Honk your horn at your peril in New York. And don’t you dare go jogging in Burundi. You’ll encounter some of the world’s weirdest laws when you head overseas for business.
While your company will endeavour to prepare you for any eventuality when you’re on the road because it’s their Duty of Care responsibility, the likes of the no-Marmite rule in Denmark and yellow and mellow not being mutually inclusive in Malaysia could land you in hot water if you’re not aware of them.
Here are some of the weirdest Corporate Traveller has managed to dig up:
In New York City, it is illegal to honk your horn. If you do, you’re at risk of paying a US$350 fine. Meanwhile, driving with flip flops is a criminal offence in Spain, while driving without headlights – even during the day - will get you into trouble in Scandinavia.
Driving in France? Remember that all drivers are legally required to carry a portable Breathalyzer in their vehicle. Running out of petrol on the German highway is not only frowned upon, it is a criminal offence! If you do forget to fill up and you break down, you have to pull over and use your horn to attract attention. The penalty? €80 for endangering other drivers.
When travelling to Singapore, remember to leave your chewing gum at home. In 1992, Singapore issued a law stipulating that selling and using chewing gum was illegal. The law was meant to keep the streets and public places clean. The law was adapted slightly in 2004, and now pharmacists and dentists have been allowed to sell "therapeutic" gum, to customers with a medical prescription.
The current set of regulations does not have provisions for carrying gum for personal use. If you break this rule for the first time, you’ll be facing a SG$1000 fine.
The idea of Duty of Care is that you would not come to any harm - or die - while travelling… and this might come in useful, as it is illegal to die in a great number of places in Europe.
In the Andalusian town of Lanjarón in Spain, it is illegal to die as there are simply not enough cemeteries.
In England, one is not allowed to die in the Houses of Parliament. The buildings count as a royal palace, therefore anyone who dies there is technically entitled to a state funeral.
Don’t go jogging in Burundi, or risk being jailed! In March 2014, the country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza banned jogging in Burundi. He said people used jogging as a cover to plan subversive activities. In fact, many opposition members have been jailed for taking part in group jogs.
Do you look your best in yellow? That’s too bad if your next business trip is to Malaysia. Everything yellow, from belts to hats, wristbands, even shoelaces – but especially yellow t-shirts –have been banned in Malaysia. The reason? Yellow is the colour of a group of opposition activists.
Drinking while on a business trip might not be a great idea at the best of times, but in the following countries, there are just a few additional things to take into consideration when having a glass.
In Britain, oddly enough it is illegal to be drunk in the pub. However, if you do get intoxicated, remember that it is illegal to 'operate' a cow in the UK and in Scotland while intoxicated. You’re also not allowed to ‘operate’ a horse or steam engine.
And if you think the British are crazy for stipulating you can’t operate a cow while drunk, you should note that in Ohio, it is against state law to get a fish drunk.
In Japan, over-the-counter allergy/sinus medications that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine such as Vicks inhalers and Sudafed are banned under Japan’s strict anti-stimulant drug laws. Medications that feature codeine are also prohibited and shouldn’t be brought into Japan.
In Florida, it is illegal for a divorced or a widowed woman to skydive on a Sunday afternoon. Florida has also banished farting in public places, but it’s only banned on Thursdays after 18h00.
Marmite and Ovaltine are banned in Denmark. Danish Law requires government approval for any foods fortified with vitamins or minerals. The Danes believe that a balanced diet supplies all the vitamins and minerals one could need, and that too much of these things can cause harm.
It might be difficult to define exactly what ‘annoying’ is, but in the Philippines you can be fined for being deemed ‘annoying’. The second paragraph of Article 287 states that “any other coercions or unjust vexations shall be punished by arresto menor (imprisonment for from one day to thirty days) or a fine ranging from 5 pesos to 200 pesos, or both.” Both legal experts and laymen have condemned unjust vexation as an ambiguous catch-all provision with no specific meaning, merely something to charge annoying people with.