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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Tunisia

Tunisia - Consular Information Sheet
June 6, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Tunisia is a presidential republic with a developing economy. Tourist facilities are widely available in the main tourist areas. The workweek is Monday to Friday, with government offices open on Saturday mornings. Most stores are closed on Sunday, except in resort areas, where many remain open.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is not required for a stay of up to four months. For longer visits, Americans are required to obtain a residence permit. A residence permit may be requested and 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 at airports upon arrival. American citizens of Tunisian origin are expected to enter Tunisia on their Tunisian passports. If a Tunisian-American succeeds in entering on an American passport, there is a high probability that a Tunisian passport will be required before exiting the country. For further information concerning entry requirements for Tunisia, travelers may contact the Embassy of Tunisia at 1515 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20005, tel. 202-862-1850. Prospective travelers to Tunisia are welcome to consult the Embassy's home page at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/ts1/wwwhmain.html.

SAFETY/SECURITY: Tunisia has open borders with Libya and Algeria. (Please refer to the Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings for those countries.) There have been no instances in which U.S. citizens or facilities have been subject to terrorist attacks in Tunisia, and the Government of Tunisia takes many security measures for the benefit of the many tourists who visit Tunisia. Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.

Proselytizing: Islam is the state religion of Tunisia. The Tunisian government does not interfere with the public worship of the country's religious minorities. However, some activities such as proselytizing or engaging in other activities that the Tunisian authorities could view as encouraging conversion to another faith are prohibited under laws designed to prevent disturbances to the public order. In the past, Americans who have engaged in such activities have had their visas revoked and have been asked to leave the country.

CRIME INFORMATION: Tunisia has a moderate crime rate in urban areas. 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. Harassment of unaccompanied females occurs rarely in hotels, but it occurs more frequently elsewhere. Dressing in a conservative manner can diminish potential harassment, but it is wise to travel in groups of two or more. Violent crime is rare by U.S. standards, but it is not unknown. 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. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care in Tunisia is available but limited; specialized care or treatment may not be available. Medical staff will most likely be unable to communicate in English. Immediate ambulance service may not be available, especially outside of urban areas. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health care services. Over-the-counter medications are available. However, travelers should bring with them a full supply of medications that are needed on a regular basis. Emergency prescriptions are provided through a list of doctors available at the U.S. Embassy.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at tel.: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov

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.

Safety of public transportation: Fair
Urban road conditions: Fair
Rural road conditions: Fair
Availability of road assistance: Poor

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 without the presence of the police. Traffic signs and signals are often ignored, and sometimes vehicles drive on the wrong side of the road. Bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles are operated without sufficient lights or reflectors, making them difficult to see darting in and out of traffic. Pedestrians cause additional problems, by dodging traffic and not paying attention to vehicles. Defensive driving is a must when driving in Tunisia. Drivers may be stopped for inspection by police officers within cities and on highways.

For specific information concerning Tunisian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Tunisian National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at http://www.tourismtunisia.com.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Tunisia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Tunisia's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Tunisia's air carrier operations. For further information travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/iasa.pdf. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Tunisian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tunisia of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment and currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Tunisia in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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 strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelers checks and credit cards are accepted at some establishments in Tunisia, mainly in urban or tourist areas. The Tunisian dinar is not yet a fully convertible currency. Tunisian law prohibits the export or import of Tunisian bank notes or coins. Tunisian law permits the export of foreign currency declared when entering Tunisia. Tourists are expected to make foreign exchange transactions at authorized banks or dealers and to retain receipts for dinars obtained. Under foreign currency regulations, a tourist can reconvert to foreign currency 30 percent of what has been exchanged into dinars, up to a maximum of 100 dollars. Declaring foreign currency on entering Tunisia and obtaining a receipt for dinars purchased thereafter will facilitate reconverting dinars to U.S. dollars. Keep all receipts of monetary transactions for presentation when leaving the country.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Tunisia. The U.S. Embassy is located at 144 Avenue de la Liberte, 1002 Tunis-Belvedere, in the capital city of Tunis, telephone 216-1-782-566, fax 216-1-789-719 or 216-1-789-923. Travelers are encouraged to consult the Embassy's Internet site at http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/ts1/wwwhmain.html.

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