Traffic Laws: 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.
Road Conditions and Safety: 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, pedestrians, stray animals, sandstorms and fog, vehicles without lights, and disabled vehicles without 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.
Visitors thinking about driving in Egypt 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 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 domesticated animals on 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 on high-volume/high-velocity streets, like Cairo?s Corniche, which follows the eastern bank of the Nile River, and Alexandria?s Corniche along the Mediterranean.
Public Transportation: Public buses and microbuses are not safe, and Embassy personnel are prohibited from using them. Embassy personnel are also prohibited from traveling on Cairo?s metro system. Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling by train, which is a particularly unsafe means of transportation, with regular accidents that sometimes involve mass casualties.
Embassy personnel are generally prohibited from traveling outside the greater Cairo and Alexandria areas by motor vehicle, with the exception of travel to beach resorts on the western side of the Red Sea and near Alexandria. Furthermore, Embassy policy prohibits personal travel via privately-owned vehicle to any part of the Sinai Peninsula or the Western Desert.
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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Egypt should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the Maritime Security Communications with Industry Web Portal. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and as a broadcast warning on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency?s website.
For emergency services in Egypt, dial 123.
Ambulance services are not widely available and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
Insurance: Travelers should make sure their health insurance plan covers them when outside of the United States.
- The U.S Embassy cannot pay medical bills.
- U.S. Medicare does not pay overseas.
- Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services.
- The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation, since medical transport out of the country can be prohibitively expensive or logistically impossible.
- See the webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited. Most Nile cruise boats do not have a ship’s doctor, but some employ a medical practitioner. Hospital facilities in Luxor, Aswan, and Sharm el Sheikh are adequate, but they are inadequate 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, travelers should select a clean and reputable place, eat only freshly prepared, cooked foods, avoid all uncooked food including raw fruits and vegetables. Tap water in some 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.
Although the Embassy cannot provide medical advice or provide medical services to the public, a list of hospitals and doctors in Egypt can be found on the Embassy website.
Prescriptions: Travelers should carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription.
Vaccinations: Travelers should be up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations, per CDC?s information.
Further Health Information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: Travelers are subject to local laws. The Egyptian legal system is different from the legal system in the United States, with significantly different standards of evidence, due process, and rule of law. Travelers should be conscious of their behavior and how it may be interpreted by Egyptian authorities. If one violate local laws, even unknowingly, one may be denied entry, expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
- 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.
- Suspects may be detained without charges or access to immediate legal counsel for months during the investigative stage of a criminal case.
- U.S. citizens have been detained for several days or more in non-criminal cases, including immigration violations.
- Local laws prohibit protesting or demonstrating without a permit. Even being in the vicinity of anti-government protests can draw scrutiny from Egyptian police or security forces, including demands to search personal electronic devices. U.S. citizens have been detained for posting content on social media perceived as critical of Egypt or its allies.
- Punishments often can be harsher in Egypt for comparable crimes than they are in the United States. Penalties for drug offenses can be particularly severe, including life in prison or the death penalty.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Dual U.S.-Egyptian Citizens: Egyptian law considers dual nationals to be Egyptian citizens and thus the Egyptian authorities do not automatically notify the U.S. Embassy when a dual national is detained, or provide information about their alleged crime. 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 to do so. U.S. citizenship does not provide protection from detention or arrest by Egyptian authorities and individuals detained may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention. U.S. citizens arrested for any reason in Egypt may be deported, even if they are not convicted of a crime. Detained U.S.-Egyptian citizens have been asked by the Government of Egypt to renounce their Egyptian citizenship as a condition of their deportation to the United States.
Consular officers must obtain authorization from Egyptian authorities to visit American detainees.
- Entering or exiting Egypt with more than $10,000 is prohibited. Attempting to enter or depart Egypt with any instruments of currency in the sum of more than $10,000 could result in the confiscation of the money over $10,000 and other penalties.
