Top events in Egypt

October
19

On the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ Al-Awal, Egyptians celebrate the Prophet’s birthday with readings from the Quran as well...

November
01

This festival brings together artists, filmmakers, producers, writers and critics together and celebrates Egyptian, Arab and African films.

November
12

Inspired from a piece of ancient rock telling the story of Pharaonic soldiers running 100km, this epic race sees competitors run from the Hawara...

Pyramids, Egypt
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Pyramids, Egypt

© 123rf.com / Fatih Kocyildir

Egypt Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

1,001,450 sq km (386,662 sq miles).

Population

94,137,816 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

88.4 per sq km.

Capital

Cairo (El Qahira).

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli since June 2018.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Sockets take the continental European-style plugs with two round pins.

A complicated but fascinating country with some of the most enduring historical monuments on Earth, Egypt stands as an unforgettable travel destination. It’s had to deal with its fair share of turmoil in recent times, but this North African nation remains proud, welcoming and accessible. And with treasures as timeless as the temples and pyramids of the Nile to shout about, it’s not somewhere that’s going to slip from public consciousness any time soon. A trip here still very much has the potential to thrill.

In many ways, there are two Egypts. The first is the Egypt of Cairo and the Nile, of bustling medieval bazaars, noseless Sphinxes, river cruises and Agatha Christie-era exoticism. The second, and just as integral to many visitors, is the Egypt of the Red Sea, where a spread of large-scale modern resorts caters to sun-seekers and scuba divers. Sharm el Sheikh, with its world-class diving, high-end hotels and desert adventures, is the best known of them.

Most of the country’s ancient treasures were built during the time of the pharaohs. The Pyramids of Giza (the sole survivors of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World); the lotus-columned temples of Luxor and Karnak; the Valley of the Kings; Aswan and the temples of Abu Simbel: strung along the Nile, these monuments have drawn visitors for centuries. They represent a lasting legacy of one of the most fabled periods of human history.

Of course, the country is best understood not so much for its great monuments or its coral reefs, splendid though they are, but through its people. Bartering for a bargain in Cairo’s ancient Khan al-Khalili bazaar, taking tea and falling into long conversation with a local, or simply stopping awhile in a remote village, silent but for the chatter of hooves on tarmac, will give a glimpse of a country full of character, colour and fortitude.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Egypt on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Commercial flights to and from Egypt remain limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Egypt.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Public spaces and services

Everyone should comply with the measures put in place in Egypt to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Egyptian authorities’ response to the coronavirus is evolving, and local measures may change and new restrictions be introduced at short notice and without warning.

There are currently restrictions on public transportation operating from midnight until 4am. There are also restrictions on schools, universities, cafes, bars, clubs, hotels and tourist locations operating at a reduced capacity. The authorities may announce the closure of public spaces, including parks and beaches at short notice, in particular around public holidays. You should follow the guidance of the local authorities. The wearing of face masks is mandatory in closed public spaces, including government buildings, private offices, malls, retail outlets and public transport including private taxis. Legal penalties could be applied for non-compliance.

Healthcare in Egypt

The Egyptian authorities may impose mandatory quarantine for visitors who test positive for coronavirus in a government isolation hospital, potentially in a remote location. Access for family members could be heavily restricted or impossible. Egyptian state facilities may be below UK standards.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Egypt.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Egypt

We will update this page when the Government of Egypt announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Egyptian national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. The Government of Egypt has stated that British nationals resident in Egypt are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme.

Egypt is following a phased vaccination programme, prioritised by groups in the following order: (1) frontline C19 healthcare workers, medical professionals, and those that are 65 and above, including people with chronic or comorbid conditions; (2) those that are 45 and above, including with chronic or comorbid conditions; (3) priority groups from the healthy population, e.g. educational field workers, those in essential economic sectors, prisoners, and those living in crowded quarters; (4) younger age groups; and (5) children and pregnant women.

An Egyptian government website is open to the public for registration. An English language version of the website is available by selecting the icon at the top left of the page.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Egypt, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Political and security situation

Since January 2011, Egypt has experienced significant political turmoil and the political environment remains restrictive. This has sometimes involved violent protests and disturbances, which have resulted in a number of deaths.

Protests, marches and demonstrations have occurred across Egypt in the recent past. If you become aware of any nearby protests, marches or demonstrations you should move away from the immediate area as the atmosphere could change quickly and without warning. Police have previously used water cannons, tear gas, birdshot and live ammunition for crowd control.

