Guidance

Living in Egypt

Advice for British people living in Egypt, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Introduction

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Egypt including advice on health, education, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See ‘Our Services’ section for more information on the services we can provide for British nationals.

Health

The Egyptian health care system is varied and diverse with a wide range of public and private providers.

The quality of hospital care in Egypt is not always up to NHS standards. Private hospitals usually offer a higher level of medical care than government ones, most have outpatient clinics. Consistently using private clinics and hospitals can be very costly. Resident British Nationals may wish to consider investing in health insurance. International providers offer a variety of plans geared towards expats; ranging from comprehensive packages to emergency insurance only. Prices vary accordingly and the packages can be obtained for the length of stay in Egypt. If you decide to seek care at a public hospital then it is advisable to seek facilities attached to university medical schools. These usually have higher quality equipment and better trained staff. Emergency treatment in government hospitals is generally free. Follow up treatment however, may be charged and can be expensive.

Expats remain generally healthy in Egypt; minor illnesses however, are common. Newcomers often suffer from stomach upsets and longer-term residents do not expect complete immunity from them. Those susceptible to upper respiratory illness may suffer from bronchitis, sinusitis and hay fever due to air pollution, particularly in the centre of towns where traffic density is the highest. Remedies are available from local pharmacies which are plentiful and usually well stocked.

For further useful information on healthcare in Egypt visit the Health section of our Travel Advice. You may also wish to check a list of Medical facilities in Egypt collated for the convenience of British nationals in the country.

Education

Educational facilities offering the British and the American curriculum, mostly international schools, are widely located throughout Egypt .The curricula vary in quality and content from one school to another. Admissions to such schools must not be taken for granted. The admissions process for international and language schools is very intense. Schools request records of academic performance from previous schools and it is quite common for the parents and child to be asked to attend a personal interview with the School Superintendant. Final registration procedures are often not completed until early August.

Those interested in learning Arabic can find a wide range of institutions providing opportunities to learn both Egyptian Colloquial and Modern Standard Arabic.

For detailed information on Education in Egypt, visit the official portal of the Egyptian Ministry of Education.The British Council portal on Education also provides valuable information on the Egyptian Education System including Higher education.

Entry and residence requirements

Tourist visas can be purchased at any port of entry and are only valid for a single entry. For further information on tourist visas, check our Travel Advice pages.

If a British National is coming to Egypt for work or study purposes, the process may be significantly more complicated. It is advisable to have the correct visa before arriving to avoid spending hours or even days in government offices trying to meet local requirements. This can be done by applying for the appropriate visa at the Egyptian Consulate in the UK. Further procedures for work visas will be required after arrival to apply for a work permit and subsequently; a residency.

Most foreigners begin by applying for a one-year residence visa, which can be done in Cairo at an office of the Ministry of the Interior “ Al Mogamaa” in Tahrir square or at any passport office around the country. This office supplies British Nationals with the necessary application materials. Three-year residence visas are more common for foreigners with valid work permits, as are five-year residence visas. An employer will sponsor such applications with the relevant authorities.

Marriage to Egyptian citizens usually qualifies British Nationals for a resident visa. The Egyptian spouse will need to approach the relevant authorities in the first instance.

As a general rule it is safest to follow proper procedures as closely as possible and obtain the proper visa and permits. Due to the delicate security situation in some areas, security checkpoints are common and a British national will not be allowed to pass if the passport and visa are not in order. More serious consequences such as arrest or deportation may follow.

Further information on entry requirements can be found on the Ministry of Interior website.

Employment and recognised qualifications

British Nationals intending to work in Egypt need to obtain work permits. Before British Nationals and their employers can begin the process of applying for a work permit, they will need to get security clearance from National Security in Egypt. They will also need to provide proof of a clean bill of health which includes undergoing an HIV test.

