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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

Irish citizens are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Egypt. The following exceptions apply:

  • The Red Sea coastal resorts of Sharm El Sheikh (see below for further information) and other Red Sea resorts outside the Sinai peninsula, where Irish citizens are advised to exercise a high degree of caution and to avoid travelling outside the resort;
  • Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel (including cruises between them) where Irish citizens are advised to exercise a high degree of caution and arrive and depart by air.
  • We strongly advise against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai including the Taba-Suez Road where the security situation is extremely dangerous.
  • Irish citizens are strongly advised not to seek to travel to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The vicinity of the Rafah border crossing is particularly dangerous at the moment and the border crossing is closed most of the time.
  • We advise against all travel to desert areas close to the Libyan border due to heightened concerns about the security situation there.

Latest travel alert

Citizens should note the direction issued by the Irish Aviation Authority on 4 November 2015 to Irish airline operators not to operate to/from Sharm el-Sheikh airport or in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula airspace until further notice. The direction was issued following the crash of a tourist flight en route from Sharm El Sheikh to St. Petersburg on 31 October 2015. An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

There is a high risk of terrorist attacks in Egypt. In recent months numerous shooting and bomb attacks and other terrorist incidents have taken place across Egypt, including in Cairo. Although the majority of attacks are targeted at the security services, they have involved civilian casualties. There is a heightened risk of terrorist attacks targeted at Westerners and Western interests in Egypt. There have been a number of such attacks in the recent months. 

Irish citizens should also avoid 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 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. We advise Irish citizens 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.

Emergency Assistance

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

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a heightened threat of terrorist incidents in Egypt at this time and security incidents can happen without warning. 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. A growing association between local extremist groups and Da’esh has heightened the risk of attacks against Westerners and Western interests in Egypt. There have been frequent shootings, bomb attacks and other security incidents across the country, including in Cairo, over the past year. Although the majority of attacks are targeted at the security services they have involved civilian casualties. There have also been a number of incidents and attacks specifically targeting foreign interests and nationals in Egypt.

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.

Kidnapping

There is a heightened and countrywide threat of kidnapping in Egypt at the present time. In view of this and the overall security situation in the country Irish citizens already in Egypt are advised to take sensible precautions with regard to their personal safety and travel within the country. Long journeys by road should be undertaken only if absolutely necessary and should be planned with the utmost care and precaution. All travel to desert areas (including roads leading to them) should be strictly avoided.

Sinai

We strongly advise against all travel to Northern Sinai, including the Taba-Suez road, where the security situation is extremely dangerous. The Egyptian army is engaged in ongoing military operations against militant groups in North Sinai and there has been a serious escalation in the number of security incidents and attacks which has resulted in a state of emergency being declared and the imposition of a curfew.

Gaza/Rafah

Irish citizens are strongly advised not to seek to travel to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The vicinity of the border crossing is particularly dangerous at the moment and the border crossing is closed most of the time.   

Border regions

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 to avoid all 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 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.

Protests and demonstrations

Egypt has experienced frequent political protests and demonstrations since the 2011 Revolution. 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. As a result of legislative changes anyone participating in protests or demonstrations can expect to receive a lengthy prison sentence.

We strongly advise you to avoid all 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.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Egypt but there has been an increase in violent crime including armed robbery and car-jackings in recent years. You should therefore 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.

Women should be extra careful as there have been a significant and increasing number of sexual assaults and rapes involving female tourists in Egypt over recent years.  

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

Transport

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. Accidents are common and drivers often pay little heed to the rules of the road.

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
  • 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).

Public transport

Public transport in Egypt has a poor safety record. There have been numerous accidents in recent years involving buses, trains and metro services which have resulted in a considerable number of deaths including foreign tourists. The train and metro network has also been the target of terrorist attacks.    

Local laws and customs

Practical advice

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 may even be illegal.

Identification

Irish citizens should ensure that they carry valid i.d. with them at all times.

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.

Photography

There are numerous restrictions in place and all photography in the vicinity of military installations is strictly prohibited. There have been incidents of tourists being arrested for taking photos outside government buildings, train stations and of other edifices such as bridges.    

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.

LGBT

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

Climate

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. If travelling to Egypt for work or business reasons it is recommended that you obtain a visa in advance. For further information about the entry requirements for Egypt, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the Embassy of Egypt in Ireland.

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

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.