Foreigners engaging in any form of political activity or activities critical of the government may be at risk of detention or other measures.

There are reports that personal electronic devices are being checked by security personnel, particularly around places of public gathering, such as Tahrir Square.

Crime

The crime rate in Egypt is generally low, but over the years visitors have sometimes suffered armed robberies, muggings (including in taxis), sexual assaults, and break-ins to accommodation and cars.

In 2020, the British Embassy responded to 2 cases of sexual assault and harassment against British nationals in Egypt, though many incidents often go unreported. Female travellers should exercise caution when travelling alone as they could be vulnerable to unwanted attention or harassment. If you are travelling on a microbus, avoid being the last passenger left on the bus. Take extra care when travelling alone, particularly at night, in taxis and microbuses.

Take care of your passport and valuables. Use hotel safes and beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers.

If you are the victim of any crime and wish to report it, you should do so 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.

Local travel

Cairo

There is a risk that tourists at high-profile sites like the Giza Pyramids may be confronted aggressively for money or business, even while travelling by car or taxi. Visitors using a pre-booked guide, or taking an organised tour to visit the Giza Pyramids are likely to face fewer difficulties.

North Sinai

The FCDO advise against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai, due to continuing criminal activity and terrorist attacks on police and security forces that have resulted in deaths.

South Sinai and Red Sea Governorates

The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the Governorate of South Sinai, except the area within the Sharm el Sheikh perimeter barrier, which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq.

The tourist areas along the Nile river (including Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings) and the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada are not included in the areas to which the FCDO advise against all but essential travel.

Security measures are in place in the resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Security forces are situated at airports, at checkpoints around the perimeter of the towns and throughout the South Sinai and Red Sea Governorates. Routine security checks are being performed on entry into the airports and police are carrying out vehicle checks in towns.

Egypt to Gaza crossing

For the latest requirements on crossing from Egypt to Gaza, delivering aid or entering for humanitarian purposes, you should contact the Egyptian Embassy in London. However, the Egyptian authorities have stated that all aid going into Gaza from Egypt must be channelled through the Egyptian Red Crescent:

  • telephone: + 20 226 703 979, + 20 226 703 983
  • fax: + 20 226 703 967.

Short-notice requests for humanitarian access and those made in Egypt are unlikely to be considered.

If you’re crossing the border, you should also read travel advice for Israel and The Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Security authorities often close the Suez-Taba road.

Western Desert

The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, excluding the coastal areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matruh. You should exercise extreme caution in all border areas.

You’ll need a permit from the Travel Permits Department of the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior if you travel to the south west corner of Egypt near the border with Sudan or Libya. You should carefully consider your security arrangements; the border areas are porous, and bandits and armed groups operate.

Hala’ib Triangle and Bir Tawil Trapezoid

The Hala’ib Triangle remains disputed territory between Egypt and Sudan. If you’re in the Hala’ib Triangle and need urgent consular assistance, you should contact the British Embassy Cairo.

Correspondingly, the Bir Tawil Trapezoid remains unclaimed by either Egypt or Sudan. If you’re in this area and need urgent consular assistance, you should contact the British Embassy in the country you last travelled through (either the British Embassy Cairo or the British Embassy Khartoum).

Road travel

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

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.

Accidents are common, mainly due to poor road conditions, dangerous driving and non-enforcement of traffic laws. Observe the speed limit and if possible avoid independent road travel outside main cities and resorts at night. Make sure you have adequate insurance.

By law, seatbelts must be worn when travelling in the front of a vehicle.

If you’re travelling off road, employ a qualified guide and obtain appropriate permits from the Ministry of Interior.

There have been a number of serious bus crashes in recent years with large numbers of fatalities, including tourists.

Air travel

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. See Aviation

Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports.

Following the crash of a St Petersburg-bound flight in North Sinai in October 2015, direct flights between the UK and Sharm el Sheikh were suspended. The UK government has worked with Egyptian authorities to enable flights to resume, and on 22 October 2019 the restrictions were lifted. You should check with your airline or tour operator for information on services.

The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Egypt.

A list of incidents and accidents in Egypt can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

Rail travel

There have been a number of fatal accidents in recent years, most recently in February 2019 when a train collided with a platform in Cairo, killing at least 22 people.

