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Egypt - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Egypt due to the unpredictable security situation. This advisory does not apply to the Red Sea coastal resorts of Hurghada (and its surroundings) and Sharm el-Sheikh, nor to the area from Luxor to Aswan along the upper Nile, where you should exercise a high degree of caution.
If you decide to travel to Egypt despite this advisory, plan your trip with a reputable Egyptian travel company or agency, as they are are well informed of the security situation and can better plan accordingly.
Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. The ability to provide consular services on short notice may be limited.
The Sinai Peninsula (except Sharm el-Sheikh) - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Sinai Peninsula, due to terrorist activity and ongoing military operations by the Egyptian Armed Forces. This does not include the coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the area within the Sharm el-Sheikh perimeter barrier, the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and the areas of Hadaba, Naama Bay, Nabq, Sharks Bay and Sharm el Maya.
See Safety and security for more information.
The Western desert and Libyan border area - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to within 50 kilometres of the border with Libya, the Siwa Oasis, the Western Desert, including the oases of Bahariya, Bawati, Dakhla and Farafra, and the White and Black deserts, due to smuggling, terrorist activities, the presence of armed groups and ongoing military operations.
See Safety and security for more information.
Ismailia and Suez - Avoid all travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Ismailia and Suez, due to the unpredictable security situation.
See Safety and security for more information.
Coastal resorts - Exercise a high degree of caution
You should exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, as well as along the upper Nile from Luxor to Aswan. We strongly advise you to arrive and depart by air.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The security situation in Egypt is unpredictable. There is a significant risk of terrorist attacks throughout the country. Attacks can be indiscriminate and occur with no warning, including in Cairo. While attacks in the North Sinai are frequent and mainly target security forces, terrorists have also targeted popular tourist destinations and other places frequented by foreigners throughout the country, including in Cairo. There is a significant presence of armed security forces and police in most governorates throughout the country. A state of emergency is in effect. Curfews may be imposed on very short notice.
There is an increased risk of attacks on and around dates of national significance, including:
- January 25, the anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian revolution;
- the weekend of Orthodox Easter (April 29 - May 1);
- June 30 to July 3, the anniversary of the removal of former president Mohamed Morsi;
- August 14, the anniversary of clearing protesters from Rabaa and al-Nahda squares;
- and, possibly, during Ramadan and other religious observances and holidays.
Exercise increased caution during these periods.
Be particularly cautious in commercial establishments, government facilities, public areas, tourist sites, the vicinity of churches and mosques at the time of religious services and any other areas frequented by foreigners. Avoid police stations, security installations and government buildings, as well as all crowds and demonstrations.
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (ABM), the most active terrorist group in Egypt, has pledged allegiance to Daesh. On September 21, 2014, Daesh released a statement threatening retaliation for the American-led coalition campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The statement encouraged opportunistic and indiscriminate attacks against citizens and interests of countries supporting the coalition, including Canada. Individuals and terrorist groups in the region may be inspired to carry out attacks in a show of solidarity with Daesh. Canadians could also be targeted by a terrorist attack and be considered kidnapping targets.
Western Desert (see Advisory)
Borders with Sudan and Libya are porous, and bandits and armed groups are active in these areas. Attacks on security checkpoints and forces are expected to continue. Egyptian military and security personnel are also engaged in security operations in the area. If you intend to travel to these areas, consider the risks to your personal safety and ensure you have made appropriate security arrangements. Travel to these areas requires a permit from the Travel Permits Department at the Egyptian Ministry of Interior Affairs.
North Sinai Governorate (see Advisory)
The security situation in North Sinai Governorate, particularly the areas bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip, is extremely unpredictable. Terrorist groups regularly carry out attacks against Egyptian security forces. A state of emergency is in effect, as is a curfew from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., due to ongoing Egyptian military operations against terrorist groups in the region. Road blockades by unsanctioned groups, kidnappings, robberies and carjackings by armed groups and terrorists occur.
