Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Tunisia?
Tunisia is an easy country to drive in - until you decide to drive into the desert. Many people think that it's easy but you'll need a 4 x 4 as well as taking plenty of water and extra fuel with you.
The only congested city is Tunis whereas all other Tunisian cities are relatively clear out of peak times.
Seat Belt Laws
It’s mandatory for all occupants of a vehicle to wear seat belts when it’s moving.
Drinking and Driving
There is zero tolerance of alcohol in the blood of a driver in Tunisia with it being a strict Muslim country. If you are caught with alcohol in your bloodstream, the penalties are severe and can include a jail term and possible deportation afterwards.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have both parts of your driving licence; paper and card, and proof that your car is insured, usually by way of your certificate of motor insurance. You’ll also need your proof of ownership documents. International Driving Permits are useful but not obligatory.
The speed limits for Tunisia are as follows:
Motorways: 110 km/h
Open roads: 90 km/h
In Town: 50 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You must be 18 to be able to drive in Tunisia if driving a locally registered car or your own car. Renting a car is not usually possible until you are 21, 23 or 25 depending on the car hire company. Check when booking as you may have to pay a small daily premium if you are under 25 and have less than a year’s experience.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
It’s not illegal to use a speed trap detection device in Tunisia but we would recommend, given the driving conditions, that you put it away and stick to the limit for your own safety and that of other road users.
On the Spot Fines
If you are stopped by the police in Tunisia they should give you a ticket detailing the offence, the fine and where to pay it. You may be asked to pay there and then but this is illegal. Politely ask for the ticket or, if you have to hand over cash, ask for a receipt.
Child Safety Rules
In Tunisia, no child under twelve is meant to travel in the front seat but this is regularly flouted. Children under 7 years old should have an appropriate child seat fitted in the rear of the vehicle. If you are renting a car, tell us your requirements before you travel and we’ll ensure that the correct system is fitted.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Tunisia and you'll need to be able to prove you have it with your insurance certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• Traffic approaching from the right always has right of way unless otherwise indicated.
• If travelling into the desert, take extra fuel and water and tell someone where you are going and your expected time of return.
• Avoid travel at night for animals wander the roads and many vehicles and bikes have no lights
Ensure that the vehicle being towed is securely attached and that you have good visibility all round.
Fixed speed cameras are a novelty in Tunisia so you may not encounter one at all. Mobile speed traps are much more common and if caught by one, you’ll be given a ticket indicating a fine based on how far over the limit you were travelling.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Using a phone without a hands free kit whilst driving in Tunisia is illegal despite many drivers still doing so.
Parking can leave your car open to attacks by thieves so never leave valuables in your car. Despite there being plenty of places to park for free, it’s often safer to use a parking lot or garage, especially an attended one.
Paid parking can be on wasteland or in parking garages. The cost of parking is low across the country so it’s worth paying just to stay safe.
Enforcement of parking is done by the police and if you are parked in a dangerous place or obstructing, you may well get towed away.
Tunisia doesn’t recognise the European disability scheme but it’s worth having your badge on you as it may help you obtain a more convenient parking place if you can prove your need.
Motor Way Signs
The main signs are blue with white writing. Exit signs are in white with black writing.
Hello/Welcome - Marhuba
Goodbye - Ma’assalaama
Thank you - Shukran
Yes - Na’am
No - La’
Sorry - Muta’assif
Do you speak English? - Tatakullum ingleezi?
I don’t understand - Ana maa afham
How much is that? - Bekam?
Where’s the nearest doctor? - Wayn aghrab tabeeb
In Tunisia, traffic light sequences follow the guidelines of the Vienna Convention and so should be familiar to European drivers. It’s illegal to turn right on a red light.
There are several toll roads in Tunisia including the A1, A2, A3 and A4 motorways. The tolls are inexpensive and worthwhile for being able to drive long distances on decent roads. You must pay in cash so have change handy in the car.
The phone number for emergency services in Tunisia is 197.
What to do in an emergency
If you encounter a problem with your hire car, call the number given to you by the local agent. If driving your own car, find out from your breakdown assistance company at home if they have a local partner and use them.
If you are involved in an accident, call the police immediately and await their arrival. If they want to detain you, ask them to contact your embassy for assistance for you. Whilst waiting for the police to arrive, photograph the scene and take details from witnesses. Don’t get involved in arguments with other drivers.
As of August 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Tunisia is 54p whilst diesel is 48p. Prices can vary between the coastal resorts, rural towns and the main cities.