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Money exchange, ATMs, credit cards and bank accounts in Tunisia


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Tunisia Money Exchange

In Tunisia, all major currencies (Dollar, Euro, Pound, Franc, Rubel, Franken, etc.) can be exchanged into and from the tunisian currency Tunisian Dinar (TND).

The exchange rate is different in each bank and changes daily according to the interbank money market.
So, it is well posssible to save the equivalent of a dinner by picking the exchange with the best actual rate.
The average/medium exchange rate is published each day by the Central Bank of Tunisia and are usually close to the rates that have been determined by international systems (see eg. on the TunisPro Homepage).

In all airports in Tunisia, there is always an open bank counter near the arrival/departure zone.

Please see also: Fraud in Tunisia!


ATMs in Tunisia

ATMs are, at least in the tourist areas and big cities, available in large numbers.
The machines accept most credit and debit cards of VISA, MASTERCARD and MAESTRO.

The maximum amount that can be withdrawn throughout a day depends on the daily limit of the card holder (ask your card issuer). Experience has shown that withdrawals of 300-600 Dinars per transaction are not a problem with tunisian ATMs.

Only Tunisian Dinars can be withdrawn from an ATM!

The mobile terminals in some banks seems to work differently than the fixed ATM machines and reject cards/PINs sometimes.


Credit Cards in Tunisia

The major credit cards (eg. VISA and MASTERCARD) are being accepted in most major hotels and shops in the tourist zones.

For overland travel and paying in small shops, carrying cash is indispensable, though.
Money transfers to Tunisia

The transfer of money directly into a Tunisian "convertible currency account" or "single foereign currency account" (bank accounts for non-tunisians) by bank transfer takes about 5-7 days. These amounts are automatically being considered to be "declared" by the authorities.

An alternative is the transfer of cash via Moneygram or Western Union, which takes place within minutes.
Cash transferred by Moneygram or Western Union is, however, not considered "declared" in a way that you can put it into your bank account afterwards or export it from Tunisia.


Precautions

Showing large amounts of money or credit cards in the public for no good reason is strongly discouraged - because this will quickly attract thieves and conmen.
Instead, it is recommended that a small amount of cash is stored separately and payments are made only from this cash - so that one appears to carry only change or a small sum of money!
Many shops will not even be able to give change on a 50 and even 20 Dinar banknote, so carrying small denominations (10 dinar or coins) is recommended anyway.

Refuse any "help" or "assistance" from "friendly natives" when withdrawing money from an ATM or bank or when exchanging money. Chances are good, that, during the process, not only the helper, but also your money, will be gone.

When using an ATM, make sure that the machine appears and works as you would expect it and that no fake installations or cameras in unusual positions (above the keypad) are present!


Bank accounts in Tunisia

Non tunisian citizens who live in Tunisia, can, without any problems, open up bank accounts. These bank accounts are called "convertible currency accounts" or "single foreign currency accounts".

To open up a bank account, there are just the passport and a renting contract for an house/apartment required.
In addition, a small sum should be deposited on a new bank account.

Since 2011, there seem to be some banks requiring now a residence permit (Carte Sejour) as well to open up a bank account.

All deposits on this account can only be made in foreign currency (not in Tunisian Dinars!) - either by cash or by bank transfer from an account in an other country.
The funds will be converted into Tunisia Dinars either at the time of the deposit (convertible currency account) or at the time of withdrawal of Tunisian Dinars (single currency account).

It is also possible to withdraw from such an account any currency (convertible account) or the single foreign currency (single currency account). These amounts are then considered to be "declared".
Money import into Tunisia

Foreign currency may be imported into Tunisia in unlimited amounts, but it must be declared (in writing on a form specified) when the amount exceeds the equivalent of 25000 Dinars (about 11000 Euro, 9000 UKP, 14000 USD).
The declaration must be made to the tunisian customs before you leave the customs area on entering the country.

If you want to take the foreign money out of the country again, you must, however, declare rather any amount exceeding the equivalent of 5000 Dinars (ca. 1800 UKP, 2200 EUR, 2800 USD).

The declaration is only valid for a period of 3 months. After this period, even declared foreign money cannot be taken out of the country anymore!

Any non-compliance with this rule is a serious offense.
  • If you are caught with non-declared money beyond the equivalent of 25000 TND outside the customs area, then the fine for this offense will be a high percentage of the undeclared money amount.
  • If you buy something with non-declared money, it may happen that this arouses suspicioun of the authorities and the money could be considered as being obtained by "unlawful means within the country" (money laundering, tax evasion).
  • Any deposit of cash money in foreign currencies to a Tunisian Bank (eg. on your own "convertible currency account") must come from declared money - even if the amount is below 5000 TND. In other words: all money that shall go into a tunisian bank account has to be declared!


Money export from Tunisia

All previously declared, imported money up to 5000 TND in worth in foreign currencies can be exported from Tunisia again.

Tunisian Dinars themselves, though, can only be re-exchanged into foreign currency, when the exchange receipt (or ATM receipt) is presented - and then only up to a maximum of 3000 TND.

Foreign residents who live in Tunisia (with a "Carte Sejour", residence permit) are entitled to exchange each year up to 3000 TND into foreign currencies, eg. for a holiday. Children up to 10 years of age are entitled to 1500 TND.
See also: Customs regulations Tunisia


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