn is enough to kill anyone instantly and you don’t want to run out of gas with people around you flying at 100 mph or more.
Dubai and Liquor – Watch out!
When you fly into Dubai, you may purchase duty-free liquor to take into the country. However, be careful where you drink it and where you travel with it.
You can take it to your hotel room. Also to friends if they have a liquor license. But don’t even think about drinking it on the beach. That’s where you could a problem if caught and you sure don’t want that.
United Arab Emirates and Drugs
Drug laws are very strict in the Emirates too. you even need to be careful of medications there. Some prescription drugs and even some over-the-counter drugs are considered narcotics.
When going there you should carry your doctor’s prescription. Also leave the drugs in their original container. That’s especially the case if they contain codeine.
Muslim Countries Affection and Sexy Pictures
In most Muslim countries, men and women shouldn’t hold hands when they walk around in public. And whatever you do… leave the magazines with sexy pictures at home.
Weird laws in Thailand can Get You in Trouble
In Thailand, criticizing the King is illegal…. and for heaven’s sake, don’t drop any money and inadvertently step on it…. It has a likeness of the King!
It’s also illegal to drive shirtless, so guys, while this may seem like a strange law, if you rent a scooter at the beach, keep your shirt on.
Odds and Ends in Weird Laws
We all know you are not supposed to leave your baggage unattended in the airport…. but in the UK it is illegal.
Don’t hang out with shady characters in Morocco… if you are with someone who possesses narcotics, even if you’re unaware of it, you can be tried for possession.
In Mexico it is illegal to shout offensive words in any public place.
In many countries, it is illegal to take pictures of police officers, military officers, and military installations. Always ask or check on this one. Sound like a strange law to me. How about you?
In Australia, you can get a ticket for leaving your keys in an unattended car. OK. That strange law falls in the why-would-you category.
Reading up on strange laws before you travel might not just give you a giggle. It could save you money or keep you out of jail!
Strange Traffic Laws Abroad You need to Know About
If you plan to rent a car overseas you need to know about traffic laws abroad. You might be reading road signs in a foreign language…. and that could easily get you lost or confused.
On top of that if you’re from the United States you may be driving with distances in miles or kilometers.
It would be easy to miscalculate how long it will take you to drive from one place to another. However, you really can’t afford to be confused about traffic laws abroad. That could get you a ticket. Worse yet it could easily be the cause of an accident if you misunderstand traffic laws or customs.
Check Government Websites for Traffic Laws
The best way to find out about the rules of the road in the country you are going to visit is to go to government websites. Look for travel information on road conditions. Especially check the laws for each country you plan to drive in.
If you don’t, it is easy to make a simple mistake and find yourself in an accident. That might be the worse situation, but getting fined because you did the wrong thing is no fun either. So check the country’s government website so you are aware of any traffic laws you are not familiar with. Other laws too might apply; some things you might take for granted in your home country may be totally illegal in other countries.
When you get to the rental car counter, ask if there are any rules that might be different from home. The car rental agents won’t be able to give you all the answers, but they can answer basic questions.
They can also give you a heads up in some cases that could save you lots of frustration and possible traffic tickets.
This is Not a Weird Law – Don’t Drink and Drive
Almost certainly the first rule for everyone should be don’t drink and drive. While in many states in the U.S. the legal limit is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, the limit is only 0.05 in Australia and much of Europe. More and more countries are going to zero tolerance of any drinking and driving.
Strange Laws Require Safety Equipment in the Car
Some traffic laws abroad apply to safety equipment that should be carried in the trunk (or boot) of the car. The rental car companies should provide anything that is required, but you should know about the laws.
Many countries require orange or yellow “visibility” vests. Some countries say these should be inside the car, so that you can have them on anytime you exit the car on the side of the road.
Sometimes only one vest is required, sometimes more. To go along with those vests, many of those same countries require that the car have a reflective triangle to alert other drivers if you have to park on the side of the road.
First aid kits are compulsory to carry in some countries. In other countries it is highly recommended. Sometimes you’re supposed to carry replacement headlight bulbs. What’s a foreign driver to do?
As far as equipment, the rental car should have what is required. However, you should check to make sure that it does. Also be sure to check for the spare tire!
Headlights, Parking and Honking – get it Right
In some countries headlights must be on during the day. That’s regardless of weather conditions. Most countries now want headlights on when the windshield wipers are on. Some countries want headlights on during the winter.
In some countries, drivers who wear eyeglasses must carry a spare pair in the car at all times. Good idea, but easy to forget if you’re not used to doing that.
Can you turn right on a red light? Or turn left on a red light if you’re driving on the left? That’s another law that varies by country. We say, when in doubt, wait for a green light. Not only in other countries. In the different states in the US those laws vary from state to state.
In Germany, you may be able to park and leave a blue plastic disk showing when you stopped. Those will generally be in the rental car.
In France, some meters need to be swiped with a card that you get at newsstands or “tobacconists“.
In most cities, you need to find a parking garage or a machine on the street where you can buy a “pay and display” ticket.
You need to be aware of which counties require a toll sticker (or vignettes) to be on the car for using the highways.
Are you supposed to flash your headlights when passing, or are you never supposed to flash them? Will you get a ticket if you DON’T use your signal while passing? That could happen in Spain. Is honking the horn illegal in the town you’re driving through?
Weird Laws Conclusion
OK. We know we’re not giving you answers here or covering many other laws you might experience in countries you may visit.
The traffic laws abroad vary way too much to even attempt to do that. We’re just asking the questions that you should think about when traveling to a foreign country.
The last thing you want to happen while there is get a ticket or have an accident because of some law you knew nothing about.