8 Top Tips to Avoid Being Arrested Overseas

0 Flares Twitter 0 LinkedIn 0 Buffer 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×

We live in the golden age of travel. Thanks to Ryanair, easyJet and a whole host of other carriers we can be relaxing in a far-flung destination without it costing a king’s ransom.

While travel broadens the mind, it also exposes us to numerous dangers. Hardly a day goes by without another horror story of an expat or tourist being arrested. Many of these situations are avoidable if you brush up on the country you are travelling to and show respect for the country, its people and traditions.

Here are eight top tips to help you avoid being arrested overseas. We hope they serve you well!


However, with the increase in global travel comes the increased possibility of getting into difficulties in a foreign country. These difficulties can range from cultural misunderstandings to violations of local law to simply being ignored by the local population for causing etiquette offences.

But what happens if you have done something (or not done something you should have) in a foreign country and how can you prevent this from happening in the first place?


Behaviours that might be considered a cheeky dare or simply a fun night out can have serious consequences in some foreign countries and can be considered a serious cultural faux pas or…much worse.

Many of you will recall the plight of Eleanor Hawkins. Eleanor and a group of her travel companions decided to strip off before taking photos on top of Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu, a mountain sacred to a local tribal community. Several of these photos were then posted on social media websites.

Versions of Eleanor’s behaviour are not uncommon. We have seen variations on a theme from the ‘Sex on the Beach’ British couple in Dubai to Chinese tourists spitting on the Champs Élysées in Paris to the Russian attempting to take a selfie in a crowded museum in front of a famous painting or statue. In these examples, a disregard for public behaviour may be obvious to most people.

But what about less obvious behaviour that could land people with good intentions in trouble abroad?



Learn about the cultural norms of the country you are planning to visit. With the wealth of information on the internet and the probability of you knowing someone who has already been to a destination, there is no excuse for ignorance.

Only recently Johnny Depp and his then wife Amber Heard got into hot water for illegally bringing their pet dogs into Australia.

“Read about the cultural norms of the country you are planning to visit.”

Remember that what might be perfectly normal for one culture may cause offence in another culture. Just as Westerners don’t like public spitting, foreigners may not like your behaviour if you are drinking, kissing, or swearing in public. Although both groups may not like each others’ behaviour, in the West, the offence is tolerated. In many foreign countries, there is little tolerance. In fact, you could be violating local law.


Don’t assume you are exempt from local laws because you are … British, Western, a woman, blonde, a business executive, or any other demographic label that you think might make you ‘special’. The ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ rule applies wherever you go.

This is especially true if you are an expatriate on assignment in a foreign country, where many enjoy significant privileges they may not be able to afford back home. Being a good guest means respecting local customs, no matter who you are.

“The ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ rule generally applies wherever you go.”

Recognise that many countries and cultures have dress codes. These dress codes are for men as well as women. Do not be offended if you are asked to cover up, especially if visiting a Muslim country or if you are visiting a holy site of many religions. Be aware of what covering up means in each location.

To read the remaining 4 tips, from our Training Partner, Learnlight click HERE

Expat Academy 8 Top Tips to Avoid Being Arrested Overseas

If you have additional questions then why not speak to Learnlight at our next Bite Size Briefing. You can take a look at our Events to see when the next one is coming up.

Alternatively, you can find their contact details in our Trusted Suppliers Directory


We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies from this website. Close