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Egypt

If you’re travelling to Egypt, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. 

Overview

Security status

We are currently advising against all non-essential travel to Egypt with a number of exceptions (see below).

Latest travel advice

Irish citizens are advised to avoid-non-essential travel to Egypt at this time due to a heightened threat of terrorist incidents and a continuing threat of civil unrest. The following exceptions apply:

  • The Red Sea coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh (only) in the Sinai peninsula where Irish citizens are advised to exercise a high degree of caution, to arrive and depart by air and to strictly avoid travelling outside the resort;
  • The Red Sea coastal resort of Hurghada and other Red Sea resorts outside the Sinai peninsula, where Irish citizens are advised to arrive and depart by air and to strictly avoid travelling outside the resort;
  • Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel (including cruises between them) where Irish citizens are advised to exercise caution and arrive and depart by air.

As a result of growing association between local extremist groups and the Iraq/Syria-based group known as ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Al-Sham), there is a heightened risk across the Middle East region as a whole at this time of terrorist attacks against Westerners and Western interests. Although there are additional security measures in place to protect the country’s major tourist resorts and sites there is a risk that tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners may be specifically targeted by terrorists planning future attacks.

In recent months numerous shooting and bomb attacks have taken place across Egypt, including in Cairo. Although almost exclusively targeted at the security services a number of civilians have also been killed or injured in these attacks. On 3 June 2015 two tourist police officers were killed in a drive-by gun attack near the Giza Pyramids. On 10 June 2015 a number of people were wounded and two attackers killed in an attempted suicide bombing at a security checkpoint at the archaeological site of Karnak in Luxor.

On 29 June 2015 Egypt’s Prosecutor General was killed and a number of others injured in a car bomb attack in Cairo.
Irish citizens already in Egypt are advised to take sensible precautions with regard to their movements, avoiding large crowds where possible and all travel to the vicinity of major security/police or government buildings and state university campuses which in the past have been the scene of violent clashes between police and student protesters. Irish citizens should also ensure that that they carry valid i.d. with them at all times.
Egypt has experienced frequent political protests and demonstrations since the 2011 Revolution. Demonstrations can occur at any time and can turn violent with little warning. There have been a significant number of violent sexual assaults against women during demonstrations. As a result of legislative changes anyone participating in protests or demonstrations can expect to receive a lengthy prison sentence. We strongly advise Irish citizens who are currently in Egypt to avoid all protests and demonstrations. If caught up in a demonstration, Irish citizens should not attempt to take photographs and should leave the area immediately.

We strongly advise against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai including the Taba-Suez Road where the security situation is extremely dangerous. Recent months have seen a serious escalation in the number of security incidents and terrorist attacks in Northern Sinai where the Egyptian army is engaged in ongoing military operations against militant groups. A state of emergency was declared and a curfew is currently in operation following a bomb attack in October 2014 which killed 30 soldiers. The state of emergency has been extended and is still in force and a curfew is also currently in operation. On 1 July 2015 a series of coordinated attacks by armed militants affiliated to the Islamic State in North Sinai resulted in a large number of deaths of militants, soldiers and civilians. The vicinity of the Rafah border crossing is particularly dangerous at the moment and the border crossing is currently closed. Irish citizens are strongly advised not to seek to travel to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

There are heightened concerns about the security situation in the desert areas close to the Libyan border at this time. Irish citizens are strongly advised against travel to this area of the country.

The movement and presence of all foreign nationals in areas adjacent to the Libyan, Sudanese and Israeli borders is now restricted under the terms of a new Presidential decree which mandates the armed forces to take measures to safeguard the security of these areas. Border areas are now classified as either “forbidden” or “restricted” and travel to these areas will only be allowed if a special permit is obtained from the armed forces.

Irish journalists intending to travel to Egypt should ensure that they register with the Embassy and obtain the necessary permits from the Egyptian authorities in advance of travel.

There have been a number of serious sexual assaults against female tourists in the Red Sea resorts over the past year. Women, particularly those travelling on their own in Egypt, may be subjected to verbal or physical harassment.

Register with us

If you’re visiting or planning to stay in Egypt, you should register your details with us so we can find you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like civil disturbances a natural disaster or if you have a family emergency while you’re abroad. And, if necessary, we can offer help to you and your family.

Our advice

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Egypt before your trip.

