Unknown 20th and 21st Century Laws Around the UK

When we consider laws, we typically just consider the common laws that have been mentioned to us. However, many laws that were in place during the 20th and 21st centuries are still unknown to people all across the world. Here are some of the unknown 20th-century laws around the United Kingdom.

Taxi Drivers Can’t Transport Infected Animals

In the UK, it is against the law for cab drivers to transport any kind of animal that is known to be infected with a contagious disease.

Similarly, passengers who are infected with smallpox, or the plague, were not allowed to use cabs. Taxi drivers were allowed to deny entry to passengers who they felt were contagious.

The Public Health Act 1936 declares that taxi drivers have an obligation to ask their passengers if they have the plague or smallpox too. This law was put in place in order to prevent the spread of disease and protect both taxi drivers and passengers.

Imitating An Officer Or Armed Forces Member

In the UK, it is against the law to dress up as a member of the armed forces or a police officer.

The Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act of 1906 and the Police Act of 1996 were both created to stop people from purposefully impersonating police officers or army personnel because doing so can be extremely confusing for the general public and can also put people in dangerous situations like believing they are being followed by the police when they are not.

Watching TV without a licence

In the UK, it is a criminal offence to watch or record live television without a valid licence.

If anyone is caught watching TV without a licence, they could end up being fined up to £1,000. As mentioned by the Communications Act 2003, Section 363 It is actually a criminal offence to watch TV without a licence, they could be fined up to £1,000 if caught.

A pet cannot mate with another from the royal household

While it’s unlikely, that anyone would visit any royal household and let their dog mate with one of the beloved corgis of the Queen, who has unfortunately recently passed; if that happened, that would have broken the UK law!

Even until 1965, this would have resulted in the death penalty!

Importing Potatoes From Poland

In the UK, it is illegal to import potatoes from Poland. The Polish Potatoes Order 2004 makes it illegal to “import into England, potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes”. The law was introduced in response to ring rot outbreaks in Poland.

Anyone found guilty of doing this will have to pay a fine. Unless the person has informed an inspector in writing of his intention to import potatoes at least two days prior to the day the potatoes are expected to be introduced into England.


So, there we have it. Those are some of the most bizarre laws from the 20th and 21st centuries. It is important for UK residents to make sure they are aware of them in order to avoid having to pay fines or face criminal charges. 

Rachel Bartee

Rachel Bartee is a blogger and freelance writer dreaming of a tour round the world to write a story of her greatest life adventure. For the time being, she feels inspired by her daily yoga sessions and studies Interpersonal Relationships.