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Summary

  • Reconsider your need to 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. See Safety and security.
  • In recent years, there have been attacks in tourist areas and locations frequented by foreigners. 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 the coast south of Tunis. See Safety and security.
  • A state of emergency is in place. Authorities may restrict travel or enforce local curfews at short notice. Security arrangements are at a high level. See Safety and security.
  • The Tunisian Government has improved protective security around tourist resorts and major cities since June 2015. However, further terrorist attacks are likely, including in tourist areas. See Safety and security.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for information about possible new security risks. Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • 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. See Safety and security.
  • 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. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to the Mount Chaambi National Park due to ongoing violent clashes and the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. See Safety and security.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Tunisia. The Canadian Embassy in Tunis provides consular assistance to Australians in Tunisia. The Australian High Commission in Malta can also assist Australians in Tunisia. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Tourists may be eligible for a visa exemption for stays of up to 90 days. For other types of travel, you will need to obtain a visa before you arrive.

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 up-to-date information.

Other formalities

A departure tax no longer applies: it was abolished in September 2015.

Passport

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

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

The currency of Tunisia is the Tunisian Dinar (TND). Tunisian law prohibits the import or export of Tunisian dinars.

Declare all foreign currency upon arrival in Tunisia and retain the declaration receipt for departure.

You can exchange foreign currency for TND at authorised banks or dealers only. Make sure you retain receipts for dinars obtained.

Prior to departure from Tunisia, you can convert a maximum of TND3,000 back into foreign currency. Keep receipts as you'll need them for your customs declaration on departure.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack 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. A state of emergency remains in place.

Terrorist groups in the region have grown in capability and have declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. Tunisian authorities have responded to recent terrorist attacks by increasing security across the country, including deployment of armed guards at tourist resorts. Local authorities regularly arrest and disrupt alleged militants involved in planning attacks.

Possible targets of future terror attacks include government facilities and commercial areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as 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.

The deterioration in security in neighbouring Libya and Algeria has resulted in a more volatile security environment in Tunisia, particularly in the south. There is a high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping in southern Tunisia, which includes all areas south of and including the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine, Tatouine and Zarzis, and within 30 kilometres of the border with Algeria, north of Nefta.

Military operations against groups of suspected terrorists are ongoing in the Kef and Kasserine regions, in Mount Chaambi National Park and at the crossing points to Algeria at El Kef and Ghardinaou. In July 2014, a large number of members of the security forces were killed in an attack. A high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping remains.

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 decide to travel to Tunisia despite the risks:

  • in planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided
  • if you go to a crowded place or other possible target, have a clear exit plan in the event of a security incident
  • be alert to possible threats, especially at tourist locations, religious sites, identifiably Western businesses and other public places
  • pay close attention to your personal security at all times
  • report any suspicious activity or items to police
  • monitor local and social media for news of any new or emerging threats
  • take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Do not travel to southern Tunisia, including 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
  • Do not travel to the Mount Chaambi National Park
  • Do not travel to the border crossings with Algeria at El Kef and Ghardinaou
  • if you 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.

If there is a terror attack or threat:

  • leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so
  • follow the instructions of local authorities
  • avoid gathering in a group.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information:

Civil unrest and political tension

Tunisia has experienced unprecedented political and social change since the 'Jasmine Revolution' in January 2011. During the upheaval and transition, protests and political unrest occurred across Tunisia, resulting in deaths, injuries and extensive damage to property.

A new Government and President are in place following democratic elections that were conducted peacefully in October 2011 and in late 2014. However, there is potential for spontaneous civil unrest, such as political and industrial protests. Strikes could be called at short notice and could affect essential services.

  • Carry your passport at all times.
  • Avoid all protests and demonstrations.
  • Take particular care during the period surrounding Friday prayers.
  • Monitor local media and other sources for advice of possible unrest and avoid those areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Crime

You could encounter petty crime, such as theft, scams, pick pocketing and bag snatching. High value items are sometimes stolen from vehicles and hotel rooms.

Harassment of women, including unwanted physical contact and comments, has been reported. Female travellers should take care when travelling alone or at night.

