Travel Advice - Egypt

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Egypt

Travel Advice - Egypt

Post by DJKeefy »

Still current at: 07 October 2008
Updated: 30 September 2008


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Crime and River and Sea Safety sections. The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

There is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as hotels and restaurants.

The Egyptian authorities are reported to have suspended issuing travel permits to the South West corner of the country near the Egypt/Sudan/Libya border. This follows the kidnap of 19 people (8 Egyptians, 5 Germans, 5 Italians and a Romanian) whilst on safari in Karkur Talh. We advise extreme caution if you are considering travel to this area.

Since 2004 there have been three separate bomb attacks in the Sinai Peninsula. These attacks killed and injured a number of British nationals. The most recent incident on 24 April 2006 in the resort town of Dahab killed 23 people, and injured more than 60 including three British nationals. See the Terrorism Section of this advice for more details.

Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Egypt have led to more than a dozen human fatalities since 2006. The last fatality was in 2007. See the Health (Avian Influenza) section of this advice and Avian and Pandemic Influenza for more details - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... -influenza

Approximately 1,055,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2007 (source: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism). Most visits are trouble-free. The main types of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Egypt in 2007 were: replacing lost and stolen passports (over 100 cases); hospitalisation, especially in relation to psychiatric illness (67 cases); deaths, mostly from natural causes and drowning (52 cases); and arrests, for a variety of offences (39 cases). The majority of consular cases occur in Cairo, Luxor and Sharm el-Sheikh, where most tourists stay.

Egyptian society is conservative and women should dress modestly. See the Local Laws and Customs section of this advice for details.

The crime rate in Egypt is low but you should safeguard valuables including your passport and money. You should carry some form of photographic ID at all times. A copy of your passport is sufficient.

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... insurance/




SAFETY AND SECURITY

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt. Security is tight throughout Egypt, especially in resort areas. There remains a risk of indiscriminate attacks in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as hotels and restaurants. Egyptian security forces continue to carry out counter-terrorist operations in some areas of Sinai. Security authorities may insist on escorting you in some areas.

The Egyptian authorities have reportedly suspended issuing travel permits to the South West corner of the country near the Egypt/Sudan/Libya border. This follows the kidnap of 19 people (8 Egyptians, 5 Germans, 5 Italians and a Romanian) whilst on safari in Karkur Talh area near the border. The hostages were taken out of Egypt and held for a week before being released. The borders in this area are porous and bandits operateYou should not travel to the area without a legally obtained permit. We advise extreme caution in travelling to this area.

On 26 April 2006, there were two suicide bomb attacks at the Multinational Force and Observers base in north Sinai. There were no fatalities.

On 24 April 2006, there were explosions at three separate locations in the resort town of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsular, in which 23 people were killed and more than 60 injured, including three British nationals.

In August 2005, two police vehicles and one Multinational Force and Observers’ vehicle were damaged when three roadside bombs exploded in Northern Sinai. Two policemen were killed and seven others injured.

On 23 July 2005, three bombs exploded in Sharm al-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula. 63 people, including 11 British nationals, were killed. 124 others were injured in these attacks.

On 30 April 2005, terrorists carried out two suicide bomb attacks in Cairo. Seven civilians, including four foreign nationals, were injured. On 7 April 2005, there was a suicide bomb attack in central Cairo near the Khan El Khalili bazaar, a location frequented by tourists. Three tourists were killed and 19 injured.

On 7 October 2004, three terrorist attacks in resorts and hotels in Taba and near Nuweiba in the Sinai Peninsula killed 34 (including tourists) and injured 159. Prior to these attacks the last terrorist attacks in Egypt were in 1997 in Luxor.

You should be aware that some of these attacks have taken place over local holiday weekends. Egyptian security forces tend to step up their presence at these times. For more general information see Terrorism Abroad - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... ism-abroad

Crime

The crime rate in Egypt is low but you should take sensible precautions. Take care of your passport and valuables, use hotel safes and be aware of pickpockets and bag snatchers. If you are travelling alone or in small groups, you are advised to take extra caution, as there have been many cases of harassment, the majority targeting women, especially on the streets of busy cities or at the beach resorts. If you are the victim of any crime you must report it to the Tourist Police immediately. Failure to report crimes before you leave Egypt will make it impossible to seek a prosecution at a later date.

