Passports and visas of Egypt

Passports and visas of Egypt Last updated on Friday 16th April 2010

Visitors must hold passports valid for at least six months. Tourist visas can be obtained from Egyptian consulates throughout the world.

Visa costs vary according to nationality with visas to U.S. and GCC citizens the least expensive. Some consulates issue visas within the same day and some take several days to complete formalities. Visitors visas are for stays of one month in duration. Multiple entry visas allow for 3 visits to Egypt within this period.

Visas are also issued at banking kiosks set up at the entrance to the emigration halls in Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada airports and at port emigration in Alexandria and Port Said. In fact, visas issued at these locations are much less expensive than those issued at consulates and the procedures is as simple as purchasing a stamp.

However, those visitors travelling on passports from countries outside the developed world (i.e. U.S.A. and Canada, EC countries) and without close ties to Egypt (i.e. GCC countries), should check with the Egyptian consulates in their home countries as to whether visiting visas are routinely issued to their nationals. Visas are not issued at overland border crossings.

At Taba on the Israeli-Egyptian border, one week visas can be obtained which are restricted to the Sinai as far as Sharm El Sheikh and St. Catherine's monastery.

At ports of entry Egyptian immigration officials stamp all foreign passports with a notice that visitors must register within 7 days. All too often these stamps are smudged or too faint to read and it is unlikely that there will be another reminder.

While it is certainly possible to enter and leave the country without registering, it can still be the case that if a visitor fails to fulfil this formality, a stiff fine can be levied which can only be avoided by presenting a letter of apology from one's embassy. This situation is so common that the U.S. embassy has a form letter. To register, a visitor must take his or her passport to either a police station or to the Mugamma building in Tahrir Square where a simple registration form is filled out and a triangular registration stamp is placed in the passport beside the visa.

Most hotels complete these formalities for visitors as a matter of routine and visitors on package tours are rarely aware of this process. Otherwise one must register at either a local police station designated for this purpose or at the Mugamma building in Tahrir Square in Cairo. This can be a daunting proposition for the first time visitor, especially those who don't speak Arabic.

It is advisable if at all possible to avoid registering at police stations because they are not really geared to tourist traffic and officials in charge of this procedure are often absent or their hours are short and unpredictable. Moreover, police stations charge registration fees.

Registering at the Mugamma building in Cairo is much the easiest way although for the westerner the crowds and disorder may appear frightening at first. In fact, it is a very simple process which usually takes a few minutes at most and is free of charge. This procedure can be completed in Alexandria at the Passport Registration Office on Sharia Talaat Harb.

For those wishing to stay longer than one month a one month extension can be routinely obtained at the Mugammad Building. You will need to produce money exchange receipts which show that you have changed at least $180 within a month. These receipts must have at least your passport name on them to be acceptable. Since most banks and money changers write out exchange receipts without bothering to fill in details it is very important to insist that they fill in your name and passport details.

Those who wish to make a prolonged visit to Egypt can obtain a Tourist Resident Visa by producing exchange receipts of $180 per month equivalent to the number of months one intends to remain in the country.

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