October 21, 2003
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Tunisia is a presidential republic with a developing economy. Tourist facilities are widely available in the 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/EXIT 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 to exit the country.
For further information concerning entry requirements for Tunisia, travelers may contact the Embassy of Tunisia at 1515 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20005, tel. 202-862-1850, or the Tunisian Consulate General in New York, tel. 212-272-6962, or in San Francisco, tel. 415-922-9222.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the childs travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Tunisia expects American citizens of Tunisian origin to enter Tunisia on 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 to exit the country. In addition to being subject to all Tunisian laws affecting U.S. citizens, individuals who also possess the nationality of Tunisia may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of that country. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our dual nationality flyer.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Tunisia has open borders with Libya and Algeria (please refer to the Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings for those countries). Since late February 2003, over 25 tourists from Western Europe have been confirmed missing in the Sahara desert areas of southeastern Algeria, many after crossing into Algeria from Tunisia.
There have been no instances in which U.S. citizens or facilities in Tunisia have been subject to terrorist attacks. However, al-Qaida terrorists targeted a synagogue in Tunisia on April 11, 2002, and more than twenty Western tourists were killed. There have also been unsubstantiated threats to tourist facilities. Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.
Since 2001, there have been several incidents of soccer-inspired violence in Tunisia in which unhappy fans became unruly and damaged property and vehicles in the vicinity of stadiums. The U.S. Embassy recommends that Americans avoid the games. It is helpful to be aware of when/where soccer games are scheduled, and unless attending the game, to avoid the area of the stadium one hour before kickoff and one hour after the conclusion of the game. It is prudent for those who live by a stadium to park their vehicles in garages or carports rather than leaving them on the street.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Departments Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
Proselytizing: Islam is the state religion of Tunisia. The Tunisian government does not interfere with the public worship of the countrys religious minorities. However, some activities such as proselytizing or engaging in other activities which 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 been asked to leave the country.
CRIME: 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 people. 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. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist finding appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds can 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.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of States pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care in Tunisia is available, but it is 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. The u.s. embassy has a list of doctors who can be contacted for emergency prescriptions.
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. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that 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 States Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDCs Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organizations website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
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 Roadside 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 additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Tunisian driving 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 United States and Tunisia, the U.S. federal aviation administration (FAA) has not assessed Tunisias civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the department of transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAAs Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm.
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, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that countrys 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.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: 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 for 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. Please keep all receipts of monetary transactions for presentation when leaving the country.
CHILDRENS ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: American citizens living in or visiting Tunisia are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia and obtain updated information on travel and security within Tunisia. The U.S. Embassy is located at Zone Nord-Est des Berges du Lac, Nord de Tunis, 2045, La Goulette, Tunisie. Telephone 216-71-107-000, (Ext.: 7179), fax 216-71-964-360. The consular e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Travelers are encouraged to consult the Embassys Internet site at http://usembassy.state.gov/tunis/.