EgyptOfficial Name: Arab Republic of Egypt
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yes. For more details, see the main text “Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements”
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
USD 10,000 (or equivalent) or more must be declared.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Exit with amounts greater than 5,000 Egyptian pounds (EGP) restricted. USD 10,000 (or equivalent) or more must be declared.
Embassies and Consulates
5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City, Cairo
Telephone: +(20) 2-2797-3300
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(20) 2-2797-3300
Fax: +(20) 2-2797-2472
The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit uses an online appointment system for those coming to the Embassy to receive routine consular services Sunday through Wednesday, except for official holidays (U.S. and Egyptian). U.S. citizens with non-emergency inquiries may send an email to the ACS Unit at email@example.com. For emergencies during and after business hours, including on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the ACS Unit via the Embassy switchboard at 02-2797-3300. The latest Embassy Emergency or Security Message for U.S. Citizens can be found at U.S. Embassy Cairo web site.
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, Egypt. Consular information is available on the U.S. Embassy Cairo web site. Visa-related inquiries should be sent by e-mail.
Egypt is a republic with a developing economy. It has extensive facilities for tourists. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Egypt for additional information on U.S.-Egypt relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A passport and visa are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Egypt. All Visitors to Egypt are required to attain a Visa from an Egyptian Consulate except for tourist groups travelling with and sponsored by Egyptian Tour operators. Egyptian immigration officials occasionally have denied entry to travelers without explanation. U.S. citizens who have experienced difficulty with their visa status in Egypt or are concerned about their eligibility for a visa upon arrival should apply for a visa at an Egyptian embassy or consulate prior to travel. Visas for gainful employment or study in Egypt must be obtained prior to travel.
Entry from Israel: Travelers arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing are advised to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Otherwise, upon arrival they may either apply for a no-fee, 14-day visa that is only valid for travel within the Sinai, or they may buy a 30-day tourist visa valid for travel throughout Egypt for 25 USD. The 30-day visa requires the submission of a travel agency support letter which may be obtained from travel agents at the border; their fees for providing this service vary. Please see the Safety and Security section below for information regarding embassy restrictions on the travel of U.S. Embassy personnel to the Sinai.
Gaza: Under normal conditions, the Egyptian government screens travelers before allowing entry/exit through the Rafah border crossing with Gaza; currently, this border crossing is closed and the government of Egypt has not stated when it will reopen. Should it reopen, travel groups and/or humanitarian aid convoys that wish to cross at Rafah would need to contact the Egyptian Embassy in Washington for permission prior to travel. The U.S. government advises its citizens to avoid travel to Gaza; the U.S. Embassy does not issue travel letters.Travelers to Gaza from Egypt should read the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Diplomatic and Official passports: Holders of these passport types are required, without exception, to have visas before arrival in Egypt, irrespective of the purpose of their trip. Holders of official or diplomatic passports who arrive without visas will not be granted admission to Egypt under any circumstance, including when travel is of a personal nature. Travelers arriving at an Egyptian airport with diplomatic or official passports who do not have visas will be required to remain, at their own expense, in the airport transit area until their immediate departure from Egypt can be arranged. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is unable to intervene in such situations. Military personnel arriving on commercial flights are not exempt from passport and visa requirements.
The Egyptian Embassy in Washington currently requires at least three weeks, and sometimes much longer, to process official and diplomatic visa requests, an expedite letter from the Department of State notwithstanding. It is incumbent upon all official travelers to submit their visa requests and passports to the Egyptian Embassy well in advance of travel.
Work Permits: Foreigners who wish to come to Egypt for work must obtain work permits and work/business visas before arrival. All work permits must be obtained through the employer. These permits may be acquired from the Ministry of Manpower and Migration offices in the district of the employer; accordingly, these permits authorize residency in the country. Foreigners who arrive as tourists but want to change their status after arrival in country may acquire a three-month tourist/non-working residency visa to allow sufficient time to change their status from tourist to worker. Foreigners in Egypt on tourist visas are not permitted to work.
Visit the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the most current visa information.
Medical Requirements: Foreign residents and/or their dependents (aged 15 or older), who are in Egypt and who intend to stay longer than 30 days for work or study, are required to have an HIV test. A test performed in the United States may be accepted under certain conditions. Those arriving from an area that has been determined to be infected with yellow fever will need to provide proof of immunization; those arriving from areas determined to be effected by Ebola may be subject to quarantine. Please verify this information with the Egyptian Embassy before you travel.
Customs Regulations: When traveling, it is important to know that there may be restrictions on what you can bring in or take out of Egypt, as well as restrictions on what you can bring back with you to the United States. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Exit Requirements: There are some specific things about departing Egypt that are important to consider before heading to the airport.
