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Egypt

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

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

Overview

Security status

We advise Irish citizens in Egypt to Exercise a High Degree of Caution. 
 
Irish citizens are strongly advised against all travel to:
  • the Governorate of North Sinai including the Taba-Suez Road where the security situation is extremely dangerous.
  • desert areas close to the Libyan and Sudanese borders due to heightened concerns about the security situation there.
  • 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.
Irish citizens are advised, if travelling to:
  • the Red Sea coastal resorts of Sharm El Sheikh (however, see below for further information) and other Red Sea resorts outside the Sinai peninsula,
  • tourist areas close to the Nile river, (such as Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel, including cruises between them);
to arrive by air and to avoid travelling outside these areas.

Latest travel alert

In April 2017 the Egyptian Government decreed that a state of emergency exists in Egypt and has extended that decree every three months since, most recently on July 25th, 2019. 
There is a high risk of terrorist attacks in Egypt. Although the majority of attacks are targeted at the security services, they have involved civilian casualties.
On 4th August 2019 a car bomb exploded in central Cairo killing at least 20 civilians and injuring about 50 more.  All the casualties were Egyptian.
On 19th May 2019 a small road-side bomb in the vicinity of the Giza pyramids was detonated as a bus carrying South African tourists was passing by, causing some injuries, none fatal.
On 28 December 2018, a remote explosive device killed three Vietnamese tourists, their Egyptian guide and wounded 12 other people on a bus near the Giza pyramids.
Irish citizens should remain vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities, including any restrictions on movement including in and around religious sites and during religious festivals, and monitor local media (including social media) for up to date information.  
Irish citizens should also avoid the vicinity of major security/police or government buildings, Irish citizens should ensure that that they carry valid i.d. with them at all times. If caught up in a demonstration, Irish citizens should not attempt to take photographs/ videos 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

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a heightened threat of terrorist incidents in Egypt at this time and these normally happen without warning. Although the majority of attacks are targeted at the security services in specific areas, especially North Sinai, they have involved civilian casualties.  Alliances between local extremist groups and Da'esh and Al Qaida have increased the risk of attacks against Westerners and Western interests in Egypt.
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.
On 4th August 2019 a car bomb exploded in central Cairo killing at least 20 civilians and injuring about 50 more.  All the casualties were Egyptian.
On 19th May 2019 a small road-side bomb in the vicinity of the Giza pyramids was detonated as a bus carrying South African tourists was passing by, causing some injuries, none fatal.
On 28th December 2018, a remote explosive device killed three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian guide, and wounded 12 other people on a bus near the Giza pyramids.
Coptic Egyptians are the frequent target of attacks in Egypt.  These include significant terrorist attacks with multiple casualties and more localised inter faith community disputes which escalate quickly into more extreme violence.  While most Coptic sites are well guarded by the security services, extreme caution should be observed when visiting them.
Irish citizens are strongly advised to avoid security installations (police stations, road checkpoints, military bases) and significant Government buildings to the extent possible.  People who take photographs and videos of security installations or security vehicles and equipment or Government buildings have been arrested and had their cameras confiscated.
In general, Irish citizens should be vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities, respect restrictions on movement (including in and around religious sites and during religious festivals) and monitor local media (including social media) for up to date information.
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

Irish citizens should avoid 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.  In addition to the general state of Emergency which exists in Egypt, there are additional restrictions on movement in Sinai, including a strictly enforced curfew.
 

Border regions

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 them will only be allowed if a special permit is obtained from the armed forces.
Irish citizens are strongly advised not to seek to travel to or from Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The vicinity of the border crossing is particularly dangerous with frequent attacks on security forces. The border crossing is closed most of the time.
The security situation in the desert areas close to the Libyan and Sudanese borders is dangerous. Irish citizens are strongly advised to avoid all travel to these areas of the country. 
 

Protests and demonstrations

Although protests and demonstrations in Egypt are now relatively rare compared to the period of political turmoil between 2011 and 2013, they sometimes happen with little or no prior warning. There is no official tolerance for such demonstrations and the police response can be harsh.  They can also very quickly turn violent, and in the past this violence has resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries. Under Egyptian law anyone participating in an unauthorized protest or demonstrations can expect to be detained for an extended period.
Irish citizens are strongly advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations. If you’re caught up in a demonstration, leave the area immediately. Don’t attempt to take photographs or video of demonstrations.
You should closely monitor the local media (including social media) for updates on the situation.
 