South Sinai Governorate (see Advisory)
While attacks are significantly less frequent than in North Sinai, terrorists have carried out attacks in South Sinai Governorate, targeting both security forces and tourists. Terrorist groups may expand targeted areas to include coastal resorts such as Sharm el-Sheikh. While enhanced security measures are in place to protect the tourism infrastructure in Sharm el-Sheikh, the area may be seen as a high-value target by terrorists. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and follow the advice of local authorities.
Coastal resorts in Sinai, including Dahab, Nuweiba and Sharm el-Sheikh, have seen incidents of petty theft. Tensions between security authorities and local Bedouin tribes may rise unexpectedly, affecting tourism.
On October 31, 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to Saint Petersburg, Russia crashed in the North Sinai. Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation, and special security measures have been put in place at Sharm el Sheikh International Airport. Many airlines have temporarily suspended flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh; other flight restrictions may be in place across Egypt. If you are currently in or planning to travel to the area, contact your travel agent or airline to verify your travel plans.
Red Sea resorts and Upper Egypt
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Red Sea coastal resorts (such as Ain el-Sokhna, el-Gouna Bay, Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Safaga and Soma Bay) and to the Upper Egypt cities of Aswan and Luxor. On January 8, 2016, attackers injured three foreigners at the Bella Vista Hotel in Hurghada.
Pay particular attention to local conditions if you are visiting Upper Egypt and the historic sites of the Nile Valley. Although tourist sites continue to operate, the Upper Nile Valley between Beni Suef and Aswan has seen a greater incidence of strikes, road blockages and civil unrest than the coastal resorts. Sectarian, economic and family-related disputes have occurred and can quickly become violent. Travel in large groups and by organized transportation, and follow the advice of local authorities, hotels and tour guides if you are travelling to rural areas. On June 10, 2015, Egyptian security personnel thwarted an attempted terrorist attack at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor.
While the size and frequency of demonstrations have decreased, they can occur anywhere at any time without warning, but are held most often on Fridays following noon prayers. The situation remains fluid. There is always a potential for rapid escalation into violence where large groups of people are assembled.
Be extremely vigilant. Avoid all demonstrations or large public gatherings. Keep well informed of developing situations by monitoring local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Women should take particular care, as there is a serious risk of sexual assault during demonstrations; once surrounded by a group, it can be difficult to escape.
Egypt remains less consistently safe than it was before January 2011. Crimes such as pickpocketing, bag and purse snatching and home invasion have become more common. Purse snatching and pickpocketing occur most often in tourist locations and on the metro. Be aware of your surroundings and vigilant for thieves using different strategies to distract and rob you.
Kidnapping and carjacking may also occur outside North Sinai. Although kidnapping victims in North Sinai Governorate are usually killed, kidnapping outside this area is generally for ransom.
Carjackings usually target sports utility vehicles. Although isolated areas and night driving present the greatest threat, there have been reported incidents in daylight hours and in busy areas of Cairo. Assailants are usually armed, and a variety of tactics may be used to get vehicles to stop, including throwing objects at the windshield, feigning a traffic accident or minor collision with the target vehicle, or “sandwiching” the target vehicle to force it off the road. If you find yourself in such a situation, do not resist as carjackers are typically after the vehicle and, if the carjacking is successful, will leave the driver unharmed.
If you are a victim of crime, report it to the Tourist Police or at a nearby police station as soon as possible. Request a copy of the police report at the time the report is made. Failure to report the crime while in Egypt makes it much more difficult to seek prosecution.
Women, particularly foreigners, are frequently subject to unpleasant male attention, sexual harassment and verbal abuse. This often takes the form of staring, inappropriate remarks, catcalls and touching. See Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for more information.
Unexploded landmines remain a risk in some desert and coastal areas, notably the Mediterranean shore, the Western Desert, the Sinai Peninsula and the western shore of the Gulf of Suez. Known minefields are not marked by signs, but may be enclosed by barbed wire. Seek local advice, especially if travelling off-road.
