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Tunisia Business Travel

Tunisia commercial guide, trade Regulations, standards and customs information.

Tunisia Business Travel

Postby bridgat » Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:12 am



Tunisia is an open society that prides itself in being a bridge between the European and Arab worlds. Although the official language is Arabic, French is widely spoken and serves as the common business language. Many Tunisians also speak English, and some Italian and German. The Tunisian government has begun to place a greater emphasis on teaching English-language skills in the public schools and at a younger age, and the use of English is becoming more widespread.


American business travelers do not need a visa if they plan on staying in Tunisia less than four months. Stays longer than four months require a visa. Residency and work permits are available from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Social Affairs, respectively. Applications for residency permits can now be made through the regional police headquarters (Directions Régionales de la Sécurité Nationale) instead of local police stations. The Tunisian government instituted this change in response to complaints that the application and renewal procedures for residency permits were labor-intensive and time-consuming (sometimes taking up to eight months). The government also introduced an office in the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation to expedite this process for foreign investors. By law, these permits are valid for only one year, renewable for only one additional year upon application. In practice, this limitation is rarely enforced and expatriate residents routinely stay in Tunisia beyond the two-year maximum, renewing their permits annually.


Major Tunisian secular holidays are as follows:

Tunisian Independence Day - March 20
Tunisian Youth Day - March 21
Martyr's Day - April 9
Labor Day - May 1
Republic Day - July 25
Women's Day - August 13
Anniversary of change of government - November 7

The following religious holidays are also observed. Actual dates are based on the lunar calendar and vary from year to year:

Aid Esseghir (El-Fitr)
Aid El Kebir (El-Idha)
Ras El Am El Hijri


Tunisia's physical business infrastructure is improving. The main container port at Rades/Tunis handles most incoming and outgoing sea-freight traffic. Sfax, Tunisia's second largest city and a large commercial center, can also handle a limited amount of container traffic. The road network is fairly well developed, with major highways constructed or in the planning stages between major coastal population centers. Municipal power and water are generally reliable. Access to high quality telecommunications services, particularly high-speed / high-capacity data transmission and the Internet is becoming more widely available. International calling cards are not operational in Tunisia. The government has licensed five private companies to provide Internet access although these ISPs can only access the Internet via the state Internet agency. The government's policies in this area reflect an ongoing effort to balance its political and security concerns with the growing demand for Internet access and other new information technologies.

Expatriate housing is very comfortable, although prices have been rising. Houses in the Tunis neighborhoods of Mutuelleville, Notre Dame, Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, La Soukra, La Marsa, and Gammarth are comparable to or better than many suburban U.S. communities. Medical and dental services are adequate in the major cities. Tunis has several large, well-equipped private clinics. A project to establish an offshore clinic catering to the expatriate community is underway. Except for specialized care, most illnesses can be treated locally. Food standards are fair and the water in the coastal area is potable. For those who prefer bottled water, it is inexpensive and easily available. Expatriates generally equate the overall cost-of-living with that of major cities in the U.S.

Temporary entry of goods such as laptop computers and other personal business items brought by the visitor as luggage is allowed; such items are routinely checked through the customs control posts at airports. However, publicity and exhibit materials shipped into the country require customs clearance by the receiving party in Tunisia. Provision should be made in advance to avoid customs difficulties. U.S. business travelers are encouraged to consult the "Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts: Guide for Business Representatives" available for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; Tel (202) 512-1800; Fax (202) 512-2250. This information is also available for free on the Department of State's home page Business travelers to Tunisia seeking appointments with U.S. Embassy Tunis should contact the Commercial Section in advance. The commercial section can be reached by telephone at (+216) 71-107-000 or fax at (+216) 71-962-115.
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