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Latest travel advice for Tunisia including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-26T00:38:38.019+00:00: Latest update: Summary – there’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation; the UK government has implemented additional security measures in several countries, including Tunisia, but direct flights continue to depart to the UK from Tunisia.; you should co-operate fully with security officials; information and advice about how this may affect your flight, including if you’re transiting through Tunisia on the way to the UK

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to:

The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the rest of Tunisia.

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. The UK government has implemented additional security measures in several countries, including Tunisia. Direct flights continue to depart to the UK from Tunisia. You should co-operate fully with security officials. For more information about how this may affect your flight, including if you’re transiting through Tunisia on the way to the UK, read this guidance page and contact your airline or travel company if you have further questions.

A state of emergency is in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus on 24 November 2015. It has been extended a number of times, most recently on 16 February 2017 by three months.

The threat from terrorism in Tunisia is high. Further attacks remain highly likely, including against foreigners. Security forces remain on a high state of alert in Tunis and other locations. You should be vigilant, avoid crowded places and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities and your travel company, if you have one. See Terrorism

Since the terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015, we have been working closely with the Tunisian authorities to investigate the attack and the wider threat from terrorist groups in Tunisia. Although we have had good co-operation from the Tunisian government, including putting in place additional security measures, the intelligence and threat picture has developed considerably, reinforcing our view that a further terrorist attack is highly likely. On balance, we do not believe the mitigation measures in place provide adequate protection for British tourists in Tunisia at the present time.

On 8 July 2015, the Tunisian Prime Minister stated publicly that further attacks were likely. The Tunisian authorities have increased their security measures but have also acknowledged the limitations in their ability to counter the current terrorist threat.

On 11 May 2016, a number of suspected terrorists were killed or arrested during armed clashes with security forces in the Mnhila district of greater Tunis and 4 National Guards were also killed by a suicide bomb during a security operation in Tataouine in southern Tunisia.

In early March 2016, security forces repelled attacks by terrorists in Ben Guerdane, close to the Libyan border. Over 60 fatalities resulted, the majority of which were terrorists. Members of the security forces and civilians were also killed.

There are no direct flights between the UK and Monastir or Enfidah airports. There are daily Tunis Air flights from Tunis Carthage airport direct to London, and indirect daily departures with European carriers. Contact your airline or travel company directly if you have an enquiry about your travel plans.

If you need consular assistance (above and beyond travel information) you should contact the British Embassy in Tunis.

If you choose to travel to or remain in Tunisia then you should check that your insurance policy provides adequate cover.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.

Safety and security

Political situation

Legislative elections took place in October 2014, and Beji Caid Essebsi became the country’s first democratically elected President in December 2014. The current government under Prime Minister Youssef Chahed was approved in parliament on 26 August 2016.

Demonstrations sparked by economic, political or religious tensions may occur. Most protests are peaceful, but some have affected key services, disrupted traffic or have become violent.

There were violent confrontations between protesters and security forces across Tunisia in late January 2016. This resulted in a night-time curfew on 22 January 2016, which was lifted on 4 February 2016.

You should keep up to date with developments, avoid all protests and places where large crowds gather and follow instructions given by the security authorities, your hotel and your tour operator, if you have one.

Border areas

There is a heightened Tunisian security presence at the borders with Libya and Algeria due to cross border terrorist activity and fighting in Libya. Border crossings are sometimes closed temporarily without notice. Some violent incidents have occurred.

The FCO advise against all travel within 5 km of the Libyan border from north of Dhehiba to south of Ras Ajdir, and against all travel through border crossing points to Algeria at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef.

See FCO travel advice for Libya and Algeria.

Chaambi mountains

The FCO advise against all travel to the Chaambi Mountain National Park area where Tunisian Security Forces continue to conduct security operations. Security personnel have been killed and severely wounded in attacks and by booby-trap explosives in this area.

Crime

Incidents of mugging, pick pocketing, bag-snatching and petty theft occur. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Where possible, avoid carrying all your important documents, money and other valuables in the same bag. You should remain alert to potential confidence tricks.

Personal attacks are rare but they do occur. Harassment of foreign women, including uninvited physical contact, appears to be increasing. Four cases of sexual assault in Tunisia were reported to British consular staff in 2015. Women should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK and should avoid going to secluded areas alone.

Rail travel

Rail travel is generally safe, although safety standards tend to be lower than those in the UK. There is a risk of petty crime on trains.

Road travel

Driving standards are erratic. There is very little lane discipline and often confusion about the right of way, especially at roundabouts. There are few pedestrian crossings and traffic lights are sometimes ignored. Take care when driving in towns as pedestrians tend to walk on the roads and have the right of way. Take particular care when crossing roads on foot, even where there is a signal allowing you to do so.

Roads are generally of a reasonable standard although large pot-holes can appear quickly following heavy rain.

You may come across military or police security checks. If you do, approach slowly, don’t cross boundaries without permission and be prepared to present photo ID if asked.

Demonstrations can occasionally affect road travel.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.

Tunisia borders Libya, where there is a continuing conflict and an absence of security, and where Islamist terrorist groups operate. The border is porous. Terrorist attacks have increased in Tunisia since 2013.

In October 2013, there were failed attacks at a hotel in Sousse and the Bourguiba Museum in Monastir.

On 18 March 2015, 21 tourists were killed, including a British national, in a terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum in the centre of Tunis.

