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Brits Abroad: How Not To Get Arrested On Your Next Holiday

08/08/2014 13:50 | Updated 20 May 2015

Did you know that British tourists can now be fined $500 (that's around £275) for swearing in Australia? Or that it's illegal to honk a car horn near a hospital in Cyprus? Nope, neither did we.

Brits abroad: FCO issues advice on local customs

It's just one of a number of new laws introduced in overseas countries that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) wants us Brit holidaymakers to be aware of.

Brits abroad are well-known for their lobster-like sunburn, boozy beer-guzzling, little knowledge of the local lingo and, more importantly, local laws.

The FCO is now encouraging people to be better prepared before they jet off on their summer vacay, by researching local laws and customs of their holiday destination before they step foot on the plane.

From driving a dirty car in Russia, to wearing camouflage clothing in Barbados, travellers could end up with a hefty fine or may even be arrested if they're caught out by local laws overseas.

According to new research issued by the FCO, while 70 said they'd do this research, despite the fact local legislation and even local customs can change at any time.

So what are the latest changes that could trip you up? In 2014, these changes in local law were introduced: Fines were increased to $500 for swearing publicly in certain parts of Australia; new requirements were introduced for parents travelling with children in or out of South Africa; e-cigarettes are now banned from being brought into the United Arab Emirates; and from January 2015, tourists must have a passport valid for at least 60 days from expiry date of their visitor visa when travelling to Turkey.

Just last year, two British tourists were arrested for swimming in the Emperor's moat at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. While it sounds like a bit of a giggle, their actions were the equivalent of attempting to break into Buckingham Palace – and being arrested in Japan for even a minor offence can mean remaining in custody for 23 days while awaiting an investigation. Eek.

Other holiday no-nos? Jaywalking in the USA, the Czech Republic and Poland; entering churches or mosques with arms or legs uncovered in Italy or Turkey; and leaving the beach still in swimwear in Mallorca and Barcelona. Who knew?

It's also illegal to 'moon' somebody in Greece. So keep those bottoms covered, people.

FCO Minister Mark Simmonds told MyDaily: "It's easy to throw caution to the wind when on holiday but it's important to be aware of the local laws and customs before you set off. We want people to enjoy their holidays so we encourage them to be prepared.

"Laws and customs vary widely from country to country and visitors should respect them to avoid causing offence or even being arrested. Spending five minutes reading our travel advice may save travellers a lot of time in the long run."

So as well as ensuring you have a different bikini for every day of the holiday (that's a given, right?), make time to check out the local laws, too, because what you don't want to check out is the inside of a prison cell while you're meant be preening poolside.

For more help, visit the FCO's travel advice pages, and check out their Local Laws and Customs Visual Graphic.

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