UK Foreign Office Warns On Laws Overseas

By Editorial 04 September, 2013

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued advice to British people abroad to remain mindful of foreign laws, drawing attention to a number of rules that may land unwitting visitors with fines or arrests.

The move follows a recent FCO report which showed that 27 percent of requests for consular assistance were for arrests or detentions, with particular increases in Italy, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands. The FCO also draws attention to a recent incident in which 28 British and Irish expats and holidaymakers in Portugal were fined for illegal gambling after holding a bingo game in which the prizes were drinks and biscuits. A British pub-owner who hosted the event was fined EUR700 (USD922) and given a suspended four-month prison sentence.

Examples of offences leading to detention listed by the FCO include: drug purchase and possession in the Netherlands; photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces in Saudi Arabia; and for publicly observing any religion other than Islam in the Maldives

Also, there are fines for actions that include: feeding the pigeons in Venice; taking certain nasal sprays into Japan; wearing a bikini, swimming trunks or being bare-chested away from the beachfront in Barcelona; sunbathing topless in Fiji; chewing gum on Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system; wearing camouflage clothing in Barbados (including by children); or bringing mineral water into Nigeria. There are also "large fines" for importing more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand, and for sitting on steps and courtyards or for eating and drinking close to churches and public buildings in Florence.

The FCO warns that while consular staff will try to assist, they cannot interfere in another country's legal processes.

Tags: Expatriates | Maldives | Netherlands | Niger | Nigeria | Portugal | Saudi Arabia | Fiji | Singapore | Thailand | United Kingdom | Italy | Barbados | Japan | Travel | Welfare |


News Archive