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Tunisia
Official Name:

Tunisian Republic

Last Updated: December 20, 2016

Embassy Messages

Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Tunis

North East Zone
Les Berges du Lac
1053 Tunis, Tunisia

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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One page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Not required for stays under 90 days

VACCINATIONS:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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Import of Tunisian currency is prohibited

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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Export of Tunisian currency is prohibited. 

Country Map

U.S. Embassy Tunis

North East Zone
Les Berges du Lac
1053 Tunis, Tunisia

Telephone: +(216) 71-107-000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 71-107-000, press 0 and ask for the duty officer

Fax: +(216) 71964-360

Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Tunisia for information about U.S.-Tunisia relations.

Passports and Visas:

  • A valid passport is required.
  • For U.S. passport holders, a visa is not necessary for stays up to 90 days.
  • A residence permit is needed for stays longer than 90 days.  The residence permit can be obtained from the central police station of the district of residence.
  • U.S. citizens born in the Middle East or with Arabic names have experienced delays in clearing immigration upon arrival.
  • U.S. citizens of Tunisian origin and dual American-Tunisian citizens 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 valid Tunisian passport to exit the country.

Exit Requirements: None

Visit the Embassy of Tunisia website or call the Embassy of Tunisia in Washington, D.C. at 202-862-1850 for the most current visa information.

HIV/AIDS:  The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Tunisia.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

The U.S. Government maintains a Travel Warning for Tunisia which warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Tunisia along the Libyan border as well as the mountainous areas in the country’s west, due to the threat of terrorism.  The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens in Tunisia maintain a high level of vigilance throughout the country. 

A state of emergency was declared on November 24, 2015 and remains in effect.  Under the state of emergency, security forces have more authority to maintain civil order, enabling the government to focus on combating terrorism.  The Minister of Interior has stated that the state of emergency also assists in securing hotels and tourist areas. 

The following groups, including ones on the U.S. government’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, pose a high risk to U.S. citizens in the region:

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
  • Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
  • Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T)

Two attacks in 2015 targeted foreign tourists:  March 18, 2015, at the Bardo Museum in Tunis; and June 26, 2015 near Sousse at the Riu Imperial Marhaba and Riu Bellevue Park hotels.  ISIL claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

The Tunisian government has shown its commitment to addressing security concerns and has visibly augmented its security presence at tourist locations, but challenges persist, and the threat of terrorism remains. 

Specific Areas to Avoid:

Embassy Tunis regulations require advance notification to Embassy security officials of travel by Embassy personnel outside greater Tunis.  Certain cities and governorates in Tunisia have a fluid and unpredictable security environment, and these areas require additional scrutiny before U.S. government personnel may travel to them.  U.S. citizens should avoid the following areas due to the unpredictable security environment:

  • Jendouba, Kef, and Kasserine
  • Ben Guerdan and Medenine, next to the Libyan border
  • Gafsa and Sidi Bou Zid in central Tunisia

All travel in or through the designated military zone in the south must be coordinated in advance with Tunisian authorities. 

Travel to the Borders:

Travel to the Libyan and Algerian borders is not recommended.  Security operations continue against armed extremists near the Algerian border including the Mount Chaambi region.

Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation along the border with Tunisia.   The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya. 

  • Due to tighter security, backups of several hours can occur on the Tunisian side of the border. 
  • Access to border crossings is strictly controlled by Tunisian and Algerian security forces.  Some crossings may be closed occasionally.
  • Travelers should consult local authorities before travelling to the Libyan border and should read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Libya, as well as the Department of State’s Country Specific Information and other international travel safety and security information for Libya and Algeria
  • Travelers should consult local authorities before travelling to the Algerian border and read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Algeria.

Desert Travel:

The Tunisian National Guard encourages persons traveling into the desert to register their travel beforehand. 

  • No special authorization is required to travel to the desert as far south as Remada.  
  • The desert south of Remada is designated as a military zone by the Government of Tunisia.  If travelers wish to enter the military zone, for example to travel to Borma, a special authorization is required.
  • Please visit the U.S. Embassy’s desert travel page

Demonstrations/Strikes:

  • Protests, demonstrations, and civil unrest can occur with little warning throughout the country.  U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful have the potential to become unpredictable.  U.S. citizens should be aware of anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiment held by several groups in country and monitor local events.
  • Report suspicious activity to the local police.

For further information:

Crime:  Travelers should remain vigilant of their surroundings and take care to secure their valuables as prominently displayed cash or jewelry may attract unwanted attention. 

  • High value items left unattended and visible have been stolen from vehicles, hotel rooms, and private residences. 
  • Criminals have targeted tourists and business travelers for theft, pick pocketing, and scams. 
  • Muggings have occurred during daylight hours in upscale neighborhoods; in some cases these encounters have turned violent when the victim tried to resist. 
  • Any thefts or attempted robberies should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:  If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates).

