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Brits risk breaking laws abroad

30 August 2013 11:05

Wearing a bikini away from Barcelona's beach area can bring a fine for unwary holidaymakers

Wearing a bikini away from Barcelona's beach area can bring a fine for unwary holidaymakers

Holidaying Britons face a host of unknown ways in which they can get on the wrong side of the law when abroad - with many mistakenly see their passport as a "get out of jail free" card.

This warning comes from the Foreign Office (FO) which has listed a range of blunders travellers can make in the wrong place; whether chewing gum on Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit trains; feeding pigeons in Venice or donning military-style camouflage clothes in Barbados.

Other errors would be wearing a bikini, which can get you fined in Barcelona if you wear it away from the beach front - along with wearing just swimming trunks and going bare-chested - and eating near churches in Florence, Italy.

In Japan, some nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine, which are commonly available here, must not be taken into the country.

It is even illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria.

Topless sunbathing is banned in Fiji and public observance of religions except for Islam is prohibited in Maldives for non-Maldivians and visitors.

With so much to look out for, it makes sense to put your mind at rest when heading away for a break by taking out travel insurance. FO consular services director Charles Hay said consular staff cannot interfere in another country's legal processes and travellers are often unaware that local laws apply to them as well as residents of the country concerned.

Mr Hay urged British travellers to research their destination beforehand, and pointed to for laws and customs information for different countries.

An FO report said more than a quarter (27%) of cases of consular help being required by Britons were over arrests or detentions.

UK nationals end up going against the law unexpectedly each year, with fines, arrests and jail terms resulting, said Mr Hay. He added that the Foreign Office wants Britons to enjoy themselves while abroad but they have to realise laws differ from country to country.

"What may be perfectly legal in the UK could be subject to a fine or even a jail sentence in another," he added.