In 2007 Egypt was one of the countries with the highest number of cases reported to our Consular staff of British nationals who were the victim of a sexual offence. Half a dozen of the cases reported to our Consular staff involved children under the age of 18.

There has been a noticeable increase recently in cases reported to Consular staff of British nationals who were the victim of sexual assault. Many of these assaults have occurred in what were considered to be safe environs e.g. hotel premises. The majority are connected with tourist related activities e.g. massage in spas. For more guidance about this see Rape and Sexual Assault - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... wrong/rape

Be aware that alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. For more guidance about this see Rape and Sexual Assault - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... wrong/rape

Taxis and minibuses often overcharge tourists for airport transfers. You should ensure that you agree with the driver a charge for the ride before taking it.

For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... ong/crime/



Political Situation

Opposition in Egypt to Western and British policy in the Middle East is widespread. The conflict in Iraq triggered demonstrations across the country and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continues to provoke public anger and demonstrations.

You should follow news reports and be alert to developments in the Middle East that might trigger public disturbance. You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, and respect any advice or instruction from the local security authorities.

There was a demonstration near Karnak Temple in Luxor at the end of March 2008, where residents protested against being relocated as a result of a new tourist project. There have been protests elsewhere in Egypt, including Cairo, in advance of the local elections (8 April) and against price rises in basic commodities. You should avoid getting caught up in any disturbance.

Border areas

The area of the border between Egypt and Gaza is likely to remain tense after clashes and breaches of the border earlier this year. Other border areas e.g. with Libya, Sudan and Israel should also be treated with extreme caution. You should obtain the necessary permits before travelling to these areas and check regularly for updates. See the Road Travel section of this advice (below) for more details.



Local Travel

There remains a small risk from unexploded mines in certain desert areas in the north west of Egypt near to Alamein, and on some limited stretches of the Mediterranean coast near MarsaMatrouh and on the Red Sea coast south of Suez. Danger areas are usually well marked with signs and barbed wire fencing. Visitors should exercise caution and follow local advice.

Road Travel

You can drive in Egypt on an International driving licence for up to six months. If you intend to remain in Egypt for a longer period you must apply for an Egyptian driving licence.

Road accidents are very common in Egypt, mainly due to poor roads, dangerous driving and non-enforcement of traffic laws. Police estimate that road accidents kill over 6,000 people in Egypt each year. This is twice the UK figure. Avoid driving on country roads at night and observe the local speed limit. Make sure you obtain adequate third party insurance. In the event of an accident emergency medical facilities are limited.

By law, seatbelts must be worn when travelling in the front of a vehicle. Where available, seatbelts should be worn at all times. Child car seats are available locally.

Only certain categories of foreign residents may import vehicles. Vehicles of visitors should be temporarily imported with a valid “carnet de passage” available from the Automobile Association.

Pavement and pedestrian crossings are not always present and drivers do not give right of way to pedestrians.

There have been eight serious bus crashes since January 2006, in which over 100 people have been killed. If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is travelling at an unsafe speed you should firmly instruct the driver to slow down.

If travelling off road, a qualified guide should be employed. The hiring of quad bikes can be dangerous. There have been several serious quad bike accidents involving British nationals in resort areas. You should take the same safety precautions as you would in the UK as safety standards can vary considerably. You should always wear a crash helmet and you should ensure that your travel insurance policy covers you fully before you hire a quad bike.

Travellers to remote destinations away from the main towns and border areas should contact the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo as written permission may be required. You should not travel to these areas with a valid permit. Currently permits are reportedly not being issued for the South West corner border areas with Libya and Sudan.

For more general information see Driving Abroad - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... ing-abroad

Rail Travel

Egypt's extensive rail network has experienced a number of accidents in recent years. The most serious took place in February 2002, when a fire developed in a train in southern Egypt and led to 361 fatalities. Most recently 42 people died and dozens were injured when a passenger train collided traffic 270 north west of Cairo on 17 July 2008. There were no British nationals among those killed or injured.

Air Travel

All flights, domestic and international, should be reconfirmed within 72 hours of travel.

River/Sea Travel

There have been three significant fires on Nile cruisers since September 2006. An Egyptian ferry sank in the Red Sea between Duba, Saudi Arabia and Safaga, Egypt in February 2006.

