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- Some countries issue warnings or advisories for their citizens about traveling in the US.
- Many of them mention the ongoing threat of terrorism and mass shootings.
- Others touch on cultural differences such as laws around consuming alcohol in public or swimming nude at beaches.
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The US Department of State issues travel advisories regarding the safety, health, laws, and customs of other countries. Other countries do the same for the US.
While some cultural differences between the US and other countries can make for amusing moments of confusion when traveling abroad, other misunderstandings can carry more serious legal consequences.
Here’s what 13 countries want their citizens to know about traveling in the US.
Japan warned residents that the US is a “gun society.”
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In the wake of deadly mass shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Japan’s Consulate General in Detroit released a statement instructing Japanese citizens to “be aware of the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States.”
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry recommended postponing travel plans to the US due to the “proliferation of acts of violence and crimes of indiscriminate hatred.”
- REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
“These growing acts of violence have found an echo and support in the conversations and actions impregnated by racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed by the supremacist elite who hold political power in Washington,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Uruguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited “indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population” in the US as a reason to be cautious.
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It warned travelers from Uruguay to “take precautions against growing indiscriminate violence” in the form of “hate crimes, including racism and discrimination.” It also recommended avoiding public places with large concentrations of people, including theme parks, shopping centers, festivals and, religious events.
Germany’s Federal Foreign Office tells German travelers that it’s often cheaper to fly back to Germany to get medical treatment there.
The office advises German travelers to have travel health insurance and a credit card in case of necessary medical attention, and that medical care is often more expensive in the US.
Austria warns travelers that attitudes about topless or nude bathing are different in the US.
“Topless bathing, nude bathing or changing clothes on the beach, even of toddlers, is frowned upon or even punishable,” Austria’s Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs writes.
The drinking age and laws around consumption of alcohol in the US bear repeating by Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
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Spain’s foreign ministry reminds travelers that authorities can fine or arrest anyone who is seen drinking alcohol in parks, streets, or other public spaces.
“It is very important to bear in mind that in the United States you can not bring bottles of alcoholic beverages open in cars. If a driver is stopped by the police, and they find bottles open, the law considers that the driver and/or passengers are consuming while driving. In certain cases, this fact has been sufficient reason for Immigration to deny entry to passengers who visit the United States again,” the ministry writes.
France recommends that travelers “adopt a reserved attitude towards people of the opposite sex” to avoid charges of sexual harassment.
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It also informs travelers that “changing an infant or breastfeeding in public may shock in some places.”
Canada warns travelers about home break-ins at US vacation homes.
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“Canadians living in holiday homes have been the victims of break-ins and burglary,” reads the Canadian government’s official travel website. “Whether you are staying in either private or commercial accommodations, make sure you lock windows and doors securely at night and when you are away.”
Australia’s government says that “you’re almost twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in the US as you are in Australia.”
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It also reminds Australian travelers that they are “subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards.”
Many countries, including New Zealand, caution travelers about terrorism in the US.
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“There is a heightened threat of terrorism in the United States and terrorists remain likely to try to carry out attacks,” New Zealand’s government writes of visiting the US, adding, “Follow any instructions issued by the local authorities and be aware of your surroundings in public places such as shopping malls, markets, monuments, tourist destinations, demonstrations, large gatherings and on public transport.”
“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA,” the UK advises on its foreign travel advice website.
The UK advises travelers to “be vigilant at all times” due to the ongoing threat of terror attacks in the US.
The Bahamas issued a travel advisory in 2016 saying that young men in particular should “exercise extreme caution” when interacting with police.
After the fatal shootings of two American black men, Alton B. Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the Bahamas issued a travel advisory regarding “recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers.”
“Do not be confrontational and cooperate,” the Bahamas’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration advised those traveling States-side.
Ireland warns citizens traveling in the US to keep their travel documents on them at all times due to recent legislation “designed to identify and reduce the number of illegal immigrants.”
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade writes that measures to target “illegal immigrants” include “authorisation for police officers to detain people they suspect of being in the US illegally.”
“Although some of the measures are being contested in the courts, it is important that you have your documents available for scrutiny if you’re asked by law enforcement officials to present them wherever you are in the United States,” the department writes on their website.
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