The long arm of the law extends everywhere you go.

You don’t want to get caught on the receiving end of any mishaps with it, especially in a new country.

It can be tricky enough to navigate through United States laws, especially ones that concern expats and people traveling abroad.

But when you have to learn an entirely new set of laws? Come on.

That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you understand why you need to be concerned about laws, and how you can avoid any trouble by proactively following them in your new country.

The What and Why of Following Laws

What is law?

The law definition isn’t that difficult to pin down. Most of us know it from a very early age. Laws are a set of rules and regulations you have to follow.

They encompass everything from personal conduct to business practices to immigration regulation. They tell you where you can stay, what you can do professionally and provide a general outline on how to live your life.

Laws are the backbone of every society. The majority of laws are followed by the majority of society, making them an essential part of emigration.

What is a law

Image via Lemon Law Case

In order to assimilate properly into a different society, you’ll begin by following the laws.

The consequences can be dire if you break the law. They include punishments like fine and jail time. Each country also has its own set of punishments. It’s important to know the punishments, even for minor violations.

This can help you if you ever do have any trouble, as you’ll know what you’re in for.

Learning New Laws and Conducting Yourself Appropriately

One of the first things you should do when moving abroad is to research the laws of that particular country. Many countries have laws that are radically different than the United States, and you have to be prepared to follow them.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make sure you stay out of trouble:

1. Do Your Research of Laws on the Internet

Do not assume the foreign law is the same as the United States law.

This is especially important. You want to ensure you don’t accidentally break the law and be fined for it. Make sure to get to know laws and customs of a place before you travel there.

You may have to take into consideration how you dress, and things like alcohol consumption. These things can be important in other countries, where you wouldn’t necessarily think of them here.

2. Ask Locals Around the Area

The internet is not a fool-proof system of learning. Oftentimes you will hear that a certain activity is illegal, but then see locals practicing it. Don’t immediately assume that it’s legal. Instead, ask a local friend.

This applies to certain customs as well. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean you should do it. You must follow local customs to integrate fully into society.

For example, you won’t be breaking the law by not wearing a headscarf in Morocco — but it’s certainly a good idea to do so.

3. Query the Local Government

If you have any further question, just ask your local government. They will give you a detailed and thorough answer as to important laws and customs to follow.

Laws at Home You Need to Follow When Living Abroad

Did you know that even when you live abroad, there are still some United States laws you have to follow?

Tax Laws You May Not Have Known About

There are laws governing income tax overseas. United States tax code is very complicated, so it’s important to know what you have to give back to the government.

American laws you must follow when living abroad

Image via NBC News

According to the Internal Revenue Service, United States citizens are required to pay United States income tax regardless of where they live.

This applies even to incomes that are not generated in the United States and are kept in a foreign bank account.

For example, say you move to Argentina. You get a job there at a local restaurant as a chef. You keep your money in an Argentinian bank account. You no longer even have a United States bank account.

Guess what?

You still have to file your federal income tax. You would potentially still need to file estate tax and gift tax as well. These requirements have not changed with the recent tax laws passed, and as of march 2018 stand as fact.

Be careful that you do file your United States taxes, or you could be heavily penalized.

Following Laws Will Help You Wherever You Go

No matter where you’re planning on moving to, laws are important! They provide you with a safe way to integrate into society and a way to connect with your new country.

Learning new law allows you to take a peek inside the history and the culture of your new home. Following the law lets you rest easy, avoiding overseas stress.


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