Once again tourists (this time from the USA) have been arrested for vandalism at Rome’s Colosseum (read the story here). It seems sad to have to advise clients about this, but before traveling, you should familiarize yourself with the laws of your destination (domestic or international).
From the State Department website: If you break local laws while abroad, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the U.S. Embassy cannot get you out of jail.
Besides defacing ancient ruins, here are some other examples of what you should be aware of before travelling (this is by NO means an exhaustive list; do your own research before leaving home).
In Singapore? Don’t chew gum. It may not lead to your arrest, but it will lead to hefty fines. “In terms of Singaporean law, the ban on chewing gum in Singapore can be considered an extension of the littering law. Therefore, the act of chewing gum in Singapore is associated with similar penalties to those imposed for littering. The littering law requires a fine of $500 to $1,000 US Dollars (USD) for first time offenders. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $2,000 USD and assigned a Corrective Work Order (CWO).”
Marijuana – leave home without it. If you live in a state that has recently legalized recreational marijuana … or even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana … leave home without it! It is still illegal to carry marijuana (prescription or no) across state lines, on airplanes, on cruise ships, and it’s definitely illegal to take it into other countries. And of course, buying it where it is legal (like Amsterdam) does not mean you can transport it to other countries, or bring it home.
Prescription and over the counter medications are not created equal. Besides the murky issues that surround prescription marijuana, other prescription medications can cause problems, even when travelling within the USA. Yes, even within the USA. In the state of Maine it can be unlawful to possess your own prescription medications, and it has been successfully prosecuted (read about it here).
Internationally, Australia prohibits the importation of certain medications like Ritalin, Adderall, and other drugs that are prescribed for ADHD. For other prescription medications like human growth hormone, DHEA and all anabolic and androgenic steroids, opioid analgesics, and narcotic based medications, Australia requires that they be declared upon entry into the country.
There are medications that require a prescription in the USA, but can be purchased over the counter in other countries (like Canada or Mexico); it is illegal to bring them back into the USA even if their initial purchase was legal in that foreign country.
And some countries do not allow the import of certain over the counter medications.
Bare shoulders and knees – you won’t be arrested, but women will be turned away at the Vatican and other religious buildings if they do not cover their knees and shoulders.
Moral of the story – do your research before you travel so that your travels are enjoyable!
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