9 Strange Rules and Laws from Countries Around the World


Although Australia has its fair share of bizarre laws (being in possession of more than 50kg of potatoes in the west will land you in prison, for instance), but across the globe, you’ll often find the most innocent, unassuming things have been outlawed.

Things you may well do on a day-to-day basis are in fact illegal in some parts of the world, many of which will confound, confuse and amuse in equal measure. Check out this list of 10 strange rules and laws from around the world – just be thankful they don’t apply to your neck of the woods.

Chewing gum in Singapore

Banned since 1992, there are many reasons that the sale and, well, chewing of certain chewing gum is prohibited in Singapore. Legislators wanted to put an end to the sticky situations created by vandals disposing of their gum in mailboxes, inside keyholes and on lift buttons. The cost of cleaning gum off pavements as well on the seats of public buses was also becoming too much for some.

Although some types of gum are allowed such as for dental health or nicotine gum, these have to be prescribed by a doctor and the ban on other types still stands; the fine for spitting it out on the streets also comes in at a pretty hefty $700 too. 

Naming your baby something weird in Denmark

Think of all the strange names celebrities have conjured up for their kids over the years: Apple Martin, Brooklyn Beckham, all of Frank Zappa’s offspring. In Denmark, they’d probably have to consult the country’s official child naming guidelines, a list of 7,000 approved monikers for prospective parents to choose from. Otherwise, they’d have to get approval from the government.

Lawmakers say it’s to protect children there. Since they can’t name themselves and can sometimes be given silly, over-the-top names, the law ensures youngsters won’t be ridiculed thanks to poor judgment on the part of the parents.     

Whistling in Canada

If you enjoy a bit of care-free whistling while you’re going about your day, just make sure you’re not doing it between 11pm and 7am if you’re in Petrolia, Ontario. According to the town’s website, “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing is prohibited at these times”.

Though no longer in effect, the town was having a problem with noise pollution caused by house parties frequently being the cause of it, and so, the by-law’s introduction was there to put a stop to it.

Elements of it do remain however: if you’re yelling, shouting or yes, whistling, “for the purposes of selling or advertising” then be prepared to pay a $250 fine.

Sandcastles are banned in Eraclea, Italy

In this coastal city near Venice, the fun police drew a line in the sand by outlawing the building of sandcastles on their beaches. Other frolicking is allowed, but if you’re looking to make some sunny day real estate, then your hopes will be dashed and your castle trashed.

According to the law, it “obstructs the passage” – part of a string of strange by-laws that mayors put in place to enhance ‘public decorum’.

Scots must not wear underwear under their kilts

The old chestnut goes that a true Scotsman wears nothing under his kilt. But did you know there’s an actual law that states those wearing a kilt must have nothing covering their manhood underneath either?

The fine? Two cans of beer! Doesn’t sound like much of a punishment to us, but it does raise the question, whose job is it to go around enforcing this law?

Samoan Men: don’t forget your wife’s birthday

For any unfortunate man who’s felt the shame and subsequent ire of forgetting his wife’s birthday, here’s a Samoan law that’ll help them remember the following year. They don’t have to give their wives a present or actually celebrate it, but foregoing mentioning that it’s a day of significance? That’s a crime apparently.

Beware the durian in Southeast Asia

Sometime heralded as ‘the king of fruits’ but more often deemed the world’s smelliest fruit, opinions on the durian are split. Alternately described as having a smell like rotten onions and sweet almonds, perhaps the best description is from novelist Anthony Burgess: “eating it is like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory”.

Either way, Southeast Asia countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia know its smell all too well, so they have a law in place banning the fruit from buses, trains and schools.

Those in Japan should watch their weight

Though it’s not technically a crime, nor is it illegal, the ‘metabo law’ introduced in April 2008 is there to keep citizens of a certain age trim, slim and healthy.

Men with waists measuring more than 33.5 inches or women with waists measuring 35.5 inches are deemed to be ‘at risk’ and are referred to counselling, monitoring and motivational support.

Although there’s no punishment, those deemed at risk have reported being embarrassed by the law, though some companies offer free gym memberships and special diet plans to help their employers reach their goals.

Chickens can’t cross the road in Georgia 

Residents of Quitman, Georgia looking to answer the age-old question or joke (depending on your sense of humour) of why did the chicken cross the road may be in danger of breaking a very silly statute the town still enforces. No word on whether other farmyard animals must refrain from venturing to the other side of roads though; chickens must be pretty sacred.

We hope this journey into the weird and wonderful of the world has inspired you to go travelling. Head over to our dedicated homepage and get planning your next trip, or give our friendly customer care team a call on 1300 522 460

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