TRAVEL TIPS FOR EGYPT

(BRITISH TRAVEL ADVICE UPDATE)
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Travel Safety (British Travel Advice Update)

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we cannot 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 is safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we will state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Egypt is predominantly an Islamic country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs. This is especially important during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas, mosques and souqs (markets). Women’s clothes should cover the legs and upper arms. Men should cover their chests. Public displays of affection are frowned upon. What may be acceptable in the tourist resort areas may not be in other areas.

In 2018, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 15 May and finish on 14 June.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can, even for small amounts, lead to lengthy prison sentences (25 years), life imprisonment or the death penalty. Those sentenced to life imprisonment on drugs charges will normally spend the rest of their life in prison with no possibility of parole or pardon. Khat is illegal in Egypt.

Photography of, or near, military official installations is strictly prohibited. This includes the Suez Canal. Do not photograph officials without their consent. There are sensitivities about taking photographs of public buildings or infrastructure. British nationals have been arrested for photographing electricity stations, train stations and bridges if you are in any doubt seek permission before taking photographs. Don’t use radio controlled helicopters or ‘drones’ to take photographs.

The import, production or use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) is banned in Egypt unless you have prior authorisation from the Egyptian Ministry of Defence. Citizens who use, manufacture or import drones without the appropriate authorisation will be punished by prison terms ranging from one to 7 years and/or fines ranging from EGP 5,000 to EGP 50,000.

Although same-sex sexual activity is not explicitly criminalised in Egypt, the charge of “debauchery” has been used to prosecute LGBT people. The flying of a rainbow flag at a concert in September 2017 led to the arrest of at least 66 individuals on debauchery charges. There is little public acceptance of homosexuality in Egypt. Public expressions of homosexuality and/or public displays of affection between same-sex couples are likely to attract a high degree of unwelcome attention.

The government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity but encouraging conversion to the Christian faith is illegal.

Entry requirements

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 authorities in the country or territory you are travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you are unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you will need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you are travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British passport holders travelling to Egypt normally require a visa.

For visits of up to 30 days, you can get a visa on arrival by payment in Sterling, US Dollars or Euros; the visa fee is US$25 at approved bank kiosks within airport arrival halls, before reaching immigration counters. There is no need to buy a visa from an agent. In many cases, agents will charge more than US$25 for a visa. Alternatively, you can get a visa from an Egyptian Consulate outside Egypt before you travel. If you are entering Egypt for work or business, it is preferable to get a visa before you travel.

British nationals travelling to Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts for up to 15 days receive a free entry permission stamp upon arrival. If you intend to travel out of these areas or stay longer than 15 days, you must get a visa. If you have travelled to one of the South Sinai Red Sea resorts, entering without a visa and your plans change you can normally purchase a visa at Sharm el Sheikh Airport to allow you to travel elsewhere. Applications for visa extensions should be made at Egyptian Passport and Immigration Offices. You may have difficulties leaving Egypt with an out of date visa. You will not normally be allowed to leave without paying a fine if your visa is out of date by more than 14 days.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Egypt.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for exit from Egypt, but not accepted for entry or transit.

To leave Egypt on an ETD you will need to visit an Egyptian Passport and Immigraton Office to complete the exit formalities. Some passport offices outside of Cairo may assist, but in many cases you will have to complete the formalities at the National HQ at:

Immigration Office Mogammaa El Tahrir, Tahrir Square, Down Town, Cairo 1st floor: Tel.: 27956301/2/3

Opening hours: 8am-2pm from Saturday-Thursday (N.B. The immigration office is a 10 minute walk from the British Embassy).

Please note that the immigration clearance may take up to 5 working days. Please adjust your travel plans accordingly.

Previous travel to Israel

Evidence of a previous visit to Israel like as an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally cause any difficulties when entering Egypt. It is, however, for the Egyptian authorities to determine the right of entry into the country. If you have any concerns, you should contact the Egyptian consulate.

Medication

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Egypt and cannot be brought into the country without prior permission from Egypt’s Ministry of Health. If you arrive in Egypt without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the country and you may be prosecuted under Egyptian law.

If you are travelling with prescription medication, you should carry a medical certificate confirming that the medication has been prescribed for a medical condition. The Egyptian Embassy website states that this should be in the form of an official letter from your GP, specifying details of your condition, the quantity of medication you will be carrying and that the medication is for your personal use only.

