Foreign travel advice

Egypt

Important Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel

Follow current COVID-19 rules where you live: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To prevent new COVID variants from entering the UK, you should not travel to amber or red list countries.

To understand the risks in a country follow FCDO Travel Advice.

When you return, follow the rules to enter the UK from abroad (except from Ireland).

Safety and security

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.