Suspect devices have been found at train stations and on the rail network. Although several of these have been hoaxes or false alarms, you should remain vigilant.

River and sea travel

In the past, overcrowding and poor safety standards have led to several accidents on Red Sea ferries and Nile cruisers.

Adventure travel

Before undertaking any adventure activity, make sure you are covered by your travel insurance. Make sure your travel insurance, or that of your tour or dive company, provides adequate cover for the costs involved in any air/sea rescue. The current fee can exceed US $4,000 per hour. The Egyptian authorities will only undertake air/sea rescue operations on receipt of a guarantee of payment. See our travel insurance guidance page for more information on getting suitable travel insurance.

Nineteen people, including two British nationals, died in a hot air balloon accident in Luxor in February 2013. In January 2018 a hot air balloon crash killed one person and injured 12 others in Luxor. Some UK tour operators have not been able to verify independently safety procedures for balloon flights and are not selling balloon flights to their customers. Speak to your tour company before booking a balloon flight.

If you are considering diving or snorkelling in any of the Red Sea resorts be aware that safety standards of diving operators can vary considerably. Never dive or snorkel unaccompanied. Where possible make bookings through your tour representative. Very cheap operators may not provide adequate safety and insurance standards. Diving beyond the depth limit of your insurance policy will invalidate your cover.

Shark attacks of any kind are very unusual in the Red Sea. There were a series of attacks in Sharm el Sheikh in late 2010 and in March 2015, a German tourist was killed by a shark attack in al-Qusair. In 2020 there was a reported attack in Ras Mohammed, Sharm el Sheikh. You should monitor updates issued by the local authorities and your tour operator.

There have been several serious quad bike accidents involving British nationals in resort areas. Take the same precautions as you would in the UK and note that safety standards can vary considerably. Always wear a crash helmet.

Landmines

There remains a small risk from unexploded landmines 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. Take care and follow local advice, especially if planning trips off marked roads.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Egypt set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Egypt

Since 1 July 2020, the Egyptian government has permitted international flights to and from Egyptian airports. Some airlines are imposing special requirements, such as the wearing of face masks. You should check with your airline before you travel.

The Egyptian authorities have advised that all arrivals into Egypt will be subject to health measures. Passengers from all countries will be required to complete a monitoring card with personal details, and will need to provide confirmation of valid health insurance policy to airport authorities. Passengers arriving from countries where C19 variants of concern have been identified may be required to undertake a rapid COVID-19 test (ID NOW) on arrival.

Testing before arrival

From 1 September 2020, all persons (including those who hold Egyptian nationality) arriving from overseas, to any part of Egypt, will be required to present a negative PCR test certificate on arrival, and an indication of when the test was taken. The Egyptian authorities have advised that PCR tests must be conducted no more than 72 hours prior to flight departure. Passengers arriving from London Heathrow only are permitted to have their PCR test conducted no more than 96 hours prior to flight departure. Children under the age of 6 are exempt from providing negative PCR test certificates.

COVID-19 entry requirements may change at short notice. You should check with your airline to confirm specific requirements, including around PCR tests, well in advance of travel.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Testing in coastal governorates

Tourists arriving at airports in the coastal governorates of the Red Sea (Hurghada), South Sinai (Sharm El Sheikh), and Marsa Matrouh that are unable to present acceptable evidence of a negative PCR test will need to undergo testing on arrival for a fee of USD30. After testing you will be required to self-isolate at your hotel until you receive your test result. The Egyptian authorities will be in touch and will advise whether you need to continue self-isolating. Test results are expected to become available within 12-24 hours.

If your test result is positive, the Egyptian authorities are likely to ask you to self-isolate for up to 14 days in a separate room allocated for quarantine within your hotel. If symptoms persist, you may be transferred to a public hospital. You may also choose to go to a private hospital, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

You must comply with all instructions given by the Egyptian authorities. Failure to do so may result in you being refused permission to enter Egypt and/or legal enforcement.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British passport holders travelling to Egypt normally need a visa.

You can get a visa before you travel from the official Visa2Egypt portal or your nearest Egyptian consulate. Tourist visas granted using the e-visa system are valid for a maximum of 3 months. It is advisable to get a visa before you travel, particularly if travelling for work or business.