For further information and specific queries, contact the Egyptian Medical Office in London on 020 7370 6944.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you have 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 cannot offer a refund to their customers.

Customs regulations

There is a limit of 5,000 Egyptian pounds that you are allowed to bring in or take out of Egypt. There is no limit to the amount of hard currency that you may bring in, but sums that exceed USD 10,000 should be declared on arrival. Certain valuables like electrical equipment, video cameras etc must be declared on arrival. Satellite phones and radio communications equipment brought into Egypt without prior clearance from the Ministry of Telecommunications are likely to be confiscated. Electrical items noted in passports on entry to Egypt must be produced on exit from the country. Failure to do so will result in payment of high rates of customs duty. Contact the Egyptian embassy in your country of residence for further information on customs requirements.

Money

Cash machines are common, especially in the main tourist areas. Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes are not exchangeable in Egypt. Travellers’ cheques are not easily cashed. Most banks, including international banks, will not accept them. Major hotels will usually accept payment by credit card. However, smaller hotels may expect payment in cash and in hard currency. Medical facilities will usually accept payment by credit card or cash.

Adventure travel

Before undertaking any adventure activity, make sure you are covered by your travel insurance. Make sure your travel insurance, or that of your tour or dive company, provides adequate cover for the costs involved in any air/sea rescue. The current fee can exceed US $4,000 per hour. The Egyptian authorities will only undertake air/sea rescue operations on receipt of a guarantee of payment. See our travel insurance guidance page for more information on getting suitable travel insurance.

If you are considering diving or snorkelling in any of the Red Sea resorts be aware that safety standards of diving operators can vary considerably. Never dive or snorkel unaccompanied. Where possible make bookings through your tour representative. Very cheap operators may not provide adequate safety and insurance standards. Diving beyond the depth limit of your insurance policy will invalidate your cover.

Shark attacks of any kind are very unusual in the Red Sea. There were a series of attacks in Sharm el Sheikh in late 2010 and in March 2015, a German tourist was killed by a shark attack in al-Qusair. You should monitor updates issued by the local authorities and your tour operator.

There have been several serious quad bike accidents involving British nationals in resort areas. Take the same precautions as you would in UK and note that safety standards can vary considerably. Always wear a crash helmet.

Restrictions on carrying large phones, laptops and tablets in the cabin have been lifted on all UK bound flights from the following airports:

  • Hurghada
  • Luxor
  • Marsa Alam

Passengers on flights where restrictions have been lifted will now be able to take large phones, laptops, tablets and accessories into the cabin with them. Normal cabin baggage restrictions will continue to apply.

Restrictions have also been lifted on a number of individual airlines operating from other airports. The vast majority of carriers operating from airports in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt are no longer subject to these restrictions. Passengers should contact their airlines for advice about whether their flights are affected.

This page will be updated on an airport-by-airport basis, once restrictions have been lifted on all affected airlines serving the airport in question.

This information is correct as of 26 February 2018.

The UK government has lifted a ban on carrying large electronic devices in the aircraft cabin of some flights to the UK.

Restrictions on carrying large phones, laptops, tablets and accessories into the cabin of UK-bound flights from Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia were introduced in March.

However, after working with the aviation industry and international partners to introduce tough additional security measures, the UK government has begun lifting these restrictions on some UK-bound flights.

The vast majority of carriers operating out of these airports are no longer subject to these restrictions. Some airlines have decided to maintain the ban for operational reasons. This does not reflect the security standards at these airports, but is an operational decision by individual carriers. Passengers travelling from these airports should contact their airlines for advice about whether their flights are affected: 

Road travel

You can drive in Egypt on an international driving permit for up to six months. If you intend to remain in Egypt for a longer period, you must apply for an Egyptian driving licence.

By law, seatbelts must be worn when travelling in the front of a vehicle.

If you are travelling off road, employ a qualified guide and obtain appropriate permits from the Ministry of Interior.

Only certain categories of foreign residents may import vehicles. Vehicles of visitors should be temporarily imported with a valid “carnet de passage” available from the Automobile Association.

There have been a number of serious bus crashes in recent years with large numbers of fatalities, including tourists.

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