Piracy is a problem that affects all countries that border the Red Sea. Whilst Egypt has a stable coastline and an active coastguard and therefore does not see the scale of piracy experienced in the Horn of Africa there were two incidents in 2006 in which robbers threatened smaller boats and stole equipment. Travellers in small boats are advised to move in convoy and obtain detailed advice from the coastguard before travelling through the area.

If you are considering diving or snorkelling in any of the Red Sea resorts you should be aware that safety standards of diving operators can vary considerably. A basic rule is never to dive or snorkel unaccompanied. Where possible you should make any bookings through your tour representative, and ensure that your travel insurance covers you fully before you dive. Diving beyond the depth limit of your insurance policy will invalidate your cover.

You should ensure that your travel insurance, or that of the tour or dive company, provides adequate cover for the costs involved in any air/sea rescue if you are lost at sea. The current fee can exceed $4000 per hour. The Egyptian authorities will only undertake air/sea rescue operations on receipt of a guarantee of payment. The British Embassy is unable to provide this initial guarantee, but does facilitate communication between the insurance company and the Egyptian authorities. There have been delays in the past in starting a rescue operation while such a guarantee has been sought from the insurance company. It is essential, therefore, that you have effective cover in place beforehand.

For more general information see River and Sea Safety - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... ver-safety

Mines

There remains a small risk from unexploded mines in certain desert areas in the north west of Egypt near to Alamein, and on some limited stretches of the Mediterranean coast near Marsa Matrouh and on the Red Sea coast south of Suez. Danger areas are usually well marked with signs and barbed wire fencing. You should exercise caution and follow local advice, especially if planning trips off marked roads.



LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Local laws reflect the fact that Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs. This is especially important during the holy month of Ramadan, which started this year on 1 September, or if you intend to visit religious areas. For more general information see Travelling During Ramadan - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... ng-ramadan

The government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity but encouraging conversion to the Christian faith is illegal.

Egypt is also a conservative society. You should dress modestly, especially when visiting traditional areas like mosques and souqs (markets). Women's clothes should cover their legs and upper arms. Public displays of affection are frowned upon.

Visitors and residents should carry photographic ID at all times. Your passport must contain a valid visa.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can, even for possession of small amounts, lead to lengthy prison sentences (25 years), life imprisonment or the death penalty. A recent decision means that those convicted to life imprisonment on drugs charges will spend the rest of their life in prison with no possibility of parole or pardon.

Photography of or near military official installations is strictly prohibited. Don’t photograph officials without their consent. Plane spotting is not advised in any circumstances. You may be detained or arrested if you use binoculars near an airport.

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

Women are advised to take extra caution when travelling alone as there have been cases of harassment and sexual assault, including rape.

Egyptian family law is very different from UK law and particular caution is needed when, for example, child custody becomes an issue. Please see child abduction - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... -abduction


For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... nt-to-you/



Entry requirements

Visas

British visitors need a visa. These can be obtained from an Egyptian Consulate outside Egypt or on arrival by payment in Sterling or USD, for stays of up to a month. Applications for visa extensions should be made at Egyptian Passport and Immigration Offices.

A visa does not guarantee entry into Egypt. The decision to allow or decline entry rests solely with the Egyptian immigration authorities and we cannot interfere in another country's immigration policy or procedures. We will, however, do all we properly can to make contact within 24 hours of hearing of the detention of a British national to offer advice and contact relatives in the UK if requested.

You may have difficulties leaving Egypt with an out of date visa. You will not normally be allowed to leave if the visa is out of date by more than 14 days. For visas and further information on entry requirements, check with the Egyptian Embassy in your country of residence: the Egyptian Embassy in London - http://www.fco.gov.uk/content/en/contac ... a/dl-egypt

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for at least six months.

Work permits

Evidence of an AIDS test is required if you are applying for a work permit.

Customs regulations

5,000 Egyptian pounds is the maximum amount of local currency you are allowed to bring in or take out of Egypt. There is no limit to the amount of hard currency that you may bring in, but sums that exceed USD 10,000 should be declared on arrival. Egyptian currency should not be sent through the post.

Certain valuables such as electrical equipment, video camera etc must be declared on arrival. Electrical items noted in passports must be produced on exit from the country. Failure to do so will result in payment of high rates of customs duty. It is advisable to contact the Egyptian embassy in your country of residence for specific information regarding customs requirements.



