Toggle Menu SearchSearch
smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  •  Reconsider travel to Tunisia because of the high threat of terrorist attack.
  • Information indicates that terrorists are planning attacks in locations in Tunisia likely to be frequented by tourists.
  • Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in Tunisia. In recent years, there have been attacks in tourist areas and locations frequented by foreigners. Further terrorist attacks are likely, including in tourist areas. Remain vigilant, follow the media for latest security information and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities, tour operators and hotels.
  • Tunisian authorities have responded to the recent terrorist attacks by increasing security across the country, including deployment of armed guards at tourist resorts and continual arrests of suspected terrrorists. Authorities may restrict travel or enforce local curfews at short notice.
  • The deterioration in security in neighbouring Libya and Algeria, has resulted in a more volatile security environment in Tunisia.
  • A state of emergency remains in place.
  • Do not travel to southern Tunisia, including borders with Algeria and Libya, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. This covers all areas south of and including the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine, Tatouine and Zarzis.
  • Do not travel within 30 kilometres of the border with Algeria north of Nefta because of the ongoing threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. Military operations against suspected terrorists in this region have been ongoing since April 2013.
  • Do not travel to the Mount Chaambi National Park due to ongoing violent clashes and the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. 
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Tunisia. The Canadian Embassy located in Tunis, provides consular assistance to Australians in Tunisia. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Malta can also assist Australians in Tunisia.

Entry and exit

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest Embassy of Tunisia for the most up-to-date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Tunisian law prohibits the import and export of Tunisian dinars. See Safety and security.

Safety and security

A state of emergency remains in place in Tunisia.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorism in Tunisia. Some recent terrorist attacks and plots have targeted foreign tourists. On 26 June 2015, 38 foreign tourists were killed in a terrorist attack at a beach resort in the tourist area of Port El Kantaoui, near Sousse. On 18 March 2015, 22 people were killed in a terrorist attack at the Bardo museum in the centre of Tunis.

Remain vigilant in public places and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorist groups in the region have grown in capability and intent. Tunisian authorities have responded to the recent terrorist attacks by increasing security across the country, including deployment of armed guards at tourist resorts. Local authorities continue to disrupt planned attacks. But there are limitations on the ability of local authorities to counter the terrorist threat. Some recent attacks were conducted by individuals who were known to authorities and used unsophisticated weapons. The nature of these attacks makes it more difficult for authorities to monitor attack planning and disrupt attacks. Terrorist groups in the region have declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners.

If you choose to travel to Tunisia, maintain a high level of awareness regarding the security environment and monitor developments in the local media that may affect your safety and security.

Consider the places known to be terrorist targets. These include government facilities and commercial areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as, but not limited to, Western diplomatic missions, oil facilities, residential areas, hotels, tourist beaches, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, market places, places of worship, outdoor recreation events and tourist areas.

In the event of an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so and follow the instructions of local authorities. Do not remain in an affected area or gather in a group in the aftermath of an attack or if you are evacuated from a building for security reasons (such as a bomb threat).

Southern Tunisia: The deterioration in security in neighbouring Libya and Algeria has resulted in a more volatile security environment in Tunisia, particularly in remote areas in the south. Do not travel to southern Tunisia, including the borders with Libya and Algeria, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. This advice covers all areas south of and including the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine, Tatouine and Zarzis. Seek professional security advice before attempting travel in these areas.

Border with Algeria: Do not travel within 30 kilometres of the border with Algeria north of Nefta because of the ongoing threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. Military operations against two groups of suspected terrorists have been ongoing since April 2013 in the Kef and Kasserine regions.

Mount Chaambi National Park and border crossings to Algeria: Do not travel to the Mount Chaambi National Park and the crossing points to Algeria at El Kef and Ghardinaou due to the ongoing clashes and the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. Military operations against militants have been underway in the area since April 2013. In July 2014, a large number of members of the security forces were killed in a militant attack.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat bulletin.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

 

Civil unrest and political tension

Ongoing political tensions: Since the 'Jasmine Revolution' in January 2011, Tunisia has gone through a period of instability and transition. Elections were held in late 2014. 

