25 Habits You Need To Kick Before Going Overseas (Thanks To Quirky Foreign Laws)


Every country in the world has its fair share of strange laws—the United States included. We’re not sure exactly how Thailand’s underwear law is being upheld—or who’s policing Swiss bathrooms after 10 p.m., but take this as your warning of habits you might need to kick according to your travel plans…

  1. Chewing gum. In Singapore, it’s illegal to import or sell gum. All in the interest of keeping the streets litter-free. You can get fined US$500 for spitting out gum on the street. (You can, however, chew gum that is “of therapeutic value” and prescribed by a doctor.)

Wave goodbye to these little bad boys.

  1. Nibbling outside church. In Florence, Italy, it’s an offence to sit and/or eat on the steps of major churches and public buildings.
  1. Selfies on the metro. Taking photos for your blog on the metro is an offence in Singapore. You are also encouraged to press the emergency button should you notice any suspicious activity during your metro ride.
  1. Doodling on your bank notes. In Thailand, it’s illegal to deface images of the King–including on bank notes.

Keep your notes clean.

  1. Going commando. Hard luck if you’ve simply fallen behind on your laundry… in Thailand it’s illegal to leave your house without wearing underwear.
  1. Tucking into watermelon. Rio Claro, Brazil has a law dating from 1894 that prohibits the sale of watermelons, which were believed to carry disease.
  1. Wearing stilettos. Be sure to stick to flats when you visit ancient Greek sites. Otherwise, you’ll have to leave your heels at the door and continue your tour barefoot.

Not to be flaunted around ancient Greek sites...

  1. Being sad. In Milan, Italy, unless you’re at a funeral or in a hospital, be sure to keep that smile. The city outlaws sadness.
  1. Dying. The mayor of the French town of Sarpourenx has forbidden residents from dying in the parish—unless they have a plot in the cemetery. Offenders who die will apparently be severely punished.
  1. Getting a good night’s sleep. Feather beds are illegal in Buenos Aires since the lawmakers decided they induce and encourage “lascivious feelings.”

No more feathers...

  1. Changing a light bulb. In Victoria, Australia, only licensed electricians are allowed to change light bulbs.
  1. Flushing late at night. In Switzerland, it’s against the law to flush after 10 p.m. From this time, the law also prohibits men to pee standing up.
  1. Wearing hot pink pants. In Victoria, Australia, it’s forbidden to wear hot pink pants after midday on Sunday. Your red undies will be fine…
  1. Hiding uranium. If you stumble on uranium in New Zealand, you must report it—in writing—to the Government within three months. (On the plus side, that’s three months of fun with uranium.)
  1. Building sandcastles. The mayor of Eraclea—a town near Venice, Italy—has banned the public from building sandcastles and collecting seashells.

Leave your bucket and spade at home...

  1. Popping out with your pillow. A pillow is considered a “passive weapon” in Germany. Better to leave yours at home in bed.
  1. Posting on social media. In July 2015, Australian artist Jodi Magi was arrested, jailed, and later deported from Abu Dhabi for posting an image on Facebook of a car parked across two disabled parking spaces outside her apartment. The UAE authorities defined her crime as “writing bad words on social media about a person.”
  1. Driving seven days a week. If you’re in Manila, Philippines, you’ll have to get used to driving just six days of the week. To manage congestion, every private car is subjected to one day off the road. Your car registration number defines which days you can drive.
  1. Driving (ever). If you’re a woman in Saudi Arabia, forget it. It’s against the law.
  1. Flying with your rooster. Hot-air ballooning with your feathered friend is forbidden by New Zealand law.

Up, up, and away (sans rooster)...

  1. Neglecting to clean your car. When in Russia, you’ll need to keep your car clean (externally, at least). Since the police need to be able to read your registration, you may be fined for a dirty car.
  1. Neglecting your waistline. In Japan, it’s illegal to be overweight. Males over 40 years must not have a waistline measuring over 31 inches, while females over 40 years of age can’t exceed 35 inches.
  1. Wearing polyester. In Italy, it’s illegal to wear polyester if you are considered “obese.”
  1. Eating mince pies on Christmas Day. Mince pies are part of the British Christmas tradition, yet, thanks to Cromwell, it’s written into British law that they are not to be consumed on Christmas Day.
  1. Forgetting your wife’s birthday. Though it may cause problems in other parts of the world, forgetting your wife’s birthday is officially an offence in Samoa.


Editor’s Note: While we can’t prepare you for every little surprise that awaits you overseas (that’s all part of the adventure!), we do our best to make sure your move is a smooth one. If you’re struggling with how to get started, the best thing you can do is make a plan. You can do this, step by step, over 52 days, right from the comfort of your home with our 52 Days To Your New Life Overseas program.


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