  • Be alert to pickpockets and bag snatchers, particularly in tourist areas.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your cash, jewellery and electronic items in a secure location.
  • Don't leave valuables in a parked vehicle or unsecured in a hotel room.
  • Be wary of friendly strangers and alert to possible scams.

More information: Female travellers

Local travel

There is 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. Consult with local authorities and read the travel advisories for Algeria and Libya before deciding whether to travel.

Desert areas

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 that you 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.

Road travel

Driving in Tunisia can be hazardous due to poorly maintained vehicles, poor local driving practices and inadequate road lighting. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are nearly five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Tunisia than in Australia.

Traffic signs and signals are routinely ignored. Be especially cautious as cars rarely stop at pedestrian crosswalks or stoplights. Motorists sometimes drive on the wrong side of the road and ignore lane markings. Bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles are routinely operated without lights or reflectors, making them difficult to see darting in and out of traffic. Be aware of animals on the roads, particularly in rural areas.

If you drive in Tunisia:

  • first learn the local road rules
  • make sure your vehicle has all required safety equipment
  • drive defensively
  • avoid driving outside cities after dark.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

If you wish to drive, obtain an International Driver's Licence before you arrive in Tunisia. For longer stays, contact the Ministry of Transport (Agence Technique des Transports Terrestres) for information on how to obtain a local licence.

Motorcycles

Avoid using motorcycles due to the low standard of driving and road maintenance. Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Use only licenced taxis or reputable limousine services, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Avoid taxis that openly tout for business, especially outside the airport, hotels and tourist attractions as they will often try to charge high prices. Insist that the meter is used.

Public transport

Buses are usually crowded. Buses and the light railway in Tunis are managed by TRANSTU, the Tunis Transport Company. The national transport company SNTRI and Trans-Tour have buses serving remote areas of Tunisia. The schedules for buses connecting Tunis to larger cities are available in local newspapers.

Rail travel

The railway network connects most of the major cities in the north, including Tunis, Bizerte and Beja, and the east coast towns of Sfax and Gabes. Trains are quite slow, but more reliable than other forms of public transport. Petty crime occurs on city and inter-city trains. Be vigilant with your belongings at all times.

Sea travel

Regular ferry services operate between Sfax and the Kerkennah islands and between El-Jorf and Ajim on Djerba Island. Tunis and other towns are also serviced by a number of international cruise ship services.

More information: Cruises

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Tunisia.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

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

More information: Drugs

Other laws

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

If you engage in any of the following activities in Tunisia, you could be imprisoned:

  • homosexual acts - see LGBTI travellers.
  • living or staying as an unmarried couple
  • attempting to convert a Muslim to another religion
  • photography of, or near, government buildings, military establishments or other infrastructure
  • importing or exporting Tunisian dinars.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering.

More information: Staying within the law

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Tunisia. Take care not to offend. If you are visiting religious sites or 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 they are unaccompanied. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tunisia, and same-sex marriage is not recognised.

During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, take particular 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.

More information: Ramadan

Information for dual nationals

If you are an Australian/Tunisian dual national, you could be required to complete national service obligations if you visit Tunisia. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Tunisia for up-to-date information before you travel.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.  Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

Take with you prescription medicines to cover you for your entire stay so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only. 

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Some health risks can be managed. Discuss your travel plans and vaccination needs with your doctor before you travel.

Insect-borne diseases

Insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and West Nile fever) are prevalent in Tunisia.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing.

Other infectious diseases

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. Swimming in fresh water may expose you to parasitic diseases such as bilharzia.

  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, especially outside major cities.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Avoid swimming in fresh water sources such as lakes and rivers.
  • If you are bitten or scratched by a dog, monkey or other mammal, get treated with rabies immunoglobulin as soon as possible.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

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.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation and treatment could be very expensive.

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

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Fire and rescue: 197 (telephone service in Arabic or French)
  • Medical emergencies: 197 (in Arabic or French)
  • Criminal issues: 197 (in Arabic or French) or contact the local police.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime. 

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

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. 

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: 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
Website: malta.embassy.gov.au

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy, 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.

Dust and sand storms occur frequently in Tunisia.

If there is a natural disaster or severe weather:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

More information:

Additional Resources