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Tunisia travel guide

About Tunisia

From broad sweeps of beach overlooked by a tumble of sugar-cube houses, to grand ancient ruins and the vast, rolling dunes of the Sahara, Tunisia encapsulates everything that’s enticing about North Africa.

Lose yourself in the maze of medina alleyways inTunis, explore the Maghreban mosques of Kairouan and stand on the shimmering salt flats of Chott El Jerid. Tuck into freshly baked brik at a bustling street market, pretend to be a Roman gladiator at El Jem’s impressive amphitheatre and hoist yourself onto a camel for a trip into the desert.

Traditionally, sun-seeking tourists came to Tunisia for its beaches – lining the Mediterranean, the long, rambling coastline is impressive. There are also tiny coastal villages where fishermen haul in the day’s catch on quiet beaches and cobblestone streets are lined with blooming bougainvillea.

But Tunisia is so much more than a seaside destination where visitors lounge on the sands all day long. Join the locals at a café after the last notes of the call to prayer have faded, or puff on apple-scented shisha as you watch old men play dominos. Alternatively, get scrubbed and steamed on a marble slab under the tiled domes of a hammam. Or haggle in the souks, sipping glasses of mint tea while you barter for the best price. Suffice to say the age-old traditions of Tunisian life are still alive and well.

Regarded as one of North Africa’s most politically moderate countries, Tunisia balances traditional Islamic culture with modern influences. Beyond the ancient medina, the cities are full of restaurants, cafes and bars, many of which have a European air about them.

Though tourism took a hit in recent years after a number of suicide attacks on tourists and the authority. The Tunisian government is working to improve security in major cities and tourist resorts.

Key facts

Area:

163,610 sq km (63,170 sq miles).

Population:

11,375,220 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

67.4 per sq km.

Capital:

Tunis.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Kaïs Saïed since 2019.

Head of government:

Prime minister Hichem Mechichi since September 2020.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tunisia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Travellers from all countries into Tunisia must take a PCR test less than 72 hours before travel and carry dated evidence of a negative result. You are also required to self-isolate for seven days on arrival in Tunisia.

From 1 June, you are exempt from these requirements if you can present official evidence that you have tested positive for coronavirus at least six weeks before your departure date, or received all doses of your coronavirus vaccination.

See Entry requirements for full details.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Tunisia.

Travel in Tunisia

National curfew hours are from 10pm to 5am. During the curfew you are only allowed to leave your residence in an emergency.

  • Cafes and restaurants are operating at reduced capacity
  • Movement between cities is permitted outside of curfew hours, except to areas where there is a high risk of infection, to be determined by the health authorities as the situation evolves

All modes of public transport (taxis, buses, trains and others) are permitted to operate within these rules. You should follow the advice of local authorities.

The Tunisian authorities have announced that wearing a face mask in public places is mandatory. Failure to wear a mask may result in a fine or imprisonment.

Additional curfews and lockdowns can be imposed at short notice in response to events. You should follow the guidance of local authorities when travelling around the country.

Accommodation

Hotels and private rentals are available to book, although hotels are required to operate at a reduced capacity.

Hygiene measures are in place, including luggage disinfection on arrival, temperature checks on entry and hand sanitiser in public spaces. You must wear face masks on the transport to your accommodation. Self-service restaurants are not allowed to operate as normal, food must be served to guests while they are seated.

Public places and services

Rules vary by governorate and are subject to change. Lockdowns and curfews can be imposed at short notice. You should regularly check the guidance of local authorities.

Cafes and restaurants are allowed to operate at reduced capacity. Public places have hygiene measures in place, including obligatory face masks, taking a temperature check and sanitising hands upon entry.

Healthcare in Tunisia

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Tunisia.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call a doctor or lab. They will ask a series of questions to assess whether it is likely that you have COVID-19. If COVID-19 is suspected, then they may arrange for someone to come to your home or hotel to conduct a test and they will advise you to self-isolate. You can pay for a test, if required for travel purposes, at the Institut Pasteur.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Tunisia

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. The Tunisian government has announced that foreign nationals resident in Tunisia can register for a COVID-19 vaccine on the government’s EVAX website.

As further information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated. Sign up to get email notifications.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.

