- Reconsider travel to Egypt due to the threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping.
- Egypt has closed its borders to all Qatari flights from 6 June 2017 until further notice. If you are travelling between Egypt and Qatar, contact your air travel provider for further information.
- Avoid all demonstrations and protests. Protests can turn violent with little warning. Monitor the media for information on events and developments that may affect your personal security and safety. See Safety and security.
- Terror attacks pose significant risks to travellers throughout Egypt. Attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere. Terrorists have attacked several locations frequented by tourists in recent years, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. See Safety and security.
- Recent deadly attacks include the stabbing of tourists at a Red Sea resort, an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians, explosions in Mar Guirgis (St George's) Church in Tanta and outside the Morkoseya (St Mark's) Church in Alexandria, and a bombing in a church near St Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Abbassia. Other attacks have occurred close to the Great Pyramids and at Kafr El-Sheikh. Further attacks are expected. See Safety and security.
- Egypt is under a nationwide 'state of emergency' giving authorities additional powers of search, detention and arrest. Restrictions apply to public gatherings, protests and demonstrations. Follow local authorities' instructions and always carry identification. See Safety and security.
- Small explosions occur on a frequent basis in Cairo and elsewhere. Government buildings, police facilities and checkpoints, metro stations, trains and universities are common targets. Exercise particular caution around these areas. Safety and security.
- Kidnapping is a risk for expatriates and tourists. In July 2015, a Croatian national was kidnapped west of Cairo and subsequently executed. Safety and security.
- Tourists, tourist infrastructure and religious sites in South Sinai are attractive targets for extremists. Avoid unnecessary road travel outside of resort areas in Sharm el Sheikh. Terrorists claimed responsibility for the explosion of Metrojet flight 9268, which departed from Sharm el Sheikh in October 2015. Safety and security.
- Do not travel to the Governorate of North Sinai, including along the Taba-Suez Road, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and risks posed by violent criminals. Terrorist attacks targeting Egyptian security forces occur frequently. A state of emergency has been declared and dusk to dawn curfews are in place. The border crossing to Gaza at Rafah is closed at most times.
- Do not travel within 50 kms of Egypt's border with Libya due to the high threat of terrorist attack. A number of deadly attacks have recently occurred in the area.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Currently, Australian citizens wanting to enter Egypt for tourism are required to purchase a visa on entry to Egypt. This visa can only be purchased with US Dollars, not Egyptian Pounds. Contact the nearest Egyptian diplomatic mission for up-to-date information.
All foreign journalists entering Egypt for work purposes are required to obtain appropriate accreditation from the Egyptian Ministry of Information before arrival in Egypt. There are severe punishments for journalists working without appropriate accreditation.
Other formalities - entry
Prior approval is required to bring satellite phones and radio communications equipment into Egypt. Apply to Egypt's Ministry of Telecommunications well in advance of your planned arrival. Equipment brought in without prior clearance is likely to be confiscated.
The use of drones, for any purpose, is illegal in Egypt. If you take a drone to Egypt, it will be confiscated on arrival.
If you arrive in Egypt by road, your vehicle may be subject to pest control measures. Comply with instructions from local officials.
If you travel from a region where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission, you'll need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate for entry to Egypt.
Other formalities - exit
Immigration authorities may require proof that children of Egyptian fathers have their father's approval to leave Egypt before the children are allowed to depart.
In March 2017, the UK government announced new restrictions on carrying electronic devices for passengers travelling from or through Egypt to the UK.
More information: Hand luggage restrictions at UK airports
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.
By law, you must, as soon as possible:
The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). Currency controls are in place.
When travelling to or from Egypt, you can take up to EGP 5,000 with you. Declare all foreign currency amounts in excess of US$10,000 (or its equivalent).
If you are visiting Egypt as a tourist, you'll need to pay for your accommodation in US dollars. Alternatively, you can pay in another foreign currency if you submit a receipt to your hotel showing that EGP was exchanged for that foreign currency at an Egyptian Bank.
If you are a permanent resident of Egypt, you can pay your accommodation bill in EGP, provided you submit a valid residency permit.
Safety and security
The Egyptian Government announced a nationwide state of emergency following explosions at Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria on 9 April 2017. Under the state of emergency, Egyptian authorities have additional powers to search, detain and arrest. Gatherings, protests and demonstrations may be curtailed. Follow local authorities' instructions and carry identification. Avoid all large gatherings and protests. Monitor local media.
Terror attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Egypt, including in tourist areas and around religious sites. Terrorists have attacked several locations frequented by tourists in recent years, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. There is a significant security presence at most places frequented by tourists and places of worship.
