Things can be complicated when traveling to other countries. All the laws are different in each country and it is difficult to be familiar with all of them. It is impossible to list out all the different laws that one should be aware of in different countries while traveling but here are some general ideas and pointers.

Knowing what is and isn't permitted in the countries one is visiting is all part of what it means to keep safe while traveling. Generally, these laws are applied more leniently to foreign tourists - but every individual case is different. In some cases, corrupt police may even enforce them more to get a bribe.


Alcohol is Forbidden In Many Countries & Counties

In many countries around the world, alcohol is forbidden. So if one takes it to these countries it will be confiscated and one maybe even fined. Most of these countries are Islamic countries. The rules vary, but sometimes the ban on alcohol is only for Muslims or Muslim citizens of that country - so foreigners or the Christain population can drink. With others, it's a full ban.

Some countries that have a full or partial ban on alcohol include:

  • The Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran
  • The Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Afghanistan (Even Before The Take Over)

Other countries include Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Bangladesh. There are also certain dry counties in the United States (many in Kentucky) where it is illegal to sell it. There are also some remote indigenous communities in the United States where alcohol is forbidden entirely, as well as in (mostly) remote places in Australia and Canada.

Related: 14 Places With The Strictest Dress Codes Tourists Have To Follow (5 With No Rules)

Dressing And Presentation

In many countries, it is offensive or forbidden to dress as one may be used to dressing in Western Countries.

For men, this mostly means that one can't go bare-chested or (in the more strict places), should not wear shorts. Iran is an example where men can't wear shorts - or at least ones above the knee.

This is common in many Islamic countries and to respect their culture one should wear pants. This is by no means all Muslim-majority countries. Shorts are no issue in countries like Morocco, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, or Senegal. But it is a consideration in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and others.

  • Men: Should Not Wear Shorts In Many Countries

For women, the dress code is much more complicated. In some places, it's enough to "dress modestly" e.g. not wear miniskirts or low cut tops. In other places, women should have long sleeves and full-length pants or shirts.

In the most extreme places, women need also to wear a head-covering (like in Iran). One should check with hotels or travel companies about the specific regulations of the country one is visiting.

  • Women: Full Range of Dress Codes Up To Having Long Sleeves, Full-Length Pants or Skirts, and a Head Covering

Related: Tourist Vs. Traveler: What's the Difference, And Which Travel Type Is Right For You?

No Free Speech!

Remember that the free speech one is used to back at home does not apply in another country. One may not have the right to free speech anymore.

  • Free Speech: One May Surrender One's Right To Free Speech By Entering Certain Countries

For foreign tourists, the two of the main things to watch out for are criticizing the government (and government policies) and criticizing religion.

In many countries, if one posts critical messages online about the government of that country they can be arrested, fined, imprisoned, or deported. Deported is probably more common for foreign tourists. For most countries, this doesn't really matter (like New Zealand, Canada, Britain, France, etc), but for others, it does (like Vietnam, China, Iran, Russia, etc).

Religion is another topic to be careful of. Don't commit the crime of "Blasphemy". Blasphemy is taken very strictly in some countries - like Pakistan. It is even illegal to be atheist in many countries - although in practice this doesn't apply to foreign tourists.

Customs And Biosecurity

Some countries like New Zealand and Australia have infamously strict biosecurity laws. Both of New Zealand's and Australia's ecologies have evolved in complete isolation for millions of years and so are incredibly unique.

  • Quarantine: Think Of Australia and New Zealand as Countries In Biological Quarantine

Many visitors have a very rude awakening to these countries' customs.

"Some foods, drinks, sports and outdoor equipment, and animal and plant products can carry harmful pests and diseases. If you’re unsure, declare your items when you arrive or put them in the bin, otherwise you can get a fine."

New Zealand Customs

One must declare all camping and hiking equipment - tents may have seeds in them. Even dirty boots must be declared. Camping and hiking equipment will likely be cleaned and disinfected (including dirty hiking boots).

Related: Where To Get Accurate And Informed Information When Traveling To Unusual Destinations