British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organisation COVID-19 vaccines page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

No testing is available at the airport or sea ports. Passengers travelling from Tunisia, who require a test for the country they are travelling to, should arrange a private test.

You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. A test can be organised on the Ministry of Health webpage (available in French only).

There have been some reports of travellers from Tunisia being denied entry to a third country, on suspicion of carrying fake PCR test results. This may affect you if you are transiting in one country before onward travel to the UK.

For verification, travellers are advised to carry the original copy of their negative PCR test result, and ensure this has been signed and stamped by the laboratory, before travelling. A QR code on digital test results, if provided by the laboratory, can also be presented to verify the result. This applies above all for travel from Tunisia to France.

Further information

(In Arabic) Facebook.com/pg/santetunisie.rns.tn/posts/

(In French) https://www.facebook.com/covid19tunisia/ https://www.facebook.com/ONMNE/ https://covid-19.tn/fr/accueil-2/ http://www.santetunisie.rns.tn/fr/ http://onmne.tn/fr/

Political situation

President Saied was appointed after presidential elections in October 2019. A new government formed by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi was sworn in on 2 September. Demonstrations sparked by economic, political or religious tensions often occur and most protests are peaceful. In January 2021 there were a number of violent riots in cities across the country, including Tunis, Sousse and Bizerte, resulting in looting and vandalism. More protests causing localised disruption are likely and may occur in other areas with little or no warning.

You should keep up to date with developments, avoid all protests and places where large crowds gather and follow instructions given by the security authorities, your hotel and your tour operator, if you have one.

Local travel

You should check the latest guidance of local authorities before moving around the country.

See Coronavirus for information on current restrictions on movement.

Border areas

There is a heightened Tunisian security presence at the borders with Libya and Algeria due to cross border terrorist activity and fighting in Libya. Border crossings are sometimes closed temporarily without notice. Some violent incidents have occurred.

See FCDO travel advice for Libya and Algeria.

Chaambi Mountains

The FCDO advise against all travel to the Chaambi Mountains National Park area, as well as Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma, and Mount Mghila (all designated military operations zones). The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to all other areas within 10km of Mount Mghila.

Tunisian security forces continue to conduct operations. Security personnel have been killed and severely wounded in attacks and by booby-trap explosives in these areas.

Crime

Incidents of mugging, pick pocketing, bag-snatching and petty theft occur. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Where possible, avoid carrying all your important documents, money and other valuables in the same bag. You should remain alert to potential confidence tricks.

Personal attacks are rare but they do occur. Harassment of foreign women, including uninvited physical contact, can sometimes occur. Women should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK and take care when walking or travelling alone.

Road travel

You can drive in Tunisia with a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year. You will need to have a 1968 IDP to drive in Tunisia. 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted in Tunisia. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

If you’re living in Tunisia, it may be possible to drive on a UK licence for up to one year, providing that you meet a number of conditions and submit an application to the Tunisian Ministry of Transport. Please check the conditions and application process with the Tunisian Ministry of Transport. For any longer periods, you will need to apply for a Tunisian driving licence.

Driving standards can be erratic. There is very little lane discipline and often confusion about the right of way, especially at roundabouts. There are few pedestrian crossings and traffic lights are sometimes ignored. Take care when driving in towns as pedestrians tend to walk on the roads and have the right of way. Take particular care when crossing roads on foot, even where there is a signal allowing you to do so.

Roads are generally of a reasonable standard although large potholes can appear quickly following heavy rain.

You may come across military or police security checks. If you do, approach slowly, don’t cross boundaries without permission and be prepared to present photo ID if asked.

Demonstrations can occasionally affect road travel.

Rail travel

Rail travel is generally safe, although safety standards tend to be lower than those in the UK. There is a risk of petty crime on trains.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia and there have been a number of attacks in recent years.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

A nationwide state of emergency, first imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus on 24 November 2015, remains in place. Follow the advice of local security officials, including in and around religious sites.

Crowded areas, government installations, transportation networks, businesses with Western interests, and areas where foreign nationals and tourists are known to gather may be at higher risk of attack. You should follow any specific advice of the local security authorities. In more remote areas of the country, including tourist sites in southern Tunisia, security forces’ response times to an incident may vary.

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation interests. Additional security measures have been in place on flights departing from Tunisia to the UK since March 2017. You should co-operate fully with security officials.