- U.S. citizen women married to Egyptians do not need their spouse's permission to depart Egypt as long as they have a valid Egyptian visa or valid Egyptian passport.
- A U.S. citizen departing Egypt with a dual-national child (U.S.-Egyptian) may be required by Egyptian immigration officers at the airport to demonstrate that they have proof of consent of the non-traveling Egyptian parent.
- If you attempt to depart Egypt after the expiration of your visa, you may be required to pay a fine at the airport. Ensure that you arrive to the airport early with sufficient Egyptian currency to pay any fines.
Dual Nationals: If a dual national has the annotation “Egyptian origin” on their entry visa, they will require proof of Egyptian citizenship, such as a family I.D. card, Egyptian birth certificate, or Egyptian passport, in order to exit Egypt. This is also true for dual nationals who remain in Egypt for more than six months. In some cases, if a dual national loses their U.S. passport, they will be required to present their parents’ Egyptian birth certificates and be documented as Egyptian citizens in order to obtain a temporary/replacement entry stamp to facilitate their travel out of Egypt.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Political Violence, Demonstrations and Public Disorder: Political protests often occur without warning throughout Egypt. We remind U.S. citizens to avoid demonstrations as even those intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Egypt’s demonstrations law prohibits gatherings of more than ten persons without advance notification to the Ministry of Interior. Demonstrations have led to frequent violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries, and property damage. Peaceful demonstrators and bystanders may be subject to questioning, detention, arrest, and conviction for participating in or being in proximity to unauthorized demonstrations. In some areas, protesters have blocked major streets and bridges, burned tires and debris, established unofficial checkpoints, and thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails. Security forces have responded with tear gas, crowd-control measures, and firearms to disperse demonstrations. Protests can occur with little to no warning in any area, but Nasr City near Rabaa El-Adaweya; Dokki near Cairo University; Mohandeseen; Al Haram Street in Giza; and Al-Matareya in northeast Cairo have witnessed the most regular protest activity over the past year. In addition, the Al Qaed Ibrahim, Sidi Gaber and Sidi Beshr areas of Alexandria have been favored locations for rallies and demonstrations, particularly on Fridays. Protests and incidents of political violence have occurred with greater frequency at universities.
Women in particular are advised to avoid demonstrations as there have been multiple reports of gender-based violence and sexual assaults against both foreign and Egyptian women. U.S. citizens are advised that it is illegal to photograph certain facilities in Egypt, and enforcement of this law is particularly strict at demonstrations. U.S. citizens have been detained, questioned and in some cases deported for taking pictures or videos of protests or military and police personnel, facilities and equipment. Foreign journalists have been harassed by both security forces and Egyptian citizens while attempting to report on demonstrations and political news/events. Some have been detained or imprisoned for prolonged periods on various charges, such as supporting terrorist organizations, reporting false news, or endangering national security.
Protests and public disorder are not confined to Cairo and Alexandria. Sohag, Suez, Port Said, Fayoum, Minya, Qena, Asyut, and the Sinai Peninsula have also witnessed incidents of political violence. U.S. Embassy personnel traveling to these areas require advance approval. Egyptian authorities also restrict the travel of foreigners to certain locales. U.S. citizens planning to travel beyond Cairo and Alexandria should contact the Embassy prior to travel. We strongly urge you to avoid crowds, to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of any large public gatherings, and to stay well away from demonstrations.
U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by knowing the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and other places to relocate to feel secure. If you are concerned for your security, you should exercise personal responsibility, remove yourself from the situation, and relocate to an area where you feel secure. U.S. citizens should also carry identification and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt; it is advisable to have the U.S. Embassy’s number and email pre-programmed into the device. U.S. citizens are encouraged to make common sense plans to deal with security situations and to investigate alternate means of communication in country, evacuation insurance, and alternative destinations both within and outside the country in case of emergency.
Terrorism: Terrorists and extremists have used explosive devices, car-bombs, and drive-by shootings to target police, security officials, government institutions and civilians, resulting in deaths, casualties, and damage to infrastructure. A large number of these incidents specifically targeted Egyptian security forces and infrastructure, including the attempted assassination of the Minister of Interior, attacks on police stations, and the discoveries of explosive devices in Cairo and elsewhere. Police officers and civilian bystanders have been killed and injured by drive-by shootings in Cairo and elsewhere. The authorities have made arrests and responded with a heavy police and military presence throughout the country. Responsibility for these attacks has been attributed primarily to jihadist elements operating out of the Sinai Peninsula, which remains a particularly restive region.
