Tunisia is a truly delightful destination for a foreigner willing to move for many reasons. May it be the sun, the hospitable people, or the delicious Middle Eastern food alongside the undeniable beauty of nature. The life and culture there have a very appealing sense of multiculturalism, and simultaneously a fair dose of local tradition. For whatever reason one might consider moving there, some of the most common is work, business, learning Arabic or French, as well as for building or joining your family. There is a myriad of considerations why Tunisia might seem tempting to become your new home, but before actually jumping on the plane there are a few formalities to consider. And if you are that far along the process, then getting a residence permit to live there permanently is absolutely necessary.
With this article, you will get a compact dose of information that will help with your understanding of residence permit processes if you decide to go to Tunisia and live there. Besides the actual information about the steps and requirements, I will also give some tips about moving there, as well as some background information on the visa policy in general. So let’s start with the basic notions before we get onto understanding how to get a permanent residence permit in Tunisia!
What is a residence permit?
A residence permit is a document providing a foreigner the right to reside in a particular country for a definite period of time (a temporary residence permit) or permanently (a permanent residence permit). It is not citizenship, but it does grant slightly more rights than a simple visitor visa. Each country has its own policies regarding this, and exploring the details ahead is very smart if you are seriously considering moving somewhere. Even though digital nomadism is becoming more and more popular nowadays, in some countries you will be asked to provide a job, business, or family reason why to grant you a permit to reside exactly there for a longer time than other ordinary tourists. With this, I meant that - a strong and justifiable reason will be necessary to apply for a residency permit, even in the most liberal countries.
Additionally, there are special agreements among various country groups that make the relocation much easier. For example, among the countries of the European Union or among Middle Eastern countries this kind of process is less complicated. But today we are talking about residency permits for Tunisia, so let’s stick to the topic and find out more!
What should I know about the Tunisia visa policy?
At this point, you will ask why you would need to know information about other types of documents that might permit you to stay in Tunisia. But I have logical reasoning behind describing these things here to you. I have no idea how long you are willing to stay in Tunisia, and it might as well happen that the rules of their visa policy will allow you to stay without the unnecessary hassle of applying for a residence permit card. So let’s find out a bit more about the available options and the time frames.
Let’s start with the fact that nationals of about 97 countries can stay in Tunisia without needing a visa for up to 3 consecutive months (90 days to be more precise). Additionally, citizens of Germany and Canada can stay for up to 4 months, but the ones from Bulgaria - only 2. And there are some exceptions for other nationals that might permit traveling just with an ID card and a hotel reservation. So - the first thing to do is understand how long do you wish to stay and if it is more than allowed for the citizens of your nationality on the basis of the standard visa, then read on.
What are the conditions for a residence visa or permit for Tunisia?
As you read above, the standard visa will usually be valid for three months. And if you wish to stay longer then you have two options.
First, as a relative newcomer, you can obtain a temporary or permanent residence permit visa that you will have to renew every 1-2 years (or if you are there for work then as often as your contract is extended). To get it you will need to have a valid reason, such as employment, studying, joining a Tunisian family member, or investment. It is also sometimes called the residence permit card (Carte séjour).
The other option is the actual residence permit and you can get it only in one of the following cases. If you already have lived in Tunisia for at least five uninterrupted years, got married to a Tunisian citizen, or have children who are Tunisian citizens, as well as if you have made a significant contribution (e.g. investment) to Tunisia. But let’s find out a bit more about the process itself.
What are the requirements for a residence permit card in Tunisia?
There is a bunch of requirements to be allowed to stay in Tunisia for permanent reasons. You read about some of them in the previous paragraph. Additionally, you will have to hold some kind of visa (temporary residence visa, or at least a tourist visa) that shows your entry into the country was lawful. The next most important thing is a valid reason for staying longer. And then a bunch of documents to accompany your application.
A printed, filled and signed residence permit application is just one of the basic documents that you will need to provide when applying for a residence permit. You will need a valid passport, a copy of it (the first three pages and the page with the current visa that permits your stay in Tunisia). And also all the documents that justify your necessity for a longer stay. It might be a marriage certificate, work contract stamped by the Ministry of Employment, statement of founding a company from the national commercial register, copies of investment intent documents (or already carried out investment), etc. Basically, be ready to provide all the papers that explicitly display your intended actions and the motivation for this application.
As always, it is not possible to name the exact necessary document list because each residence permit application and case is very different. The best way to find out the conditions and requirements for you individually is to turn to the officials in the closest Tunisian embassy and they will be able to provide very detailed information that applies to nationals of your country with the set of motivations that you do. If not directly, they will be able to assist you in finding the necessary information somewhere else.
How to get permanent residence permit in Tunisia?
This is finally the point where I will tell you more about the residence permit application process in Tunisia. So, let’s say, you have understood that your intentions for traveling to Tunisia will require a bit longer than (standard) 3 months. You fit all the requirements and have prepared all the necessary documents. The residence permit is usually granted by the Directorate General of National Security in the Ministry of the Interior.
If you are aiming for a temporary residence permit then you will obtain a temporary residence VISA from your embassy even before leaving the country or turn to the closest police station to your place of residence in Tunisia. It is where you will fill out the application, submit all the documents, and get the necessary information about the further process.
If you are looking forward to obtaining the permanent residence permit then the procedure will be quite similar with the difference that you will need different documents to prove your eligibility. So, as you see, the procedure itself is not very extraordinary. What you have to keep in mind though, is the fact that the process is quite lengthy and there is quite a lot of bureaucracy involved (a heritage left from the French rule). Be ready to be asked for additional information and documents as the process goes.
What are the fees?
The last, but not the least important bit of information. How much will it cost you to get such a residency permit? Unfortunately, this is not widely available information, and I can not enlighten you with a definite number. Just be ready that you will have to pay some fee, and you will find the amount as you approach the police station officer.
So, that’s it. I have told you a bit more information that will hopefully make your life easier in the planning process before you go to Tunisia for a living. Whatever your initial reasoning for moving is, I am happy that you are doing the work and researching the particular details ahead of time. Knowing your options is definitely a smart move, and that will make the path to your residency in this beautiful country much smoother. You have found out what is a residence permit, the conditions of the residence card, and most importantly - a brief explanation of the process for applying. And now I wish you good luck with your idea (or plan) to move to Tunisia because it comes with some excitement and lots of change!