US$1,000 fine for chewing gum, US$2,500 fine for one Kinder Surprise egg: 10 most absurd laws in the world

craziest laws in the world
Did you know chewing gum is banned in Singapore? Source: AFP

Every country has a long list of regulations, some of which make sense and some of which make the list of craziest laws in the world.

Despite how bizarre and outdated they may sound, there are reasons behind each, usually history, culture or society.

Whether you agree with them or not, it’s important to be aware of these laws and ensure you follow them to avoid any legal repercussions.

craziest laws in the world

While some laws sound crazy, breaking them could get you in some serious trouble. Source: AFP

What happens if you break these laws?

No matter how crazy some rules may be, breaking them is always a bad idea. This is especially true if you’re in these countries on a study, work, or travel visa.

The main thing to remember is that though you may be a visitor in another country, you are still subject to its laws, and ignoring them is not an excuse. Even small violations could lead to serious consequences, including fines, deportation, or even imprisonment.

For example, in the US, if you were caught driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, not only could you face legal charges, but it could also affect your visa status. A DUI conviction could result in deportation or difficulties in obtaining future visas to enter the country.

In countries like Singapore, drug-related offences have severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences for certain narcotics offences. Even possessing small amounts of drugs can lead to a potential death penalty.

Breaking the law abroad could tarnish your reputation and affect your academic and career prospects.

To avoid such situations, familiarise yourself with the laws and cultural norms of the country you’re studying in, seek help from your university’s international student office or legal resources if needed, and always be responsible and respectful towards the laws and customs of the country you are studying in.

The 10 craziest laws around the world 

1. It is illegal to chew gum in Singapore

Singapore implemented an anti-chewing gum regulation in 1992 to keep the city clean and tidy. This regulation was introduced to eradicate problems created by chewing gum litter in public places like cinemas, parks, and common areas such as lifts, staircases, and corridors and to avoid spending large amounts of money scraping the gum from sidewalks.

In March 2004, the chewing gum ban was partially lifted after the government allowed the sale of gum. However, it was restricted to those with therapeutic value, such as nicotine gum and oral dental gum.

The penalty is similar to littering fines, where you get fined US$500 to US$1,000 on the first offence and US$2,000 for repeated offenders. But if you are caught selling chewing gum illegally, you could receive a fine ranging from US$10,000 to US$100,000 or even face up to two years of imprisonment

2. It is illegal not to smile in Milan, Italy 

If you are not a people person, it would probably be best to avoid Milan. The country has an old law that requires you to keep a smile on your face while in public spaces. The worst part is that you could be fined for it. The only times you are exempt from this are during funerals or hospital visits. 

The law came about through a city regulation from Austro-Hungarian times that was never repealed. Although the exact reason for implementing this law is not known, it definitely helps promote a happy (or creepy) atmosphere. 

Presently, this strange law is generally treated more as a cultural quirk rather than a serious regulation, so any fines associated with it are likely symbolic and not heavily enforced. Still, there’s no harm in keeping a friendly disposition when you’re walking the streets of Milan.

craziest laws in the world

Probably best to avoid holding a salmon in the UK if you want to stay out of trouble. Source: AFP

3. It is illegal to hold a salmon in the UK

Also on the list of craziest laws in the world is Britain’s Salmon Act. The act, originally implemented in 1986 by the UK Parliament, covers a set of very detailed rules regarding salmon fisheries.

The most controversial part of the Act is Section 32 entitled: Handling fish in suspicious circumstances. This section states that it is an offence in England and Wales when a person receives or disposes of a fish that was illegally fished. 

While it may sound fishy, the reason behind this act is justified. The Salmon Act 1986 was aimed at people selling fish through illegal means rather than people hanging around dark alleyways clutching a salmon.

Thankfully, the punishment isn’t too bad, and if found guilty, you will face a fine that could cost up to 2,500 pounds (approximately US$3,200.) 