In November 2014, Egyptian terrorist organization Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis (ABM) pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. ABM’s association with ISIL increases the risk that terrorist attacks could target U.S. or other western interests, including civilians. ABM has taken credit for the August 2014 murder of a U.S. citizen in a car-jacking incident in the western desert region. In addition to ABM, there are a number of other terrorist groups operating in Egypt and terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the country.
Foreign tourists, including U.S. citizens, were kidnapped in the Sinai in 2012 and 2013. In February 2014, a bomb was detonated on a tourist bus, killing four persons in Taba, a Sinai resort near the Israeli border. U.S. citizens who plan to visit Taba in spite of the persistent threat of kidnapping and terrorist attacks should exercise extreme caution. U.S. citizens should be especially vigilant in crowded tourist areas, practice good personal security measures, and be alert to their surroundings. Travelers should avoid resorts and hotels that lack significant physical setback from roads and adequate security procedures. The Egyptian government maintains a heavy security presence at major tourist sites, especially the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to visit the U.S. Embassy Cairo website for the most up-to-date security information.
Alexandria: The State Department lifted ordered departure status for employees of the U.S. Consulate General Alexandria and their family members on December 16, 2013. Even though ordered departure status has been lifted, security upgrades required for U.S. government facilities in Alexandria mean that Consulate General Alexandria personnel will be based out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while these upgrades are made.
Restricted Areas: The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees and their family members from traveling outside of Cairo without prior approval and advises all U.S. citizens to carefully consider the security implications of travel outside of the greater Cairo metropolitan area. U.S. Embassy personnel in Egypt are currently prohibited from traveling to the Sinai, except by air to Sharm El Sheikh. Overland personal travel by U.S. government employees anywhere in the Sinai outside of Sharm El Sheikh is prohibited. Reports indicate that the security situation in the northern Sinai area, which is generally defined as the area north of the Cairo-Nekhl-Taba and Sheikh Zuweid road, remains dangerous due to continuing violence. Travelers should be aware of the possible dangers of overland travel.
In November 2014, a Presidential decree placed Egypt’s borders under military control, substantially restricting, and in some cases prohibiting, movement of non-military vehicles and persons within those areas. The military zone along Egypt’s border with Libya is particularly extensive. U.S. citizens should not travel in these border zones.
Safari travelers must obtain permission and a travel route from the Egyptian Military Intelligence and the Tourist Police Headquarters via a local or overseas travel agency to access Egypt's frontiers, including the borders with Libya, Sudan, Israel, and parts of the Sinai off paved roads. Police escorts are assigned to accompany foreigners during their tour.
Travelers should be aware that undiscovered World War II-era landmines have caused many casualties in Egypt, including deaths of U.S. citizens. 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. Heavy rains can cause flooding and move landmines, and travelers should exercise caution when encountering sand drifts on roadways. Though mines are found in other parts of Egypt, the highest concentrations are in the 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.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Egypt on Twitter and visit the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and check these useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime levels in Cairo are moderate. Since the first revolution in January 2011, the frequency of crime affecting the expatriate community appears to be increasing. The vast majority of criminal acts against expats or visitors are crimes of opportunity, such as purse snatching and pickpocketing, often carried out by young males from vehicles or on motorbikes. Many locals and long-term expats believe that pickpocketing and purse snatching are becoming more prevalent. An increased number of handbag robberies have been reported in the Maadi area, which is home to many U.S. citizens and other expats. On occasion, the women targeted received minor injuries when falling to the ground as the perpetrators attempted to steal their handbags. This behavior is not limited to the streets; women have reported attempted purse snatchings from drivers as they enter taxis. Additionally, semi-professional thieves target unaware visitors in popular restaurants and shops, stealing purses, phones, and purchased goods. There are a growing number of reports of criminals using weapons to commit robberies, although the number of such incidents remains low.
There are growing reports of criminal ruses against foreign visitors, often employing feigned concern over a stain or spill on an article of clothing. While helping to wipe the clothing, the criminal will lift a wallet from a purse or pocket.
There are also numerous reports of harassment perpetrated by local males against Western females. These incidents run the gamut from lewd comments and gestures to more explicit indecent exposures, inappropriate physical contact, and sexual assault. A number of women, to include foreigners, have reported being sexually assaulted in taxis and in public places and while transiting crowded protest areas. Conservatively-attired Egyptian women experience the same gender-based harassment. The majority of these incidents occur on the streets of busy cities, but sexual assaults by maintenance workers or delivery persons have also been reported inside private residences.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crime.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency police line in Egypt is 122.
