Your nasal spray could be illegal: Why you should research your holiday destination

Added 30/08/2013

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has urged holiday makers to research their holiday destination before they travel and potentially get themselves in to trouble.

For instance, did you know that it is illegal to take many common nasal sprays, containing pseudoephedrine, in to Japan? If you are planning a trip to Japan you need to know this, particularly if you suffer from allergies such as hay fever or simply have a cold.

Many British travellers are caught out abroad each year by unfamiliar local laws and customs because they have not researched their destination before leaving home, resulting in hefty fines or being detained abroad.

In fact in 2012 more than a quarter of all Brits requiring consular assistance abroad had been arrested or detained.

Laws and customs can be very different in other countries, what is legal in the UK could carry a fine or even prison sentence in another country.

It’s not just the unusual laws and customs that you need to look out for; alcohol, drug and smoking laws vary in different countries and you should make sure you know are aware of the rules before you travel.

Although British consular staff will always do their best to assist Brits in difficulty abroad they cannot interfere in the legal process of another country.

To find out the local laws and customs for your holiday destination visit the FCO travel advice pages online.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also recommend that you purchase travel insurance every time you travel.

Here some of the more unusual laws to be aware of:

  • It is illegal to feed the pigeons in Venice.
  • Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit system in Singapore is strictly prohibited and will result in a fine.
  • Although the Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of soft drugs, this is only in designated areas. Being caught using or carrying prohibited substances can result in a prison sentence.
  • In Florence, Italy, there are large fines for eating and drinking in the immediate vicinity of churches and public buildings.
  • In Barbados it is an offence to wear camouflage clothing.
  • It is illegal to take mineral water in to Nigeria.
  • In the Maldives public observance of religion, other than Islam, is prohibited for locals and visitors.

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