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Business travel management: legal lessons for corporate travellers

11th September 2013

As a leading independent business travel management company, Flightline Travel Management we’re particularly interested to hear that the UK Foreign Office has warned that an increasing number of British travellers, including those on business travel overseas, have fallen victim to unfamiliar laws in the countries they have visited.

The government department is encouraging all British travellers not to set off without first having researched their destination, or risk being caught out by local laws. This follows the revelation that over a quarter of all consular assistance provided in 2012 was for cases involving arrest or detention. Further investigation has revealed that many of the cases could have been avoided if those detained had taken the trouble to do a little research of their destinations first.

Director of consular services, Charles Hay, said: “Every year British nationals find themselves on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly, resulting in fines or in some cases arrests or even jail sentences. It is important to remember that laws and customs can vary greatly from country to country and what may be perfectly legal in the UK could be subject to a fine or even a jail sentence in another.”

Business Travel Management legal lessons

Mr Hay went on to say that many Britons acted as if their passport were a “get out of jail free card”. Mr Hay warned, “We can’t interfere in another country’s legal processes”.

In 2012 the Foreign Office had to deal with more than 19,000 consular assistance cases, with over a quarter – 5,435 – relating to the arrest of British nationals. Incidents included British citizens unfamiliar with relevant local laws relating to alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. What we take for granted in the UK, other countries often view differently. Laws vary from country to country, so it is vital for all British citizens to make sure they are familiar with the relevant laws. Though not necessarily relevant to business travellers, a classic example of ignorance of the law is that the Netherlands is tolerant of “soft” drugs, when in fact this is only the case in designated areas. Usage and possession of any drug outside of designated areas can lead to prosecution, a criminal record, and in many cases a prison sentence.

The Foreign Office has listed a selection of unfamiliar laws for British nationals to be aware of, including:

  • Chewing gum is prohibited on Singapore’s (famously) clean Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT)
  • Topless sunbathing is strictly prohibited in Fiji
  • It is against the law to feed pigeons in the Venice
  • In Florence it is unlawful to consume any food or drink in the immediate vicinity of any church and public building
  • On the Caribbean island of Barbados it is an offence for anyone to wear camouflage clothing, including children
  • It Nigeria is illegal to take mineral water into the country
  • If you enter Thailand with more than 200 cigarettes you are committing a criminal offence
  • Certain nasal sprays (commonly available in the rest of the world) are illegal to use in Japan

Surprised? As business travel management specialists we can tell you that this is just the tip of the iceberg for business travellers, so for peace of mind before your corporate travel trip a little research of your overseas destination is called for. For more information you can visit or seek advise via the Foreign Office Twitter page.

Business travel management specialists for your overseas business travel

Simply call Flightline Travel Management today on 0844 3320174 and discover how we can provide you with the best in class business travel management solutions. Alternatively you can make an enquiry using our business travel management contact form. We’ll be sure to get in touch with you within one business day.

We’re business travel management specialists, so let us know what you think. What are your local laws to look out for? You can contact us as above, or Tweet us @FlightlineTrav1


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