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

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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.

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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…

You can play night golf in Dubai, but don't get caught kissing in public.

You can play night golf in Dubai, but don’t get caught kissing in public.

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…

Thailand is a beautiful place to play golf. Just don't be overheard disparaging the royals.

Thailand is a beautiful place to play golf. Just don’t be overheard disparaging the royals.

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.

13 Comments

  1. ted

    October 11, 2016 at 9:32 am

    not strange at all, but I HIGHLY recommend paying strict attention to speed limits and “bus only” lanes in the UK/Europe. Cameras everywhere and you WILL get a fine in the mail months later, and have to then pay a late fee, in addition to the fee your rental car company will charge just for the pleasure of passing along the info.

  2. Steve b

    October 11, 2016 at 10:01 am

    In Thailand it is not a good idea to hold hands with a member of the opposite sex in public. I’m not sure of the legal issues involved.

  3. Darren

    October 11, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Travel overseas? Hell Ive got enough to worry about right here at home! Profiled by the police! Pulled over and shot dead for reaching for the drivers license the cop just asked me for? Overseas travel? No thanks, I get enough dirty looks from the “W” players at the courses I play here.

  4. norman l

    October 11, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    stay in the usa.there are plenty of golf vacation places in this country
    to satisfy your desires.

  5. Sue S

    October 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    While not required by all car rental agencies, it’s a good idea to have an international drivers license in most of Europe. Getting pulled over and only having your U.S. License could result in an arrest. Pay special attention to this in Italy, as well as crossing the borders between countries other than the country you picked up the car.

  6. Will

    October 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I don’t know that the UK would apply their laws to us Yanks but they have ‘hate speech’ laws. It doesn’t have to be racist either….one UK citizen got arrested for calling a copper fat. He was fat but the guy still got in trouble. No real First Amendment rights over there.

  7. Luigi

    October 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    What did any of that tripe have to do with playing golf and going to jail?????

  8. Franky

    October 11, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    What has that got to do with golf vacations
    Answer the questions
    FYI it is not unlawful to hold hands in public in Thailand .. Just fround appon
    Americans get out of your little bubble and explore the world .. Very naive .. Uneducated Americans are very gullible

  9. Eck

    October 11, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Spit anything anywhere in Singapore and go to jail.

  10. Eck

    October 11, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    In Singapore, if you spit anything anywhere you go to jail.

  11. D Adams

    October 11, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Watch your temper and your language when dealing with others in Germany. They have “insult laws,” so calling someone an insulting name (like a**hole), making obscene hand signs or flipping someone off in a fit of road rage will result in charges and a fine. If you insult an officer of the court or law, that is Beamtenbeleidgung and leads to charges and a fine, if not worse. Also Germans must pass written tests covering the rules and etiquette of the game to qualify to play golf, and they expect you to know them, too. Play is very fast! After a round, you must join your fellow players for a drink. Golf is extremely expensive there, too.

  12. Mark, 1 down, 3 to play. Can do!

    October 12, 2016 at 12:53 am

    I play foreign courses all the time, it’s a very educational and fun experience. Different grasses, course engineering and weather make it fun. I recommend staying in ExPat hotels, (Marriott’s and others) and not once have I had a problem. As long as you don’t get overly drunk and make a jack ass of yourself in public, the locals an the police leave you alone and welcome you to their home land, just like we Americans do to our foreign visitors.

    … but there’s LOTS of great golf in America Canada as well. We are big nauons with golf variety ranging from deserts to forests to links to swamps. Home country golf is great also.

  13. Thomas

    November 14, 2016 at 4:01 am

    Generally, it is recommended to remain civilized and respectful of the locals, and you won’t have any problems. But if you want to play the loud and lousy, like our friend Trump, beware !!

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