Recent attacks resulting in multiple deaths and injuries include:
- on 14 July 2017, the stabling of six foreigners at a Red Sea resort in Hurghada, killing two Germans
- on 26 May 2017, an attack by gunmen on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya
- on 18 April 2017, gunfire between militants and Egyptian police close to a security checkpoint near Saint Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai
- on 9 April 2017, explosions in Mar Guirgis (St George's) Church in Tanta and outside the Morkoseya (St Mark's) Church in Alexandria
- on 11 December 2016, a bombing in a church near to St Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Cairo.
Further attacks are likely.
Egyptian security forces have identified and disrupted further terrorist activity around the country.
Small explosions, resulting in death and injury are frequent in Cairo and other areas of Egypt. These attacks are generally directed at security forces, but bystanders have been killed and injured. Usually, government buildings, police facilities and checkpoints, metro stations, trains or universities are targeted.
Other possible targets of future attacks include embassies, hotels, holiday resorts, clubs, restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres, schools, banks, markets, shopping centres, supermarkets, places of worship, public transport, shipping ports and other infrastructure, outdoor recreation events, polling places, and commercial, public and tourist areas.
Kidnapping is also a risk for expatriates and tourists. In July 2015, a Croatian national was kidnapped west of Cairo and subsequently executed. The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians.
In November 2014, Egypt-based extremist group, Ansar Bayt-al-Maqdis (ABM), pledged allegiance to Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL), renaming itself the Sinai Province of the group (ISIL-Sinai Province). In 2015, ISIL-Sinai Province claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in North Sinai. ISIL-Sinai Province and other extremist groups have threatened western nationals, institutions, and businesses in Egypt through social media and online statements.
- In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
- If you go to a crowded place or other possible target, have a clear exit plan for if there is a security incident.
- Be alert to possible threats, especially at tourist locations, religious sites, crowded public places and near police checkpoints and government buildings.
- Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
- Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
- Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
Travellers to the Governorates of South Sinai and North Sinai face heightened security risks, particularly from terror activities.
South Sinai (including Sharm el Sheikh)
There have been a number of bombing attacks, including suicide bombings, and kidnappings of foreign nationals, in South Sinai. Many of these bombings directly targeted tourists and their transport.
Terrorist group ISIL-Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the explosion of Metrojet flight 9268, which departed from Sharm el Sheikh on 31 October 2015. UK airlines stopped operating flights from Sharm el Sheikh to the UK following the attack.
Reconsider travel to South Sinai.
If, despite the significant security risks, you travel (or plan to travel) to South Sinai:
- avoid unnecessary road travel outside of Sharm el Sheikh
- allow extra time to clear airport security
- contact your airline or travel agent if you hold concerns about the security or safety of aircraft servicing Sharm el Sheikh
- have effective personal security measures in place.
Governorate of North Sinai
Do not travel to the Governorate of North Sinai due to the high threat of terrorist attack and risks posed by violent criminals. This region includes the Taba-Suez Road. You could be targeted for attack or you could be caught up in violence directed at others.
North Sinai is under a long-term State of Emergency.
- Terrorist and Egyptian military operations in North Sinai result in numerous fatalities each week.
- There are frequent terrorist attacks, some of which have inflicted significant casualties on Egyptian security forces.
- A dusk to dawn (1900 to 0600) curfew is in place.
- The border crossing to Gaza at Rafah is closed at most times. It is opened for short periods on an irregular basis. See Local travel.
There is a heightened risk of kidnapping in North Sinai. The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians.
If, despite the significant security risks, you decide to travel to North Sinai:
- first seek professional security advice
- have effective personal security measures in place.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.
Civil unrest and political tension
Since political upheavals in early 2011, protests have occurred across Egypt, including in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said and Ismailia. Protests and demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning. Clashes between rival protesters and/or security forces have resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries. Foreign nationals have been killed and injured and serious sexual assaults on women, including foreigners, have occurred during demonstrations.
Foreigners, including journalists, have been assaulted during protests. Foreign journalists have also been targeted by security forces. Several have been arrested, detained or questioned by Egyptian authorities.
Protests could happen anywhere and at any time, but the following places and times are commonly focal points for demonstrations:
- Tahrir Square and surrounding streets, including the nearby British and US Embassies and Garden City area, in Cairo
- the al-Ittihadiya (Presidential) Palace in Heliopolis, Giza
- the area of the Raba Al-Adawiya Square in Nasr City
- Fridays following midday prayers
- 25 January (the anniversary of the 2011 revolution, a public holiday) and the days prior.
Egyptian law regulates protests and demonstrations:
- gatherings of more than ten persons are prohibited, unless advance notification has been provided to the Ministry of the Interior
- foreigners are prohibited from participating in protests and demonstrations- those who do so may be arrested
- curfews and restrictions on movement may be imposed by Egyptian authorities at short notice.