Be aware of the potential for spontaneous and unpredictable events, such as political and industrial protests. Strikes may be called at short notice and could affect essential services. Avoid all protests and take particular care during the period surrounding Friday prayers.

Carry your passport at all times and comply with the instructions of the security authorities.

Crime

Incidents of petty crime in public places and tourist areas occur. Such crimes include theft, including from vehicles and hotel rooms, scams, pick pocketing and bag snatching.

Harassment of women, including unwanted physical contact and comments, has been reported. Female travellers should adopt sensible precautions when travelling alone or at night. See Women.

Money and valuables

Declare all foreign currency upon arrival in Tunisia and retain the declaration receipt for departure. Tourists are expected to make foreign exchange transactions at authorised banks or dealers and to retain receipts for dinars obtained. Prior to departure from Tunisia, a maximum of 3,000 Tunisian dinars may be converted back into foreign currency, but documentation proving the purchase should be kept for customs declarations. Tunisian law prohibits the import and export of Tunisian dinars.

Foreign exchange transactions must take place at authorised banks only.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Driving in Tunisia can be hazardous due to poorly maintained vehicles, poor local driving practices and inadequate road lighting. For further advice, see our road travel page.

There continues to be a heightened security presence at border crossings due to the deteriorating security environment in Libya and Algeria. Some crossings may be temporarily closed at short notice, and access is strictly controlled by Tunisian security forces. Australian travellers should consult with local authorities before travelling to the border areas with Algeria and Libya as well as consulting the travel advisories for those countries.

Permission from Tunisian authorities is required to travel to certain desert areas in the south and you must be accompanied by a licensed guide.

If you intend to travel into the Sahara, it is a requirement to inform the National Guard Post at Medenine, located 450 kilometres south of Tunis, prior to travel. Use of an experienced guide may reduce the risks associated with travel in the Sahara.

Airline safety

Information on aviation safety in Tunisia is available from the website of the Aviation Safety Network.

Our air travel page also has general information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Tunisia, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs, including "soft" drugs, include mandatory imprisonment. See our Drugs page.

Penalties for some offences, such as murder and rape, include the death penalty.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Tunisia and are punishable by three years imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Only married couples are permitted to cohabit in Tunisia.

It is illegal to attempt to convert Muslims to another religion in Tunisia.

Photography of, or near, government buildings, military establishments or other infrastructure is prohibited.

It is illegal to import and export Tunisian dinars.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Tunisia. Take care not to offend. If you are visiting religious sites and remote areas of Tunisia avoid wearing short-sleeved garments or shorts. Open displays of affection between members of the opposite sex may cause offence. Women may be harassed, particularly if unaccompanied.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is due to begin in late May 2017.  During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

Information for dual nationals

Australian/Tunisian dual nationals may be required to complete national service obligations if they visit Tunisia. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Tunisia before you travel.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in Tunisia are generally limited. Doctors and hospitals require up-front payment or a guarantee of payment from an insurance company prior to providing services, including for emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (at considerable cost) to a destination with appropriate facilities may be required.

A decompression chamber is available at the Naval Base in Bizert in north-east Tunisia.

Insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and West Nile fever) are prevalent in Tunisia. Malaria is not a risk. Take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, rabies and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. While tap water is safe to drink in major cities, boil all drinking water or drink bottled water. Avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Swimming in fresh water may expose you to parasitic diseases such as bilharzia. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the national emergency number, 197, noting that the service will be in Arabic or French.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

To contact the Australian Government for consular assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, see contact details below:

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Tunisia. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Tunis, provides consular assistance to Australians in Tunisia. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian Embassy, Tunis

Lot 24, Cite Des Pins, Berges Du Lac 2
TUNIS, Tunisia
Telephone: +216 70-010-200
Fax (General): +216 70-010-392
Email: tunis@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/tunisia-tunisie/.

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission located in Malta:

Australian High Commission, Malta

Ta’Xbiex Terrace
Ta’Xbiex, Malta
Telephone: + 356 2133 8201
Facsimile: + 356 2134 4059
Email: aushicom@onvol.net

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Tunisia is in an active seismic zone. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Dust and sand storms occur frequently in Tunisia.

Additional Resources