Breaking these lesser-known laws could get you in trouble abroad

Vaping in Thailand, wearing camouflage in Barbados and having a tattoo of Buddha in Sri Lanka are all things the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is warning young Brits could get them in trouble abroad.

Young woman at the airport in Barcelona checking for the flight schedule. Image by martin-d/Getty Images

The government branch in charge of travel advice recently found that only 38% of young people read the advisories before they head to a destination – meaning many might be unaware of potential dangers or local laws and customs. Since 33% of 18- to 24-years-olds will be influenced by celebrities while prepping for their Easter holidays, the FCO warns that some popular celebrity destinations have stricter laws than in the UK.

Here are some of the local laws that might surprise you:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at dusk, Abu-Dhabi. Image by ©Boule/Shutterstock


Swearing and rude gestures – even online – are seen as obscene acts and those caught could be jailed or deported.


Vaporisers like e-cigarettes, e-baraku or refills can’t be brought into Thailand. The items will probably be confiscated and those caught with them could be fined or sent to prison for up to ten years if convicted.


Indecent behaviour, like mooning, could lead to arrest and a fine or even a prison sentence.

The statues of Buddha in Isurumuniya Rock Temple in Anuradhapura. Image by ©eFesenko/Shutterstock

Sri Lanka

The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is a serious offence – and has led to trouble for tourists in the past, including conviction. Having a visible tattoo of Buddha has resulted in being refused entry to the country and even deportation. The FCO warns travellers not to pose for photographs standing in front of a statue of Buddha.


Medicines that are allowed in many countries, like Vicks Inhalers or painkillers containing Codeine, are banned in Japan and could lead to detention and deportation.

Galata Tower with Turkish flag light show at night. Image by ©ByGurzoglu/Shutterstock


Insulting the Turkish nation or flag, or defacing or tearing up currency is an offence in the country. Convictions could lead to a prison sentence that could last between six months and three years.


Wearing camouflage is banned in many Caribbean countries, like Barbados, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia. This also applies to children.


Starting a forest fire is a crime in Spain – even if it was completely unintentional.

Australia has strict laws to help protect its unique wildlife. Image by ©seanscott/Getty Images


Australia’s incredible ecosystem means the country has very strict quarantine laws that are designed to stop pests and disease from impact the country’s plants, animals and people. If you break the laws, you could face large fines – just ask Johnny Depp.


Smoking and drinking alcohol in public places – such as at bus stops, playgrounds and parks – is banned in Ukraine.

Learn more about local laws and customs around the world here.

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Breaking these lesser-known laws could get you in trouble abroad
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