Ten things that you could get fined for abroad

  • police officer giving a fine to young woman
    Vasyl Rohan / Shutterstock.com
Published on 2020-10-06 at 11:41 by Veedushi
On September 12, 2020, Thai police arrested a US national for defamation after posting a negative comment for a hotel on a popular website. The man had to spend two nights in jail before being bailed out. You might have understood by now that your usual behaviour or habits could land you in trouble in your home country. To save you from embarrassment, we tell you about ten things you could get fined for as an expat.

Singapore: chewing gums and cigarettes

Singapore is world-famous for its cleanliness, but also for its strict laws. So you will hardly see people chewing gum in the streets. Even though the sale of chewing gum and cigarettes is allowed, you can get a fine ranging from US$ 500 to US$ 1,000 for throwing them away in the street for the first time and US$ 2,000 for every other time. So if you are a habitual smoker or addicted to chewing gum, you better be careful! Besides, smoking is prohibited in parking areas, at bus stops and in playgrounds. If you are caught smoking within 5 meters of a building entrance, a bus stop, and public spaces, you risk a fine of around US$ 7.300.

Public display of affection in the Middle East

You are probably aware that public display of affection is prohibited in Middle East countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example, kissing or holding hands in public is part of a series of 19 punishable offences with fines ranging from US$ 13 to US$ 1,500. So if you're looking to have some intimacy with your better half, you better wait until you get home. In fact, many opposite-sex couples have even been arrested in the past. In Dubai, you could be jailed or even deported for being caught kissing in public! Besides, unmarried couples are not allowed to share the same hotel room or to live under the same roof.

Swearing in Australia

If you are used to swearing, you better learn to hold your tongue before moving to Australia. In many states, including Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, fines for swearing in public range from AU$ 100 (US$ 71) to AU$ 240 (US$ 172). If you are found guilty of using abusive language by a judge or magistrate, you could even be jailed for up to 6 months.

Spain: Wearing beachwear in cities

For many, Spain means sea, sand and sun, and they are quite rights. However, beachwear is only allowed on the beach. You cannot walk around the cities in a swimsuit. This rule applies to both men and women. If you're caught, you could have to pay a fine ranging from 100 to 200 euros (US$ 117 to US$ 235), especially in cities like Barcelona and Mallorca. In popular beach resorts, you might be allowed to dine at restaurants, but you will be seated on the terrace. Either way, be sure to wear decent clothes once you leave the beach.

Germany: Stoping on the Autobahn

Are you looking to drive during your stay in Germany? First of all, make sure you are aware of the highway code and the offences relating to driving. It is strictly forbidden to stop on the Autobahn or highway. Fines for blocking the traffic range from 20 euros to 80 euros (US$ 25 to 94 US$), regardless of the reason. So before getting behind the wheel, make sure you have filled up with fuel and that your vehicle is roadworthy to avoid any obstruction to traffic. Parking, backing off and U-turns are also prohibited on the highway.

Italy: Not walking your dog

If your four-legged furry best friend accompanied you to Italy, you had better pay close attention to its needs. In Rome, for example, since 2005, people are required to walk their dogs regularly for their physiological needs. Otherwise, the fine goes up to US$ 700! Thanks to this law, many Italians were able to go out without getting fined during the lockdown. It is also forbidden to leave your pet in a hot vehicle or a glass showcase.

Thailand: Buying alcohol in the early morning

Thailand is world-famous for its vibrant nightlife, especially in its beach resorts. A real hotspot for party people! However, you better wait for the evening to have a drink with your friends or colleagues. In fact, the sale of alcohol is only allowed between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and between 5 p.m. and midnight. But you can still party until early morning, without alcohol. Bars and restaurants risk a fine of 4,000 baht (US$ 128) and even two years of prison, so don't push it when they refuse to serve you one last drink. Besides, avoid talking about, criticising or defaming royalty. In Thailand, "lese majeste" is a crime that can end you up in prison for up to 15 years!

Greece: Wearing high heels on historical sites

If you are moving to Greece, you will probably be tempted to explore the historical sites during your free time, whether in Athens or elsewhere. It's definitely the ideal place to pose like a diva and take awesome Instagram pictures. However, make sure to leave your high heels at home! It is forbidden to wear heels to avoid damaging historical sites. If caught, you risk a fine.

Jaywalking in the USA

Once you've settled in your new US city, you will no doubt be exploring the neighbourhoods. But be careful when you walk around. Jaywalking is prohibited in many American cities. Fines can go up to US$ 1,000, depending on the seriousness of your actions. You could even be arrested, although the police tend to be more tolerant in cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago. In Hawaii, on the other hand, it is illegal to walk on the street while looking at an electronic device such as cellphones. Fines can go up to US$ 99.

Wearing yellow clothes in Malaysia

In February 2016, a group of protestants walked in streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand the resignation of the then Prime Minister. Since then, yellow clothes are considered to be the symbol of protest and a threat to security. Thus, anyone caught wearing yellow clothes risks a fine of 1,000 euros. Anyone wearing yellow can even be suspected of being a protester and be arrested. However, the trend is changing, and since some time people are more comfortable about wearing yellow clothes.