Minimise risks to your safety and security:
- stay well clear of all demonstrations, protests, political events, rallies and large crowds
- monitor local media and other sources for advice of possible unrest and avoid those areas
- obey any curfew
- respect local laws
- follow the instructions of local authorities.
Since 2011, there has been an increase in crime in Egypt, including violent crime such as armed robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and burglary.
Women travelling on their own, including when using taxis and walking in public areas, may be physically and verbally harassed or assaulted. Taxi drivers have assaulted female and male passengers, including foreigners. See Local travel.
- Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your cash, jewellery and electronic items in a secure location.
- Don't leave valuables unsecured in your hotel room or unattended in a public place.
- Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
- Be alert to pickpockets and bag snatchers in tourist areas, particularly after dark.
- Read Sexual Assault Overseas before you travel. It includes information on how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault and on the assistance available to victims.
- If you become a victim of crime, report the incident to the tourist police immediately. If you don't report it before you depart Egypt, you may not be able to seek prosecution at a later date. See Where to get help.
Your decisions on travel to and around Egypt should take account of the general security situation and specific risks to your safety and security in different locations. See Safety and security.
Specific risks include the presence of landmines in some areas, notably in the desert areas around El Alamein, stretches of coastline near Mersa Matruh, the western shore of the Gulf of Suez, and the Sinai Peninsula.
Before you travel, check with local authorities for advice on current risks and recommended precautions for your planned route and destination.
Restrictions and disruptions
If you travel around Egypt, you may be stopped at military and civilian checkpoints. Some foreigners have been detained and harassed at these checkpoints.
Egyptian authorities have imposed some specific restrictions on local travel because of the security situation:
- safaris and camping in the area near Bahariya Oasis are prohibited until further notice – this area includes the western and southern parts of Oases–Siwa and Oases road; it does not include the White Desert in Farafra, but access to it may be cut because of the prohibition.
- travellers seeking to enter the Sinai, including via the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel, must present either a valid form of ID with a Sinai address, or ownership or rental contracts of property in the Sinai, or hardcopy evidence of hotel reservations.
Protests and labour disputes can also disrupt local travel, including transport. Check with your tour operator, airline or travel agent for information on any transport disruptions.
Egypt's borders are under military control. The movement of non-military persons and vehicles is restricted, and in some cases, prohibited. If you plan to travel to Egypt's frontiers, including the borders with Libya, Sudan, Israel and parts of the Sinai off the main, paved roads, you'll first need to get permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior.
You must receive permission from Egyptian authorities to enter and exit the Gaza Strip using the Rafah border crossing. People who enter the Gaza Strip through this border must leave the same way. You may be delayed in the Gaza Strip for an extended period (possibly weeks) while waiting for approval to return. The Australian Government cannot influence the granting of approval, nor when the crossing will open.
- Do not travel from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
- If, despite our advice, you plan to cross from Egypt into the Gaza strip, first read our travel advice for Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and get the latest information and requirements on crossing from the Egyptian Embassy in Canberra or the Ministry of the Interior in Cairo.
If you plan to travel to Abu Simbel by road (40kms north of the Sudanese border), do so on an organised tour, which may be guarded by police escorts.
Do not travel within 50 kms of Egypt's border with Libya due to the high threat of terrorist attack. A number of deadly attacks have recently occurred in the area.
Tours and adventure activities
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. In August 2016, 22 tourists were injured when a hot air balloon crash-landed near Luxor. In February 2013, 19 people died in a hot air balloon accident in the same area.
If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Make sure that expeditions are well equipped with adequate food, medical supplies and emergency communications. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.
Road travel can be dangerous as cars, buses and trucks frequently drive at high speed and without headlights illuminated at night. Poor road conditions also contribute. Road accidents are frequent in Egypt. Two major bus crashes in January 2006, in which Australians were killed and injured, highlight the risks. You are twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Egypt than in Australia.
- Where possible, avoid travelling by road – visit regional destinations (including Luxor) by air.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Drive defensively.
More information: Road travel
You can't drive in Egypt on your Australian driver's licence. Prior to arriving in Egypt, obtain an international driver's licence and get it certified by an Egyptian diplomatic mission in Australia.
Take particular care if you intend to ride a motorcycle due to the different road conditions. Under Egyptian law, you are required to wear a helmet while riding.
Taxis are prolific in Cairo and Alexandria. In Cairo, taxis are coloured white, while in Alexandria, they are black and yellow. All taxis are equipped with a meter and drivers are legally required to use it. However, many taxi drivers will claim that the meter is broken and attempt to negotiate a fare for the trip. Most taxis are serviceable, though some are unsafe by Australian standards owing to poor maintenance. Seatbelts may not be provided, especially in the back seats. Uber is prevalent in Egypt and offers a safer and more reliable transport option.
Sexual harassment of women by taxi drivers is common.
- Avoid taxis, especially if you are a female travelling alone.
