Egypt Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Egypt
How safe is Egypt?
Threat level: Medium-High
Egypt is a fairly popular African country, which borders the Middle East. Its security situation is dynamic and the threat of terror is quite high, although it is believed that planned attacks are generally aimed at security forces or government buildings.
There are many travel advisories in place: all travel to the North Sinai district is advised against. This is due to the increasing number of terrorist attacks and steadily growing crime rates. Most tourist destinations are not included in travel advisories, although air travel to and from Sharm-el-Sheikh - one of the most popular havens is advised against, unless absolutely essential. This is due to the crash of an aircraft travelling from Sharm-el-Sheikh to St Petersburg, (Russia), in October 2015, which is suspected to have been caused intentionally by the explosion of a device, killing all passengers on board.
At present, UK flight operators have suspended all flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh until further notice. You should exercise extreme caution when visiting the area. Providing this is done, most trips to Egypt are pleasant and risk-free.
Egypt Terror Attacks
On the 18th of February 2019, a militant carrying an explosive device detonated it in Cairo, killing two policemen and wounding three others.
On the 28th of December 2018, a bomb struck a tourist bus near the Giza Pyramids. No terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack that killed four and injuring 12. This latest incident is the first terrorist attack in Egypt targeting foreign tourists in almost two years. The attack took place in the Marioutiyah area near the pyramids and it is understood that the device was a roadside bomb.
On the 24th of March 2018, 2 policemen died after a car exploded in a terrorist attack in Alexandria reportedly targeting Alexandria's security chief, police Major General Mostafa al-Nemr.
On the 29th of December 2017, an attack targeting a Coptic Church in the Helwan district near Cairo, in which two gunmen opened fire outside the Church, killed 9 people.
On the 24th of November 2017, in Bir al-Abed (near al-Arish in Egypt's North Sinai province), there was a suicide bomb and gun attack on Worshipers, who were surrounded during Friday prayers at their local Mosque. It is understood to have been a Coordinated Terror Attack that saw emergency services being fired upon on their arrival. Local reports say that there are over 230 killed (some sources are reporting many more dead) and many more injured.
On the 26th of May 2017, masked gunmen dressed in military uniforms, opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 26 people, including children and injuring 25. The bus came under fire as it was heading for the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, 220km (140 miles) south of Cairo. No group have said they were behind the attack, but Islamic State (IS) have targeted Copts in recent months.
On the 9th of April 2017, there was a suicide bomb attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian Nile delta city of Tanta, during a Palm Sunday service. The bomb killed 26 people and more than 50 were injured. A second suicide bombing blast happened outside a church in Alexandria, killing six people and injuring a further 66. Both bombings are thought to be the work of militant group "Liwa al-Thawra" that is aligned with ISIS.
On the 9th of December 2016, there was a bomb explosion near the pyramids at a vehicle checkpoint on Al Haram street in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Six Police officers were killed whilst carrying out searches on this very busy checkpoint in the western Talibiya neighbourhood.
In January 2017, eight police officers were killed and three others badly wounded in an attack on a police checkpoint in Egypt's New Valley province in the Western Desert. Although nobody has yet claimed responsibility, it is likely that the so called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are behind this attack.
In the Sheikh Zuweid area on the 31st of January 2016, an army officer and conscript were blown up by Wilayat Sayna militants in a targeted attack.
Egyptian Police have become targets in ongoing attacks from Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, such as the March 2016 mortar attack in the North Sinai region, in which at least 13 people were killed. Attacks such as suicide bombs, car bombs, and mortars alongside heavy gunfire are prominent in this region.
2015 saw an ISIS-affiliated group launch a rocket at an Egyptian Naval vessel two miles off the coast of northern Sinai which borders Israel. This event was one of the key factors in implemented a 'no travel' advisory to the area.
In 2009, there was a bombing on a market place in Cairo, killing a 17-year-old French teenager and injuring 24. One of the largest attacks prior to that was the 2005 Sharm-el Sheikh (bomb explosions) where 88 people were killed and over 150 were wounded.
It is not clear how much control the Egyptian government has on the present security situation or what their plans to tackle the situation might be. The Egyptian government has enhanced security for the Sharm-el Sheikh and Hurghada resort areas, partially as a response to the recent attack in Tunisia.
There have been various other attacks in 2016, which have affected both nationals of the country and tourists visiting Egypt. Its popularity has decreased in recent months and years and this is partly due to the political upheaval and instability of the country at present.
