Weird Laws

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If you travel to another country, it’s important to get to grips with things like the local cuisine, the currency, which side of the road to drive on, etc. – just the usual stuff!

But it might also be useful to check whether you’re likely to be breaking any laws while on your travels!

We’ve put together a list of some of the weirdest laws from countries around the world…

It seems there are some laws that local police would definitely be embarrassed to enforce!

Switzerland – Be careful on Sundays and after 10pm…

You might have heard that it’s illegal to flush the toilet or have a shower after 10pm in Switzerland…

And Swiss law does indeed state that tenants must be mindful of their neighbours and fellow flatmates after 10pm…

It tends to be up to your landlord/landlady whether they want to strictly enforce these rules though.

It’s also against the law to slam your car door after 10pm…

Sundays are also a tricky time for getting stuff done – you’re not allowed to mow your lawn, recycle or wash your car on a Sunday!

A German lady was fined 250 Swiss francs for taking her bottles to the local recycling facility on a Sunday. Apparently her neighbour had informed the police and they gave her the choice of either spending two nights in a prison cell or paying the fine – ouch!

And finally, make sure you don’t recite poetry while skiing – this is another big no-no in Switzerland…

Although I’m not entirely sure why anyone would be reciting poetry whilst engaging in a spot of skiing, or how you’d actually be able to catch anyone out on this!

Singapore – Watch out for that smell!

Have you ever heard of, or smelt, the Southeast Asian snack known as durian?

Basically, it’s a very, very smelly fruit… think sweaty socks…

In fact, it’s so smelly that it’s been banned from all forms of public transport in Singapore, as well as in most taxis!

If you feel like freshening up with some minty chewing gum to take away the strong taste of durian though, you’d also be getting yourself in trouble…

In 1992, Singapore banned chewing gum and it’s now illegal to import or sell it…

Tourists are allowed to bring a maximum of two packs per person into the country.

Since 2004 exceptions have been made for gum that has therapeutic purposes… Nicotine gum, for example, can be purchased from a pharmacist or doctor…

And a final tip if you’re planning on visiting Singapore anytime soon – always flush the toilet!!

There is a law against leaving a public toilet unflushed after use… you can actually get fined for this! I guess that’s another smell that the locals would rather not have to endure…

Italy – Take good care of your pets!

If you’re thinking of moving to Italy and taking your goldfish with you, you might need to find it a new owner… or a much larger home!

In 2005, Rome banned goldfish bowls.

The thinking behind the law was that it’s cruel to keep fish in bowls as they don’t provide enough oxygen…

Fish in Rome should be kept in proper aquariums instead of goldfish bowls…

And if you’re a dog owner living in Turin, you’ll need to make sure that you take your canine friend for a walk at least three times a day!

Apparently you could face a fine of €500 if you don’t!

And if you fancied giving your furry friend a quirky haircut, think again…

“Fur modification” is considered cruel to animals in most Italian cities… And dying your pet’s fur could land you with a rather large fine!

UK – Be wary of suspicious salmon

A law was passed as part of the UK Salmon Act in 1986 that states that it’s illegal to “handle salmon in suspicious circumstances”…

What does this even mean?!

The wording does lead to a number of scenarios being brought into question…

But the law actually refers to circumstances where the salmon may have been illegally fished…

Once you’re sure that your salmon has not been suspiciously handled, you also need to make sure that the potatoes you’re eating aren’t Polish!

A UK law passed in 2004 says that it’s illegal for someone to bring potatoes into England that they know or believe to be Polish potatoes…

This was due to a number of ring rot outbreaks in Poland…

Now, there are a few UK laws that we’ve found to actually be myths – disappointingly, as they would have been great on our list!

  • It’s illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament
  • In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and says they need the toilet, you have to let them in
  • It’s illegal to place a stamp on a letter the wrong way round so that the Queen’s head is upside down

Some other laws that amused us, which may or may not be true, include…

Portugal banning weeing in the ocean…

China forbidding Buddhist monks from reincarnating without the government’s permission…

The US state of Georgia making it illegal for chickens to cross the road…

The Polish town of Tuszyn banning Winnie the Pooh memorabilia from children’s areas because the bear is deemed inappropriate and doesn’t have a clear gender…

The French town of Sarpourenx banning people from dying within the city grounds unless they’ve bought themselves a local burial plot…

Have you come across any other weird laws at home or on your travels?

Maybe you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of the law without even realising it…

Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

I am native Austrian and studied Linguistics and Literature at the University of Innsbruck and in Manchester, so language and translation has always been a passion of mine. Before joining Tongue Tied, I have worked as a Translation Assistant and in Customer Services and Purchasing.

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