25 Weird British Laws You Won’t Believe Actually Exist

Posted by , Updated on March 24, 2024

Given the hundreds of years of historical context, it’s no surprise that Britain is home to some peculiar laws. However, the persistence of these antiquated laws that remain unrepealed can be a nuisance for everyone, from legal professionals, judges, and politicians, to ordinary citizens who risk punishment. While some of these laws have been repealed, many others paradoxically continue to be in effect. Eager to learn more? Here’s a fascinating list of 25 Bizarre British Laws That Are Actually Still Enforced.



Thanks to Prerogativa Regis 1322, all whales and sturgeons found in the United Kingdom belong to the Crown.

whalesSource: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/law/news/2016/10-strangest-laws.aspx

Under an 1839 law, it is illegal to knock on someone's door and walk away. That includes ringing a doorbell without excuse.

doorbellSource: https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/laws-uk-weird-door-knock-12755849

According to the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, it's illegal to be drunk at a bar or "keeper of a public house to permit drunkenness on premises."

pubSource: https://metro.co.uk/2015/06/08/10-odd-british-laws-you-have-probably-broken-by-accident-5235672/

Until 1976, the UK had a law that required all cars to carry at least one bale of hay. It was initially written for horse drawn carriages.

haySource: http://www.southamptontaxis.org/blog/94/Do-taxi-drivers-need-to-carry-a-bale-of-hay-in-their-boot-by-law

If you're planning a home improvement project that requires wood planks and you live in London, just remember it's illegal to carry planks across pavement. Good luck!

woodSource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1248352/Carrying-plank-public-Youre-nicked-The-little-known-laws-daft-theyre-criminal.html

After 8 AM, it's illegal to beat or shake any carpet, rug, or mat in the street.

Welcome-MatSource: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/zm3eay/i-broke-some-old-laws-in-front-of-police-to-see-if-theyd-arrest-me

Thanks to the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, if you annoy passengers or inhabitants with flying a kite, you'll be fined 500 pounds (about 562 Euros).

flying kiteSource: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/only-in-britain/strange-british-laws/

Think twice before asking a stranger for change. According to the Vagrancy Act 1824, if you need change and ask a stranger for some, it's considered begging and you could end up in "the house of correction."

coinsSource: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/weird-laws-almost-certainly-broken-12975706

Be careful how you handle salmon. According to the Salmon Act 1986, it's illegal to handle fish in a suspicious circumstance.

salmonSource: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/62/section/32

If you plan to go to a fancy party, don't dress up as a soldier or seaman. According to the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act 1906, it's illegal to pretend to be part of the armed forces.

britishSource: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/only-in-britain/strange-british-laws/

Thanks to the Library Offenses Act of 1898, you cannot gamble or use abusive or obscene language in a library.

gambleSource: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/61-62/53/contents

Singers, songwriters, and street bards will be sad to hear it is illegal to sing a profane or obscene song in public.

singer guitarSource: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/10-11/89

Many of you likely won't have this problem, but if you're ever visiting Parliament, don't wear armor. That's also illegal, according to the 1313 Statute forbidding Bearing of Armour.

parliamentSource: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Edw2/7/0/section/wrapper1

Compliments of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, if you keep your pigs outside your house without the proper fencing, you'll be subject to a 1,000 pound (1124 euro) fine.

pigsSource: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/only-in-britain/strange-british-laws/

Don't even think of singing Happy Birthday to a friend in public, otherwise you'll have to pay a fee. It's copyrighted, after all.

happy birthdaySource: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33993718

It's illegal for your common pet dog to mate with a royal pet dog. So, if by chance you meet the Queen, make sure your dogs don't get frisky.

Queen_Elizabeth_II_2015_HO2Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2830079/Barking-mad-pet-laws-revealed-s-illegal-impression-animal-Miami-pigs-t-called-Napoleon-France.html

While this law is no longer active, it was once illegal for a lady to eat chocolate on a public transport.

chocolateSource: https://www.hotcourses.com/browse-articles/funstuff/criminology/1654/the-strangest-laws-in-the-uk

At one time, every Englishman from the ages of 17 to 69 was required to keep and practice with a longbow. This wasn't repealed until 1960.

englishman longbowSource: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/calls-for-dead-laws-to-be-repealed-7618201.html

All unmarked swans belong to the Queen and any attempt to eat them is considered illegal.

swansSource: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/calls-for-dead-laws-to-be-repealed-7618201.html

Someone may be fined up to 1,000 pounds (1124 euros) if they hang up their laundry to dry across a street.

hanging clothesSource: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/calls-for-dead-laws-to-be-repealed-7618201.html

Jumping the ticket queue at a subway isn't just rude in London, it's illegal, so stay in line and wait your turn.

londonSource: http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/the-uks-weirdest-laws-from-queue-jumping-in-london-to-being-drunk-in-a-pub-11364045470617

Hats off to Edward VI for this one. Anyone breaking an egg on the sharp end could end up in the stocks for 24 hours.

cracking eggsSource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1248352/Carrying-plank-public-Youre-nicked-The-little-known-laws-daft-theyre-criminal.html

Edward VI also had a thing about socks. He enacted a law saying it is illegal to stand sockless within 100 yards of the Queen.

Women's_bare_feetSource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1248352/Carrying-plank-public-Youre-nicked-The-little-known-laws-daft-theyre-criminal.html

If you put a postage stamp bearing the Queen's image upside down on a letter, it's considered treason.

queen englandSource: https://matadornetwork.com/life/21-bizarre-laws-still-exist-uk/

This is considered the most absurd law by UK citizens. Apparently, it's illegal to die while in Parliament since it's a Royal palace and you would be required to have a state funeral.

westminsterSource: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1568474/Dont-die-in-parliament-its-the-law.html

Photo: Featured Image - Shutterstock, 1. PxHere.com (Public Domain), 2. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 3. Julian von Bredow, Women's bare feet, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 4. PxHere.com (Public Domain), 5. Lewis Clarke, London , Westminster - Westminster Underground Ticket Barrier - geograph.org.uk - 1739882, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 6. PxHere.com (Public Domain), 7. anonymous, SwansCygnus olor, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 8. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 9. MaxPixel.net (Public Domain), 10. UK Home Office, Queen Elizabeth II 2015 HO2, CC BY 2.0 , 11. max pixel (Public Domain), 12. Pexels.com (Public Domain), 13. Maurice from Zoetermeer, Netherlands, British Houses of Parliament, CC BY 2.0 , 14. max pixel (Public Domain), 15. MaxPixel.net (Public Domain), 16. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 17. Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington, Coho Spawning on the Salmon River, CC BY 2.0, 18. MaxPixel.net (Public Domain), 19. anonymous, Man flying kite, CC BY 2.5 , 20. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 21. shutterstock, 22. Loisa Kitakaya, Wiki loves Africa 195, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 23. Tagishsimon, The Queens Arms pub - Charlotte Street - Birmingham - 2005-10-14, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 24. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 25. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain)