Egypt Travel Information
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Egypt is a republic with a developing economy. It has extensive facilities for tourists. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Egypt for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Travelers can obtain a renewable thirty-day tourist visa on arrival at an Egyptian airport for a $15 fee, payable in U.S. dollars. Visitors arriving overland and/or those previously experiencing difficulty with their visa status in Egypt should obtain a visa prior to arrival. Travelers arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing are advised to obtain a visa prior to their arrival, otherwise they are granted either a no-fee, fourteen-day visa valid for travel within Sinai only, or they may buy a thirty-day tourist visa for $15 upon submission of a travel agency support letter. The letters are obtainable from travel agents at the border, however, their fees for providing this service vary. Military personnel arriving on commercial flights are not exempt from passport and visa requirements. Foreigners can acquire a work permit from the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration offices in the district of the employer, and accordingly are authorized residency in the country. Work permits must be obtained through the employer. Foreigners are generally not allowed to change residency status from non-working to working status while in the country. Proof of yellow fever immunization is required if arriving from an infected area. Evidence of an AIDS test is required for everyone staying over thirty days, for the purpose of studying or working in Egypt. Visit the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site at http://www.mfa.gov.eg for the most current visa information.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Egypt suffered a series of deadly terrorist attacks in or near tourist sites in 2004, 2005, and 2006 – often coinciding with major local holidays. Prior to the October 2004 attack, there had been no terrorist incidents involving tourists in Egypt since the mid 1990s. Americans should be especially vigilant in crowded tourist areas in the Sinai, practice good personal security measures, and be alert to their surroundings. A heavy security presence is apparent to travelers throughout the country. Americans are encouraged to visit the U.S. Embassy in Cairo web site at http://cairo.usembassy.gov/ for the most up-to-date security information.
Since October 2004, three major, coordinated terrorist bombings targeting the Sinai Peninsula's tourist infrastructure caused many deaths and hundreds of injuries, mostly to Egyptian nationals. U.S. citizens do not appear to have been targeted in any of these incidents, but many non-Egyptian tourists, including Americans, were killed or injured in these attacks.
Three explosions in the town of Dahab in April 2006 killed over 20 people and wounded at least 80 additional people, including five U.S. citizens. In July 2005, three explosions in Sharm el Sheikh killed over 60 people, including one American. In October 2004, three bombs detonated in Taba and two nearby tourist camps, killing 34 people, including one American. Evidence of instability in the Sinai has also been reflected in random attacks on vehicles transiting the interior and two bomb attacks on Multinational Force Observers near the Rafah border crossing in August 2005 and April 2006.
While the Egyptian Government took measures against the perpetrators of the 2004 and 2005 attacks, the April 2006 bombings reflect a persistent, indigenous threat of terror activities in the Sinai.
Travelers seeking to cross the Egyptian-Gaza border at Rafah are likely to encounter difficulty. The border is frequently closed and re-openings are announced on short notice. Travelers wishing to cross this border should contact the American Consulate General in Jerusalem for more information on the current status of the border crossing. Travelers should also refer to the Israel, West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning before traveling to Gaza.
U.S. citizens who still plan to visit the Sinai in spite of the persistent threat of terrorist attacks should exercise great caution. Travelers are reminded to remain alert to their surroundings, to avoid crowded tourist areas, and to use caution when visiting destination resorts and hotels without significant physical setback and security procedures.
In addition to the Sinai attacks, there were three terror attacks on crowded tourist destinations in Cairo in April 2005. In one, a lone suicide bomber killed three foreigners, including an American, at Cairo's Khan el-Khalili Market. Three Americans were seriously injured in this incident.
There have been instances of instability and public disorder in some other areas of Egypt, most notably in the Nile Valley governorates of Assiut and Sohag, located between Cairo and Luxor. These governorates, along with the adjacent governorates of Minya and Qena, have been areas of extremist activity in the past. U.S. Embassy personnel traveling to these areas (apart from Luxor and adjacent tourist destinations) require advance approval. Egyptian authorities also restrict the travel of foreigners in these governorates. American citizens planning to travel in these areas should contact the Embassy prior to travel.
Public demonstrations occasionally take place in areas such as Tahrir Square in Cairo and in the vicinity of universities and mosques following the Friday noon prayers, including the Azhar mosque across from the Khan El Khalili Bazaar area. These demonstrations are typically accompanied by a heavy security presence. Roads in the vicinity are often closed. Americans should remain attuned to readily-available English-language media outlets and avoid all public demonstrations.
Travelers to Egypt's frontiers, including the borders with Libya, Sudan, and Israel and parts of the Sinai off the main, paved roads, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo.
In addition, travelers should be aware that landmines have caused many casualties, including deaths of Americans, in Egypt. All travelers should check with local authorities before embarking on off-road travel. Known minefields are not reliably marked by signs, but are sometimes enclosed by barbed wire. After heavy rains, which can cause flooding and the consequent shifting of landmines, travelers should take care driving through build-ups of sand on roadways. Though mines are found in other parts of Egypt, the highest concentrations are in World War II battlefields along the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, the Eastern Desert between Cairo and the Suez Canal, and much of the Sinai Peninsula. Travelers are urged to be especially prudent in these areas.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found. Consular information is also available via the Internet on the U.S. Embassy Cairo's web site at http://cairo.usembassy.gov/.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: The crime rate in Egypt is low. While incidents of violence are rare, purse-snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft does occur. Travelers are strongly cautioned not to leave valuables such as cash, jewelry, and electronic items unsecured in hotel rooms or unattended in public places. Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
Many marriages between Egyptians and Americans are successful. However, the Embassy warns against marriage fraud on the part of the American or the Egyptian. Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is against U.S. law and can result in serious penalties, including fines and imprisonment for the American citizen and the Egyptian. At the same time, it is not uncommon for Egyptians to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation. The U.S. government urges Americans who meet Egyptians on the Internet or while touring the country, to take the time necessary to get to know them before considering marriage. Unfortunately, the Embassy sees many cases of abuse against American spouses and often the marriages end in divorce when the Egyptian acquires a green card or citizenship in the U.S. These cases invariably occur when the relationship is based mostly on Internet communication and very little face-to-face interaction.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. The Embassy consular staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Consular officials can assist you to identify appropriate resources. See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: There are many Western-trained medical professionals in Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo can provide a list of local hospitals and English-speaking physicians. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in tourist areas. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited. Facilities outside Cairo, Alexandria, and Sharm El Sheikh fall short of U.S. standards. Most Nile cruise boats do not have a ship's doctor, but some employ a medical practitioner of uncertain qualification. Hospital facilities in Luxor and Aswan are inadequate, and they are nonexistent at most other ports-of-call.
Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are generally unpolluted. Persons who swim in the Nile or its canals, walk barefoot in stagnant water, or drink untreated water are at risk of exposure to bacterial and other infections and the parasitic disease schistosomiasis (bilharzia).
It is generally safe to eat properly-prepared, thoroughly-cooked meat and vegetables in tourist hotels, on Nile cruise boats, and in tourist restaurants. Eating uncooked vegetables should be avoided. Tap water is not potable. It is best to drink bottled water or water that has been boiled and filtered. Well-known brands of bottled beverages are generally considered to be safe.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.
AVIAN INFLUENZA: The WHO and Egyptian authorities have confirmed human cases of the H5NI strain of avian influenza, commonly known as the "bird flu," in Egypt. As of March 2006, Egypt had thirty-four confirmed human cases of avian influenza, resulting in fourteen deaths. Travelers to Egypt and other countries affected by the virus are cautioned to avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. In addition, the CDC and WHO recommend eating only fully-cooked poultry and eggs. For the most current information and links on avian influenza see the State Department's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet and visit the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at http://cairo.usembassy.gov.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Egypt is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Egypt, a country with one of the highest incidence of road fatalities per miles driven in the world, is a challenge. Even seasoned residents of Cairo must use extraordinary care and situational awareness to navigate the hectic streets of the capital. Traffic rules appear to be routinely ignored by impatient drivers. Any visiting Americans thinking about driving in Cairo should carefully consider their options, take the utmost precautions, and drive defensively. Drivers should be prepared for unlit vehicles at night; few, if any, road markings; vehicles traveling at high rates of speed; vehicles traveling the wrong way on one-way streets; divided highways and connecting ramps; pedestrians constantly dodging in and out of traffic; and a variety of animals on the roads. Most traffic lights in Cairo appear not to function, but rather intersections are staffed by policemen who use subtle finger movements to indicate which cars may move. Pedestrians should also exercise extreme caution when traversing roadways, especially in high-volume/high-velocity streets like Cairo's Corniche, which follows the east bank of the Nile River. Motorists in Egypt should be especially cautious during the rare winter rains, which can cause extremely slippery road surfaces or localized flooding.
Public mini- and microbuses are not safe; the Embassy strongly recommends that its personnel not use them. In 2006, there were two serious accidents involving international tourist buses on highways outside of Cairo in which a number of foreign tourists were killed. Intercity roads are generally in good condition, but unmarked surfaces, stray animals, and disabled vehicles without lights or reflectors are among the many hazards that can be encountered on highways, especially after dark. Embassy personnel in Egypt are prohibited from traveling outside Cairo on official business after sunset. In addition, some roads, especially in the Sinai and southeastern part of the country, are off-limits to foreigners. Traffic warning signs should be respected.
Trains are usually a safe means of transportation in Egypt. In 2006, there were several accidents involving the collision of third-class passenger trains in the Delta area in which a number of Egyptian nationals were killed or injured.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Egypt's national tourist office and national authority for road safety at www.egypttourism.org.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Egypt's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: There are restrictions on photographing military personnel and sites, bridges, and canals, including the Suez Canal. Egyptian authorities may broadly interpret these restrictions to include other potentially-sensitive structures, such as embassies, other public buildings with international associations, and some religious edifices. Visitors should also refrain from taking photographs of any uniformed personnel.
In addition to being subject to all Egyptian laws, U.S. citizens of Egyptian origin may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Egyptian citizens. The Government of Egypt considers all children born to Egyptian fathers to be Egyptian citizens even if they were not issued an Egyptian birth certificate or a passport. American women married to Egyptians do not need their spouse's permission to depart Egypt as long as they have a valid Egyptian visa. Dual nationals residing in Egypt for more than six months from the date of arrival require proof of Egyptian citizenship, such as a family I.D. card. Male dual nationals staying in Egypt for more than six months from the date of arrival and who have not completed military service are not generally required to enlist in the armed forces. However, they must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of Defense Draft Office before they can leave Egypt. Individuals who may be affected can inquire at an Egyptian consulate abroad before traveling to Egypt. Dual Egyptian-American nationals may enter and leave Egypt on their U.S. passports. Persons with dual nationality who travel to Egypt on their Egyptian passports are normally treated as Egyptian citizens by the local government. The ability to provide U.S. consular assistance to those traveling on Egyptian passports is extremely limited. For additional information, please see our dual nationality flyer.
Services for U.S. Companies: The U.S. Department of Commerce's Officers and Commercial Specialists are available for counseling U.S. business representatives on market-entry opportunities and techniques. They actively support U.S. companies who are bidding on projects, advocate on their behalf and assist in removing trade barriers. For specific questions, please contact American.Products@mail.doc.gov or visit http://www.buyusa.gov/egypt/en/ussvcs.html.
Marriage in Egypt: The Egyptian government allows Americans to marry in Egypt. For further information, please refer to the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at http://egypt.usembassy.gov/consular/acs12.htm.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Egyptian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Egypt are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information, see our Office of Children's Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Egypt are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Egypt. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street, Garden City, Cairo, telephone (20) 2-2797-2301. Walk-in working hours are 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Phone-inquiry hours are between 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The latest Embassy warden message can be heard on (20) 2-2797-3000. For emergencies after-hours, U.S. citizens may reach the Embassy duty officer via (20) 2-2797-3300. The Consular Section American Citizens Services unit fax number is (20) 2-2797-3602.
The mailing address from the United States is: Consular Section, Unit 64900, Box 15, APO AE 09839-4900. Within Egypt or from a third country, it is 8 Kamal el-Din Salah Street, Garden City, Cairo. The Consular Section's e-mail address is email@example.com. Consular information is available via the Internet on the Embassy web site at http://cairo.usembassy.gov. Visa-related inquiries should be directed by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once a month, American Citizens Services are available at the American Center, 3 Pharana Street, Azarita, Alexandria, and every five to ten weeks, American Citizens Services are available at the Cairo American College, Maadi. Please check the Embassy web site for dates and times of available services.
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