There are a number of terror groups operating in Egypt and the surrounding area. The most prevalent is Ansar Bait-al-Maqdis (ABM) (“Supporters of the Holy House”, or Ansar Jerusalem, “Supporters of Jerusalem”) a Sinai-based group that has recently sworn allegiance to ISIS/ISIL. Visitors to Egypt are advised to remain on a high level of alert at all times and be aware of any suspicious activity.
In Cairo and Alexandria, there are often public demonstrations. These should be avoided at all cost.
Egypt's International Relations
Egypt’s relations could be seen as previously strained with Israel, Denmark, Sudan, Turkey and Qatar. This is due to religious/geopolitical tensions in the bordering areas.
The country has played a role in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict and has been a key contributor to peacekeeping efforts for many years.
Travelling around Egypt
Enhanced Security measures are in place for Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada resort areas. Egyptian soldiers are military targets in and around Sheikh Zuwayed, North Sinai, in the East of the country. It is advised to not visit this area.
Other drivers and conditions of the road in Egypt are variable and often hazardous, particularly in the busier cities such as Cairo. Driving regulations are regularly ignored by impatient road users, making it dangerous in places such as traffic light intersections. You should drive with extreme caution at all times.
It is not at all advisable to selfdrive in Egypt. The road conditions are not great, the standard of driving is very poor and then there is the language barrier if you have problems while on the road. The best bet is to travel on a planned trip or to hire a driver from your hotel.
If you do decide to selfdrive and venture out of the city, then planning journeys should be done with care to take enough food, fuel and water with your party. Map reading in Egypt is a challenge and GPS of little use in some areas, so planning and preparation with good research is key to safe road travel.
Emergency services in Egypt:
Police emergency: 122 or 02/303 4122.
Tourist Police: 126
Traffic Police: 128
Fire emergency: 180
Medical emergency: 123
Currency: Egyptian pound
Time now in Cairo:
Egypt is steeped in history and art and as such will always attract a large number of tourists. At present, the country gets around 5 million tourists each year, a major drop since its 2010 peek of 14 million. This huge drop in tourism is due to the “Arab Spring” in 2011, political turmoil and the series of terrorist acts that the country has faced and continues to face.
The 2015 bombing of a Russian commercial aircraft has done little to help Egypt recover. This bombing caused a long-needed review of aviation security in the country.
Egypt is working hard to recover from the drop of tourism and has made great efforts in promoting the country to tourists.
Petty crime in Egypt remains a serious problem with much of it being classed as organised crime. Most visitors to Egypt do enjoy their stay and the reality is that crime affects a small percentage of visitors.
Consular information for Egypt
U.S. Embassy Cairo
5 Tawfik Diab Street,
Telephone: +20 (2) 2797 3300
Emergency telephone: +20 (2) 2797 3300
7 Ahmed Ragheb,
Qasr Ad Dobarah,
Qasr an Nile,
Cairo Governorate 11451,
Telephone: +20 (2) 2791 6000
3 Pharaana Street,
Telephone: +20 (2) 3486 1009
Visa requirements for Egypt
UK, EU and USA Passport holders travelling to Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts only and for a maximum stay of 15 Days, do not require a visa prior to travelling; a free entry permission stamp will be granted upon arrival. If visitors intend to travel outside of the above-mentioned areas they must obtain a Visa. A tourist visa can be obtained prior to travelling to Egypt via the Visa2Egypt portal or on arrival, and is valid for 3 months.
Visitors should check the latest visa requirements with the Egyptian government or your local Embassy. Alternatively, further information can be found here: Visa Check Egypt
Health Care and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Egypt are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider vaccinations for Hepatitis B, however you should check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
The medical facilities in Cairo and many of the tourist resorts are thought to be of an adequate standard, however facilities beyond this are variable. You should keep this in mind if travelling away from such areas.
There is a risk of Dengue in Egypt, a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, so take precautions to avoid mosquito bites as there is no vaccine.
Schistosomiasis (a parasitic infection) is also an issue, so it is advised against swimming in fresh water in Egypt.
Hepatitis, Filariasis and rabies can flare up in the country, alongside water-borne, food-borne and insect-borne diseases. Wild polio virus has been identified in samples collected at two sewage locations in greater Cairo. Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold has come to our attention.
It is highly recommended full travel and medical insurance is checked for coverage prior to travel. The medical facilities outside of Cairo are limited and basic, and treatment can prove to be extremely costly.