Health

Medical facilities outside Cairo can be basic and in case of emergency you are advised to seek treatment in Cairo. You should ensure that your medical insurance covers the cost of local hospitalisation and medical repatriation to your country of residence.

Come prepared for the heat. Use a high factor sun block and drink plenty of water to guard against exposure and dehydration, which can result in serious health problems.

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

In the 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 5,200 adults aged 15 or over in Egypt were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at less than 0.1% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 1.1%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... health/hiv

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Egypt and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.


For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection for Egypt you should check the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre NaTHNaC - http://www.nathnac.org/travel/index.htm and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel - http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/ or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

For more general health information see Travel Health - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... fe/health/


Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

The first cases of bird flu in Egypt were confirmed on 17 February 2006. Since then, bird flu has been confirmed in 20 governorates. This has led to a number of cases of human infection, including more than 20 fatalities, believed to have arisen from close contact with infected poultry. Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Over one million British tourists visited Egypt in 2006/7 and the risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. However, as a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) - http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/ has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form which is easily transmissible between people.

British nationals living longer term in an Avian-Influenza affected region should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.

You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which gives more detailed advice and information - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... -influenza



Natural Disasters

Egypt is susceptible to occasional earthquakes; the last major one was in 1992.


General

Insurance

You are strongly recommended to obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Make sure it covers the cost of local hospitalisation and medical repatriation to your country of residence. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. If you intend to hire a quad bike you should always wear a crash helmet and ensure that your travel insurance policy covers you this. You should contact your insurer if you have had a previous health condition, including mental illness, as this may not be covered if it recurs. For more general information see Travel Insurance - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... insurance/

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is How We Can Help - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... -go-wrong/


Registering with the British Embassy

Register with our LOCATE service - https://www.locate.fco.gov.uk/locateportal/ to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency. More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and ... as/Locate/

Money

Cash machines are quite common in Egypt, especially in the main tourist areas. Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes are not exchangeable in Egypt.

Major hotels and medical facilities will usually accept payment by credit card, however smaller hotels and medical establishments may expect payment in hard currency.



Purchase of Property

British nationals have purchased land in many parts of Egypt. Some have encountered problems. If you intend to purchase a property in Egypt we strongly advise you to engage a local lawyer in whom you have confidence. A list of English speaking lawyers is available on the British Embassy, Cairo website at: http://www.britishembassy.org.eg. You should deal only with established and reputable lawyers and estate agents or with other contacts whom they know to be reliable and genuine, and you should make all payments within bank premises and/or through banking channels and not in cash.

In parts of Egypt and increasingly, in the area of the West Bank in Luxor your land tenure rights can be severely curtailed by local legislation. It is important that your lawyer obtains an extract from the local land registry to satisfy you that the property or land in question is formally registered. You should again seek legal advice before entering into any contract. Don't sign anything that you do not understand. A list of translators is available on the British Embassy, Cairo website (see above). You should ensure that your personal details and the full purchase price of the property are reflected on the deeds.

The British Embassy is unable to interfere with court or legal proceedings. Neither can it lobby or provide updates to British national involved in land or property disputes.


British Embassy Cairo

Address:
British Embassy
7 Ahmed Ragheb Street
Garden City
Cairo

Telephone:
(20) (2) 794 0852
(20) (2) 794 0850
(20) (2) 794 0858


Facsimile:
(20) (2) 796 1458 Political
(20) (2) 794 0859 Commercial
(20) (2) 796 3222 Management
(20) (2) 795 1235 Visa
(20) (2) 794 3065 Consular & Information
(20) (2) 796 2925 Defence


Email:
consular.cairo@fco.gov.uk Consular
visa.cairo@fco.gov.uk
commercial.cairo@fco.gov.uk Commercial
defencestaff.CAIRX@fco.gov.uk Defence
information.cairo@fco.gov.uk Information
economic.cairo@fco.gov.uk Economic


Office Hours: GMT:
Sun-Wed: 0500-1230
Thurs: 0500-1100

Local Time:
Sun-Wed: 0800-1530
Thurs: 0800-1400


Website:
www.britishembassy.gov.uk/egypt



Information From:- UK - Foreign & Commonwealth Office Website


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