Laws are put in place to protect citizens and maintain order within a society, but sometimes these laws can seem downright absurd. From a ban on getting drunk in a pub in Victoria, Australia to a law in Washington prohibiting the killing of Bigfoot, there are plenty of strange regulations on the books around the world. Here are 25 examples of absurd laws from countries around the globe that will leave you scratching your head in disbelief.
1. It is illegal to die and be buried in
In 1950, it was discovered that bodies were not decomposing in the permafrost. To protect residents from disease, the town passed an ordnance prohibiting dying. The Spanish Flu virus has been extracted from victims of the 1918 outbreak, as they were preserved in the permafrost.
2. Royal Navy ships entering the Port of London must provide a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.
This law, which is no longer enforced, is still officially on the books. Every year, there is a ceremony called the Constable’s Dues, in which a Royal Navy vessel docks at Tower Pier and the captain presents the “tax.
3. In the UK it is illegal to ride a cow while drunk.
According to the Licensing Act of 1872, operating a cow, horse, or steam engine while intoxicated is punishable by imprisonment or a fine. The penalty fine can reportedly be up to 1,200 GBP, not including the cost of caring for the animal or machinery.
4. In Belgium street musicians can be fined for playing off-key.
In Leuven, Belgium, Article 424 does not specifically mention playing off-key, but it does state that a musical performance must not disturb the “public order or peace. However, local authorities have interpreted this to mean that playing off-key is prohibited.
5. In Alberta, Canada if you are released from prison, you must be given a handgun with bullets and a horse.
The purpose of this is allegedly to allow the individual to ride out of town.
6. In Finland you must pay a television tax whether or not you own a television
“In Finland, a television tax has been levied on households with a television, ranging from €244.90 to €253.80 per year. However, after 2013, the tax was applied to every adult, based on their income, ranging from €50 to €140 per person. The government assumes that even if an individual does not own a television, they may still watch one at a friend’s house.
7. In New Zealand, failing to report the discovery of uranium in writing within three months is against the law.
According to the Atomic Energy Act of 1945, you are required to disclose the location of your uranium discovery in your report.
8. In the Isle of Jersey, it is against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season
This law was put in place because knitting woolen jumpers was believed to prevent men from fishing, the island’s main source of income.
9. In Montreal, Canada it is illegal to swear in French.
10. In Missouri, it is required that individuals undergo 1,000 hours of training in order to braid hair professionally
According to the Missouri Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, an administrative board comprising mostly of practicing barbers and cosmetologists and the owners of in-state cosmetology and barbering schools, individuals must be licensed as cosmetologists or barbers in order to braid hair professionally. However, neither licensing program includes training on braiding techniques
11. In Chester, England, it is okay to shoot a Welshman with a longbow on a Sunday.
An outdated bylaw states that Welshmen must leave Chester before the sun sets and are not allowed to enter before the sun rises. Which may help to explain the rumor behind why people think it is still legal to shoot a Welshman with a crossbow on a Sunday inside the city walls as long as it is after midnight.
12. In the state of Victoria, Australia, it is illegal to be drunk in a pub.
Pubs are prohibited from selling alcohol to drunk customers and even tolerating intoxication on the premises by the Liquor Act of 2007. The bar and its personnel risk a $1,100 fine if they do this.
13. In North Carolina, registering as married at a hotel makes it official.
According to 2009 North Carolina Code Chapter 14 a Class 2 misdemeanour is committed when a man and woman are discovered sharing a bed in a hotel, public inn, or boardinghouse for any immoral reason or when they falsely register as husband and wife or otherwise represent themselves to be such in one of these establishments.
14. It is illegal to be shirtless in Barcelona
Since 2011 the Barcelona city council banned nudity and semi-nudity in public areas. The policy was a response to the vast number of individuals, many of whom are tourists, who, during the summer, only wander around the city in swimsuits or expose naked torso, even on the subway. Fines for walking around half-naked could cost you up to €260.
15. It’s Illegal to Swear in the U.A.E.
According to Article 373 of the UAE Penal Code, it is illegal to use language or make gestures that are considered to be offensive or insulting to the honor or modesty of another person. This includes using inappropriate words or making indecent gestures in person, as well as using such language or gestures in electronic communication, such as through text messages or social media.
16. It is illegal to own more than 50 kg (110 lbs) of potatoes at one time if you live in Western Australia
Residents of Western Australia are only permitted to own 50 kg (approximately 110 lbs) of potatoes at a time as a result of the Marketing of Potatoes Act of 1946. It appears that the stated Marketing Corporation has the right to stop and examine your automobile for rogue potatoes and that you could face legal action if found guilty of such excess. It has to do with restricting imports.
17. In Switzerland you’re not allowed to flush the toilet after 10 p.m.
In Switzerland, flushing the toilet after 10 p.m. is prohibited due to noise pollution.
18. You Must Hang Artwork in Wyoming Buildings
According to a state law in Wyoming, any public building that is constructed or renovated using state funds must have artwork displayed that is valued at 1 percent of the building’s construction or renovation costs, up to a maximum of $100,000. The artwork must be approved as meeting certain standards of quality and must be considered to be of sufficient artistic merit. This requirement applies to all types of public buildings, including schools, government offices, and other facilities.
19. It is illegal to chew gum in Singapore
There are certain restrictions on the import, sale, and distribution of gum in the country. In 1992, the sale of chewing gum was banned in Singapore due to concerns about the impact of discarded gum on the cleanliness of the city and the damage it could cause to public property.
20. It is illegal to build sandcastles in certain parts of Spain
According to reports, the town of Benidorm in Spain implemented a ban on sand structures on Levante beach in 2016, and individuals who violate the ban may be subject to fines. It is also reported that the popular areas of Arona and Arica in Tenerife have laws against building large sandcastles on the beach, and individuals who wish to construct sandcastles in these areas may be required to obtain a permit from the municipality.
21. It’s Illegal to Reincarnate Without Permission in China
In 2007, the Chinese government implemented regulations that govern the recognition of reincarnate lamas, or tulkus, in Tibetan Buddhism. These regulations require that any reincarnate lamas be recognized by the state and be born within the borders of China.
22. In Scotland if a stranger asks to use your bathroom you are legally obliged to let them
According to a tradition in Scottish law, it is considered a legal obligation for individuals to allow strangers to use their toilet if the stranger requests it. This tradition is believed to be an extension of the principle of hospitality that was traditionally applied to guests in Scotland, and it has not been formally codified or authorized by parliament. While this tradition is not formally recognized as a legal requirement in Scotland, it is considered to be an enforceable aspect of Scottish common law.
23. Scots must not wear any underwear under their kilts or be fined two beers
The practice of not wearing underwear under a kilt is a tradition that is believed to have originated with the Scottish military in the 18th century. It is not clear exactly why this tradition began, but some sources suggest that it may have been for practical or functional purposes, such as to allow for greater mobility or to facilitate the wearing of multiple layers of clothing. The phrase “go regimental” or “military practice” is sometimes used to refer to the tradition of not wearing underwear under a kilt.
24. It’s Illegal to Kill Bigfoot in Washington.
The Board of Commissioners of Skamania County, Washington officially adopted an ordinance on April 1, 1969 to protect sasquatch/bigfoot creatures. Despite appearing like an April Fool’s Day joke, the ordinance was published in the Skamania County Pioneer on April 4 and April 11, and notarized on April 12 due to skepticism. The ordinance and Affidavit of Publication were included in a later edition of the paper
25. It is illegal to fart in Malawi
The Air Fouling Legislation of 2011 made it illegal for people in Malawi to “foul the air.” This sparked debate about whether or not the law criminalizes flatulence.