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
Irish citizens are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Egypt at this time due to a heightened threat of terrorist incidents, including targeted attacks against foreigners, and a continuing threat of civil unrest. The following exceptions apply:
- The Red Sea coastal resorts of Sharm El Sheikh (see below for further information), Hurghada and other Red Sea resorts outside the Sinai peninsula, where Irish citizens are advised to exercise caution and to 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.
Latest travel advice
Citizens should note the direction issued by the Irish Aviation Authority on 4 November to Irish airline operators not to operate to/from Sharm el-Sheikh airport or in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula airspace until further notice. Any Irish citizen scheduled to travel to, or already in, Sharm El Sheikh should contact their tour operator or airline for further information and make their travel plans in coordination with their travel or tour company.
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), 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 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 have also been a number of incidents and attacks specifically targeting foreign interests and nationals in Egypt. These include a bomb attack on the Italian Consulate in Cairo on 11 July and the abduction on 22 July and subsequent suspected execution in August of a Croatian national. Islamic State claimed responsibility for both incidents.
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 into desert areas (including roads leading to them) should be strictly avoided. 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. 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 closed most of the time. 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.
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 Embassy of Ireland in 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.