Road conditions are often poor and the rate of vehicular accidents is one of the highest in the world. Drivers generally have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe driving practices. Be cautious when crossing streets as drivers do not give pedestrians the right of way. In the event of an accident, do not move the vehicle until the police arrive, unless you are in immediate danger, such as from a crowd and need to move to safety.Exercise caution when using taxis and the metro. There have been robberies and accidents involving both, and the metro has been the target of terrorist attacks. Most taxis do not have working metres, and back seats are rarely equipped with seat belts. Women should not sit in the front seat, as this could be misinterpreted by the driver. The metro can be overcrowded and is not climate controlled but does have cars for women only on most lines.
Use vehicles and hire drivers from reputable travel agencies.
Rail travel is generally safe between Alexandria and Cairo; however, safety standards vary throughout the rest of Egypt. In the past, protesters have blocked railways, causing deadly accidents. Exercise a high degree of caution.
Avoid microbuses because of hazardous driving habits.
Overcrowding and poor safety standards on ferries have caused accidents. Use reputable ferry operators.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Scuba diving / aquatic activities
Sharks are present in the waters off Egypt. Certain beaches and dive areas may be subject to temporary closures. The Egyptian Chamber of Diving and Water Sports provides updates on closures and diving conditions in Egypt. Exercise caution and seek advice from local authorities.
Crossing the border between Egypt and Israel is strongly discouraged at this time. The status of all crossing points can be verified prior to arrival with the Egyptian embassy in Israel or the Israeli embassy in Egypt. Cross-border movement regulations and restrictions are subject to change at any time and are the prerogative of the responsible authorities.
The Rafah border crossing point to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by border authorities in both Egypt and Gaza, is subject to sporadic openings. Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel in this area due to ongoing military operations against terrorists. Consult local authorities and refer to the travel advice for Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip for further information.
Beyond the provision of a travel document (the passport), the Canadian government does not facilitate the crossing of borders by private citizens. It is the citizen’s responsibility to meet the entry requirements of the country where they wish to travel, in most cases either through application for a visa or simply by going to a point of entry. Authorities at the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza have sometimes requested a letter or witnessed declaration from the Embassy of Canada to Egypt as a requirement to cross the border. The Canadian embassy is unable to provide such a letter or declaration. You should avoid all travel to Gaza. Furthermore, the Canadian government has very limited ability to provide consular services to Canadians in the Gaza Strip and once there, it may be difficult to leave.
General safety information
Although most tourist sites are open, the situation across Egypt remains unpredictable and less consistently safe than it was before January 2011. There is a potential for rapid escalation into violence where large groups of people are assembled.
Egypt has a special police force to assist tourists. Officers, who wear a distinctive arm band saying “Tourism and Antiquities Police,” can be found in hotels and at tourist sites.
Carry identification at all times. Photocopy your passport and other identification in case of loss or seizure.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Egyptian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt and its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Egypt, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Egypt.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You may purchase a tourist visa at the airport on arrival. However, you should obtain your visa from an Egyptian embassy or consulate before arrival to avoid lengthy delays or the possibility of being refused entry. All other visas must be obtained from an Egyptian embassy or consulate before arrival.
If you intend to stay for more than one month and have obtained a visa from an Egyptian embassy or consulate abroad, a 30-day visa will be stamped in your passport regardless of the visa previously granted. You are responsible for renewing this visa.
Entry and exit stamps
You must show proof of an entry stamp in your passport when you leave Egypt. If you cannot provide proof of entry, you cannot obtain an exit stamp and will be denied exit.
If you have entered the country with a Canadian passport and have obtained a new one while in Egypt, you must have the entry stamp transferred to the new passport by Egyptian immigration authorities. This requirement also applies to newborns and dual citizens.
If a child is born in Egypt to a Canadian parent, a data stamp proving that the child was born in Egypt must be added to the child’s Canadian passport before the child can exit the country. Since there will be no entry stamp in the child’s passport, you must submit both the child’s birth certificate and Canadian passport to Egyptian immigration officials to obtain what Egyptian authorities term the “data stamp.” Parents are advised to contact the Embassy of Canada as soon as possible to apply for citizenship and a passport for their child, so as not to further delay what can be a lengthy process.