Importation of all types of drones, including small civilian drones used for personal or touristic purposes is strictly prohibited. Potential penalties for violating are harsh, and a recently passed law authorizes the death penalty for using a drone in support of terrorist activity.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Cultural Property: Travelers should note that Egyptian law prohibits the unauthorized removal of antiquities (including historic coins, ceramics, and architectural elements) both from archaeological sites and other sources in Egypt. Egyptian law also forbids the intentional damaging of antiquities, such as inscribing or painting on them or attaching advertisements. The trade, sale, or export in antiquities is also heavily restricted and regulated. Travelers may be prosecuted if found to be looting or damaging archaeological sites, buying antiquities, or smuggling antiquities out of Egypt. Penalties include fines and/or imprisonment.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State?s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI individuals face significant social stigma and discrimination in Egypt. Egyptian law does not criminalize same-sex sexual activity, but LGBTI persons and advocacy groups have reported harassment, intimidation, arrests, and other forms of abuse, including by police. There are also reports that authorities have used social media, dating websites, and cell phone apps to entrap persons suspected of being gay or transgender in an act of ?debauchery,? which is a criminal offense that carries sentences of up to 10 years. Police have confiscated rainbow flags and sometimes detained their owners. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and sections 1c and 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
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 are not in widespread use and motorists have the right of way. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution.
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.
Women, especially those traveling alone, should exercise particular care in crowds, on public transportation, in rural areas, and in isolated sections of temple and pyramid complexes. Women have been groped in taxis and while in public places.
The Embassy continues to receive reports of U.S. citizen women subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and rape in Egypt.
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 see the travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
The Department of State Travel Advisory warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of travel to Sharm El-Sheikh by air) and the Western Desert. Travel to the Libyan and Sudanese borders is also not recommended. U.S. citizens in Egypt should maintain a high level of vigilance throughout the country due to the threat of terrorism.
Between December 2018 and May 2019, terrorist incidents in tourist areas in greater Cairo killed four tourists and wounded at least 18 others. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, and have targeted diplomatic facilities, tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, western businesses, resorts, and local government facilities. There is a possibility of terrorist attacks in urban areas, including in Cairo, despite the heavy security presence. In August 2019, a car bomb explosion outside of a hospital in Cairo killed at least 20. Additionally, terrorists have targeted religious sites, to include mosques, churches, monasteries, and buses traveling to these locations.
The Egyptian government has attempted to address security concerns and has visibly augmented its security presence at tourist locations, but challenges persist, and the threat of terrorism remains. Police and military are also engaged in operations to combat terrorism and disrupt terrorist cells in the Sinai Peninsula and the Nile Valley.
Do not travel to:
- The Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of travel to Sharm El-Sheikh by air) due to terrorism.
The Sinai Peninsula remains a particularly dangerous area, with frequent terrorist attacks on security forces and civilians.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula as U.S. government employees are not authorized to travel to these areas (with the exception of the beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh; travel to Sharm El-Sheikh is only permitted by air).
- The Western Desert due to terrorism.
- Egyptian border areas other than official ports of entry.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Egypt?s borders are under military control; movement of non-military persons and vehicles is substantially restricted, and in some cases prohibited, within these areas. U.S. citizens should not travel in these border zones.
It is illegal to photograph police stations, military barracks, and certain other sensitive public buildings.
U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments, avoid demonstrations, and be vigilant regarding their personal security at all times throughout the country. U.S. citizens should also carry identification and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt, and it is advisable to pre-program the U.S. Embassy?s telephone number (+20 2 2797-3300) and email address (ConsularCairoACS@state.gov) into the device.
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 Peninsula off paved roads.
High concentrations of World War II-era unexploded landmines are located 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 cautious in these areas.
Crime: Crime levels in Cairo and Alexandria are moderate.
The vast majority of criminal acts against foreigners are crimes of opportunity, such as purse snatching and pickpocketing.
Harassment of women, including foreigners, remains a serious problem. Incidents of harassment range from lewd comments and gestures to indecent exposure and inappropriate physical contact.