To Report a Crime Locally:  The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Tunisia is 197, although the service will be in Arabic or French.  Emergency services are widely available in the larger towns, but may be less reliable in rural areas.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

The U.S. Embassy can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care;
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police, but only local authorities can investigate and prosecute crimes;
  • contact relatives or friends, with your written consent;
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms;
  • provide a list of local attorneys;
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.;
  • provide an emergency loan;
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home;
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.

More info: See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

Medical care:  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.  The U.S. Embassy in Tunis maintains a list of doctors and medical practitioners (dentists, etc.) who can be contacted for assistance.  If you are seeking medical attention in Tunisia, please keep in mind the following:

  • 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.  Nursing care generally does not conform to U.S. standards.
  • Immediate ambulance service may not be available outside urban areas. 
  • Even in urban areas, emergency response times can be much longer than in the United States. 

Insurance:

  • Make sure your health insurance plan covers you when you are outside of the United States.
  • The U.S. government cannot pay your medical bills.
  • U.S. Medicare does not pay overseas.
  • Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services.  We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation, since medical transport out of the country can be prohibitively expensive or logistically impossible. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Medications:  Over-the-counter medications are available; however, travelers should bring with them a full supply of medications that are needed on a regular basis.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Tunisia to ensure the medication is legal in Tunisia.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

Medical Insurance:

Vaccinations:  Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

Criminal Penalties:  American citizens are subject to all laws in Tunisia. 

  • If you violate local Tunisian laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, imprisoned, or expelled from Tunisia. 
  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tunisia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. 
  • You may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings.  It is against Tunisian law to photograph government offices and other security facilities. 
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol could land you immediately in jail.  
  • If you break local laws in Tunisia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

Certain acts are prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.  See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers:  Islam is the state religion of Tunisia.  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, U.S. citizens who engaged in such activities were asked to leave the country.  See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report

LGBTI Travelers:  Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Tunisia.  Penalties include sentences of up to three years in prison.  In February 2015, a Swedish man was sentenced to two years in prison, and in September 2015, a Tunisian man was sentenced to one year in prison for violating Tunisia’s law against consensual same-sex sexual relations.  See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report for further details.

Money: 

  • Credit cards are accepted at some establishments in Tunisia, mainly in urban or tourist areas. 
  • Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted for payment, even at large tourist hotels, and may only be cashed at a bank where the check holder has an account. 
  • 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 currency exchange transactions at authorized banks and to retain the receipts from those transactions.  Upon leaving the country, a tourist may reconvert 30 percent of the amount originally exchanged into dinars, up to a maximum of 100 USD. 
  • 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.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility:  Disabled individuals in Tunisia may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that in the United States. Though the government has been generally progressive and forward-leaning on the rights of the disabled, there remains a significant gap between theory and practice.  Budgetary constraints have so far precluded the uniform retro-fitting of public buildings to make them accessible to disabled citizens.

Students:  See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips

Women Travelers:  If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Road Conditions and Safety: 

  • Driving in Tunisia can be dangerous. Visitors should avoid driving after dark outside Tunis or major resort areas.
  • Drivers often fail to obey the rules of the road even in the presence of police. Traffic signs and signals are often ignored, and drivers sometimes drive vehicles on the wrong side of the road.  Defensive driving is a must in Tunisia. 
  • Faster drivers tend to drive on the left while slower drivers stay to the right.  Traffic lane markings are widely ignored. 
  • Drivers may be stopped for inspection by police officers within cities and on highways at any time, and drivers should comply.
  • 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. 

Traffic Laws:  Drivers should be aware that if they are involved in a motor accident that 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 up to several months in detention.  As with any arrest or detention, U.S. citizens taken into custody should immediately request that the police inform the Embassy of their whereabouts.

Pedestrians and Cyclists:  If you are a pedestrian or cyclist in Tunisia, you should be aware that drivers rarely yield and will not always stop at either crosswalks or stoplights. 

Public Transportation: Exercise caution when using public transportation, due to safety and security concerns.  Buses and trains can be crowded, and pickpocketing is not uncommon. 

Desert Travel:

  • Travel in the desert areas of southern Tunisia presents additional challenges, as many roads are not paved 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 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. 
  • 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 the U.S. Embassy’s desert travel page.

Emergency services:

Police (Police Secours): dial 197
Fire Department: dial 198
Ambulance (SAMU): dial 190
Towing (SOS Remorquage 24/24): dial 71 801 211 or 71 840 840

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Tunisia’s national tourist office.

Aviation Safety Oversight:  As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in 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.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

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