UK

Fifth Of British Travellers Believe Local Laws Don't Apply To Them

02/05/2013 12:38 BST | Updated 02/05/2013 13:32 BST

A fifth of Britons believe they are still under British law when they travel abroad - rather than the law of the country they are travelling in.

New research found that 22% of people surveyed do not believe that foreign laws, such as those on drug use, dress code or alcohol, apply to them when they travel abroad.

british holidaymakers

The majority of Brits don't familiarise themselves with the laws of the county they are visiting

The 1,722 people surveyed by travel company Global Visas had all been abroad within the last three years, but a fifth still believed that, as British citizens, the only law they are bound by is British law.

When asked why they believed this to be true, 55% said it was due to the fact they were ‘British citizens’, explaining why they felt British laws applied to them everywhere they went while 21% thought that it was due to the fact they were ‘just visiting’ the foreign country.

Respondents were asked if they 'take the time to familiarise yourself with the local laws of the country you're visiting before you get there?' to which the majority, 39%, said ‘no, never’.

Of the remainder, 23% said they ‘occasionally’ familiarised themselves with overseas laws before going away, whilst 22% said that they ‘rarely’ did and just 13% said ‘yes, always’.

The respondents that said they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ familiarised themselves with the laws of the countries they visited were asked why they didn’t. Sixty-two per cent said that they thought laws were relaxed for tourists, whilst 24% said that it simply didn’t cross their mind to and 11% said that they ‘weren’t planning on getting into trouble’ so felt that they’d be OK.

But many of the respondents said they would be more likely to check the local laws if they were travelling to certain countries, many of which correspond with nations where British nationals have been on trial or sentenced to death.

The survey's respondents said they would be more likely to check laws in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Indonesia, Thailand and China.

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford is currently on death row in Bali, having submitted her final appeal, where she was found guilty of drug smuggling.

And three British men were sentenced this week to four years in jail in Dubai for possessing synthetic cannabis. The men claim they were tortured by UAE police.

Gary Smith of Global Visas said: "It's quite worrying that some Brits travelling abroad believe they're not subject to another country's laws. If you're within another country's borders, then you need to make sure you abide by their rules.

"You often read horror stories of Brits caught up in a 'foreign jail hell', but if people actually took the time to research some of the basic dos and don'ts of where they're going to then at least some of these incidents might be avoided. If a law is there, it's there for a reason. Don't run the risk. If anything, we would advise taking more care when in a different country as the justice system may vary greatly from ours and you could find yourself in more trouble than you bargained for."