Tourists should be alert to being overcharged for various services and for being victimized in scams common to tourist destinations worldwide. Tourists should expect to encounter aggressive vendors at Egypt?s shops in urban areas, as well as at the many temples and archaeological sites. Some will offer ?free? gifts to tourists which, once accepted, lead to demands for money. Most sites have specially designated tourist police who can assist in uncomfortable situations.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Egypt. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
- Romance/Online dating
- Money transfers
The U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of online financial scams, often involving a fraudulent romantic partner requesting money for hospital bills or legal expenses to depart Egypt. Be skeptical about sending money to anyone known only through online contact.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to the local police at 122 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(20) 2-2797-3300. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. The Embassy cannot intervene in legal disputes.
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 to the Tourist Police Headquarters. For crimes involving children, you may call Egypt?s Child Emergency Help line by dialing 16000. Egypt?s National Council for Women provides some assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence, or other complaints, at phone number 15115 or website: http://www.oo-ncw.org.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call the State Department in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and adventure facilities may not frequently occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are not always able to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Passport and Visas:
- U.S. citizens must have a visa to enter Egypt.
- U.S. citizens can obtain a renewable single-entry 30-day tourist visa on arrival at Egyptian airports for a 25 USD fee. A multiple entry visa is also obtainable for 60 USD.
- The Government of Egypt has created a website for the issuance of ?e-visas.? There are other websites purporting to offer electronic visas, some of which reportedly charge double the official price, but this is the only official Government of Egypt portal for this service. U.S. citizens and the citizens of 44 other countries are eligible to apply through this means in advance of their travel.
- 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, but a visa obtained prior to entry does not guarantee admission to Egypt.
- Visas for gainful employment or study in Egypt must be obtained prior to travel.
Entry from Israel:
- U.S. citizens arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing should obtain a visa ahead of time.
- If travelers do not obtain a visa prior to arrival, they may either apply for a no-fee, 14-day visa that is only valid for travel within the Sinai Peninsula, or they may obtain 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 that may be obtained from travel agents at the border; their fees for providing this service vary.
- The Government of Egypt opens this border on an infrequent and unpredictable basis.
- 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 Egyptian government screens travelers before allowing entry/exit through the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
- The U.S. government advises its citizens to avoid travel to Gaza; the U.S. Embassy does not issue travel letters or provide any assistance in crossing to and from Gaza.
- Travelers to Gaza from Egypt should read the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza and are reminded the Sinai Peninsula remains a particularly dangerous area, with frequent Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) attacks on security forces and civilians.
Diplomatic and Official Passports:
- Diplomatic and Official passport holders, when entering Egypt for official business, are required to have visas before arrival in Egypt.
- Diplomatic or Official passport holders must not use these passports to enter Egypt for unofficial travel, and should use their personal passports, following all appropriate regulations.
- Travelers attempting to enter Egypt with diplomatic or official passports who do not have visas will be denied entry and required to remain in the airport transit area, at their own expense, 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.
- U.S. citizens 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.
- U.S. citizens 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.
- U.S. citizens in Egypt on tourist visas are not permitted to work.
- U.S. citizens arriving from an area that has been infected with yellow fever will need to provide proof of immunizations.
- Please verify this information with the Egyptian Embassy before you travel.
- 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 travelers attempt to depart Egypt after the expiration of their visa, they may be required to pay a fine at the airport. Travelers should ensure that they arrive to the airport early with sufficient Egyptian currency to pay any fines.
- The U.S. Embassy does not issue travel letters to exit Egypt.
- If a dual national has the annotation ?Egyptian origin? on their entry visa, they will require proof of Egyptian citizenship 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.
- Male U.S. citizens who also hold Egyptian nationality, between 18-40 years old, who have stayed in Egypt more than 180 days, are required to finalize their Egyptian military status before departure, or risk being refused departure from Egypt by Egyptian Immigration officials. The U.S. Embassy is unable to intervene in these situations. For more information see: https://tagned.mod.gov.eg/.
Read the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Egypt for additional information on U.S.-Egypt relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
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 Citizens 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 ConsularCairoACS@state.gov.
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 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. Express mail services also use the physical address.