Tunisia Consular Information Sheet - Tips


Tunisia

Tunisia Consular Information Sheet October 03, 2007 COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: 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 Tunisia 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 country. 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 and the 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 present. 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 circumstance. 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 whereabouts. 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
Fire Department: 198
Ambulance (SAMU): 190
Towing (SOS Remorquage 24/24): 71 801 211, 71 840 840 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. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: 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. CRIMINAL PENALTIES: 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, so 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, Internet: http://tunisia.usembassy.gov/ * * * This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated July 5, 2007 to update the section on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions. *********************************************************** See http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html for State Department Travel Warnings ******************************************************************************** To change your subscription, go to http://www.state.gov/misc/echannels/66822.htm Tunisia Consular Information Sheet

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