If you wish to get a visa on arrival, you can do so at approved bank kiosks within airport arrival halls, before reaching immigration counters. The visa fee is US$25, payable in in pounds sterling, US dollars or euros. Visas granted on arrival are valid for a maximum of 30 days. There’s no need to buy a visa from an agent. In many cases agents will charge more than US$25 for a visa. If you’re harassed by an agent, report the incident to the tourist police in the airport terminal.

If you’re travelling to Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts for up to 15 days, you will receive a free entry permission stamp upon arrival. If you intend to travel out of these areas or stay longer than 15 days, you must get a visa.

If you have travelled to one of the South Sinai Red Sea resorts, entered without a visa and your plans have changed, you can normally purchase a visa at Sharm el Sheikh airport to allow you to travel elsewhere.

Applications for visa extensions should be made at Egyptian Passport and Immigration Offices. You may have difficulties leaving Egypt with an out of date visa. You will not normally be allowed to leave without paying a fine if your visa is out of date by more than 14 days.

For further information and enquiries, contact the Egyptian Consulate in London.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Egypt.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for exit from Egypt, but not accepted for entry or transit. To leave Egypt on an ETD you will need to visit an Egyptian Passport and Immigration Office to complete the exit formalities. Some passport offices outside of Cairo may assist, but in many cases you will have to complete the formalities at the Passport and Immigration Office, 12 Al Seka Al Bayda, Sarayat, Waily, Abbassia, (next to the Abbassia Police Academy), Cairo. Tel: 00227956301. Opening hours for the office are 8am to 2.30pm, Saturday to Thursday. Immigration clearance may take up to 5 working days for tourists and up to 2 weeks for residents. You should adjust your travel plans accordingly.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Previous travel to Israel

Evidence of a previous visit to Israel like as an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally cause any difficulties when entering Egypt. It is, however, for the Egyptian authorities to determine the right of entry into the country. If you have any concerns, you should contact the  Egyptian consulate.

Work permits 

Evidence of testing for HIV is required if you are applying for a work permit.

Medication

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Egypt and can’t be brought into the country without prior permission from Egypt’s Ministry of Health. If you arrive in Egypt without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the country and you may be prosecuted under Egyptian law.

If you’re travelling with prescription medication you should carry a medical certificate confirming that the medication has been prescribed for a medical condition. The Egyptian Embassy website states that this should be in the form of an official letter from your GP, specifying details of your condition, the quantity of medication you will be carrying and that the medication is for your personal use only.

For further information and specific queries, contact the Egyptian Medical Office in London on 020 7370 6944.

Customs regulations

There’s a limit of 5,000 Egyptian pounds that 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. Certain valuables like electrical equipment, video cameras etc must be declared on arrival. Satellite phones and radio communications equipment brought into Egypt without prior clearance from the Ministry of Telecommunications are likely to be confiscated. Electrical items noted in passports on entry to Egypt must be produced on exit from the country. Failure to do so will result in payment of high rates of customs duty. Contact the Egyptian embassy in your country of residence for further information on customs requirements.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Although most attacks occur in North Sinai, there is a risk of terrorist attacks across the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, affecting Egyptian security forces, religious sites, large public gatherings and places visited by foreigners. There is a heightened threat of terrorist attacks in or around religious sites and during religious festivals, such as the month of Ramadan and the Christmas period (including Coptic Christmas), when terrorist groups have sometimes called for attacks. Terrorist attacks have occurred over local holiday weekends. Terrorists have attacked tourists in Egypt in the past. There is a heightened threat of terrorist attacks targeting Coptic Christians from extremists linked to Daesh-Sinai in Egypt.

You should follow the advice of Egyptian authorities, remaining particularly vigilant and maintaining a high level of security awareness in crowded places and at large gatherings. You can find a list of holidays on the British Embassy Cairo website. The authorities in Egypt maintain a significant security presence across the country, including armed security officers stationed at important sites, critical infrastructure, and road checkpoints. Extra measures are in place at tourist sites.

Recent attacks in Egypt have included:

  • on 4 August 2019, at least 20 people were killed by a car bomb in Central Cairo’s Manial district
  • on 19 May 2019, at least 16 people were injured after an IED attack on a tourist bus near the Giza pyramids
  • on 18 February 2019, 3 security personnel were killed by a suicide bomber in Central Cairo’s Darb al-ahmar district
  • on 28 December 2018, a roadside blast killed 3 Vietnamese tourists and a local tour guide on a bus near the Giza pyramids. Several others were wounded in the attack
  • on 2 November 2018, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya province, upper Egypt, killing 7 people. Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.

