Safety and security
A state of emergency is in effect in Tunisia, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus in 2015. It has been extended a number of times, most recently in February 2022. The state of emergency means that there continues to be a heightened countrywide security presence, including security checkpoints in and around some cities and tourists resorts, as well as on main roads and at borders.
President Kais Saied ratified a new constitution in 2022, following the suspension of parliament in 2021 and its dissolution in 2022. Parliamentary elections took place in December 2022 and January 2023. The new Parliament re-opened in March 2023.
Demonstrations, Protests and Strikes
Demonstrations and protests occur in Tunisia quite often with little or no warning. They can sometimes become violent. Larger demonstrations and protests usually take place in central areas of Tunis and other major cities, and in the vicinity of government buildings. Demonstrations can be called at short notice, and are often at weekends. There are certain prominent national dates on which demonstrations traditionally occur. In response to the current situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, peaceful demonstrations have occurred in some Tunisian cities, including outside some Western embassies.
Avoid demonstrations and protests wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities. Some demonstrations in the past have turned violent. If you do find yourself unexpectedly near a demonstration or protest, move away from the area.
You should keep up to date with developments through the media and follow the instructions given by the Tunisian authorities as well as your hotel and tour operator, if you have one.
Strikes take place in Tunisia periodically, sometimes called at short notice that can cause disruption to public transport (including air travel and ports), as well as road networks and borders.
Curfews can be imposed at short notice in response to events. You should follow the guidance of local authorities when travelling around the country.
You should check the latest guidance of local authorities and subscribe to the Travel Advice updates before moving around the country, to be aware of local events taking place and how that might impact your internal travel.
Mobile phone coverage can be patchy or unavailable in more remote areas, particularly in the south of Tunisia. Check before travelling, and/or consider downloading maps for offline use.
Some online or GPS maps may not be accurate in remote 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 FCDO advise against all travel to the Chaambi Mountains National Park area, as well as Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma, and Mount Mghila (all designated military operations zones). The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to all other areas within 10km of Mount Mghila.
Tunisian security forces continue to conduct operations. Security personnel have been killed and severely wounded in attacks and by booby-trap explosives in these areas.
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.
There have been several recent reports of assaults and theft in Tunis. Harassment of foreign women in Tunis is also reported to have increased. These have occurred in a variety of areas, including busy public places at night, and quieter public parks and beaches during the daytime.
You are advised to maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK and take care when walking or travelling alone.
Some British nationals of South Asian descent have been subject to additional screening or refused entry by immigration authorities at airports, including Enfidha, on alleged security grounds. See entry requirements for further details.
Discrimination and harassment
Though not commonly experienced by visitors, racial discrimination may be an issue, particularly in public places. Following public comments on irregular migration in February 2023, there was a temporary spike in verbal and physical assaults against those thought to be sub-Saharan African migrants. There have also been recent anti-migrant protests in certain coastal towns, including Sfax.
You can drive in Tunisia with a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year. You will need to have a 1968 IDP to drive in Tunisia. 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted in Tunisia. You can only get IDPs over the counter from UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
If you’re living in Tunisia, it may be possible to drive on a UK licence for up to one year, providing that you meet a number of conditions and submit an application to the Tunisian Ministry of Transport. Please check the conditions and application process with the Tunisian Ministry of Transport. For any longer periods, you will need to apply for a Tunisian driving licence.
A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to prove you have the minimum insurance cover in Tunisia.
Driving standards can be 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 of a reasonable standard although large potholes can appear quickly following heavy rain, and most towns and villages have large speed bumps.
Driving at night can be hazardous particularly out of towns due to a lack of road lighting, unlighted vehicles, and animals on the roads in rural areas. Exercise caution and slow down when approaching sand drifts on roads.
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.
You should check the availability of fuelling stations before travelling long distances in remote areas.
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.