If you are contemplating onward travel to other Arab countries, bear in mind that Canadians have been denied entry because their passports bore an Israeli visa, an Israeli border stamp or an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel, which would indicate they entered from Israel.
Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines that are available in Canada are considered controlled substances in Egypt, and are not allowed into the country without proof of prescription. If you arrive in Egypt without the original physician’s prescription for your medication, you could be detained, and may be subject to prosecution and a jail sentence. Contact the Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa for more information.
Health entry requirements
All foreigners planning to study, work or train in Egypt for longer than one month may be required to undergo testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Egyptian immigration authorities in Cairo’s Mogamma building provide information on this procedure upon application.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in North Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in North Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in North Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country.
Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds. In rare cases, it can infect people.
- avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets
- avoid areas where poultry may be slaughtered
- avoid contact with birds (alive or dead)
- avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them
- ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are below Canadian standards.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
The use of drugs and open consumption of alcohol (other than in licensed facilities such as hotels and restaurants) are prohibited. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Capital punishment is a sentencing option for certain drug-related crimes.
Photography of bridges, canals (including the Suez Canal), government, police and embassy buildings and vehicles, as well as military personnel and establishments is prohibited.
Under Egyptian law, individuals can be detained indefinitely without charge.
Strict duties apply on the importation of expensive electronics, including video and photographic equipment, laptops, and computer software and hardware. Such equipment should be for personal use and you should list it (model and serial number) and check it upon arrival and departure, in which case no duty will be collected. Appropriate permits and authorizations are required for the commercial importation of any type of electronics.
It is prohibited to export any antiquity or any item older than 100 years without a licence. Contact the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Ottawa for further information regarding customs requirements.
There are reports of Canadian citizens being forced into marriage without their prior knowledge or consent. For more information about forced marriages, see Marriage Overseas and Her Own Way: A Woman’s Guide to Safe and Successful Travel
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Egypt. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you Egyptian citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present Egyptian passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
You may be considered an Egyptian citizen if you were born to an Egyptian father, regardless of birth place.
Egyptian-Canadian men may be subject to military service when in Egypt. In order to be exempted, dual citizens are required to present many documents before leaving Egypt, including a document of discharge due to dual citizenship. This document does not necessarily provide an exemption, and obtaining it may be a lengthy process that could affect your departure date. The Government of Canada has no jurisdiction in the process, as the decision on military service rests solely with the Egyptian government. You should contact the Egyptian embassy or consulate in Canada before travelling.
The work week is Sunday through Thursday.
Due to the current security context, be conscious of your behaviour and how it may be interpreted by Egyptian authorities. Meeting with or discussing banned organizations or those considered to be terrorist organizations could be perceived as criminal behaviour.
Egypt’s customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Exercise common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour. Dress conservatively: for women, knee-length or longer dresses and long sleeves are preferable, and men should not wear shorts outside tourist areas. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Overt public displays of intimate affection are frowned upon in Egyptian culture.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
Although the laws of Egypt do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. Members of the LGBT community could face arrest under other charges, such as committing indecency, debauchery or scandalous acts. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Egypt.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
The currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP, E£).
A maximum of E£5,000 can be brought into or taken out of Egypt. You must declare any amount of currency equivalent to US$10,000 or more.
Traveller’s cheques and foreign currency are easily exchanged in hotels and banks. U.S. dollars are preferred, particularly at tourist sites. Some travel agents and tour operators request payment in U.S. cash only.
Major credit cards are accepted in larger stores and for larger purchases, but many merchants will only accept cash or may charge a fee for payment by credit card.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Egypt, particularly Cairo and Eastern Sinai, is located in an active seismic zone. The country is also subject to sand and dust storms.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 122
- tourist police: 126
Cairo - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Cairo and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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