Road Conditions and Safety:
- Driving in Tunisia can be dangerous. Visitors should avoid driving after dark outside Tunis or major resort areas or on country roads.
- 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 or the wrong direction on a one-way street. 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. Cars that wish to pass often signal with their headlights.
- 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 vehicle 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.
- 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.
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
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.
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.
- 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 generally 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, buttravelers 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.
- Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas.
- Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments, although some hospitals may accept credit cards.
- See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
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:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
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.
- Drivers who are involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in death or serious injury of another person may be taken into protective custody until they are absolved of responsibility.
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. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
- 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. Visitors must declare cash brought into Tunisia in excess of TND 10,000 (or foreign currency equivalent). They must declare amounts above TND 5,000 if they wish to export that amount upon departure.
- The export of Tunisian currency is prohibited. Up to TND 3,000 may be re-exchanged into foreign currency upon departure from Tunisia with the original exchange receipt. Visitors may only export up to TND 5,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) if that amount was declared upon arrival.
- 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.
Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
The current Travel Advisory 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. U.S. citizens living and working in Tunisia should understand that they accept the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks. The threat of anti-Western terrorist activity persists, as does the risk of death or injury as a non-targeted bystander.
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 (ISIS)
- Al-Qa?ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
- Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T)
Terrorists may target areas frequented by Westerners, such as tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, liquor stores, shopping malls, transportation hubs, places of worship, expatriate residential areas, and schools. In light of these security concerns, U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of vigilance. Two attacks in 2015 targeted foreign tourists in Tunisia: 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. ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks.
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.
Terrorist incidents in 2017 included:
- November 1, 2017: One Tunisian police officer died and another was wounded when a man attacked them outside Parliament near the Bardo area of Tunis. The attacker had reportedly adopted extremist views and intended to join terrorist groups in Libya.
- March 12, 2017: A police officer was killed and another was injured in an overnight ambush by four attackers in Kebili, some 500 kilometers south of Tunis. According to a statement by the MOI, two of the motorcycle-mounted attackers were killed and another was seriously wounded, while one fled on foot.
The Tunisian government has attempted to address 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 terrorist activity:
- Within 30 km of southeastern Tunisia along the border with Libya.
- Mountainous areas in the country?s west, including the Chaambi Mountain National Park area.
- Jendouba south of Ain Drahem and west of RN15, El Kef, and Kasserine, next to the Algerian border.
- Gafsa and Sidi Bou Zid in central Tunisia.
U.S. citizens should also avoid the desert south of Remada due to military restrictions.
Travel to the Borders:
- Travel to the Libyan and Algerian borders is not recommended. Police and military are engaged in operations to combat terrorism and disrupt terrorist cells, especially near the Algerian and Libyan border areas, included but not limited to Kasserine, El Kef, Jendouba, Sidi Bouzid, and Ben Guerdane. Most border operations were reported in the closed military area of Mount Chaambi.
- 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 and advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution in Algeria.
- Due to tighter security, backups of several hours can occur on Tunisian borders.
- Access to border crossings is strictly controlled by Tunisian and Algerian security forces. Some crossings may occasionally be closed.
- Travelers should consult local authorities before traveling to the Libyan and Algerian borders, and should read the Department of State?s Travel Advisories for Libya and Algeria.
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. The Department of State advises U.S. citizens against travel to this area.
- Please visit the State Department?s desert travel page.
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.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia by visiting the Embassy?s website.
- For American Citizens Services at the State Department, call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or +1-202-501-4444 from other countries, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- Travelers should remain vigilant of their surroundings and take care to secure their valuables. 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.
- Report suspicious activity to the local police.
- See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.
- Tunisian men have been known to target American women in online chat rooms, Facebook, etc. that often turn romantic and result in an invitation to travel to Tunisia. Single women 40 years and older are typical targets. The Tunisian man is usually in his 20s. Once in Tunisia, a common scenario involves the man and his family pressuring the American into marriage. His goal is to then have the American submit a petition for his immigrant visa. American citizens are urged to maintain caution if traveling to Tunisia to meet someone met online.
- Foreigners living in Tunisia have reported that Tunisian men have rung their doorbells claiming to be neighbors who have locked themselves out of their houses and need cab fare to get a spare key.
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 for police and 190 for an ambulance, 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 who speak English;
- provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.;
- provide an emergency repatriation 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.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are generally enforced, though are somewhat unevenly regulated. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, but staff are usually trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities; outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
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. If a U.S. citizen enters Tunisia on a Tunisian passport, he or she must exit on a Tunisian passport.
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.
Read the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Tunisia for information about U.S.-Tunisia relations.