Tunisia

Summary

The assassination of an opposition politician on 25th July 2013 sparked unrest throughout the country.  There was a general strike on 26 July which caused flight cancellations and widespread protests.  Visitors and residents should exercise caution.   Keep up to date with developments, avoid all protests and follow instructions given by the security authorities, your tour operator or hotel.  Check with your airline before travelling to the airport as the possibility of flight cancellations may extend to other days.

Most visits to Tunisia are trouble-free, but you should be aware of the changeable political and security situation. There is a possibility of strikes and protests, some of which could turn violent. Protests are not normally aimed against foreigners, but international events can trigger anti-western demonstrations.

Travel Insurance

It is essential to acquire comprehensive travel insurance before travelling to Tunisia. Failure to take out insurance can lead to considerable financial and logistical difficulties for you and/or family should problems arise. For example, an air ambulance to repatriate you home following a serious accident can cost in the region of €20,000. Travellers should note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical treatment, medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.

Your travel insurance policy should cover the entire period you are abroad until you arrive home. You may wish to consider an annual multi-trip insurance policy if you are making more than one trip abroad during the year as this will save time and money. Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy. Most policies will not cover drink or drug related incidents.  

  • A State of Emergency remains in effect across the country and curfews or other temporary movement restrictions may be imposed or changed with little or no notice. You should observe instructions given by local security authorities and/or your tour operator. You are advised to carry a copy of your passport, or other form of photo ID, at all times as proof of nationality and identity.  
  • While most visits to Tunisia are trouble free, Irish visitors should be aware that political demonstrations and disturbances are still liable to occur, particularly in the south-west of the country.
  • We recommend that Irish citizens avoid public demonstrations.
  • We advise you to avoid the areas surrounding the border with Libya.
  • If you require emergency assistance, please contact the Honorary Consulate in Tunis on + 216 71 188 793 (Mon-Fri; 08.30-12.00). Outside of these hours, please contact the Embassy in Madrid (responsible for Tunisia) on: +34 914 364 093. Out of normal working hours, please leave a message on the Embassy emergency answering service and the duty officer will respond as soon as possible.
  • Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential.

Safety and Security

There was an explosion in Sousse on 30 October 2013 next to the Riadh Palm Hotel.  One person is reported to have been killed. Also, two individuals have been arrested at the Borguiba Mausoleum in Monastir for possession of explosives.

Visitors and residents should exercise caution and follow the advice given by the local authorities.

The situation in Tunisia has calmed significantly since the political unrest which began in December 2010 and led ultimately to the deposal of President Ben Ali and his government in January 2011. Democratic elections took place in October 2011 and passed off peacefully. A new government was announced in December 2011. The Ennahda Party now leads a coalition government in the country. The process of drawing up a new constitution is underway. Public order has been restored in most areas of the country.

Nevertheless, a State of Emergency remains in effect across the country and curfews or other temporary movement restrictions may be imposed or changed with little or no notice. You should observe instructions given by local security authorities and/or your tour operator. You are advised to carry a copy of your passport, or other form of photo ID, at all times as proof of nationality and identity.

While most visits to Tunisia are trouble free, Irish visitors should be aware that political demonstrations and disturbances are still liable to occur, particularly in the south-west of the country. Two people were killed and several injured during protests in Gafsa (in the southwest) in March 2012. While most protests pass off peacefully, we recommend that Irish citizens avoid all such public gatherings.

Tunisia’s border with Libya is open but the security situation remains tense. We would advise you to avoid the areas surrounding the border with Libya. Border crossing points are occasionally temporarily closed without notice. There have been clashes between black market traders near the border with Libya.

Please ensure to monitor the international media before you travel, and continue to monitor the political and security situation via local media while in Tunisia. Please stay in contact with your tour operator, if applicable.

Terrorism

Of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Tunisia has been one of the least affected by terrorism. That being said, there is a general threat from terrorism in Tunisia, as elsewhere in the region. A suicide car bomb outside a synagogue on the island of Djerba in 2002 killed 19 people, including some German tourists. You should be vigilant and alert in public places. You are advised to avoid political gatherings and demonstrations and to respect any advice or instructions from the local security authorities.

Irish citizens should remain particularly alert in areas near the Algerian border. There is a risk of kidnap from terrorists operating in the south of Tunisia, close to the border with Algeria. In February 2008 two Austrian tourists were kidnapped close to the Algerian border (released in October 2008). You must seek permission from the Tunisian authorities (National Guard) to enter certain desert areas near the border with Algeria. You are also strongly advised to travel with a reputable tour operator or a licensed local guide if you plan to travel to this region.

Crime

The level of theft and similar crimes in Tunisia is relatively low, but visitors to Tunisia should be aware that pickpockets operate in crowded marketplaces and bag-snatching occurs in tourist areas. You should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

Emergency Services in Tunisia

Police (Police Secours): 197
Ambulance (SAMU): 190
Fire Brigade: 198

Local Laws and Customs

Tunisia is a Muslim country. Visitors to Tunisia are encouraged to respect local customs, such as the modest dress code, especially away from the main tourist areas and when visiting religious sites. Homosexuality is a criminal offence and sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law.

Road Safety

Visitors to Tunisia should be extremely careful driving on Tunisian roads, where traffic can be fast and erratic. Pedestrians should also exercise a high degree of caution, particularly when crossing roads and regardless of whether there is a signal allowing pedestrians to cross – drivers do not always stop.

Illegal Drugs

Visitors to Tunisia should be aware that there are harsh penalties (long prison sentences and heavy fines) for possession of illegal drugs, including small amounts of “soft” illegal drugs. Possession of the latter could result in a prison term.

Money

The export and import of Tunisian dinars is expressly prohibited.

Tunisian regulations require you to declare on entry any large amounts of foreign currency being brought in to Tunisia. If you do not declare, you may encounter problems bringing money back out of the country. You could be required to show the currency declaration on departure, as well as receipts for any currency exchange operations made during your stay. You could be prevented from taking any undeclared foreign currency with you.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Tunisia is in an active seismic zone. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Tunisian summers are hot and humid on the coast, drier in the interior. Winters are cool and damp, particularly in coastal areas.

Dust and sand storms occur frequently in Tunisia.

Additional Country Info

You should carry a form of photo i.d. (such as a copy of your passport) at all times.

For entry requirements for Tunisia, please contact the nearest Tunisian Embassy or Consulate.

DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS

The Embassy of Ireland in Spain is accredited to Tunisia - for contact details, please click here. (Opens in new window)

 

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We encourage citizens travelling to this destination to register their contact details here
 Tunisia

Security Status

  1. Take normal precautions
  2. Exercise caution
  3. Exercise extreme caution
  4. Avoid non-essential travel
  5. Do not travel