TUNISIA

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 some offices open on Saturday mornings. Most stores are closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, except in resort areas, where many remain open.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required. A visa is not required for a stay of up to four months. 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 as Tunisians, on their Tunisian passports. If the 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, or the Tunisian Consulate General in New York, tel. (212) 272-6962, or in San Francisco, tel. (415) 922-9222.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in Tunisia is available but limited; specialized care or treatment may not be available. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including medical evacuation, has proved useful. 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. Specific health questions can be addressed to the Centers for Disease Control's international travelers hotline, telephone (404) 332-4559, or on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Tunisia has a moderate crime rate in urban areas. Criminals have targeted tourists and business travelers for thefts, pickpocketings, 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 of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa." They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

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 upon 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.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and legal practices of the country in which they travel. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe in Tunisia, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Security Concerns: Tunisia has open borders with Libya and Algeria. (Please refer to the Consular Information Sheets for those countries.) There have been no instances where U.S. citizens or facilities in Tunisia have been subject to terrorist attacks, and the government of Tunisia takes many security measures for the benefit of the many tourists who visit Tunisia.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Driving in Tunisia can be dangerous. It is recommended that visitors avoid driving after dark outside of Tunis or in 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 without warning. 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.

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.

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