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Law Abiding Tourists: Legal experts reveal laws that holidaymakers need to know before heading abroad this Summer

On average, UK tourists make over 70 million foreign trips per year. When visiting a foreign country, it is important that tourists are aware of the laws and customs that may apply, or risk unintentionally running into trouble.

By Editorial Team. Published 19 July 2019. Last updated 09 September 2021.

To help ensure UK tourists remain on the right side of the law this summer, Len South, Head of Tutors at The University of Law’s Bloomsbury Campus, has outlined some of the key laws that travellers should be aware of when visiting the most popular destinations, as listed in Lonely Planet’s ‘Top 10 countries in 2019’.

Sri Lanka

The island country in South Asia has seen an increase in tourism in recent years. While visitors to the isle may just want to focus on its temples and beautiful scenery, there are some local laws and legislation that will be helpful for travellers to know.

Carry ID at all times

It’s Sri Lankan law that you must always carry an official form of identification. For foreign nationals, the acceptable form of identification is your passport. If you do not have it with you and you’re stopped by the authorities, you may be detained.

Cover legs and shoulders, and remove shoes and hats when entering temples

Although Sri Lankan attitudes to informal styles of dress are generally relaxed, women travelling alone may feel uncomfortable if not dressed modestly. Tourists must particularly remember to also cover legs and shoulders and take off shoes and hats when entering a Buddhist temple. The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is a serious offence and tourists have been convicted for this. British nationals have been refused entry to Sri Lanka or faced deportation for having visible tattoos of Buddha – so cover up any tattoos that may cause offense.


With cultural hubs such as Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt, Germany has always been popular for tourists and holidaymakers, so it is no surprise that it is one of the must visit places in 2019.

No jaywalking

Yet in Germany, if you are walking around the streets, it is illegal to cross pedestrian crossings when the red pedestrian light is on. Offenders risk a fine and payment of all costs in the event of an accident – so pay attention when walking around these cities.


While well known for its amazing landscape and diverse wildlife, there are also several laws and customs that travellers should be aware of when visiting Zimbabwe.

Carry ID at all times

Similar to Sri Lanka, tourists must remember to always carry identification documentation or a copy of their passport.

Be careful what you photograph!

Those looking to get pictures for the holiday album should be careful, as photographing government offices, airports, military establishments, official residences, embassies and other sensitive places is illegal without special permission from the Ministry of Information. Taking photographs of members of police and armed forces personnel and of demonstrations and protests is not permitted. These laws are strictly enforced – so don’t risk it.

Leave your khaki clothes at home

Something to consider when packing the suitcase is that it is against the law for civilians to wear any form of clothing made from camouflage material and may result in a fine.


A nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands, Indonesia is renowned for its idyllic beaches, volcanoes and rainforests.

Whilst Indonesia is known for being laid back and relaxed in many respects, the country is incredibly strict in others – particularly with regards to drugs.

Avoid all contact with non-prescribed drugs

Possession, trafficking and manufacture of any illegal drugs are very serious offences in Indonesia and the authorities have a zero-tolerance policy. Those caught face lengthy prison sentences or even the death penalty. If there is any suspicion that drugs have been used, police are likely to carry out a blood or urine test.

Don’t be tempted to gamble

Gambling is also illegal in Indonesia and tourists have lost large amounts of money to organised gambling gangs that operate in the country, so travellers should be mindful of anyone offering opportunities to take part in gambling activity.


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