Failure to report crimes before leaving Egypt will make it impossible to seek prosecution at a later date. U.S. citizen tourists can forward their complaints for investigation by the Tourist Police Headquarters. For crimes involving children, you may call the child emergency help line at 16000. For issues involving violence against women and/or general complaints, dial 0800 888 3888.
The Embassy continues to receive reports of U.S. citizen women subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and rape in Egypt. Women have been groped in taxis and while in public places. The Consular Section strongly encourages women who seek our assistance to take legal action against perpetrators in order to bring them to justice. Some Egyptian NGOs provide assistance to victimized women within the Egyptian community. Women victimized overseas may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocating back to the United States. For further information visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Please see our information for victims of crime, which includes victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Egypt, you are subject to its laws. If you break Egyptian laws, your U.S. passport will not prevent arrest or prosecution. The Egyptian legal system is different from the legal system in the United States, with significantly different standards of evidence and due process. Egyptian police and security forces do not require probable cause in order to stop, question, and detain individuals. Failure to carry proper identification, such as a passport, may result in detention and questioning. Although the enforcement of traffic laws generally is lax, foreigners are subject to extra scrutiny and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could result in arrest or detainment.
Suspects may be detained without charges or access to immediate legal counsel for months during the investigative stage of a criminal case. Punishments often are harsher in Egypt for comparable crimes than they are in the United States.
Be aware that you can also be prosecuted for violating U.S. laws while in Egypt. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States.
Do not purchase counterfeit or pirated goods, such as DVDs. They are illegal in Egypt and in the United States. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is prosecutable in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in these behaviors in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas. Egyptian law considers dual nationals to be Egyptian citizens and thus the Egyptian authorities do not automatically notify the U.S. Embassy. Family members, friends, and/or traveling companions may notify the ACS Unit at U.S. Embassy Cairo if the arrested U.S. citizen is unable.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: There are restrictions on photographing military and police 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. A number of U.S. citizens have been arrested after unwittingly photographing sites considered sensitive by Egyptian authorities. Equipment is sometimes confiscated and electronic photos are deleted.
Travelers entering Egypt must complete a “currency customs declaration” if they are traveling with 10,000 USD or more (or the foreign currency equivalent thereof). Travelers who attempt to leave or enter the country with more than10,000 USD (or foreign-currency equivalent thereof) risk having their money confiscated. Travelers may not leave or enter the country with more than 5,000 EGP.
Dual Nationals: 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 an Egyptian father to be Egyptian citizens even if they were not issued an Egyptian birth certificate or a passport.
- The Government of Egypt considers all children born after October 2004 to an Egyptian mother to be Egyptian citizens even if they were not issued an Egyptian birth certificate or a passport.
Military Service: Dual national men residing in Egypt for more than six months could be required to complete mandatory military service. Exemption from this requirement is determined by the Military Recruitment Authority and requires that a request be presented to the Nationality Department at the Egyptian Immigration Authority for approval. The dual national is then provided with a movement certificate along with the approval to present to the Recruitment Authority. The dual national must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of Defense Draft Office before he can leave Egypt.
Individuals who believe they could be affected by the military-service requirement can inquire at an Egyptian embassy or consulate abroad before traveling to Egypt. Dual nationals may enter and leave Egypt on their U.S. passports. Dual nationals who travel to Egypt on their Egyptian passports are regarded as Egyptian citizens by the local government. Our ability to provide U.S. consular assistance to those traveling on Egyptian passports is extremely limited. For additional information, see our information on Dual Nationality.
Adoption: The Government of Egypt deals firmly with anyone attempting to illegally adopt a child. Islamic law does not allow adoption as it is understood in the United States. Laws in Egypt regarding adoption are unclear and may vary according to a prospective adoptive parent’s religious background. There have been cases of U.S. citizen couples sentenced to prison for attempting to circumvent Egyptian laws on birth registrations and adoption.
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, visit the U.S. Commercial Service website, or contact them by email.
Marriage in Egypt: The Egyptian government allows U.S. citizens to marry in Egypt. For further information, please refer to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
The Embassy warns that marriage fraud perpetrated by both U.S. citizens and Egyptians is common. 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 U.S. citizen and the Egyptian. At the same time, it is not uncommon for Egyptians to enter into marriages with U.S. citizens solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation. The U.S. government urges U.S. citizens 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, physical and verbal, against U.S. citizen spouses and often those marriages end in divorce when the Egyptian acquires permanent residency (a “green card”) or citizenship in the United States.