On 26 June 2015, 38 foreign tourists were killed, including 30 British nationals, in a terrorist attack at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse.

On 24 November 2015, a number of security personnel were killed in a suicide attack on a police bus on Avenue Mohammed V in central Tunis.

In early March 2016, security forces repelled attacks by terrorists in Ben Guerdane, close to the Libyan border. Over 60 fatalities resulted, the majority of which were terrorists. Members of the security forces and civilians were also killed.

Further terrorist attacks remain highly likely, including against foreigners and in tourist resorts, and by individuals unknown to the authorities whose actions may be inspired by terrorist groups via social media. On 17 November 2015 the Tunisian authorities announced they had foiled a major plot to attack ‘hotels and vital installations’ in Sousse.

A state of emergency is in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus on 24 November 2015. It has been extended a number of times, most recently on 16 February 2017 by 3 months.

Security forces remain on a high state of alert in Tunis and other locations. You should be vigilant, avoid crowded places and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities and your travel company, if you have one.

The Tunisian President and Prime Minister have said publicly that Libya is a source of security threats, and that further attacks are likely.

Members of the Tunisian security forces have repeatedly been targeted in terrorist-related incidents, mainly in border areas including in the Chaambi Mountains.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time. Keep up to date with this travel advice, and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Tunisia is an Islamic country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

In the coastal holiday resorts the dress code is very much like any European city or tourist area, although topless sunbathing on beaches may cause offence. If you’re visiting the main cities, religious sites or more remote areas of Tunisia, you should dress more modestly.

Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious criminal offences. The possession of even a small amount of ‘soft’ drugs could result in a prison term.

You can’t remove antiquities from Tunisia without first getting permission from Customs authorities. Failure to get permission could result in lengthy delays on departure, a fine and/or imprisonment.

Carry a form of photo ID at all times (eg a copy of your passport) and be prepared to show this to uniformed security officials if asked to do so.

British nationals wishing to buy property in Tunisia have often been advised to do so through a Tunisian ‘friend’ on the basis that it is illegal for foreign nationals to purchase property in Tunisia. If you are considering purchasing property in Tunisia, you should consult a local lawyer who will be best placed to offer advice. Don’t make private arrangements, which may be illegal and could result in large financial loss.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tunisia and sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law.

Avoid taking any photographs near sensitive political or military sites.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British passport holders don’t need a visa for visits of up to three months. On arrival, security checks are sometimes carried out on British passport holders who were not born in the UK. This can take a few hours and you will need to be patient until clearance is given. These types of checks rarely take place on departure.

Passport validity

For stays of up to 3 months your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

Tunisian authorities accept UK ETDs for entry to and exit from Tunisia. If you’re leaving Tunisia on an ETD, make sure you have a copy of the police report about the loss/theft of your full validity passport to present to the Immigration Officer.

Dual nationals

Dual British-Tunisian nationals should enter and leave Tunisia on their Tunisian passports.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

There’s no provision for free medical attention for foreign nationals. All doctors’ fees, medication and hospitalisation in private clinics have to be paid for on the spot. These costs can be quite high. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you’re bringing prescription medicines, carry a note from your GP confirming that the medication has been prescribed for an existing condition. If you have any specific concerns about taking certain types of medication with you to Tunisia, contact the Tunisian Embassy in London.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 190 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Money

ATMs are widely available though they don’t always work. Almost all ATMs will accept Visa cards, and many (including Bank of Tunisia and BIAT) will also accept Maestro cards for cash withdrawals.

UK issued credit and debit cards are accepted in some but not all of the larger shops, restaurants and hotels. In places that do take cards, there can be problems authorising Mastercard purchases. Travellers Cheques are accepted in some hotels but not others.

It is strictly prohibited to take Tunisian dinars out of the country. To exchange any Tunisian dinars left over at the end of your stay into Sterling or other hard currency you will need to show the receipt from the bank where you first withdrew the dinars. Please note that receipts from cash machines are not accepted.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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Select a country below:

  • British Embassy Tunis

    Title:British Embassy Tunis, main contact
    Email:BritishEmbassyTunis@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    Rue du Lac Windermere
    Les Berges du Lac
    Tunis
    Tunis
    1053
    Tunisia

    Contact: Telephone: +216 71 108 700
    Fax Management: +216 71 108 749
    Fax Consular: +216 71 108 779
    Fax Commercial: +216 71 108 749
    Visiting:Office hours: Monday to Thursday, 8.00am to 4.30pm (local time)
    Friday 8.00am to 1.00pm (local time)

    Consular opening Hours Summer and Winter: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday From 9.00am To 12.00pm (Local time), Wednesday Closed

    Consular Enquiries : tunisconsular.enquiries@fco.gov.uk

    Commercial Enquiries : UKTITunis.enquiries@fco.gov.uk

    Press Enquiries: BritishEmbassyTunis@fco.gov.uk
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
    Service of Process (Documentary Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Legalisation Service (Other Services)
  • Department for International Trade Tunisia

    Title:Department for International Trade Tunisia
    Email:UKTITunis.enquiries@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Rue du Lac Windermere
    Les Berges du Lac
    Tunis
    1053
    Tunisia

    Contact: Enquiries: +216 71 108 700
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • DFID Middle East and North Africa

    Title:
    Email:
    Address:
    Contact:
    Visiting:
    Services:

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