North Sinai

There are frequent reports of terrorist attacks in North Sinai. Most attacks are in the northeast corner of the governorate between Al-Arish city and the border with Gaza, but the whole of the North Sinai governorate is at risk. A state of emergency in North Sinai is in effect and a curfew is in place.

Most attacks in North Sinai are against the Egyptian government and military installations and personnel; however attacks have been carried out against civilians suspected of working with the authorities and local religious minority groups.

Terrorist groups in Egypt

Daesh-Sinai is the most active terrorist group in Egypt. Most Daesh-Sinai attacks have targeted government, security forces and Coptic Christians, but foreigners have also been targeted. Their main area of operations is North Sinai, but the group has claimed responsibility for attacks in other areas including South Sinai, Cairo, the western desert and Nile delta cities.

Al Qaeda aligned groups also maintain a presence in Egypt and in 2017 Ansar al-Islam claimed an attack against Egyptian security forces in the Bahariya Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert.

Muslim Brotherhood-aligned groups have also undertaken attacks on security forces.

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation and maritime

Aviation

Terrorists in Egypt likely maintain the intent and capability to target aviation.

The greatest threat is on the North Sinai Peninsula where Daesh operate with greater freedom, but terrorists are active throughout Egypt.

You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports and observe any additional security measures.

Maritime

There is also a threat of maritime terrorism.

Kidnap

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Global threat

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Local laws reflect the fact that Egypt is predominantly an Islamic country. 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 or if you intend to visit religious areas. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas, mosques and souqs (markets). Public displays of affection are frowned upon. What may be acceptable in the tourist resort areas may not be in other areas.

In 2021, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 12 April and finish on 11 May. See Travelling during Ramadan

You should keep valid photo ID with you at all times.

Drinking alcohol in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar is not allowed and can lead to arrest.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can, even for small amounts, lead to lengthy prison sentences (25 years), life imprisonment or the death penalty. Those sentenced to life imprisonment on drugs charges will normally spend the rest of their life in prison with no possibility of parole or pardon. Khat is illegal in Egypt.

Publicising strongly negative opinions about Egypt or making political comments, including about the President or security forces, can cause trouble with the authorities. In some cases, derogatory comments on social media have led to custodial sentences.

Photography of, or near, military official installations is strictly prohibited. This includes the Suez Canal. Don’t photograph officials without their consent. There are sensitivities about taking photographs of public buildings or infrastructure. British nationals have been arrested for photographing electricity stations, train stations and bridges if you are in any doubt seek permission before taking photographs. Don’t use radio controlled helicopters or ‘drones’ to take photographs.

The import, production or use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) is banned in Egypt unless you have prior authorisation from the Egyptian Ministry of Defence. Citizens who use, manufacture or import drones without the approrpriate authorisation will be punished by prison terms ranging from one to 7 years and/or fines ranging from EGP 5,000 to EGP 50,000.

Although same-sex sexual activity is not explicitly criminalised in Egypt, the charge of “debauchery” has been used to prosecute LGBT people. The flying of a rainbow flag at a concert in September 2017 led to the arrest of at least 66 individuals on debauchery charges. There is little public acceptance of homosexuality in Egypt. Public expressions of homosexuality and/or public displays of affection between same-sex couples are likely to attract a high degree of unwelcome attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

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

Egyptian family law is very different from UK law and particular caution is needed when, for example, child custody becomes an issue. The FCDO has published guidance for those affected by international parental child abduction, including options to consider and contact information for organisations which may be able to help.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Egypt on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Egypt.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information regarding entry with specific medication, please see the medication section in Entry requirements

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Local medical care

In an emergency dial 123 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your travel company and your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

There are reports of some hotel doctors overcharging for treatment and medicines. Examine your bill closely and challenge excessive charges. Pharmacies outside hotels will often supply medication at lower prices.

Access to specialised treatment for psychiatric illness is limited and may not be available outside major cities.

The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP).

Cash machines are common, especially in the main tourist areas. Take care and be aware of your surroundings if you are taking out large amounts of money, especially in deserted areas or at night.

Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes are not exchangeable in Egypt.

Travellers’ cheques are not easily cashed. Most banks, including international banks, will not accept them.

Major hotels will usually accept payment by credit card. However, smaller hotels may expect payment in cash and in hard currency. Medical facilities will usually accept payment by credit card or cash.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.