You can be arrested for this?

According to, around 1000 Australians are arrested overseas each year. Sometimes, the reasons why aren’t so obvious. In fact, there are quite a few things you can do at home that will get you arrested overseas. And these can seem quite innocuous but, nonetheless, reason enough to put you behind bars in some countries.

Before you land, you need to make sure you don’t hit the ground in handcuffs. So, don’t have sex on the plane (or don’t get caught), don’t threaten or follow through with the threat, steer clear of mock violence (or real aggression), leave out the jokes about bombs and explosions and, most of all, don’t mess with your flight attendant.

Now that you’ve managed to avoid the shackles, there are a few countries that have weird rules. Here are our top seven strange reasons for being arrested in a foreign land.

1. Don’t walk naked in your hotel room
Singapore is a very popular destination and is also very high on social conformity. So, no smoking or singing in public, no chewing gum, no feeding the birds and, perhaps most strange, no walking around naked in your hotel room. Regardless of how the authorities can discover your nudie hotel romps, any of these infringements are accompanied by anything from a hefty fine, serious jail time or a whipping with a rattan cane (which may appeal to some of the nudists).

2. Don’t order alcohol after hours
Thailand’s ‘blue laws’ make it illegal to order a drink at a bar during certain hours. It’s all good to swig a beer between 11am and 2pm and any time after 5pm, but outside of these hours, you sip at your peril. You also can’t legally buy alcohol on Buddha Day or on Election Day.

3. Touching down with over-the-counter meds
Many countries require prescription medicines to be in the original box and accompanied by the prescription. Some countries also prohibit medicines containing codeine and pseudoephedrine, so check the laws before you land.

4. Stopping on the side of the road
Germany’s Autobahn is a famous stretch of road with no speed limit, so you can drive as fast as you like and never be pulled over. But don’t pull over to the side of the road or run out of fuel, because you will cop a huge fine. Also, don’t mention the year 1966 in any football stadium (it’s when Germany lost the World Cup to England) or you will be fined (or beaten, depending who hears it!).

5. Frowning
Make sure you turn that frown upside down when you’re in Milan, Italy, because frowning is illegal and punishable. The only times you’re allowed to frown in Milan is during a funeral or in hospitals.

6. Cover up your tatts
If you have a Buddha tattoo exposed in Sri Lanka, you’ll be deported or refused entry for misappropriation of Buddhist images and artefacts. Also, don’t take a selfie in front of a Buddha statue, or you could find yourself out of pocket or in the clink.

7. Flushing the toilet at night
The Swiss may be super liberal (or slightly wishy washy) but whatever you do, don’t flush the toilet at night, no matter how bad the stink. It’s considered noise pollution and is seriously frowned upon.

8. Swearing
You think the rules in other countries are weird, but did you know that swearing is actually illegal in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland? It’s considered a summary offence and serious enough to be heard by a magistrate or judge and have you locked up for six months.

Likewise, in United Arab Emirates, where swearing or other obscene gestures will have you jailed or, if you’re lucky, deported.

9. Karaoke after dark
In Hawaii, singing karaoke after sunset, specifically in Honolulu, can have you ‘lei’d’ away or fined.

10. Wearing high heels
There’s a strict ban on hiking around in Greece in high heels, because the authorities are concerned about the damage spiky shoes can do to ancient stone.

11. Peeing in the sea
The Portuguese take peeing in the ocean pretty seriously, although I’m not quite sure how the authorities police it. Still, if you’re suspected of sullying their sea, they’ll fine you or worse.

In all seriousness, though, if you do happen to find yourself in hot (or warm) water, please visit

Do you know of any strange offences that could lead to arrest in other countries? Which of these do you think is weirdest? With which do you agree?

Related articles:
Don’t say these words aloud abroad
The suitcase prison smuggle plot
How to avoid travel disasters

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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