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.
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Natural disasters and climate
- Additional information
We are currently advising against all non-essential travel to Egypt.
Latest travel advice
Due to an increased risk of civil unrest and a heightened threat of terrorist incidents, Irish citizens are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt at this time with the following exceptions:
- the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula, where Irish citizens are advised to arrive and depart by air and to strictly avoid travelling outside the resort;
- the Red Sea coastal resort of Hurghada as well as Luxor and Aswan (including cruises between them) where Irish citizens are advised to exercise caution and arrive and depart by air.
On 16 February 2014 a bomb attack on a tourist bus in the vicinity of the Hilton Hotel in Taba in the South Sinai resulted in four deaths and multiple injuries. In recent months numerous bomb attacks have taken place across Egypt including in Cairo and there is a high risk of further attacks over the coming period as the country prepares for Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Previous incidents have specifically targeted police/military and government installations, but a number of civilians have also been killed or injured in these attacks. The Sinai-based jihadist group responsible for the most serious of these attacks has issued a warning that it intends to widen its operations to include economic targets. Given these developments there is a high risk that future attacks may be indiscriminate in nature or specifically target places frequented by foreigners such as international hotels or tourist resorts.
Irish citizens already in Egypt are urged to remain vigilant and monitor local media for updates on the security situation. Irish citizens should also take sensible precautions with regard to their movements at this time, avoiding large crowds where possible and all travel to the vicinity of major security/police or government buildings. If you are already in a tourist resort you should not leave the resort without consulting your local tour operator.
A heavy security presence on the streets, including security checkpoints on key routes at night, is to be expected and this may result in delays and disruption to travel routes. Irish citizens should ensure that that they carry valid i.d. with them at all times.
Since the removal of former President Muhammed Morsi from office in July 2013 there have been frequent political protests and demonstrations across the country involving violent clashes with the security forces and/or opponents resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries.
On 25 December 2013 the Government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and announced that participation in protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters would from now on carry an automatic minimum prison sentence of five years. A new law introduced by the interim Government on 24 November 2013 effectively bans all protests from taking place without prior official approval.
Despite these developments, protests and demonstrations continue to take place. The constitutional referendum held on 14/15 January 2014 witnessed protests and violent clashes in many parts of the country resulting in at least a dozen deaths and more than 400 arrests. Some forty nine people were killed and over 1000 arrested during protests coinciding with the third anniversary of the 2011 revolution on 25 January 2014. Estimates put the number of people killed in clashes with the security forces since July 2013 at more than 1400.
Protests and demonstrations can turn violent with little warning. Reports also indicate a high number of serious sexual assaults against women during demonstrations. Furthermore, as a result of recent legislative changes anyone participating in protests or demonstrations can expect to receive a lengthy prison sentence. For these reasons, we strongly advise Irish citizens who are currently in Egypt to avoid all protests and demonstrations and to monitor this travel advice and the local media for updates on the security situation. If caught up in a demonstration, Irish citizens should not attempt to take photographs and should leave the area immediately.
Recent months have seen a serious escalation in the number of security incidents in Sinai, some of them involving tourists. In addition military operations against militants are under way in Northern Sinai. 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 should be aware that sectarian tensions have in the past resulted in attacks on Coptic Christian Churches by Islamic extremists including in August and October 2013.
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.
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.
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
Safety and security
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
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.
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.
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 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.
There has been an increase in crimes such as robbery and armed car-jackings in areas frequented by expats and tourists.
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.
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
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
Local laws and customs
- 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
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.
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.
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 drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
Drinking in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar is against the law.
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
Natural disasters and climate
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Egypt.
Be aware of fraudulent marriages - marriage to an Irish citizen does not guarantee that a visa will be granted to a non-Irish spouse.
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.
In general tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is cheap and readily available.