Official advice:
Reconsider your need to travel

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Warnings by area

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Advice levels

Egypt overall, reconsider your need to travel ↓

Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your travel insurer will cover you.

Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road , do not travel ↓

We advise against all travel here due to the very high risk. If you do travel, you should typically seek professional security advice. Be aware that regular travel insurance policies will be void and that the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance.

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Latest advice, 23 Apr 2016

The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Egypt.

Summary

  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Egypt due to the threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. If you do travel to Egypt, you should maintain heightened vigilance at tourist locations.
  • Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Egypt, including in tourist areas. Attacks could be directed at targets associated with the Egyptian government, as with the assassination of Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat on 29 June 2015, or against foreign tourists, as occurred in a stabbing attack at a hotel in Hurghada on 8 January 2016. Travellers should maintain heightened vigilance at tourist locations at this time. See Safety and security.
  • On 13 September 2015 a number of Mexican tourists, their guides and drivers, were killed when security forces mistakenly opened fire on their convoy in the Western Desert near Farafra Oasis. On 8 October 2015, Egyptian authorities announced that safaris and camping were prohibited in the areas near Bahariya Oasis until further notice, citing security reasons. These areas include the western and southern parts of Oases–Siwa and Oases road. While the White Desert in Farafra was not included in the list of prohibited areas, this location is generally accessed through the prohibited areas.
  • Kidnapping of expatriates and tourists could occur. On 22 July 2015, a Croatian national was kidnapped west of Cairo. Terrorists subsequently executed the hostage.
  • Small explosions occur on a frequent basis in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt. On 26 February 2015, a number of explosions occurred in Cairo, resulting in death and injury. On 21 January 2016, a number of police officers and bystanders were killed in an explosion in Giza. Attacks are generally directed at security forces, but bystanders have been killed and injured. Attacks occur most commonly around government buildings, at police facilities and checkpoints, in the vicinity of metro stations, on trains and at universities. Further attacks are expected. You should exercise particular caution in and around these areas. See Safety and security.
  • Since the political upheavals in early 2011, protests have occurred across Egypt, including in Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia and Port Said. Protests can turn violent with little warning. A large number of deaths and injuries have occurred in clashes between protesters and the security forces throughout Egypt. Australians in Egypt should avoid all demonstrations, protests and large crowds. You should closely monitor the media for information on events and developments that may affect your personal security and safety.
  • Foreign journalists have been targeted by security forces. Several have been arrested, detained or questioned by Egyptian authorities.
  • Tourists and tourist infrastructure in South Sinai remain an attractive target for extremists. There is significant possibility the crash of Metrojet fight 9268 on 31 October 2015, which departed from Sharm el Sheikh, was the result of extremist attack. You should reconsider your need to travel to travel to South Sinai, including to the resort area of Sharm el Sheikh.
  • If you choose to travel to Sharm el Sheikh, you are strongly encouraged to avoid unnecessary road travel outside of the resort areas. There have been a number of abductions involving foreign nationals in South Sinai, including on the road to St Catherine’s Monastery.
  • We strongly advise you not to 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 occur frequently in the Governorate of North Sinai targeting Egyptian security forces. A state of emergency has been declared in the Governorate of North Sinai and dusk to dawn curfews imposed. The border crossing to Gaza at Rafah is closed at most times. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Egyptian diplomatic mission for the most up-to-date information.

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.

Only EGP 5,000 can be brought into or taken out of Egypt at any one time. Reports have been received of travellers having problems with carrying or transferring amounts of hard currency over US$10,000 (or its equivalent) out of Egypt. Travellers should consult their financial institution and contact the nearest Egyptian Embassy or Consulate for further information.

Prior approval is required from the Ministry of Telecommunications to bring satellite phones and radio communications equipment into Egypt. Equipment brought in without prior clearance is likely to be confiscated.

Vehicles may be subject to pest control measures. You should comply with instructions from local officials.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Egypt if you have come from or transited an area where there is a risk of transmission.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks are expected in Egypt, including in Cairo. On 8 January 2016, two foreign tourists were injured in a security incident in a hotel in Hurghada. This follows reports of a shooting at a bus and hotel near the pyramids on 7 January. Travellers should maintain heightened vigilance at tourist locations at this time.

Tourist areas throughout Egypt are potential terrorist targets. Past terrorist attacks have targeted foreign tourists and places of worship. There is a significant security presence at most places frequented by tourists and places of worship:

  • On 11 July 2015, there was an explosion near the Italian Consulate in Cairo.
  • On 29 June 2015, Egyptian Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat was killed, and others wounded, in an explosion targeting his vehicle convoy in Heliopolis, Cairo.
  • On 10 June 2015, there was an attempted attack at the Karnak Temple site in Luxor, Upper (southern) Egypt. Two attackers were killed and four others injured.

On 13 September 2015, a number of Mexican tourists, their guides and drivers were killed when security forces mistakenly opened fire on their convoy in the Western Desert near Farafra Oasis.