4. It is illegal to feed pigeons in Venice

While in Venice, you may be tempted to feed the pigeons, but did you know this could land you a hefty fine?

Under Italian law, feeding pigeons in Venice is prohibited. The law was established in 2008, primarily due to hygiene concerns. The numerous birds have been blamed for spreading filth and ruining the city’s monuments due to their highly acidic excrements, which can degrade buildings and monuments.

One study even estimates that cleaning up the monuments and repairing the damage caused by pigeons cost each Venetian taxpayer 275 euros a year.

If you are caught feeding a pigeon in Venice, you could face a fine of US$80 to US$775.

craziest laws in the world

Did you know it is illegal to climb trees in Oshawa, Canada? Source: AFP

5. It is illegal to climb trees in Oshawa, Canada

Next on the list of craziest laws in the world is the strict legislation concerning tree protection in Oshawa, Canada. 

In 2008, a law was implemented to prohibit any interference with any tree located on municipal property. As such, it is illegal to climb any tree. This law also prevents you from attaching any object to trees or destroying any part of a tree. 

What’s even crazier about this law is the reason it came about. The Canadian Law discussion states that “this law was put into place to prevent unable citizens from trying to act like Spiderman. The city of Oshawa says they care deeply about the safety of their citizens and therefore this law is in place.”

6. It is illegal to have a dirty car in Abu Dhabi 

Abu Dhabi has one of the craziest laws in the world just to ensure that the city’s image is not affected. All residents of the country are expected to regularly clean their cars, ensuring they are dust-free and shiny. Failing to do so could result in authorities impounding your dirty car and handing you a fine of 500 Dirhams (US$136.13). 

However, while the city expects you to keep your car clean, you are not allowed to wash your vehicle in public places. This restriction was set in place to avoid water waste and damage to roads and pavements when the water builds up on the asphalt.

craziest laws in the world

When visiting ancient Greek monuments, it is illegal to wear high heels. Source: AFP

7. It is illegal to wear high heels in Greece’s ancient monuments

Another rule making it to the list of craziest laws in the world is Greece’s ban on high heels in ancient monuments. 

In 2009, authorities implemented this ban to protect the ancient ruins and marble floors of these places. It is believed that heels could contribute to the wear and tear of national treasures and destroy them as sharp-soled shoes could scratch and damage the stones in the monuments.

A fine for this can cost up to US$987.

8. It is illegal to fly a kite in India without a permit 

India’s law requiring a permit to fly a kite might sound like one of the craziest laws in the world. However, this law was implemented to address safety concerns from kite-fighting competitions.

The Indian Aircraft Act, 1934 came about after many accidents and injuries caused by kite-fighting activities, especially in densely populated areas. These competitions, while culturally significant, posed serious risks to both participants and bystanders due to kite flyers using nylon strings laced with glass strings to cut the kites of opponents.

The permit requirement is a regulatory measure to ensure that kite-flying activities are conducted safely and responsibly. Negligent flying of a kite is punishable by imprisonment of two years or a fine of up to US$11,900.

craziest laws in the world

Did you know that Kinder Surprise eggs are banned in the US? Source: AFP

9. It is illegal to have Kinder Suprise Eggs in the US

The US ban on Kinder Surprise eggs is one of the craziest laws in the world. This regulation stems from concerns over the small toy contained within the chocolate eggs, which are considered a choking hazard by US authorities.

The ban on importing Kinder Eggs originated from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s determination that the toys inside posed a risk to children’s safety. 

Despite their popularity in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Kinder Eggs remain unavailable in the US. Those caught attempting to import them may face fines of up to US$2,500 for violating safety regulations.

10. It is illegal to step on the currency in Thailand

Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code, external says anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” will be punished with a jail term between three and 15 years.

This, naturally, means that even if you step on a Thai baht by accident, you’re causing a serious offence as the king’s face is printed and engraved on the notes and coins. The punishment varies, but naturally, it’s good to take caution and keep your eyes wide for any stray notes or coins on the ground.