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)
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.