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.
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.
 

Sexual Harassment

Women face particular challenges in Egypt.  Cairo is reckoned to be the most dangerous megacity in the world for women. Sexual harassment is common on the street and in taxis. This can quickly escalate into sexual assaults and rape. What in Ireland is regarded as ordinary social interaction, for example eye contact and smiling, may be regarded in Egypt as flirtation. While it may be safer to travel in an Uber or the women-only carriages of the metro, vigilance must be maintained.  Where possible women should not travel alone and if travelling in a car alone with a male driver should sit in the back seat behind the driver. It is advisable to cover your legs and arms when travelling outside of resorts, particularly during Ramadan or if you are visiting more religiously pious areas.
  

Transport

Driving

Driving conditions in Egypt are often hazardous, particularly at night outside major cities. Accidents are common and drivers often pay little heed to the rules of the road. Most sign posts outside major cities are in Arabic only.
If you want to drive:
• Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
• Exercise extreme caution at all times.
• Avoid driving at night outside main urban areas.
• Know your routes.
• Be aware that 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, micro-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.  Where they are available, women should use the women only carriages of trains. 

Local Laws and Customs

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.
 

Cultural norms

Egypt is a conservative and mostly Muslim society and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. We advise that you 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. Both men and women will be expected to cover their legs to at least below the knee when visiting places of worship, including Christian churches.  Women will be asked to cover their heads.  If you do not wish to share the coverings offered by those places frequented by tourists or if you plan to visit non tourist sites, consider bringing a wide and long (and lightweight) scarf for this purpose. 
 
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 are advised not to eat, drink or smoke in public during this time.
Women travellers
 
Women face particular challenges in Egypt and should exercise additional caution and be very aware of personal safety. 
Cairo is reckoned to be the most dangerous megacity in the world for women. Sexual harassment is common on the street and in taxis. This can quickly escalate into sexual assaults and rape. What in Ireland is regarded as ordinary social interaction, for example eye contact and smiling, may be regarded in Egypt as flirtation. While it may be safer to travel in an Uber or the women-only carriages of the metro, vigilance must be maintained.  Where possible women should not travel alone and if travelling in a car alone with a male driver should sit in the back seat behind the driver. It is advisable to cover your legs and arms when travelling outside of resorts, particularly during Ramadan or if you are visiting more religiously pious 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 fully aware of your legal position.  You should not surrender your children’s passports to a third party while in Egypt.
 
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.
 

LGBTI

There is much ambiguity in Egyptian law about homosexuality.  However there is strong popular disapproval of homosexuality, and the Egyptian gay community is very cautious in public.  Homophobia is common everywhere. Open display of the rainbow flag has resulted in extraordinarily harsh police action against the LGBTI community, including arrest and imprisonment. Gay men in particular have been targeted and convicted of breaching laws on public decency. 

Natural Disasters and Climate

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

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

Irish citizens should be aware that efforts are frequently made to conclude fraudulent marriages usually with the intention of gaining residency and ultimately citizenship in Ireland.  They should be aware that marriage to an Irish citizen does not guarantee that a visa will be granted to a non-Irish spouse.  Irish citizens should also be aware that Egyptian family law is subject to religious affiliation.  Polygamy is permitted in Egypt for Muslims and Muslim Egyptian men may in law marry again without advising either the new spouse or any existing spouse of the new marriage.  We strongly advise Irish citizens planning to marry Egyptians to ensure they have a thorough knowledge of their prospective 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.

 

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

If you are an Irish citizen and in need of emergency assistance outside of normal office hours, then you can contact us on the following emergency number: +20 1274443942.

Embassy of Ireland
18 Hassan Sabry Street
Zamalek
Cairo

Egypt



Tel: +202 27287100
Fax: +202 27362863

Monday to Friday 09:30-12:30

Contact us

Honorary Consulate Contact

Mr. Hisham G Helmy
Honorary Consul of Ireland
45 Victor Bassily street off Sultan Hussein street - Azarita
Alexandria
Egypt

Tel: +20 3 4782001
+20 3 4782009
+20 3 4782460
+20 3 4782461

Fax: +20 3 4782458

Email: Email us