Tunisia Consular Information Sheet - Tips
Tunisia Consular Information
October 03, 2007
Tunisia is a presidential republic with a developing economy. Tourist facilities
are widely available in large urban and major resort areas. Read the
Department of State Background Notes on
for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A
passport is required. For U.S. passport holders, a visa is not necessary for
stays of up to four months; however, a residence permit is needed for longer
stays. The residence permit can be obtained from the central police station of
the district of residence. Americans born in the Middle East or with Arabic
names have experienced delays in clearing immigration upon arrival. American
citizens of Tunisian origin are expected to enter and exit Tunisia on their
Tunisian passports. If a Tunisian-American succeeds in entering using a U.S.
passport, he or she will still have to present a Tunisian passport to exit the
For further information concerning entry/exit
requirements for Tunisia, travelers may contact the Embassy of Tunisia at 1515
Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, tel. 202-862-1850.
Tunisian/American children must always have both
parents' permission to exit the country, even if one parent has sole custody.
Find more information about dual nationality
prevention of international child abduction on our web site. For further information about customs regulations,
please read our Customs Information
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
There have been no instances in which U.S. citizens or facilities in Tunisia
have been subject to terrorist attacks. However, in January 2007, Tunisian
security forces announced the disruption of a terrorist group which they believe
intended to attack targets including the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. On April 11,
2002, Al-Qaida terrorists used a truck bomb to attack a synagogue on the
Tunisian island of Djerba and a number of Western tourists were killed. There
have also been unsubstantiated threats to tourist facilities. Security personnel
may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.
Tunisia has open borders with Libya and Algeria.
Please refer to the Consular Information Sheets and other international travel
safety and security information for those countries. During late 2002 and early
2003, a number of tourists were kidnapped in the Sahara desert areas of
southeastern Algeria, several of whom crossed into Algeria from Tunisia.
For the latest security information, Americans
traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair’s Internet
site at http://travel.state.gov, where the
current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements
, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement,
can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can
also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or
for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at
1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to
take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling
overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can
take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of
State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad
CRIME: Criminals have
targeted tourists and business travelers for theft, pick pocketing, and scams.
Care should be taken with wallets and other valuables kept in handbags or
backpacks that can be easily opened from behind in crowded streets or
marketplaces. Criminals may violently grab at items worn around the neck
(purses, necklaces, backpacks) and then run away, sometimes causing injury to
their victims. Criminals have been known to rob pedestrians by snatching purses
and handbags from their victims while on a motorcycle.
Harassment of unaccompanied females occurs rarely in
hotels, but it occurs more frequently elsewhere. Dressing in a conservative
manner can diminish potential harassment, especially for young women. It is
always wise to travel in groups of two or more people. Women are advised against
walking alone in isolated areas. Travelers are advised to avoid buses and
commuter rail when possible, and to never enter a taxi if another passenger is
Theft from vehicles is also common. Items high in
value like luggage, cameras, laptop computers, or briefcases are often stolen
from cars. Travelers are advised not to leave valuables in parked cars, and to
keep doors locked, windows rolled up and valuables out of sight.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF
CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be
reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while in Tunisia, in addition to
reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance,
telephone: 71-107-000. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find
appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how
funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the
crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can
help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an
attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH
INFORMATION: Medical care in Tunisia is adequate, with a number
of new, private “polyclinics” available that function as simple hospitals and
can provide a variety of procedures. Specialized care or treatment may not be
available. Facilities that can handle complex trauma cases are virtually
non-existent. While most private clinics have a few physicians who are fluent in
English, the medical establishment uses French and all of the ancillary staff in
every clinic communicates in Arabic and/or French. Public hospitals are
overcrowded, under-equipped and understaffed. In general, nursing care does not
conform to U.S. standards.
Immediate ambulance service may not be available
outside of urban areas. Even in urban areas, emergency response times can be
much longer than in the United States. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate
cash payment for health care services although some hospitals may accept credit
cards. Over-the-counter medications are available; however, travelers should
bring with them a full supply of medications that are needed on a regular basis.
The U.S. Embassy in Tunis maintains a list of doctors and medical practitioners
(dentists, etc.) who can be contacted for assistance.
Information on vaccinations and other health
precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection,
may be obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for
international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s
Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx. For information
about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health
Organization’s (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en
Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The
Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical
insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy
applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD
CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may
encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United
States. The information below concerning Tunisia is provided for general
reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or
Driving in Tunisia can be dangerous. It is
recommended that visitors avoid driving after dark outside of Tunis or the major
resort areas. Driving practices are poor. Drivers fail to obey the rules of the
road even in the presence of the police. Traffic signs and signals are often
ignored, and drivers sometimes drive vehicles on the wrong side of the road.
