Travel Alert – Tunisia

Published by January 23, 2012

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

January 13, 2012

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The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for unrest in Tunisia. The security situation in most tourist and business centers remains calm. However, spontaneous and unpredictable events, such as work stoppages and demonstrations still occur, a state of emergency remains in force, and curfews can be re-established on short notice. The U.S. Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizens currently in Tunisia to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. Travelers contemplating trips to the interior of the country should assess local conditions and routes when making travel plans, as conditions can quickly change. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert for Tunisia dated October 5, 2011, to update information on the security situation and travel within Tunisia, and expires on April 12, 2012.

Tunisia has experienced unprecedented social and political change following the ouster of former President Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. General elections, which were peaceful and transparent, took place on October 23, 2011 and a new government assumed office on December 23. However, political protests, work stoppages, roadblocks and other public disturbances still occur. Demonstrations have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. While demonstrations have not been directed toward foreigners, U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.

Tunisian security forces have noted the increased availability of small arms and other weapons in Tunisia throughout 2011. There have been occasional clashes between armed groups, resulting in casualties and the declaration of temporary curfews. In a September 21 incident, Tunisian military aircraft exchanged fire with a convoy of unidentified armed vehicles crossing the desert south of Douz, in the Governorate of Kebili. The incident underscored the need for U.S. citizens to carefully consider all travel in the interior and to avoid travel in remote regions in the south of Tunisia.

Following a November 30 shooting incident at the Ras Jedir border crossing with Libya, the Tunisian government temporarily closed the border; it reopened December 22. Nevertheless, because of the security situation in Libya, the Ras Jedir and Dehiba border crossings may be closed from time to time. Travelers should consult with local authorities before travelling to the border between Libya and Tunisia and read the Travel Warning for Libya.

Government security forces, including the police, army, and National Guard, are visibly present throughout Tunisia. Travelers should heed directions given by uniformed security officials, and should always carry a copy of their passport as proof of nationality and identity. Security personnel, including plainclothes officials, may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. It is against Tunisian law to photograph government offices and other sensitive facilities. Suspicious incidents or problems should be reported immediately to Tunisian authorities and to the U.S. Embassy.

The Embassy is located in the Les Berges du Lac suburb of Tunis. The Embassy telephone number is 216 71 107 000 and the Embassy fax number is 216 71 963 263. The Consular section can also be contacted by email at ConsularTunis@state.gov.

U.S. citizens in Tunisia are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

Updated information on travel and security in Tunisia may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or via regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. Stay up to date by bookmarking ourBureau of Consular Affairs website, found at travel.state.gov, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook. You can also download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.