- If you choose to use taxis, travel with others wherever possible.
The Cairo Metro (subway) system is generally reliable, but the maintenance and safety standards of other public road and rail transport are poor.
On 11 August 2017, an express train traveling between Cairo and Alexandria collided with a passenger train traveling between Port Said and Alexandria. The collision has resulted in significant loss of life and injury. While train travel between Cairo and Alexandria is generally considered safe, you may wish to reconsider your method of travel between the two cities and follow local authorities’ instructions.
There have been numerous train derailments on the Cairo-Aswan line, such as on 28 August 2016 when several people were injured when a train derailed between Aswan and Luxor.
Piracy and armed robbery are risks in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. All forms of shipping are attractive targets for pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft and luxury cruise liners. In August 2013, there was an attack against a container ship in the Suez Canal. Egyptian navy vessels were attacked in November 2014. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports.
- Be highly vigilant and cautious in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
- If you plan to travel by boat, read our piracy page before you travel.
On 19 May 2016, EgyptAir Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo crashed into the Mediterranean. The cause of the plane crash remains unknown. Investigations continue.
On 29 March 2016, EgyptAir Flight MS181, a domestic flight between Alexandria and Cairo, was hijacked by a man wearing what was later discovered to be a fake bomb-vest. All on board were later released without harm. The incident was not politically motivated.
On 31 October 2015, Metrojet flight 9268 travelling from Sharm el Sheikh crashed following an explosion on board – see Safety and security.
Following the crash of Metrojet flight 9268, the Australian Government prohibited air cargo that has originated from, or transited through, Egypt from entering Australia, except for items that are currently exempt from screening under Australian Regulations, such as diplomatic bags and smaller items of international mail. More information: Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Egypt.
More information: Air travel
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Possession of even small quantities of illicit drugs in Egypt can lead to the death penalty, long prison sentences or deportation. More information: Drugs
Egyptian family law, particularly with regard to matters such as divorce, child custody and child support, differs from Australian law.
If you engage in activities that involve local legal matters, including family and business issues, seek professional legal advice to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities under Egyptian law. See also Entry and exit.
If you want to get married in Egypt, check the legal requirements before you travel, either through the Australian Embassy in Cairo or the Egyptian Embassy in Canberra.
The following activities are illegal in Egypt:
- homosexuality – more information: LGBTI travellers
- sexual relations outside of marriage
- taking photographs of bridges and canals (including the Suez Canal), military personnel, buildings or equipment
- gathering in a group of more than ten persons without providing advance notification to the Ministry of the Interior
- participation by foreigners in protests or demonstrations
- proselytising - the Egyptian Government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity but proselytising is illegal.
If you are considering preaching in Egypt, seek local legal advice beforehand and exercise considerable care to stay within the law.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
More information: Staying within the law
During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, if you are not fasting, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. More information: Ramadan
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Egypt, particularly for women. Dress modestly with your legs and upper arms covered. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
If you are an Australian/Egyptian dual national and you travel to Egypt on your Egyptian passport you will be treated as an Egyptian by the local government. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance if you are arrested or detained.
Dual nationals living in Egypt for extended periods require proof of Egyptian citizenship, such as a family identification card.
Male dual nationals who have not undertaken military service are not generally required to enlist in the armed forces. However, they must obtain an exemption certificate either from the nearest Egyptian Embassy or Consulate or through the Ministry of Defence Draft Office before they can leave Egypt.
More information: Dual nationals
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
More information: Travel insurance
Physical and mental health
It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.
Take with you prescription medicines to cover you for your entire stay so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.
More information: Prescription medicines
Water-borne, food-borne, insect-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, filariasis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time-to-time.
- Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
- Do not swim in fresh water, including the River Nile, to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis).
- Avoid contact with dogs and cats and seek urgent medical attention if bitten.
Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.
There is a risk of malaria in El Faiyum governorate from June through to October.
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:
- ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
- take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
- consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary.
Wild polio virus was recently identified in sewage samples collected at two locations in greater Cairo. Seek medical advice if you have concerns.
The World Health Organization has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza ('bird flu') in Egypt, including in early 2015.
More information: Infectious diseases
The standard of medical facilities in Cairo is adequate for routine conditions but elsewhere facilities can be very basic. Treatment can be expensive and payment in advance is often required.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you would need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation and treatment could be very expensive.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
- Firefighting and rescue services: 180
- Medical emergencies: 123
- Criminal issues: 122 or contact the local police.
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact:
Australian Embassy, Cairo
11th floor, World Trade Centre
1191 Corniche el Nil
Telephone: (20 2) 2770 6600
Facsimile: (20 2) 2770 6650
The security situation may affect Embassy opening hours. Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Egypt, particularly Cairo, is subject to earthquakes.
Sand and dust storms can occur between March and May.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the
Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.