15 Common Things That Are Illegal in Foreign Countries

We all know that things like theft, assault and dealing drugs are obviously illegal but how about the common things that we all probably do in our day to day lives that are actually illegal, in other countries. From the strange and shocking to the laws that are the very definition of discrimination, these illegal activities might just leave you a little confused.

1. Selling gum in Singapore


While it isn’t as illegal to chew the gum as it is to sell it, if you’re caught selling even a stick of bubble gum in this South East Asian country you’re looking at a fine of up to $100,000. Although this law might seem a little odd to most people, if you’ve ever been to Singapore you’ll understand why their streets are clean enough lick, there’s no gum!

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2.  Homosexuality in Pakistan, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates (among others)


Even though some western countries are still struggling to accept gay marriage, at least it isn’t illegal like it is in so many Middle Eastern and African nations. It might come as a shock that a country that is home to one of the most progressive and innovative cities (Dubai) is also so backwards in other respects.

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3. Killing a cow and eating the meat in Nepal


India gets most of the attention for being super pro cow but neighbouring Nepal is just as cow crazy. It happens to be their national animal and both the government and its people go to great lengths to ensure the safety of the animal. Don’t believe it? Not long ago a Nepalese court sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for killing a cow.

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4. Not carrying a passport in Japan, Russia and China


Most people are aware that in order to travel from one country to another, you need a passport. However, if you’re caught as a foreigner in Japan and you aren’t carrying your passport with you, things will get really serious for you, really quickly. After an initial interrogation you could be subjected to jail time. Yes, seriously.

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5. Drinking alcohol in India, Sudan or the UAE


Imagine needing a license just to consume alcohol, or only being allowed to drink your favourite beverage, at home. That’s the reality for non-Muslims living within the United Arab Emirates. Since most of the country follows Islam, they aren’t able to drink alcohol but there are some very strict rules for westerners wanting to have a beer which you better follow unless you want to end up behind bars.

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6. Abortion in El Salvador, The Vatican, Chile, Malta, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua


In over 100 countries a woman is able to terminate a pregnancy, whether it be because of health of mental issues. However, in 6 countries across the globe it is forbidden under any circumstances, even if it is medically dangerous for the women to stay pregnant. In one case, a woman living in Ireland died after suffering from a septic miscarriage after the hospital refused to allow her to have an abortion.

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7. Connecting to someone else’s Wifi in Singapore


People take their internet connection very seriously in Singapore. So seriously in fact if you are caught using someone else’s connection without permission it is counted as hacking and you could face jail time or a whopping $10,000 fine.

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8. Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Malaysia or Pakistan


Okay, some people really don’t like Valentine’s Day but not as much as the Malaysian and Pakistani government. In an extreme reaction the Malaysian police arrested 80 people on the festive holiday for breaking the law and in Pakistan in 2014 five men were arrested and received thousands of lashes for celebrating the day.

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9. Dancing in public in Kuwait, Iran and India


For most people it’s not a big deal. Dancing on a night out with your friends or casually busting a move in the street. If you are one of those people who loves a good dance, don’t visit Iran, Kuwait or India. In Iran, 30 students were arrested and face brutal lashings after they were caught dancing and there are some pretty strict rules about dancing in India, no more than ten couples can share a dancefloor at one time.

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10. Sex outside of marriage in Iran, Saudi Arabia and The Philippines


Let’s just say if you’ve been dabbling in some extra marital affairs in Iran or Saudi Arabia you are probably better off facing your partner than the government. It’s a sad fact that it isn’t uncommon for a woman to be stoned to death for cheating and in India you can face up to five years in jail for adultery.

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11. Ketchup in France


While it’s not so much illegal and you probably won’t be locked in jail for months if you do happen to eat the globally consumed condiment, ketchup is banned in French schools. In order to try and preserve French cuisine the government decided to ban the 90% sugar 10% tomato sauce in all schools. The one exception apparently is that they can eat the sauce if it’s paired with, you guessed it – French Fries.

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12. Kissing in public in the UAE, Iran and Pakistan


Have you ever wanted to give your partner a loving kiss as you stroll down the street? Well don’t even think about it if you’re in Iran, Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates. This public display of affection might not land you in jail but it’s definitely considered unacceptable behaviour and because of that you could face a hefty fine.

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13. Stopping on the motorway in Germany


The infamous autobahn is already scary enough and then throw in the fact that it’s illegal to stop even if you run out of gas and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. While the fine isn’t massive, the stress you’ll feel when the needle hits E might be enough to make you wish you were anywhere but Germany.

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14. Eating pork in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, The Maldives, Kuwait and Oman


A lot of Muslim countries around the world have banned the consumption of pork although not all of them (Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon, Morocco and Egypt haven’t banned it) mainly because the holy Quran forbids it. So, if you simply can’t control your love for bacon and pork chops you’re better off not visiting these countries.

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15. Eating in public during Ramadan, The United Arab Emirates


There are some pretty strict rules and laws one needs to follow if they’re going to visit the United Arab Emirates. One of these includes the fact you simply cannot eat in public during daylight, when it’s Ramadan. So make sure you know when all the religious holidays are otherwise you might find yourself in big trouble.

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