Important facts and information for business and leisure travellers to Tunisia

Visas

Western European, Canadian, Japanese and US visitors are permitted to stay in the country for a maximum period of three months without requiring a visa. It is recommended to check visa requirements before departure. Generally, nationalities requiring a visa can obtain them through a Tunisian embassy, or purchase them at the airport upon arrival.

Language

Modern Standard Arabic is the official language and is used in government and the education system. However, everyday discussions take place in the Tunisian dialect, which borrows from French, Spanish and Italian. French is also spoken by the vast majority of Tunisians, making the country unofficially bilingual. Today, English is also making inroads in the business community, but is still far from commonly spoken.

Etiquette

Tunisian customs are very similar to those in Europe or in the US. A handshake is standard practice in business environments; however, it may happen that a woman does not offer a handshake, in which case the man should not extend his hand. Similarly, while close friends and relatives often greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks, some women may choose not to accept kisses from men. Overall, it is important to recognise that the level of conservatism can vary significantly across the country with regards to attitude and dress, and there are notable differences between the urban centre of Tunis and more rural areas.

Business Hours

A typical work week will run from Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 5.00pm. However, during Ramadan and the summer months from June to August, the working hours are from 7.30am to 1.30pm. This special working regime is commonly called séance unique. During Ramadan, most shops and restaurants will be closed during the day, but will be open after sundown until the early hours of the morning.

Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory in local cafés, restaurants or taxis, but many Tunisians will leave some of their loose change when paying a bill. A 10% tip is enough in restaurants that cater more to tourists.

Health

There are no preventative health measures that need to be taken prior to a visit to Tunisia. In the country you will find many public hospitals that perform basic services, and visitors looking for top-quality care can find private clinics, which are known for their competitive price compared to Western clinics. There are also many pharmacies found within cities.

Dress

While dress code varies across the country, it could be classified as slightly more conservative than in Europe, and generally more liberal than in most other Arab countries. In Tunis and the majority of other urban areas, Western-style clothing is common, while in rural areas traditional clothing is still widespread. However, since the 2011 revolution, an increasing number of women wear headscarves, even in big cities.

Currency

The local currency is the Tunisian dinar. One dinar consists of 1000 millimes. As of April 2018 the exchange rate was €1:TD2.98. There is a strong preference for the use of cash in daily transactions, and ATMs are readily available throughout the country. Most large retail chains and restaurants will also accept payment using major credit cards.

Telephone

Tunisia’s international country calling code is +216, with regional city codes of 71 for Tunis, 73 for Sousse and 74 for Sfax. The three mobile phone providers are state-owned Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo and Orange Tunisie. 4G networks work well in the major cities and 3G networks are widespread. An ID or passport is required to purchase a SIM card, which can then be topped up electronically or with scratch cards at very reasonable rates. Mobile phones are preferred by most, as the installation process for a fixed line can be quite lengthy. Public pay phones are also available and can be recognised by their blue sign.

Internet & Electricity

All major hotels are equipped with internet access and most business hotels provide high-speed, fibre-optic connections. Many restaurants and cafés also offer wireless internet. Tunisian sockets are continental European, two-pin plugs.

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