On 8 October 2015, Egyptian authorities announced that safaris and camping are prohibited in the areas near Bahariya Oasis until further notice, citing security reasons. These areas include the western and southern parts of Oases–Siwa and Oases road. While the White Desert in Farafra was not included in the list of prohibited areas, this location is generally accessed through the prohibited areas.

Small explosions, resulting in death and injury occur on a frequent basis in Cairo and other areas of Egypt. Attacks are generally directed at security forces, but bystanders have been killed and injured. Attacks occur most commonly around government buildings, at police facilities and checkpoints, in the vicinity of metro stations, on trains and at universities. Further attacks are likely. Australians in Egypt should exercise particular caution in and around these areas.

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, including shooting down a military helicopter on 27 January 2016 with surface to air missiles. On 22 July 2015, a Croatian national was kidnapped 65 kms west of Cairo. Terrorists subsequently executed the hostage.

Egypt-based extremist groups, including Sinai Province, have previously threatened western nationals, institutions, and businesses in Egypt through social media and online statements.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. These include places frequented by foreigners such as embassies, hotels, holiday resorts, clubs, restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres, schools, banks, markets, shopping centres, supermarkets, places of worship, public transport and transport infrastructure such as the Cairo Metro system and its stations, outdoor recreation events, and commercial, public and tourist areas. Shipping ports and symbols of the Egyptian government, including government buildings, polling places, police and security forces, are also potential terrorist targets.

Governorate of South Sinai (including Sharm el Sheikh): You should reconsider your need to travel to South Sinai, including to the resort area of Sharm el Sheikh. There have been a number of kidnappings of foreign nationals in South Sinai, including on the road to St Catherine’s Monastery, with foreign tourists being held by gunmen before later being released. Historically, there have been a number of bombing attacks, including suicide bombings, in South Sinai. A number of these bombings directly targeted tourists and their transport. If you do travel to South Sinai you are strongly encouraged to avoid unnecessary road travel outside of Sharm el Sheikh.

The UK Government has said that there is a 'significant possibility' that the crash of Metrojet flight 9268 between Sharm el Sheikh and St Petersburg on 31 October was caused by an explosive device. Investigations are continuing. UK airlines are no longer operating flights from Sharm el Sheikh to the UK. You should contact your airline or travel agent for if you hold concerns about the security or safety of aircraft servicing Sharm el Sheikh and other airports in Egypt. Travellers should allow extra time to clear airport security.

Governorate of North Sinai: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to the Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road, due to the high threat of terrorist attack and risks posed by violent criminals. The Egyptian military have launched a crackdown on extremist groups in the Sinai. Terrorist attacks regularly occur in North Sinai, some of which have inflicted mass casualties on Egyptian security forces, such as on 1 July 2015, when a series of attacks against military targets around Sheikh Zuwayed killed a number of Egyptian soldiers

Following a suicide car bombing in October 2014, a state of emergency was declared in the Governorate of North Sinai and dusk to dawn (1900 to 0600) curfews imposed. Egyptian armed forces continue to conduct military operations against extremists in the area.

The border crossing to Gaza at Rafah is closed at most times. It is opened for short periods on an irregular basis for humanitarian cases. See Local travel.

Australians could be inadvertently caught up in terrorist attacks directed at others, including kidnappings. 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 you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. See our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Australians in Egypt should avoid all demonstrations, protests and large crowds and closely monitor the media for information on events and developments that may affect your security and safety. Protests can turn violent with little or no warning. A large number of deaths and injuries have been reported in clashes between rival protesters and/or the security forces throughout Egypt. Foreign nationals have been killed and injured during demonstrations.

Since the political upheavals in early 2011, protests have occurred across Egypt, including in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said and Ismailia. In central Cairo, Tahrir Square and surrounding streets, including the nearby British and US Embassies and Garden City area, remain a focal point for demonstrations. Protests have occurred near the al-Ittihadiya (Presidential) Palace in Heliopolis, Giza and the area of the Raba Al-Adawiya Square in Nasr City, but also in many other locations. Across Egypt, many protests occur on Fridays following midday prayers, but protests may occur at other times.

25 January is a public holiday in Egypt and also marks the anniversary of the start of protests that led to the overthrow of the Mubarak Regime in 2011. In recent years, 25 January and the days prior have seen a number of protest actions, which have resulted in violence and death. As this year marks five years since the Revolution, protest action and civil unrest is possible. Australians in Egypt should avoid all demonstrations, protests and large crowds in the period leading up to, and including, 25 January. You should closely monitor the media for information on events and developments that may affect your personal security and safety.
Foreign journalists have been targeted by security forces. Several have been arrested, detained or questioned by Egyptian authorities.

You should be aware that curfews and restrictions on movement may be imposed by Egyptian authorities at short notice. You should obey any curfew and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Egyptian demonstration laws prohibit gatherings of more than ten persons without advance notification to the Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners are prohibited by law from participating in demonstrations. Those who do so may be arrested. Foreigners, including journalists, have been assaulted during protests.