The main terrorist threat is from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Libya-based extremists with links to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). Despite some improvements in border security, Tunisia has a porous border with Libya, where there is a continuing conflict, an absence of security, and where Islamist terrorist groups operate. Tunisian security forces have repeatedly been targeted in terrorist-related incidents, mainly in border areas including in the Chaambi Mountains.

Recent incidents include:

  • on 6 September 2020, two officers of Tunisia’s National Guard were attacked by three assailants in Sousse. Security forces later killed all three attackers.
  • on 6 March 2020, a suicide bombing targeting a police patrol near the US Embassy in Tunis killed one police officer and injured four more, as well as a civilian.
  • on 14 October 2019, a French national was stabbed to death in Zarzouna, northern Tunisia, by an individual who then attacked a Tunisian soldier.
  • on 27 June 2019, there were 2 suicide bombings targeting security personnel in central Tunis; 3 people, including the perpetrators, were killed.
  • on 29 October 2018, 15 security personnel and 5 civilians were injured in a bombing on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in central Tunis
  • on 8 July 2018, militants attacked security forces near Ghardimaou, close to the Algerian border. A number of Tunisian National Guard officers were killed. This follows separate media reports in early July 2018 of Tunisian security forces disrupting a terrorist group in Hammamet
  • on 26 June 2015, 38 foreign tourists were killed, including 30 British nationals, in a terrorist attack at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse
  • on 18 March 2015, 21 tourists were killed, including a British national, in a terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum in the centre of Tunis

The Tunisian authorities regularly report that they have disrupted planned attacks and terrorist cells and made arrests. The Tunisian authorities have improved security in tourist resorts and their ability to respond to a terrorist incident. Tunisian security forces have also improved and are better prepared to tackle terrorist threats than they were at the time of the 2015 attacks. But further attacks remain likely, including in places visited by foreigners such as tourist resorts. Attacks may be carried out by individuals unknown to the authorities, whose actions may be inspired by terrorist groups.

There remains a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant. Find out more about terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Kidnap

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya, Mauritania and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Local laws reflect the fact that Tunisia is an Islamic country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

In the coastal holiday resorts the dress code is very much like any European city or tourist area, although topless sunbathing on beaches may cause offence. If you are visiting religious sites or more remote areas of Tunisia, you should dress more modestly.

Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious criminal offences. The possession of even a small amount of ‘soft’ drugs could result in a prison term.

You should get permission from Customs authorities before removing antiquities from Tunisia. Failure to get permission could result in lengthy delays on departure, a fine and/or imprisonment.

Carry a form of photo ID at all times (for example a copy of your passport) and be prepared to show this to uniformed security officials if asked to do so.

British nationals wishing to buy property in Tunisia have often been advised to do so through a Tunisian ‘friend’ on the basis that it is illegal for foreign nationals to purchase property in Tunisia. If you are considering purchasing property in Tunisia, you should consult a local lawyer who will be best placed to offer advice. Don’t make private arrangements, which may be illegal and could result in large financial loss.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tunisia. See our information and advice page for the LGBT+ community before you travel.

Avoid taking any photographs near sensitive political or military sites.

We strongly advise against bringing drones to Tunisia. Ownership of drones is licensed and gaining a licence is a lengthy process. As such any drones brought to Tunisia without prior permission will be confiscated by the Tunisian authorities on arrival in the country and stored until the owner’s departure.

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The Tunisian authorities are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you should contact the Tunisian Embassy in London.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Tunisia

Travellers from all countries into Tunisia must take a PCR test less than 72 hours before travel and carry dated evidence of a negative result. You are also required to self-isolate for seven days on arrival in Tunisia. You should isolate at home for 7 days and pay to take a second COVID-19 PCR test, and receive a second negative result, in order to leave isolation. You need to arrive in Tunisia with evidence of a booking for this second COVID-19 PCR test (to be taken from day 5 of your isolation period). You can organise this online. You are advised to confirm your appointment directly with the clinic.

From 1 June, you are exempt from these requirements if you can present official evidence that you have tested positive for coronavirus at least six weeks before your departure date, or received all doses of your coronavirus vaccination. This evidence should be from the relevant health authorities or contain a QR code, (see ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status’).