Work permit applications can be obtained from the Ministry of Manpower and Migration and can be processed by either the employee or the employer. Proof of academic qualifications needs to be submitted alongside other documents. For recognition of UK educational qualifications and details of their verification services, check with the British Council in Cairo. For precise details on all documents required for work permit applications and the correct procedure, visit the Ministry of Manpower and Migration portal (only in Arabic).

Driving licences and vehicles

It is mandatory to obtain an Egyptian Driver’s licence if you are staying in Egypt for longer than six months. An International Driving Licence cannot be used after that period. British nationals with a UK driving licence are exempt from the driving test. A certificate from an Egyptian ophthalmologist and physician must be obtained to verify blood type, visual and physical health.

Third party liability insurance is compulsory in Egypt and has to be obtained with the mandatory annual vehicle registration. This insurance is cheap but very limited and settlements can take a very long time. British nationals may wish to consider additional insurance through local insurance companies or a very limited number of foreign insurance providers operating in Egypt.

Driver’s licence, car registration and insurance papers must be carried in your vehicle, or with you, at all times.

Finance

A large number of local Egyptian and international banks operate throughout Egypt. Banks require that you have a residence permit that is valid for at least six months before you open an account. They usually require a minimum deposit of several thousand Egyptian pounds. Policies may vary from bank to bank and can even vary between individual branches.

In terms of daily life Egypt is very much a cash-driven country. You will not find many grocery stores or local shops that take credit or debit cards. You will find however, that the trendier, upscale shops, restaurants, bars and clubs may take major credit and debit cards.

Traveller’s cheques are not normally accepted in stores and restaurants in Egypt but a bank will cash them for a fee. The same applies to personal cheques; they are rare and unlike the UK, cannot be used to settle household bills.

Banks may transfer funds to overseas accounts for you. Fees for this service vary from bank to bank, and you may find yourself charged several fees depending on the two banks’ policies toward international transfers and currency exchange. More importantly, this is not an option without an Egyptian bank account. Another relatively cheaper option is wire money transfers; MoneyGram and Western Union both operate in Egypt. All the funds have to be in US Dollars however.

For further information visit the Money section in our Travel Advice.

Property and property disputes

It was illegal, until recently, for foreigners to own property in Egypt. This is no longer the case but buying property in Egypt is neither easy nor straight forward. The Egyptian legal system is very different from the UK. A lawyer would be best placed to advice you on the legal system, procedures and any precautions you need to take. You need to pursue residency if you intend to buy property in Egypt. Without residency, you will not be able to delegate power of attorney to a lawyer to register your property.

Make sure your Lawyer prepares both an English and Arabic version of the contract. Repairs, additional work, and remaining constructional work should be included in the contract with a clear timeline. Fines for delays in these timelines should also be clearly specified in the contract. A list of local lawyers is provided for British National in Egypt.

See our buying property in Egypt guide for detailed information. This guide sets out essential information for British nationals wanting to buy property in Egypt, including advice on legal advice, fraud, residence requirements, complaints and more. It should be read together with the How to buy property abroad guide .

Guidance on bringing medication into Egypt.

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines may be controlled substances in Egypt. If you are using prescribed drugs it is advisable to carry a doctor’s note. If in any doubt check the Egyptian Drug Authority portal. The Egyptian Drug Authority is the pharmaceutical regulatory body of the Egyptian Ministry of Health and it publishes a list of controlled medicine annually.

Local laws and customs

Our Travel Advice offers an extensive overview of the Egyptian culture, traditions and social ethics in the country. The official portal of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism also offers information on Egyptian history as well as a guide on popular touristic sites.

The vast majority of British expatriates have a trouble free and enjoyable time while staying in Egypt. Foreign and Commonwealth Office research shows that the majority of difficulties that British nationals find themselves in abroad can be avoided. Respecting local laws and customs can help you avoid getting into trouble. Have a great time in Egypt but make the necessary preparations to ensure you are well-informed and know what is expected of you as a resident in this country.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 15 January 2014