Friday, December 23, 2011

Legality of Santa Clause

Santa's not real. If you're reading this and you didn't know that, I'm sorry. In fact, if you're reading at all and you didn't know that, I'm very sorry. But if Santa was real, would he be an international criminal?:
I. Trespass and Consent  
At first glance it might seem that Santa Claus is liable in tort and criminal law for trespass, but the homeowner’s consent negates both charges. Sending letters to Santa, hanging stockings with care, setting out milk and cookies, and the like are all clear manifestations of consent for Santa Claus to enter one’s home and deposit presents (or coal, as the case may be). Indeed I suspect it would be quite difficult to find someone who received a present from Santa Claus yet could honestly claim that he or she did not consent to its delivery. 
II. Airspace Restrictions 
Another potential problem with Santa, as with many superheroes, is the issue of air travel regulations. In Santa’s case however, the fact that he is tracked by NORAD suggests that he has clearance from the US and Canadian militaries to travel through US and Canadian airspace essentially unrestricted. 
III. Customs and Immigration 
Santa may be cleared to travel through US and Canadian airspace, but what about entering the countries in the first place? As it turns out, Canada has extended Canadian citizenship to Santa Claus, so the answer is trivial for Santa’s travels through Canada. Furthermore, as a Canadian citizen his entry into the US is fairly straightforward because he’ll only be in the country for a few hours; there is no need for a special visa. One brief stop at a border crossing when he enters the US is all he needs. If he can visit millions of homes around the world in one night, that small delay is unlikely to present a problem. 
Customs is a bit trickier as Santa Claus ordinarily would have quite a lot to declare. It seems clear, though, that Santa does not actually physically possess all of the presents to be delivered in his sleigh (obviously that would be impossible!). Instead his sack of toys functions as a kind of teleportation device, allowing him to pull out presents as needed, as depicted in this well-known documentary. That would seem to neatly skirt the problem of filling out the world’s longest customs form.
Though he may be breaking some European labor laws:

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