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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Egypt

EGYPT - Consular Information Sheet
February 9, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Egypt is a developing country with extensive facilities for tourists.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Travelers can obtain a renewable 30-day tourist visa at any port of entry, except at Taba and Rafah, for a $15 fee, payable in U.S. dollars. Visitors arriving overland and/or those previously experiencing difficulty with their visa status in Egypt must obtain a visa prior to arrival. Military personnel arriving on commercial flights are not exempt from passport and visa requirements. Proof of Yellow Fever immunization is required if arriving from an infected area. Evidence of an AIDS test is required for everyone staying over 30 days. For additional entry requirements, U.S. citizens may contact:

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Court, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 895-5400

or the Egyptian consulates at:

1110 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212) 759-7120

500 North Michigan Avenue, Ste. 1900
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 828-9162

1990 Post Oak Boulevard, Ste. 2180
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 961-4915 or 961-4916

3001 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 346-9700 or 346-9702

The Embassy of Egypt's website is http://www.mfa.gov.eg.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Egyptian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Egyptian citizens. The Government of Egypt considers all children born to Egyptian fathers to be Egyptian citizens. Even if the children bear American passports, immigration officials may require proof that the father approves their departure before the children will be allowed to leave Egypt. Americans married to Egyptians do not need their spouse's permission to depart Egypt as long as they have a valid Egyptian visa. To renew a visa, or to leave the country after a visa has expired, an American woman married to an Egyptian must present proof of her husband's consent. If a dual national resides in Egypt for extended periods, proof of Egyptian citizenship, such as a family I.D. card, is required. Male dual nationals who have not completed military service are not generally required to enlist in the armed forces. However, they must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of Defense Draft Office before they can leave Egypt. Individuals who may be affected can inquire at an Egyptian consular office abroad before traveling to Egypt. Dual Egyptian-American nationals may enter and leave Egypt on their U.S. passports. Persons with dual nationality who travel to Egypt on their Egyptian passports are normally treated as Egyptian citizens by the local government. The ability to provide U.S. consular assistance to such persons, therefore, is extremely limited. For additional information, please see our Dual Nationality flyer on the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Following an attack by extremists on tourists in the Upper Egypt town of Luxor in November 1997, Egyptian law enforcement and security officials took measures to enhance security at airports, international hotels and tourist sites throughout the country. There have been no attacks on tourists since that time, and there have been very few terrorist attacks at all. Effective police operations in the past few years and the heightened security posture throughout Egypt have made it more difficult for extremist groups to conduct terrorist operations. However, the threat has not been eliminated.

The U.S. Embassy periodically receives information concerning extremists' intentions to target American citizens or interests in Egypt. In light of this information, we urge Americans to be vigilant and exercise good security practices while in Egypt. Americans may contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for the most up-to-date information concerning the security situation in Egypt. (Please see contact information in the Registration/Embassy Information section below.)

RESTRICTED AREAS: Those wishing to visit areas near Egypt's frontiers, including oases near the border with Libya and off-road areas in the Sinai, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo. Travelers should be aware of the possible dangers of off-road travel. Mines left from previous conflicts remain buried in several regions of the country and have caused several deaths, including deaths of Americans. As a rule, all travelers should check with local authorities before embarking on off-road travel. Known minefields are not marked by signs, but are usually enclosed by barbed wire. Travelers should, therefore, avoid areas enclosed by barbed wire. After heavy rains, which can cause flooding in desert areas and the consequent shifting of land mines, travelers should avoid driving through build-ups of sand on roadways.

CRIME: The crime rate in Egypt is low. While incidents of violence are rare, purse snatching, pickpocketing and petty theft are not uncommon. Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa, to promote a trouble-free journey. They are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: There are many Western-trained medical professionals in Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo can provide a list of local hospitals and English-speaking physicians. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in tourist areas. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited. Facilities outside Cairo fall short of U.S. standards. Most Nile cruise boats do not have a ship's doctor, but some employ a medical practitioner of uncertain training. Hospital facilities in Luxor and Aswan are inadequate, and they are nonexistent at most other ports of call.

Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are generally unpolluted. However, persons who swim in the Nile or in canals, walk barefoot along the Nile, or drink untreated river water are at risk of exposure to bacterial infections, hepatitis, and the parasitic disease schistosomiasis (bilharzia). There is a low risk of exposure to exotic diseases in Egypt such as Rift Valley Fever (RVF). RVF, which flares up in parts of the country from time to time, is a mosquito-borne disease of domestic animals that can infect humans.

It is safe to eat properly-prepared, thoroughly-cooked meat and vegetables in tourist hotels, on Nile cruise boats, and in tourist restaurants. Eating uncooked vegetables should be avoided because this can cause diarrhea. Tap water is not potable. It is best to drink bottled water or water that has been boiled and filtered. Well-known brands of bottled beverages are generally considered safe.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Egypt is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

The roads in Egypt can be hazardous, particularly at night outside major cities. Cars and trucks frequently travel at night without headlights and at a high rate of speed. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited outside Cairo. Egypt is one of the world's leaders in auto accidents. Traffic regulations are routinely ignored. If available, seatbelts should be worn at all times. Roads in Cairo are congested, and traffic is badly regulated. The Cairo Metro (subway) system is good, but buses and commuter micro-buses are usually extremely crowded and poorly maintained. Sidewalks and pedestrian crossings are non-existent in many areas, and drivers do not yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Egypt's driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Egyptian National Tourist Organization offices in New York (Egypt Tourist Authority, 630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1706, New York, NY 10111; telephone (212) 332-2570 or toll-free, (877) 773-4978; Internet website: http://www.egypttourism.org; e-mail address: info@egypttourism.org or in California at Wilshire San Vicente Plaza, 8383 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 215, Beverly Hills, CA 90211; telephone (323) 653-8815, or in Illinois at 645 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 829, Chicago, IL (312) 280-4666.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Egypt's civil aviation authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Egypt's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Egyptian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Egypt of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency, and ivory. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C. or one of the Egyptian consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Egyptian law allows for the imposition of duties on photographic and video equipment. However, such duties are rarely imposed, except when large quantities of photographic equipment or expensive video equipment are brought into Egypt. Persons bringing in such items should be prepared to comply with certain customs formalities.

Personal use items such as jewelry, laptop computers and electronic equipment are exempt from customs fees. However, Egyptian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Egypt of items such as computer peripherals, including printers and modems, which are subject to customs fees. For tourists, electronic equipment is annotated in their passport, and the person is required to show the same items upon exiting Egypt. For residents, a deposit, refunded upon departure, may be made in lieu of customs fees.

Commercial merchandise and samples require an import/export license issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Supply in Egypt prior to travel and should be declared upon arrival. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C. or one of Egypt's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Travelers are not required to convert foreign currency into Egyptian pounds or submit exchange currency statements on arrival. The maximum amount of Egyptian currency that can be brought in or taken out of Egypt is 1,000 Egyptian pounds.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Egyptian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Egypt are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. The death penalty may be imposed on anyone convicted of smuggling or selling marijuana, hashish, opium, LSD, or other narcotics. Law enforcement authorities prosecute and seek fines and imprisonment in cases of possession of even small quantities of drugs.

CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Egypt is a party, competent authorities in the host country must notify a consular post of the arrest of one of its citizens without delay.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: There are restrictions on photographing military personnel and sites, bridges, and canals, including the Suez Canal.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Egypt are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and obtain updated information on travel and security within Egypt. The American Citizens Services office of the U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Latin America Street, Garden City, Cairo and is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. The workweek in Egypt is Sunday through Thursday. Telephone calls are accepted from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The mailing address from the United States is: Consular Section, Unit 64900, Box 15, APO AE 09839-4900; in Egypt, it is 8 Kamal el-Din Salah Street, Garden City, Cairo. The main Embassy telephone number is (20)(2) 795-7371. The Consular Section telephone number is (20)(2) 797-2301, the fax number is (20)(2) 797-2472, and the e-mail address is consularcairo@state.gov. Consular information is available via the Internet at http://www.usembassy.egnet.net.

Once a month, American Citizen Services are available at the American Center, 3 Pharana Street, Azarita, Alexandria from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Please check the Embassy web site for a schedule of upcoming dates. Every 5-10 weeks, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. American Citizen Services are available at the Cairo American College, Room 600, Maadi. Please check the Embassy web site for dates and details of services available.

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