Egypt has also been hit by the coronavirus (Covid-19). The country has implemented a number of emergency decrees to limit the safety risks. These rules also impact tourists and business travellers that have made plans to travel to Egypt. This includes people who have already had a visa issued to them. In this article, you can read what you need to take into account before planning a trip to Egypt (last update: 01-04-2021).
The coronavirus in Egypt: current state of affairs
On 31 March, there were 202,131 officially registered coronavirus infections and 11,995 deaths reported in Egypt. It is not entirely clear what the relation is between actual infections and registered infections, but what is clear is that not all infections are registered. Since 1 July 2020, the Egyptian government has once again started allowing international flights, which means that Egypt is also issuing e-visas again. To travel to Egypt, the traveller must be healthy, and they also have to prove that they have insurance which covers any potential healthcare costs in Egypt. Some countries permit the landing of flights from Egypt, others (such as Austrria) do not. However, travelling to Egypt through other countries is still possible in these situations.
Can I currently apply for a visa for Egypt?
The travel ban has been lifted by the Egyptian government, although the British government still advises against travelling to the country. Once a visa application is processed, it cannot be cancelled or refunded, even if it is not or cannot be used.
Since 15 August 2020, a negative PCR test from an official testing facility - in English or Arabic - is required to enter Egypt, which cannot be older than 72 hours (exceptions apply when departing from the USA, Canada, London Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt, no older than 96 hours). The PCR test must have been issued bij a recognised laboratory and must have a stamp. It also has to mention a date and time, otherwise it will not be accepted and the traveller will not be allowed to enter. On arrival, travellers must fill in a short declaration form in which they state where in Egypt they will be staying and provide some information about their health insurance.
No PCR test is required for entry to the airports of the southern Sinai, the Red Sea and Matrouh (arrival at the airports Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada, Marsa Alam or Marsa Matrouh). If a negative result of a PCR test, which is no older than 72 hours, cannot be shown, you must have a PCR test carried out at the airport at your own costs. (Take note: this is not possible at the other airports in the country, such as Cairo. At these airports, you will be denied entry if you cannot present a recent negative PCR test.) If you arrive at the airports of the southern Sinai, the Red Sea and Matrouh without a PCR test result, the low testing capacity can lead to long queues. While waiting for the test result (usually between 14 and 24 hours), quarantine (at, for example, a hotel) is mandatory.
In order to boost tourism, Egypt has temporarily suspended the visa requirement for travellers that are staying at a resort in Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba for a maximum of 15 days, and are landing at the airport of Sharm El Sheikh. This means that if you arrive at the airport of Sharm El Sheikh, you currently do not need a visa to enter Egypt. Your passport will be stamped, allowing you to stay at one of the resorts for up to 15 days. If you plan to travel somewhere outside these places, or plan to stay for longer than 15 days, you still need to apply for a visa.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) led to a travel ban in Egypt, which has since been lifted
Do you want to reschedule your trip to Egypt because of the coronavirus?
The e-visa for Egypt has a date of issuing and an expiry date. The period in between is the validity period of the visa. You do not need to arrive on the date of arrival you filled in on the application form for the visa. However, the date on which you arrive in Egypt as well as the date on which you leave the country must fall within the validity period as mentioned on the visa.
I am in Egypt, what should I look out for?
The British government advises against travelling to Egypt in general. Due to the coronavirus, travelling to the majority of Egypt should only be considered for "essential travel". Travelling to the North Sinai region, the border region with Libya, Bir Tawil and the "Halaib triangle" is strongly advised against. As long as you are in Egypt, you are advised to keep the following coronavirus measures in mind:
- Wearing a mask is mandatory in closed public spaces throughout the country, including in public transport and taxis.
- Measures taken against the coronavirus, such as limiting opening times of shops, catering establishments and pharmacies can differ per region. However, you can assume that no limitations are in place in the tourist areas at the Red Sea, South Sinai and Matrouh.
- Travelling options within Egypt are limited. Public transportation in particular is very limited between 00:00 and 04:00. Additionally, you may be asked for a negative PCR test to travel domestically.
- Due to the high risk of infection, observe "social distancing" guidelines and avoid places where many people gather, such as public transportation.
- Additionally, follow the coronavirus guidelines as instructed by the DHSC.
When returning to the United Kingdom, you must provide all of your travel details and be able to present a negative Covid-19 test result which was taken at maximum 3 days before departure. Once you arrive in the UK, you must take 2 additional coronavirus tests which must have been booked before arrival. You are also required to self-isolate for 10 days
When can I go on a holiday to Egypt again?
Starting 1 July 2020, the Egyptian authorities have allowed travel to Egypt again. Whether this is possible from a practical viewpoint depends on the one hand on the advice of the British government, and on the other hand on the decisions made by your travel organisation. Starting the first week of July, flights between Egypt and the UK have commenced again. Please note that some European countries (such as Austria) are not permitting flights to and from Egypt. Travellers returning to the UK from Egypt are required to self-isolate for 10 days. Additionally, starting 18 January, they must be able to provide a negative PCR test result which was administered a maximum of 3 days before their departure from Egypt. The travel advice and coronavirus guidelines of the British government are frequently revised, so keep a close watch on this page.
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Disclaimer: due to major uncertainties regarding the development of the coronavirus in Egypt and worldwide, as well as the rapid changes in the policy of the Egyptian government, it cannot be guaranteed that all the information on this page is up to date and entirely correct. Regularly check this page to stay informed on the developments, but also check with your travel organisation and consult the websites of the governments of your home country and Egypt before planning a trip or applying for a visa.