10th November 2023
Anyone that’s worked overseas for a significant period of time will be all too aware that laws for contractors in different countries can sometimes feel…well, slightly odd. In our latest blog we’ve looked at some of the unusual regulations from countries around the world that will help you to avoid being caught out when working internationally
Weird laws for contractors to have on their radar
Lights out in France
In Versailles in France, no lights are allowed to be visible within 5km of the king’s bedroom. The 18th-century law means that the local football side doesn’t have any floodlights and therefore can’t play its matches past a certain time. This also means it can’t host all of its home games. This seemingly outdated law had an impact in 2022 when FC Versailles were forced to play their match against Toulouse almost 700 miles away, despite it being a home match. They did in fact win this game against their much stronger rivals so perhaps the floodlight ban is one that will continue into the future.
Dance license required
In Swedish bars and restaurants, owners must adhere to a law that forces them to purchase a license if their patrons want to dance on their premises. This essentially means that spontaneous dancing is prohibited in many facilities. While you may think this law would be overlooked, a restaurant owner in the town of Harjedalen was prosecuted in 2020 for not having the correct paperwork.
No rats allowed
If you’re based in the province of Alberta in Canada you are not allowed to own a rat as a pet and, in fact, the entire species is banned from the region. Rats are designated as a pest that destroys crops and can spread disease, and a thorough rat-control programme has been in place since the 1950s.
While we all know people who rub us up the wrong way, in the Philippines this can be considered as a crime. The offence of ‘unjust vexation’ – or deliberately upsetting another person – can be punished with a fine or even a prison sentence of up to 30 days, or both. While every country outlaws harassment, here the law covers everything that can cause irritation. As an example, the mayor of Caibiran was found guilty of this crime for padlocking a market stall and removing its contents because the stallholder had allegedly not paid the correct amount of rent.
Keep your clothes on
If you’re planning on hiking during your time in Switzerland you must remember to take your clothes with you. Naked hiking is banned here and, while being nude in public isn’t technically illegal, the region of Appenzell Inner Rhodes handed out a fine to a rambling naturist in 2009 and then pushed through a law that means all walkers must keep their kit on.
Messi naming policy
Lionel Messi is undoubtedly the Argentinian town of Rosario’s most famous son, however, that has led to a situation where residents are banned from naming their children after the superstar. After a family in the Santa Fe province gave their son the first name ‘Messi’, the director of the Civil Register stepped in and ruled that as Messi was a surname it was therefore prohibited (Lionel is still allowed, though).
No lifts allowed (sometimes)
If you’re taking a role in Pakistan and are considering giving a friend a lift on the back of your motorcycle, then first check whether it’s a public holiday or not. According to, admittedly rather vague, national legislation, “having a rider on the back of a motorcycle is banned in some provinces on certain public holidays.” However, there are some exemptions including for women, children, senior citizens, law enforcement personnel, security staff, employees of essential services and, strangely, journalists.
Ban on pirate pen pals
If you are considering writing a letter to your pirate friend in Victoria, Australia – don’t. According to a relatively recent law, put into power in 1958, you can receive a ten-year prison sentence for trading, or even corresponding with, a pirate. Whether this regulation also applies to their parrot pals is unclear.
Don’t step on me
In Thailand, you can face a prison sentence for disrespecting the king or insulting his image under the country’s ‘lese-majeste’ law. Considering his face adorns all forms of currency here this means that accidentally stepping on paper forms of money could land you in seriously hot water.
Stay out of the casino
If you’re fortunate enough to be a resident of Monaco, you aren’t allowed to gamble in its casinos, despite tourists being allowed to do so. This law dates back to the 19th century when the royal family here looked to boost its dwindling fortunes by making the principality a home for some of the world’s wealthiest people but wanted to build in protection for its less affluent residents and help them to avoid impoverishing themselves.
Get your banner right
Finally, in Chile you can receive a fine for forgetting to hang the national flag from your home on Independence Day (September 18). In addition, the flag must also be suspended from a white pile, or from the front of the building, and be in what’s considered ‘a good condition’.
While – thankfully – the majority of the regulations you will have to adhere to when working overseas will almost certainly be more logical than the above examples, this does highlight that many countries may hold surprising laws for contractors that could trip you up. If you’re in any doubt about your ability to remain compliant with tax legislation when operating internationally, then speak to our specialist team.
6CATS International is part of WorkwellTM Group
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