Faster drivers tend to drive on the left while slower drivers stay to the right.
Traffic lane markings are widely ignored. Bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles are
operated without sufficient lights or reflectors, making them difficult to see
darting in and out of traffic. Motorists should also be aware of animals on the
roads, particularly in rural areas.
Pedestrians present an additional challenge as they
continuously dodge traffic (even on controlled-access highways) and do not pay
attention to vehicles. Pedestrians and cyclists should be aware that drivers
rarely yield and will not always stop at either crosswalks or stoplights.
Defensive driving is a must when driving in Tunisia. Drivers may be stopped for
inspection by police officers within cities and on highways at any time, and
drivers should comply.
Drivers should also be aware that if they are
involved in a motor accident which results in death or serious injury of another
person, the police may take them into protective custody until they are absolved
of responsibility. This can mean spending a period varying from one day to two
months in detention. As with any arrest or detention, Americans taken into
custody should immediately request that the police inform the Embassy of their
Travel in the desert areas of southern Tunisia
presents additional challenges. Many roads are unimproved, and even
well-traveled routes are subject to blowing sands that can create hazards for
vehicles. Persons driving off the major paved roads are encouraged to ensure
that their vehicles are appropriate for off-road driving conditions, and are
equipped with appropriate spares and supplies – including water and food. Groups
should generally travel in multiple vehicles, so if a vehicle becomes disabled
or immobilized, the group can return in the operable vehicle(s). Desert regions
are subject to extreme temperatures, from sub-freezing evenings in the winter to
dangerously hot daytime temperatures in the summer. In addition, there are many
areas in the southern desert regions with little or no cellular telephone
service. The Tunisian National Guard encourages persons traveling into the
desert to register their travel beforehand. For details on how and where to
register, please visit our desert travel page at http://tunis.usembassy.gov/desert_travel.html.
Emergency services are widely available in the larger
towns. They can be less reliable in rural areas. Emergency service numbers are:
Police (Police secours): 197
Ambulance (SAMU): 190
Towing (SOS Remorquage 24/24): 71 801 211, 71
Please refer to our Road Safety
page for more
information. For specific information about Tunisian drivers licenses, vehicle
inspection, road tax, mandatory insurance and towing services, contact the
Tunisian National Tourist Organization Office at http://www.tourismtunisia.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As
there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Tunisia,
the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Tunisia’s Civil
Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the
FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
Money – Travelers' checks and credit cards are
accepted at some establishments in Tunisia, mainly in urban or tourist areas.
Cash machines (ATMs) are available in urban and tourist areas. The Tunisian
dinar is not a fully convertible currency. While the export or import of
Tunisian banknotes and coins is prohibited, the export of foreign currency
declared when entering Tunisia is allowed. Tourists are expected to make foreign
exchange transactions at authorized banks and to retain receipts. A tourist may
reconvert to foreign currency 30 percent of the amount previously exchanged into
dinars, up to a maximum of $100. Declaring foreign currency when entering
Tunisia and obtaining receipts for dinars purchased thereafter will facilitate
the conversion of dinars to U.S. dollars when leaving the country. Please keep
all receipts of monetary transactions for presentation when departing.
Workweek – Normal working days are Monday to Friday,
with government offices open on Saturday mornings. Many stores are closed on
Sunday, except in resort areas where most remain open.
Proselytizing – Islam is the state religion of
Tunisia and the government does not interfere with the country's religious
minorities’ public worship. Many religious denominations hold regularly
scheduled services. However, it is illegal to proselytize or engage in other
activities that the Tunisian authorities could view as encouraging conversion to
another faith. In the past, Americans who engaged in such activities were asked
to leave the country.
Please Customs Information
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and
regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United
States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S.
law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States
for similar offenses. Persons violating Tunisian laws, even unknowingly, may be
expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in Tunisia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long
jail sentences and heavy fines. Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia, and can be
punished by imprisonment. Possession of pornography can also lead to criminal
charges. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating
child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United
States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and
international parental child abduction.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY
LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Tunisia are encouraged
to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State
Department’s travel registration web site
that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Tunisia.
Americans may also register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering,
American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of
emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Zone Nord Est des Berges du Lac, Nord
de Tunis 2045 La Goulette, Tunisie Tel: (216) 71 107 000 Fax: (216) 71964 360,
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated
July 5, 2007 to update the section on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.
http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html for State Department Travel
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Tunisia Consular Information Sheet