According to Australian leading travel insurance provider Easy Travel Insurance’s owner David Ringsell, English jurist John Seldon was famously quoted in 1689 as saying “Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat”, with Mr Ringsell explaining, “In other words, at any time, but especially when we travel, there is no defence in pleading ignorance of local laws, which vary dramatically from country to country, as highlighted over recent years and months in well publicised cases, with severe consequences in some cases, with even the death penalty in some extreme cases.”
Mr Ringsell added, “It is each and every traveller’s responsibility to know the rules and regulations in the countries they are visiting and to abide by them”.
“As a specialist in travel insurance, I can’t overstress how important it is for travellers to do their research and become familiar with the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the countries they are intending to visit. It is so easy to find out what is acceptable or not today through the internet and there is really no excuse for not being better informed.”
He said, “There are some great examples such as Singapore, being known as ‘The Fine City’ for at least 2 very good reasons, with some what appear to us to be simple offences that will have travellers reaching for their wallets to pay fines or worse if they are caught for example, chewing gum, jaywalking and even for not flushing the toilet!”
“Of course, many other countries have other seemingly amazing or crazy laws to us, but to the locals they are their way of life and they take them in their stride”.
“Barbados bans the wearing of any style of combat or camouflage clothing, Nigeria won’t allow you to bring in mineral water and many African counties such as Rwanda and Eritrea have completely banned the use of plastic bags of any kind.”
“In Italy, Venice has outlawed the feeding of pigeons and the authorities in Florence will fine you if you eat or drink on the steps of, or around churches and other public buildings.”
“Girls going topless is often frowned upon on many beaches around the world but you may be surprised at some of the places where boys must also keep covered up in public, including the principality of Monaco and even in Barcelona!”
“The one offence that regularly hits the headline is carrying drugs, which is a no-no everywhere, but travellers should be aware for example that that while locals are free to sample the ‘soft drugs’ available over the counter in many Dutch ‘coffee shops’, it is an offence for foreigners to join in, although most establishments flout the law as up to 90% of their trade is from tourists.” “Remember though, getting caught is your problem not theirs!”
“It is also worth remembering that if you spend 2 weeks floating around Amsterdam and partaking in the local ‘specialties’ and then flying direct into Singapore, the law in Singapore considers that anyone who is high on arrival, and remember they undertake random screening, is considered to be in possession of drugs. This is not something anyone would want to happen, but rarely is it considered.”
“Oh and by the way, breaking the law will often invalidate your travel insurance policy, so when you are locked up for what might seem to you to be a minor office and something quite normal at home, but in whichever country you are in is clearly very serious, it is highly unlikely that your travel insurance company will come to your rescue.”
“So, my message is very simple … before you leave home, go on line and check out the rules and regulations for where you are going … and then when you are there, make sure you don’t break them or you could be on very much on your own and as English jurist John Seldon said, “Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat”!