Serious sexual assaults on women, including foreigners, have occurred during demonstrations in Tahrir Square.

Sectarian tensions in Egypt have from time to time resulted in attacks on places of worship.

Crime

Since early 2011, there has been an increase in crime in Egypt, including violent crime such as armed robbery, carjacking, sexual assault, and burglary. Firearms have been used during some crimes.

Valuables including cash, jewellery and electronic items should not be left unsecured in hotel rooms or unattended in public places. You should be alert to pickpockets and bag snatchers in tourist areas, particularly after dark. Victims of crime should report the incident to the tourist police immediately. Failure to do so before you depart Egypt may make it impossible to seek prosecution at a later date. The police contact number is 122.

You should be aware that taxi drivers have assaulted passengers, including foreigners.

Women travelling on their own, including when using taxis and walking in public areas, may be physically and verbally harassed or assaulted.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Australians are urged to take the current security situation into consideration when moving around Egypt. Foreigners have been detained and harassed at military and civilian checkpoints. Protests and labour disputes throughout Egypt may disrupt transport. You should monitor local media and check with your tour operator, airline or travel agent for information on any transport disruptions.

Local driving practices and poor road conditions contribute to a high rate of road accidents in Egypt. Road travel, particularly outside the major cities, can be dangerous as cars, buses and trucks frequently drive at high speed and without headlights illuminated at night. Two major bus crashes in January 2006, in which Australians were killed and injured, highlight the risks. For this reason, tourists are advised to enter regional destinations (including Luxor) by air. For further advice, see our road travel page.

The Cairo Metro (subway) system is reliable, but the maintenance and safety standards of other public road and rail transport are poor.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. Tourists should ensure that expeditions are well equipped with adequate food, medical supplies and emergency communications.

In February 2013, 19 people died in a hot air balloon accident near Luxor.

There are 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.

Egypt’s borders are under military control, with movement of non-military persons and vehicles restricted, and in some cases, prohibited. Tourists travelling to Egypt's frontiers, including the borders with Libya, Sudan, and Israel and parts of the Sinai off the main, paved roads, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior.

Tourists should check with local authorities for advice on local travel precautions. If you plan to travel to Abu Simbel by road (40kms north of the Sudanese border), you should only do so on an organised tour guarded by police escorts.

There is a risk of piracy and armed robbery at sea 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. We advise Australians to maintain a high level of vigilance and to exercise caution in these waters. See our piracy bulletin for further information. The International Maritime Bureau also issues piracy reports.

Travel to the Gaza Strip: We strongly advise against travel to the Gaza Strip. See our travel advice for Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

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 or when the crossing will open. For the latest information and requirements on crossing from Egypt into Gaza, you should contact the Egyptian Embassy in Canberra.

Airline safety

See under Safety and security for information on the crash of Metrojet flight 9268 on 31 October 2015.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Egypt.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Egypt, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. You should be aware that Egyptian family law, particularly with regard to matters such as divorce, child custody and child support, differs from Australian law. See also the Entry and exit section.

Possession of even small quantities of illicit drugs in Egypt can lead to the death penalty, long prison sentences or deportation. See our Drugs page.

Under Muslim custom, homosexuality and sexual relations outside of marriage are considered immoral. Penalties for immorality include imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Taking photographs of bridges and canals (including the Suez Canal), military personnel, buildings and equipment is illegal.

If you want to get married in Egypt, you should check the legal requirements before you travel, either through the Australian Embassy in Cairo or the Egyptian Embassy in Canberra.

If you are considering preaching, you should seek local advice beforehand and exercise considerable care. The Egyptian Government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity in Egypt, but proselytising is illegal.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money, laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin in early June in 2016. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Egypt, particularly for women. You should dress modestly with your legs and upper arms covered. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Information for dual nationals

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. They must, however, 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.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in Cairo is adequate for routine conditions, but outside of the capital facilities can be very basic. Treatment may be expensive and payment in advance may be required. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.

Health risks

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. There is a very limited risk of malaria in El Faiyum governorate from June through to October. We encourage you to take precautions against being bitten by insects such as using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

The WHO has confirmed that wild polio virus was recently identified in sewage samples collected at two locations in greater Cairo. Travellers may wish to seek medical advice if they have concerns.

We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw 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). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Avian influenza: The WHO has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Egypt, including in early 2015. See our health page and Avian Influenza bulletin for further information on influenza.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police on 122. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Cairo

11th floor, World Trade Centre
1191 Corniche el Nil
Boulac, Cairo
EGYPT
Telephone: (20 2) 2770 6600
Facsimile: (20 2) 2770 6650
Website: www.egypt.embassy.gov.au

The security situation may affect Embassy opening hours. See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

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.

Additional Resources

Warnings by area

Map of Egypt