Golf Trip Tip: Weird Laws that Can Get You Locked Up Abroad

I’m guessing you’re all for seeing the world, but if there are certain parts you don’t want to see – such as the inside of a prison cell – make sure you check the local laws and entry/exit requirements before you leave.

See, there are some seemingly harmless things that can get you into big trouble.

I’m not talking about things that could land you a fine.

I’m talking about things that could land you in jail.

For example…

Not having consecutive blank passport pages in South Africa…
When attempting to fly into South Africa, Golf Odyssey editor David Baum was told he needed two consecutive blank pages in his passport or he would be “locked up” upon landing.

I’ve since read a ton of differing opinions/experiences on this subject, and the problem stems from how the law is written vs. how it’s enforced in the real world (as David learned).

My advice? Err on the side of caution and have two consecutive blank passport pages if you’re flying into South Africa.

Kissing in public in Dubai…

As progressive as Dubai seems, it is still abides by and enforces the “decency” laws of the greater United Arab Emirates.

That means, among other things, no kissing in public beyond maybe a brief peck on the cheek.

A British couple learned this the hard way – they were sentenced to a month in prison for kissing on the mouth at a restaurant, which offended a nearby woman who filed a complaint.

Insulting the Royals in Thailand…

While other countries have lèse-majesté laws (French for “injured majesty”), Thailand’s are known to be among the strictest.

Basically, you can get a prison sentence for doing anything that, "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent.”

One man got 10 years for vandalizing posters of the king. Another got 20 years for sending text messages considered offensive to the queen.
Keep in mind, Thai currency often carries images of the royal family, so try not to drop it or (gasp!) step on it. Better yet, stick to credit cards.

By the way, if you are arrested overseas…

The embassy will not act as your lawyer…
A common misconception is that your embassy can spring you from jail. Not true.

For example, while the U.S. Embassy can provide “assistance,” such as providing Americans with a list of attorneys, contacting family/friends, and providing an overview of the local criminal justice system, it cannot…

-Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas
-State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
-Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
-Serve as official interpreters or translators
-Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas

I’m not telling you all this to discourage you from taking a golf trip abroad.

On the contrary, get out there and see the world!

Just check out the local laws/customs first.

Speaking of which, do know of any strange laws or customs that can result in fines or jail?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Golf Trip Tip: Weird Laws that Can Get You Locked Up Abroad
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