Egypt (Arabic: مصر Misr / Másr; officially, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: جمهوريّة مصر العربيّة Gomhuriat Masr Al-Arabiah) is in north-eastern Africa with its capital located in its largest city, Cairo. Egypt also extends into Asia by virtue of holding the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is bordered by Israel and the Gaza Strip to the north-east, by Jordan to the east, by Sudan to the south and by Libya to the west. The country is bounded by the Mediterranean and Red Seas (to the north and east respectively) and geographically dominated both by the Nile River and its fertile well-watered valley, and by the Eastern and Western deserts.
Egypt is perhaps best known as the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, and - visible above all - its pyramids. Less well-known is Egypt's medieval heritage, courtesy of Coptic Christianity and Islam - ancient churches, monasteries and mosques punctuate the Egyptian landscape. Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide.
Major cities and tourist attractions
- Cairo – the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture
- Alexandria – Egypt's window on the Mediterranean, with still-palpable glimpses of the past
- Aswan – a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights
- Luxor – gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions
- Hurghada – a town on the Red Sea, filled with all-inclusive resorts and diving
- Cairo International Airport
- Alexandria Nozha
- Luxor International Airport
- Aswan International Airport
- Hurghada International Airport
- Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport
- Burg Al-Arab International Airport
- Marsa Alam International Airport
As a major tourist destination whose economy is dependent upon tourist money, Egypt is relatively easy to enter and/or obtain visas for if necessary. There are three types of Egyptian visa:
- Tourist Visa - usually valid for a period not exceeding 3 months and granted on either a single or multiple entry basis
- Entry Visa - required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.
- Transit Visa - rarely needed and only for certain nationalities
Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian diplomatic and consular missions abroad or from the Entry Visa Department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA). Non-Egyptian travelers are required to have a valid passport.
Citizens of many countries may obtain a visa on arrival at major points of entry; the fee is demanded on arrival and it is expensive to change money and then pay the fee. At airports, you must obtain these from a bank office before passport control, ostensibly to verify that the currency is real; however, you will have no problem obtaining one. Check with your nearest Egyptian Consular mission for more details concerning visa regulations applying to your citizenship. The fees for a single-entry visa are as follows:
- UK citizens: £15
- US citizens: US$15
- Irish citizens: €15/US$15
- Australian citizens: A$45
- Canadian citizens: C$26
- other countries: US$15
Citizens of Bahrain, Guinea, South Korea, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen receive a 3 month visa on arrival. Citizens of Kuwait can obtain 6-month Residence Permit upon arrival. China and Malaysian citizens receive a 15 day visa on arrival. Citizens of China(only Hong Kong and Macau SAR) may have a 30 day visit without visa.
Citizens of the following countries are currently required to have a visa before arriving, which must be applied for through an Egyptian consulate or embassy outside of Egypt:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia (if you intend to stay for more than 15 days), Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and all African countries (except citizens of Guinea and Libya, who do not require visa).
Visitors entering Egypt at the overland border crossing at Taba or at Sharm el Sheikh airport can be exempted from a visa and granted a free fourteen day entry visa to visit the Aqaba coast of the Sinai peninsula, including Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab and St. Catherine's Monastery. Visitors wishing to leave the Sinai peninsula and to visit Cairo and other Egyptian cities are required to hold full Egyptian visas, although strictly speaking there is a small possibility no one will check for this unless you attempt to exit the country. These are not issued at the Taba border crossing and must be acquired in advance either in the country of residence, at the Egyptian consulate in Eilat or airport upon arrival. Visitors traveling on organized tours often may be able to have their visas issued at the border, but you should verify in advance with their travel agent or tour operator if this option is available to them. Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.
Tourists visiting Sharm-el-Sheikh who are planning to undertake scuba diving outside local areas (i.e. Ras Mohammed) will need to obtain the tourist visa, because this technically means leaving the Sharm-el-Sheikh area and leads to the requirement for a visa. Officials on boats may check dive boats whilst on the waters so you are advised to obtain the visa beforehand: there may be fines involved for you and the boat captain if you are caught without the appropriate visa. Most reputable dive centers will ask to see your visa before allowing you on trips.