INFORMATION FOR WOMEN TRAVELERS: Many women travel safely each year without incident. However, when it comes to health and security, women travelers are more likely to be affected by religious and cultural beliefs of the foreign countries they visit. The truth is that women face greater obstacles, especially when travelling alone. If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: For information about LGBT rights in Egypt, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The laws in Egypt do not explicitly criminalize same-sex sexual activity, but LGBT persons have been arrested on charges such as “debauchery,” “prostitution,” and “violating the teachings of religion,” providing for prison sentences of up to ten years. Reports of such arrests have increased in recent years. Gay men and lesbians faced significant social stigma and discrimination in society.
There have been reports of violence against LGBT persons, but, intimidation and the risk of arrest likely restricted reporting of abuse and contributed to self-censorship.
For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Egypt, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. Businesses and institutions in Egypt generally do not make special accommodations for persons with disabilities, and Egyptian authorities do not enforce laws mandating access to transportation, communication, and public buildings by persons with disabilities. Pedestrian sidewalks and walkways are limited, uneven, high, and sometimes used by cars and motorcycles. Accommodations on public transportation are not offered for elderly individuals or persons with disabilities. Crosswalks exist, but motorists have the right of way and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution.
Medical care in Egypt falls short of U.S. standards. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo can provide a list of local hospitals and English-speaking physicians. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited. 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. The Egyptian ambulance service hotline is 123. Although availability of ambulances is improving, getting them through Cairo traffic can be very challenging.
Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are generally unpolluted. However, 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 freshly prepared cooked food in hotels, on Nile cruise boats, and in mainstream restaurants. When selecting a restaurant, select a clean and reputable place, eat only freshly prepared, cooked foods, avoid all uncooked food including raw fruits and vegetables. Tap water in many locations 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 if the seal is intact.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Driving in Egypt is extremely hazardous. Egypt has one of the highest occurrences of road fatalities per mile driven in the world. Intercity roads are generally in good condition, but unmarked surfaces, stray animals, sandstorms and fog, and disabled vehicles without lights or reflectors are among the many hazards present on highways, especially after dark.
Driving Cairo’s busy maze of streets can be an extreme challenge to foreigners, especially those used to a culture of structured rules and regulations. Even residents of Cairo must use extreme care and situational awareness to navigate the capital’s hectic streets. Impatient drivers typically ignore traffic rules, which police seldom enforce. Most traffic lights in Cairo do not function; instead, police officers, using finger and hand movements to direct traffic, normally staff the main intersections.
Vehicle accidents remain a significant safety concern. The trend of serious accidents involving mini-buses and international tourist buses on highways outside of Cairo continued in 2014, and a number of residents and foreign tourists were killed in these accidents. Further, trains are a particularly unsafe means of transportation, with regular accidents that sometimes involve mass casualties. In 2014, there were several collisions involving passenger and cargo trains in the greater Cairo and Upper Egypt areas in which a large number of Egyptian nationals were killed and injured.
Visitors thinking about driving in Cairo should carefully consider other options, such as a taxi or hired driver. If visitors decide to drive, it is essential that they 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 dodging in and out of traffic; and a variety of domesticated animals wandering the roadways. Motorists should be especially cautious during the rare winter rains, which can cause extremely slippery road surfaces and localized flooding; Egyptian drivers are not familiar with driving in wet conditions, making such periods particularly hazardous.
Pedestrians should also exercise extreme caution especially in high-volume/high-velocity streets like Cairo’s Corniche, which follows the eastern bank of the Nile River.
Public buses and microbuses are not safe, and U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from using them. Because of deteriorating infrastructure and a poor safety record, as well as the occasional blocking of the railways resulting from labor disputes or anger over train accidents, Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling by train.
Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling outside the greater Cairo area by motor vehicle with a few exceptions and are generally required to travel between cities via commercial air. Furthermore, U.S. Embassy policy prohibits personal travel via privately-owned vehicle to any part of the Sinai Peninsula and closely scrutinizes travel west of Marsa Matrouh on the northern coastal highway toward the Libyan border and the North/South highways south of Fayoum. Popular tourist destinations such as Siwa, the White Desert, and Bahariya are authorized destinations.
Carjackings are reported with some frequency. While generally occurring during late night or early morning hours, carjackings can also occur in the middle of the day. Carjackings have been reported by Egyptians, foreign private sector personnel, and the diplomatic community. In most cases, perpetrators target newer sport utility vehicles, sometimes with the intent to extract a ransom from the owner. Other instances suggest that perpetrators target transport vehicles in order to steal cargo. Recent incidents suggest that the best response to ensure one’s personal safety is to surrender the vehicle immediately. Reports have not indicated that any violence or harm has come to those victims who posed no resistance.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
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. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.