We also recommend reading our Know Before You Go travel guide for practical tips on travelling abroad.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Contact the Embassy

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Cairo.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

How we can help you

We have a lot of experience helping Irish citizens who run into problems when they’re abroad. Learn more about the kind of emergency assistance we can offer you.

 

Safety and security

Practical advice

Read our Know Before You Go travel guide for useful security tips when travelling abroad.

  • Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
  • Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency

Social unrest

Protests and demonstrations

Demonstrations and protests continue to be held in Cairo and in other cities, especially on Fridays. These can turn violent, often without warning, and in the past this violence has resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries. 

We strongly advise you to avoid all such protests and demonstrations. You should closely monitor the local media for updates on the situation.

If you’re caught up in a demonstration, leave the area immediately. Don’t attempt to take photographs of demonstrations.

Terrorism

There is a heightened threat of terrorist incidents in Egypt at this time and security incidents can happen without warning.

If you’re travelling to Egypt, you should be extremely careful, particularly in commercial establishments and public areas. Monitor local media reports, avoid demonstrations and large crowds, and all travel to the vicinity of police/security and government buildings which have been targeted in recent attacks.

Sinai

We strongly advise against all travel to Northern Sinai where the security situation is extremely dangerous.

If you’re travelling outside your resort, be extremely careful; get advice from your tour operator before you leave and let your hotel know where you’re going.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Egypt but you should take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Petty theft

There has been an increase in crimes such as robbery and armed car-jackings in areas frequented by expats and tourists.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Egypt, report it to the tourist police immediately as you won’t be able to pursue the matter once you’ve left Egypt. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Cairo if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Egypt, you should be extremely careful as driving conditions in Egypt can be hazardous, particularly at night outside major cities. There have been a series of bus crashes in Egypt in recent years, which have resulted in the death of a considerable number of Egyptians and foreign tourists.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Be aware of Egypt’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
  • Wear your seatbelts at all times
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Vehicle hire

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Practical advice

  • Read our travel advice, inform yourself before travelling and get advice locally when you arrive
  • Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them
  • Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal

Muslim culture

Egypt is a conservative and mostly Muslim society and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Dress conservatively, be aware of your actions and take care not to offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals, or if you intend to visit religious areas.

During Ramadan, Muslims, who make up the majority of Egypt’s population, are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time.

Women travellers

There has been a sharp increase in sexual assaults and incidents of sexual harassment against women in Egypt in recent years. With this in mind, woman travellers should exercise particular caution and be very aware of personal safety. To avoid unwanted attention, make sure you cover your legs and upper arms when you’re travelling outside of resorts, particular during Ramadan or if you’re visiting religious areas.

Local laws

While you’re in Egypt, you’re subject to local laws, including ones that may seem harsh by Irish standards. For example, the laws around custody of children are significantly different to those in force in Ireland, so if you’re a parent, you should be aware of your legal position.

If you have to deal with any legal matters in Egypt, particularly about family law, we strongly advise you to get professional legal advice. The Embassy of Ireland in Cairo can provide a sample list of lawyers if required.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. 

Public drinking

Drinking in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar is against the law.

Homosexuality

Although homosexuality isn’t in itself illegal under Egyptian law, homosexual acts in public are illegal and practising homosexuals have been convicted for breaching laws on public decency.

Natural disasters and climate

Practical advice

  • If you’re travelling to Egypt, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared
  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents 

Travel Advice Hot Cold ClimatesClimate

The temperature in Egypt during the summer months in some areas can reach over 40 degrees celsius. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Sand and dust storms

Sand and dust storms can occur between March and May. You should pay close attention to local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Earthquake

Egypt is in an active earthquake zone and there have been occasional earthquakes, with the last major one in 1992. If you’re travelling to or living in Egypt, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens need a visa to enter Egypt, which is usually available on arrival for tourists travelling on ordinary passports. For further information about the entry requirements for Egypt, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Egypt.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Egypt.

Marriages

Be aware of fraudulent marriages - marriage to an Irish citizen does not guarantee that a visa will be granted to a non-Irish spouse.

Regional travel

If you travel between Egypt and Israel, you may experience difficulties in or be refused entry to some other countries in the region if your passport has evidence of travel to Israel. This includes entry and exit stamps issued at the border crossings or if your luggage has stickers indicating you have been to Israel.

Water

In general tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is cheap and readily available.