Egypt country information and facts for travelers.

EGYPT

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

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. For travelers arriving by air, a renewable 30-day tourist visa can be obtained at airport points of entry for $15, payable in U.S. dollars. Visitors arriving overland and by sea, 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 anyone staying over 30 days. For additional entry information, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 3521 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. 202-895-5400, or the Egyptian consulates in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, or Houston.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Since the mid-1990's, Egyptian extremist groups seeking to destabilize the government have attacked targets in Egypt, including Egyptian law enforcement personnel, judicial officials, and foreign tourists. Most of these attacks have occurred in the Nile Valley governates of Minya, Assiut, Sohag and Qena. Egyptian security and law enforcement officials increased their counter-terrorism activities and security presence during 1998, and there were fewer extremist attacks than in previous years. In 1997, extremist attacks on foreigners took place in Luxor in Upper Egypt and in Cairo. There were no attacks on foreign tourists in Egypt in 1998. Because the extremists have been more active in the Nile Valley governates of Minya, Assiut, Sohag and Qena (north of Qena City), these areas should be considered a greater risk. Therefore, prior to travel to these governates, U.S. citizens are urged to seek advice from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy, licensed tour operators, and/or the tourist police authorities responsible for those areas.

The U.S. Embassy periodically receives information concerning extremists' intentions to target tourists and American interests in Egypt, including U.S. Government buildings. In light of this information, we urge Americans to be vigilant and exercise good security practices while in Egypt. (Please see Information on Crime.)

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. Leftover mines 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. Because known minefields are not marked by signs, but are usually enclosed by barbed wire, travelers should 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.

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 the areas that most tourists visit. Emergency and intensive care facilities are, however, 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 are nonexistent at most other ports of call.

Doctors and hospitals expect immediate payment in cash for treatment. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. The U.S. Embassy highly recommends that you check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether 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, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via its home page and autofax service.

Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are generally unpolluted. However, there is a risk of exposure to bacterial infections, hepatitis, and the parasitic disease schistosomiasis (bilharzia) when swimming in the Nile or canals, walking barefoot along the Nile River, or drinking untreated river water. 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.

Properly prepared, thoroughly cooked meat in tourist hotels, Nile cruise boats, and tourist restaurants is considered safe. Eating uncooked vegetables should be avoided, because this can cause traveler's diarrhea. Tap water is not potable. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1- 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: The crime rate in Egypt is low. While incidents of violence are rare, purse snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft are not uncommon. Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Travelers and foreign residents are subject to Egyptian laws. 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. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa." They are available 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.

DRUG PENALTIES: Travelers are subject to the laws and legal practices of the country in which they travel. Drug enforcement policies in Egypt are very strict. 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.

CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS: Travelers are no longer required to convert foreign currency into Egyptian pounds or submit exchange currency statements upon entry. The maximum amount of Egyptian currency that can be brought in or taken out of Egypt is 1,000 Egyptian pounds. Personal use items such as jewelry, laptop computers and electronic equipment are exempt from customs fees. However, computer peripherals, such as printers and modems, are subject to customs fees. For tourists, electronic equipment is annotated on 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 merchandises 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.

PHOTOGRAPHY 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. There are restrictions on photographing military personnel and sites, bridges and canals.

Dual Nationality: 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 the husband's consent. Dual Egyptian-American nationals may enter and leave Egypt on their U.S. passports. 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 of military age, who have not completed military service, are not generally required to enlist in the armed forces. However, before they can leave Egypt, they must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of Defense Draft Office. Individuals who may be affected can inquire at an Egyptian consular office abroad before traveling to Egypt. Persons with dual nationality who travel to Egypt on their Egyptian passports are normally treated as Egyptian citizens. U.S. consular assistance to such persons is extremely limited.

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 U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. 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 Pentagon at telephone (703) 697-7288.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: The roads in Egypt can be hazardous, particularly at night outside major cities, because vehicles often travel with few or no lights. Fatal accidents have occurred. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited outside Cairo.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is located on Lazoughli Street, Garden City, near downtown Cairo. The mailing address from the U.S. is American Embassy Cairo, APO AE 09839-4900; from Egypt, it is 8 Kamal el-Din Salah Street, Cairo. The telephone number is (20) (2) 355-7371. The Consular Section telephone number is (20) (2) 357-2301; the Consular Section fax is (20) (2) 357-2472. The Consular Section e-mail address is cacairo@cairod.us-state.gov; consular information is also available via the Internet at http://www.usis.egnet.net

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