12 Things the U.S. Prohibits That Other Countries Allow

The United States, known for its distinct legal framework, has several laws that differ from many other nations. Certain activities in the States are prohibited but are legally acceptable in other countries. From the legal drinking age to marijuana consumption, the U.S. legal system has a different take on such activities compared to other countries.

Understanding these differences encourages our perspective on societal norms and values. Here, we’ve compiled an informative list about things that are illegal in the U.S. but legal in other parts of the world.

Drinking Alcohol Under The Age of 21

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In the United States, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21. Anyone drinking below that age group (irrespective of any gender) will be booked under federal law for engaging in illegal activity.

The reason for this is that underage consumption of alcohol can cause severe brain development issues for minors. However, in many other countries, the drinking age is far lower, often ranging from 16 to 18 years. For example, Denmark has a legal age limit of 16 for drinking beer or wine.

Leaving Kids Outside

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Laws and regulations vary by state, but a responsible adult must supervise children under a certain age. American parents are advised not to leave their kids outside for a long, unattended period. However, in some countries, such as Denmark, Sweden & Norway, it is almost common to leave the children outside unattended in the cold. They leave their kids in a stroller for an extended period.

Consumption of Marijuana

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While some states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use. It is still illegal to use it as a drug component in the States. As of 2022, in the United States, marijuana or cannabis is legal in 38 out of 50 states.

In contrast, several countries, such as Canada, Uruguay, and some parts of Europe, have legalized marijuana. Canada, for example, legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, becoming the first G7 nation to do so.


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In the United States, prostitution is illegal in most states, except in some counties in Nevada, where it is regulated in licensed brothels. The legal aspect of prostitution is a complex issue, with varying approaches across different jurisdictions.

According to a report by the Urban Institute, illegal prostitution in the U.S. generates between $39.9 and $290 million annually. In contrast, several countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, have legalized and regulated prostitution.

Selling Unpasteurized Milk

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In the United States, selling unpasteurized milk is illegal in many states due to health concerns. Dairy shops are heavily regulated in the United States for such illegal activity.

If found guilty, the owner’s license will be revoked forever. However, in other countries, such as France, it is legal and even considered a delicacy for making cheese.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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Euthanasia involves ending a patient’s life to alleviate their suffering, while assisted suicide allows individuals to end their own lives with medical help.

In the United States, these practices are mostly illegal, with only a few states recognizing them as legal rights. However, countries like Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium view euthanasia and assisted suicide as fundamental human rights and legally permit them. These nations have established clear legal frameworks to regulate these practices, ensuring they are carried out ethically and responsibly.

Downloading Copyrighted Material

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In the U.S., downloading files without authorization from illegal websites is strictly against the law. Downloading any copyrighted material, such as music, video, and photos, from these sites is considered piracy and is strictly against the law. Violation of these laws may result in excessive fines and jail time. The minimum fine is $750 per downloading file.

However, in other countries, piracy of copyrighted material is either not punishable under the law or is lenient with it. Poland, Spain, and Switzerland have relatively lenient laws regarding downloading copyrighted content for personal use.

Not Wearing a Seatbelt

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In America, not wearing a seatbelt is considered illegal in most states, with only New Hampshire being an exception for no such adults wearing a seatbelt law.

In other states of America, seat belt laws empower officers to stop and ticket drivers solely for not buckling up, with no other reason needed. There have been news reports where parents were arrested for failing to wear seatbelts themselves or secure their children in the car. However, many low-end cars do not have rear seat belts in some other countries like Indonesia. In fact, there are no laws supporting the use of rear seatbels.

Hunting Certain Animals

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Hunting or inflicting any kind of violence against animals, such as elephants and lions, is strictly prohibited in the United States. Endangered species like the Coyote, Ground Squirrels, and many more are not allowed to be hunted or killed by U.S. citizens. Failing to abide by these state laws for hunting could be seen as a punishable crime.

However, in some other countries, such as parts of Africa, hunting such species is hugely popular and under the law.

Public Indecency or Nudity

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Engaging in any indecent behavior in a public place in the United States is strictly prohibited. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of states to completely outlaw public nudity. Public nudity is not considered as free expression protected by the First Amendment.

But in countries like Spain, The Netherlands, UK and certain areas of Germany, nudity is legal and often practiced in beaches or public parks.

Smoking Cigarettes In the Car

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In America, smoking cigarettes in a car is totally banned in these twelve states, especially when children are present, due to concerns about secondhand smoke exposure and the associated health risks. The federal laws of these states give full authority to the police to book any violation of the code.

However, it is entirely legal in these countries to smoke in a car. This difference in legislation reflects varying approaches to public health and tobacco control measures across the world.

Child Marriage

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Marrying children, also known as child marriage, is illegal throughout the United States. The legal age of marriage is typically 18, although some states allow for exceptions with parental consent or court approval. In contrast, child marriage remains legal in many countries around the world. Niger, Bangladesh, and Chad are widely known as countries with the highest child marriage rate across the globe.

While almost all countries have laws banning child marriages, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen – do not specify a minimum age for marriage.

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