Information about Tunisia

Customs Regulations of Tunisia

Passport and ID card - Entering and Leaving Tunisia - Money import and export - Corruption

Entering Tunisia

To enter Tunisia, a person needs a passport which remains valid for at least 6 months after the entry date.
With package tours (flight + hotel), a national identity card is also often (eg. for citizens of many european countries) accepted.

At least for citizens of the UK, who will not stay longer than for 3 months in Tunisia, the passport only needs to be valid until they exit Tunisia. This has been officially confirmed by the Foreign Office of the UK and also by an officer of the border police of the airport Tunis Carthage.
This rule is probably also applicable to citizens of other countries, but has not yet been confirmed, so a traveller should, to be on the safe side, have nevertheless a passport or ID card that is valid for 6 months. In cases of emergency we recommended, however, that a traveller contacts the tunisia embassy of his country for reassurance on.

Please note: Persons, who have (as well) the tunisian citizenship have to present their tunisian passport (eg. children of tunisian fathers and western mothers), because, in Tunisia, everyone with a tunisian citizenship is considered to be only a tunisian citizen!

On entry, a visa will be stamped into the passport (it is practically no more than a simple date stamp).
German, Japanese, Canadian and USA citizens can stay, as tourists, up to 4 months in the country, citizens of other western countries only up to 3 months.

As soon as this "normal" visa expires, an extension can be requested for a maximum of a combined 6 months (= 2 or 3 months more than the original visa lasted).
Such an extension will, however, cost around 20 TND per week and has to be requested and paid for with the local tourist police.

Theoretically, this fee could be paid on departure as well, but if any police control took place and one had been remaining in the country longer than the visa did permit, at least some discussions will take place, so it is recommended to request the extension ahead of time.

Citizens of the following countries, who are on an organized tour (package holiday including an hotel voucher) need the national ID card only: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

No matter, whether one enters with a passport or an identity card, one must fill out a two-part entry form, of which one half must be constantly carried along with the passport and has to be returned later to the customs on departure. The other half remains in the files of the customs office. This entry form is often distributed in the airplane ahead of landing.

The loss of such a form is, however, usually not causing any problems, one must then just fill out a new form before the departure - blank forms can often be found at the check-in.
However - if one enters only with a national identity card, then the visa stamp goes onto this form and has to be presented at any police control. If the form is missing, some discussions might take place.

If a person stays longer in the country than the visa permits (more than a maximum of 6 months), serious problems will arise - ranging from punishment by high fines to imprisonment and denial of further visits to Tunisia.

If the permitted time is exhausted, one must leave the country, however it is sufficient to leave the country duly and re-entering right away ("walk around the border post"). This is, these days, not too easy, though, since both bordering countries, Libya and Algeria, require a pre-obtained visa for most nationals.
So, the easiest way is a short flight home or a return ferry passage to Italy.

After each entry into the country, the  "permitted" time is reset and one can thus stay in Tunisia practically throughout the year, if he only briefly leaves the country 2-3 times for a short period.

Warning: Officially, there is a regulation, according to which one cannot reside in Tunisia without a long residence permit ("Carte Sejour") more than 180 days per year.
This regulation is usually not enforced, however, it does exist and the authorities might decide to enforce it, if they really do not want a person to stay in their country using the "walk around the border post" method.

Incoming Customs regulations

Permitted is, for adults, for example, the import of
  • 200 cigarettes, some sources say even 400 cigarettes - according to own experiences of the author, the larger quantity will indeed cause no problems, but one should not rely on that. Instead of cigarettes, 500 grams of tobacco is allowed.
  • 1 litre of alcohole with more then 25 percent or 2 litres of alcohole with less than 25 percent. Many tourists bring along larger quantities, and the custom officers know that very well. So, they search specifically for that and the tourists will end up being liberated of part or all of the excess amount.
  • 1 litre of toilet water (shaving lotion, Eau de Cologne, etc.) or 250 millilitres perfume, these limits are usually hard to exceed by a typical tourist.
These electrical devices are permitted: 1 portable computer (laptop, notebook, netbook), 1 tape recorder, 1 movie camera (or video camera), 1 photo camera and other small devices, which are used typically by a tourist, eg. electric shaver, small iron, mobile phone (starting with 3 telephones, however, one might run into problems to justify it...), walkman, etc.

The import of GPS equipment (also navigation equipment, telephone with GPS, etc.) is permitted, but it needs to be declared on a special form. In reality, this ruling is not enforced when it comes to smartphones, though.

LCD monitors (television, monitor, photo frame) are always liable to duty and customs officers will look for it!

Who wants to make sure that he does not have problems with many and/or valuable devices on departure, should have these devices stamped into the passport at entry into Tunisia by the customs. However - if these devices are then stolen, one must present an appropriate certificate of loss by the police, or the departure will be refused.

Note: If someone enters the country only with a national identity card, he can not have "stamped" anything into it!

Permitted are also “gifts”, however the tax-free limit for those is very low, in the area of approximately 10-20 EUR/UKP (20-25 USD), altogether, not per gift!

There are, however, only few problems according to the experience of the author, when gifts are brought along, as long as they are not very numerous or expensive.

Strictly forbidden for the import into Tunisia are, for example:
  • Pornographic representations of all kinds (pictures, books, video films). The term “pornographic representation” refers in Tunisia already to just simple nakedness (soft core).
  • Drugs, medicines, except medicines for the own use during the vacation, it is suggested to have a doctor's letter as proof.
  • Weapons of all kinds, permitted are, however, pocket knives and kitchen knives. Hunting weapons are allowed, but require a special permission on entry.
  • Drones (flying copters) with or without a camera
  • Dates (the plant) and Henna
  • Dangerous dog races
  • Endangered animals and plants (CITES list)

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 7100 Euro, 6600 UKP, 8000 USD as of early 2019).

If the foreign money is later to be taken out of the country again, one must, however, declare rather any amount exceeding the equivalent of 5000 Dinars (ca. 1300 UKP, 1400 EUR, 1700 USD as of early 2019).

The declaration must be made to the tunisian customs before one leaves the customs area on entering the country.
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 one is being 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 one is buying 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 into a Tunisian Bank (eg. into 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 on entering the country!

Money export from Tunisia

All previously imported, money up to 5000 TND in worth in foreign currencies can be exported from Tunisia again, above 5000 TND only when it had been declared with the customs on entering Tunisia (see above).

However, since 2019, the export of foreign currencies of a value of more than 10.000 TND (2900 EUR, 2600 UKP, 3300 USD as of early 2019) is not allowed anymore at all.

The export of Tunisian Dinars in coins or bank notes is forbidden! They 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.

Bribery / Corruption in Tunisia

Much, very much, is possible in Tunisia - inofficially, by bribing authorities, especially at the customs - and this hasn't changed after the uprising of 2011, many people say that it has become even worse.

This author is, however, strictly opposing any bribery - because it will lead at least to more demands later, if not to prosecution by law.

In each case, however, by bribing someone, a person shows that the term "integrity" does not belong to his favourite words (but he will then loudly complain about corruption in his own homeland).
Bribery is generally a bad signal and it will only encourage corrupt officials to continue and to increase their demands!

I can, therefore, only strongly discourage anyone to take part in bribery, actively of passively!
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