Travellers entering Tunisia by land across the Libyan border need a negative PCR test but are not currently obliged to self-isolate on arrival. If you are travelling from Libya to Tunisia by air, you will be subject to the same rules as all other travellers.

Official delegations on professional missions of less than 5 days are exempt from the self-isolation requirement but still need to present a dated negative PCR test on arrival.

The Tunisian government has also announced that travellers arriving in Tunisia as part of a tour or package holiday will not need to self-isolate on arrival, if they adhere to the following measures:

  • Take a PCR test less than 72 hours before travel and show evidence of the negative test result, with the date of the test clearly labelled, at your point of departure for Tunisia.
  • Present booking confirmation for a holiday organised by a tour operator.
  • Remain in a bubble with the tour group for the duration of your trip, including accommodation and all travel.
  • Complete this Tunisian government short online questionnaire before travelling.

Testing on arrival

Travellers from all countries need to provide evidence of having taken a coronavirus PCR test that is negative less than 72 hours before your travel to Tunisia. You should arrange to take a test and ensure the certificate is dated.

From 1 June, you are exempt from this requirement if you have tested positive for coronavirus at least six weeks ago, or have official evidence of having received all doses of your coronavirus vaccine, (see ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status’).

See Entry to Tunisia for full entry requirements.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status

If you live in England, Tunisia will accept the NHS app or your NHS letter to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Data collection

You must complete this Tunisian government short online questionnaire before travelling.

You must download and use the Tunisian government’s ‘track and trace’ application on your mobile phone.

You will also need to enter personal details when booking any PCR test through this website. Evidence of an appointment booking is required for entry, unless you are exempt for reasons listed above (‘Entry Requirements’).

On arrival in Tunisia, you must also share your contact details and travel information with authorities.

Testing on departure

No testing is available at the airport or sea ports. Passengers travelling from Tunisia, who require a test for the country they are travelling to, should arrange a private test.

There have been some reports of travellers from Tunisia being denied entry to a third country, on suspicion of carrying fake PCR test results. This may affect you if you are transiting in one country before onward travel to the UK.

For verification, travellers are advised to carry the original copy of their negative PCR test result, and ensure this has been signed and stamped by the laboratory, before travelling. A QR code on digital test results, if provided by the laboratory, can also be presented to verify the result. This applies above all for travel through France.

Transiting Tunisia

A small number of transit flights are operating through Tunisia. If you are transiting through Tunisia, you must comply with sanitary measures and temperature checks.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British passport holders don’t need a visa for visits of up to three months. On arrival, security checks are sometimes carried out on British passport holders who were not born in the UK. This can take a few hours and you will need to be patient until clearance is given. These types of checks rarely take place on departure.

Overstay fines

If you stay in Tunisia for longer than the authorised period, you will have to pay a fine. This rule may not apply if you are vulnerable and current circumstances oblige you to remain in the country.

Passport validity

For stays of up to 3 months your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

Tunisian authorities accept UK ETDs for entry to and exit from Tunisia. If you’re leaving Tunisia on an ETD, make sure you have a copy of the police report about the loss/theft of your full validity passport to present to the Immigration Officer.

Dual nationals

Dual British-Tunisian nationals should enter and leave Tunisia on their Tunisian passports.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tunisia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Tunisia.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you should contact the Tunisian embassy.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

There’s no provision for free medical attention for foreign nationals. All doctors’ fees, medication and hospitalisation in private clinics have to be paid for on the spot. These costs can be quite high. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you’re bringing prescription medicines, carry a note from your GP confirming that the medication has been prescribed for an existing condition. If you have any specific concerns about taking certain types of medication with you to Tunisia, contact the Tunisian Embassy in London.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 190 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

ATMs are widely available though they don’t always work. Almost all ATMs will accept Visa cards, and many (including Bank of Tunisia and BIAT) will also accept Maestro cards for cash withdrawals.

UK issued credit and debit cards are accepted in some but not all of the larger shops, restaurants and hotels. In places that do take cards, there can be problems authorising Mastercard purchases. Travellers Cheques are accepted in some hotels but not others.

It is strictly prohibited to take Tunisian dinars out of the country. To exchange any Tunisian dinars left over at the end of your stay into Sterling or other hard currency you will need to show the receipt from the bank where you first withdrew the dinars. Please note that receipts from cash machines are not accepted.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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