9 Surprising Laws from Across the Globe - Expatriate Healthcare
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9 Surprising Laws from Across the Globe

When relocating to a new country, researching laws is often far from most people’s thoughts. Yet, with some particularly unique laws in existence, surely it’s worth some basic research to avoid unknowingly breaking one of them? After all, in doing so you could face hefty fines and in some cases may just land yourself in a foreign prison!

To demonstrate this point further, here are some of the most surprising laws in the world…and in countries many expat populations reside.


Local laws and police regulations in most areas call for peace and quiet between 10pm and 7am. As a result, although not technically a law, it is deemed inconsiderate to shower, bath or flush the toilet after 10pm at night in Switzerland. Those looking to rent property will likely see these kinds of terms stated in their tenancy agreement and in some apartment blocks in the country it is even forbidden.


The German autobahn is the country’s ‘federal motorway’ and is not dissimilar to other countries motorways or highways. However, on Germany’s autobahn, it is illegal to stop for any reason unless it is deemed an emergency or unavoidable situation.

Situations which are not considered unavoidable include running out of fuel and as such Expats intending to drive in Germany will do well to keep an eye on their petrol tank, or risk facing fines, driving suspension and in some cases even a prison sentence!


There are many strict laws in Singapore and among them is a countrywide ban on the sale and import of chewing gum products unless it is for deemed to be of therapeutic or medicinal value, such as dental or nicotine gum. However, visitors can only bring in up to two packs of chewing gum per person.

New Zealand

For those visiting New Zealand and considering hiring a car, be sure to do your research on local driving laws. For example, you could face a substantial fine if you park or stop your vehicle on the right hand side of the road, except in a one-way street i.e. facing oncoming traffic.

Southeast Asia

In countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, consuming durian fruit in public places – such as trains, buses, subways, schools, hotels and airports – is strictly prohibited.

Whilst this may appear to be a little on the strange side, once you get a whiff of this foul smelling fruit, all will make perfect sense!


In Western Australia, it is illegal to own more than 50kg of potatoes at one time. The Potato Marketing Corporation is deemed within their rights to stop and search vehicles suspected to be in breach of this law. Clearly this is an outdated law, yet it remains in place to this day.


This law will likely be quite the disappointment for expats who enjoy champagne picnics in the park or a few beers at a football game. A shock for many is that both smoking and drinking alcohol is banned in all public places; this includes all transport, playgrounds, parks, sports grounds and bus stops.


Expats looking to drive in Estonia should be aware of some unexpected driving laws in order to avoid being stopped by police. The main one which can easily catch out innocent foreigners is that drivers must have their vehicle headlights on at all times. This type of law is commonplace in countries which experience low levels of light and is required by law as a road safety measure – you’ll find the same in Nordic countries.


During the Khmer New Year, in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh it is illegal to sell and import any type of water guns and any found will be immediately confiscated in the hope of reducing accidents and antisocial behaviour. Whilst this isn’t likely to affect the majority, it’s well worth knowing if you plan on spending this festive season in the capital with your children.

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