Have you paid for your snail’s train ticket? Some of the oddest foreign laws you need to know

strange foreign laws

15th June 2020

With Covid-19 dominating the news agenda at the moment, any light-hearted news is certainly welcome for us all. In fact, we came across this rather amusing article, from our friends a Dial-a-flight, recently which outlined some of the most bizarre foreign laws that could get you locked up abroad.

Here are just a few of our favourite examples that made us all smile:

  1. Be wary of pink hotpants after midday on Sunday! In Australia, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you wear a specific colour of short shorts in the afternoon on a Sunday. While we’re not entirely sure where this rule has come from, it’s certainly something you don’t want to have on your record!
  2. Take care of the horses. If you’re working in Queensland you best like horses. The city has some rather bizarre rules to ensure the right care of these animals is provided, with taxis required to carry a bale of hay in the trunk. Bars also have to be set up to care for a patron’s steed by being able to stable, water and feed them on request.
  3. No packs in Spain. In another animal-related bizarre foreign law, in Spain it is illegal to walk too many dogs in one go. While we certainly prefer cats over dogs, if you’re a contractor in the country, it’s worth checking just how many is ‘too many’ before you take to the streets with your canine friends.
  4. Airing your dirty laundry. It’s illegal to hang underwear outside in Seville, so if you’re planning to relocate here for work opportunities, make sure you don’t end up being approached by the laundry police for making this mistake.
  5. Leave your sword at home. A rather strange – and certainly outdated – law in Greece involves the use of swords. Apparently, you cannot strike someone from Turkey with a small sword, except on alternate Mondays. What quantifies a ‘small’ sword isn’t apparent, but steering clear of these weapons altogether is probably for the best.
  6. Be considerate when it comes to footwear. Staying with Greece, if you’re planning to take a trip to any archaeological site leave your heels at home as they’re banned and you will be turned away.
  7. Minty-fresh. Moving across to Singapore, did you know that you can be fined or even go to jail for selling chewing gum? You could also find yourself in hot water if you’re caught feeding the pigeons, so if you’re working in this destination it might be best to steer clear of these feathered pests.
  8. Safety in traffic is crucial. While we certainly hope that no one would do this, if you fly a kite or play any games in Singapore that get in the way of traffic, you could face serious charges.
  9. Escargots. If you like your snails in France, you might be tempted to carry live ones around with you, however, if you are in any way tempted to do this, don’t take them on a high-speed train as it’s illegal unless you buy them a ticket.
  10. Be careful with the ketchup. If you’re relocating to Europe with your family, be warned that unlimited self-serve ketchup is not allowed in French schools, so you may want to pre-warn your kids before any move.
  11. Top up the tank. Anyone planning to take advantage of the relaxed rules on the Autobahn in Germany should be aware that it’s illegal to run out of fuel on this stretch of road. We’d perhaps recommend checking the tank before you head out so you don’t land in hot water for a rather easy-to-make mistake.
  12. Keep the noise down. If you are lucky enough to have a piano at home in Germany, did you know it’s illegal to tune the instrument at midnight? Best leave any late-night piano-tuning plans for another destination if you don’t want to face a fine.
  13. Leave the olives alone. Anyone moving to Turkey for a contract should be warned that it’s against the law to steal olives before they are ripe. While we certainly don’t advocate theft in any way at all, it’s not entirely clear if it’s more acceptable to take this fruit once ripened.
  14. Pilots have an age limit. If you’re over the age of 80 and want to become a pilot or perhaps know anyone else that fits this description, it’s worth knowing that there’s an age limit of doing this and you will be denied a licence.
  15. Family values. In China adult children are required to visit their parents as a show of respect, so if you have family travelling to the destination with you, bear in mind how often you see each other.
  16. Correct storage of explosives. Perhaps a rather reassuring but still bizarre law, it is illegal to store more than a tonne of explosives or fireworks in a basement in China.
  17. Be happy. If you’re moving to Milan, be warned that according to ancient law you must always smile unless you’re going to a funeral or hospital.

Not all foreign laws are bizarre

While these examples of some rather bizarre laws will certainly put a smile of the faces of many contractors, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there also serious regulations in place that are highly controlled and managed, and the penalties that you could face can be extensive in some cases. We know first hand that the international contracting landscape is complex to say the least. Rules vary by country, province and region, and what is required of a contractor when it comes to paying taxes won’t be the same across the globe. If you’re starting to once again move across borders for your next opportunity (where travel is allowed, anyway), it’s important that you are fully compliant in your chosen destination. While Covid-19 is changing a lot in the world of work, it hasn’t lessened the focus of global authorities on tax compliance, so why not speak to the team to find out how we can help you no matter where in the world you are.


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