Safety and security
Irish citizens resident in Egypt are advised to take sensible precautions with regard to their personal safety and travel within the country. We request that citizens taking up residence register with the Embassy.
In general, Irish citizens should be vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities, respect restrictions on movement (including in and around religious sites and during religious festivals) and monitor local media (including social media) for up to date information.
It is assessed that there is a high risk of terrorist attacks in Egypt. These normally happen without warning. Although the vast majority of attacks are targeted at the security services in specific areas, especially North Sinai, they have involved civilian casualties. Alliances between local extremist groups and Da’esh and Al Qaida have increased the risk of attacks against Westerners and Western interests in Egypt.
Some terrorist atatcks have targeted the Christian minority in Egypt, especially at remote monasteries and during pilgrimages.
Although there are additional security measures in place to protect the country’s major tourist resorts and sites, there is a risk that tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners may be specifically targeted by terrorists planning future attacks.
Nevertheless there have been no terrorist attacks in major cities or tourist centres since August 2019.
There ae occasional localised inter-faith community disputes which escalate quickly into more extreme violence. While most Coptic sites are well guarded by the security services, extreme caution should be observed when visiting them.
Irish citizens are strongly advised to avoid security installations (police stations, road checkpoints, military bases) and significant Government buildings where possible. People who take photographs and videos of security installations or security vehicles and equipment or Government buildings have been arrested and had their cameras confiscated. The importation and use of recreational drones and similar equipment is strictly prohibited in Egypt.
There is some risk of kidnapping for travellers to Egypt in remote areas.
Irish citizens should avoid all travel to Northern Sinai, including the Taba-Suez road, where the security situation is extremely dangerous. The Egyptian army is engaged in ongoing military operations against militant groups in North Sinai and there has been a serious escalation in the number of security incidents and attacks. There are additional restrictions on movement in Sinai, including a strictly enforced curfew.
Independent travel to remote areas is strongly discouraged. The movement and presence of all foreign nationals in areas adjacent to the Libyan, Sudanese and Israeli borders is restricted under the terms of a Presidential decree which mandates the armed forces to take measures to safeguard the security of these areas. Border areas are now classified as either “forbidden” or “restricted” and travel to them will only be allowed if a special permit is obtained from the armed forces. The definition of these areas is not always clear and will not be obvious to independent travellers.
Irish citizens are strongly advised not to seek to travel to or from Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The vicinity of the border crossing is particularly dangerous with frequent attacks on security forces. Rafah border crossing is also often closed.
Protests and demonstrations
Although protests and demonstrations in Egypt are now relatively rare compared to the period of political turmoil between 2011 and 2013, they can occur with no prior warning and the police response to any protests can be harsh. Protests can also turn violent and result in large numbers of deaths and injuries. Under Egyptian law, anyone participating in an unauthorized protest or demonstrations can expect to be detained for an extended period.
Irish citizens are strongly advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations. If caught up in a demonstration, leave the area immediately. Do not attempt to take photographs or videos of demonstrations.
You should closely monitor the local media (including social media) for updates on the situation.
Crime remains relatively low in Egypt but there has been an increase in violent crime including armed robbery and car-jackings in recent years. You should therefore take sensible precautions:
• Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together – leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
• Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
• Avoid showing large sums of money in public and avoid using ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
• Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
• Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
If you’re a victim of a crime while on holiday in Egypt, report it to the tourist police immediately. You won’t be able to pursue the matter once you’ve left Egypt if you fail to do so. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Cairo if you need help.
Women face particular challenges in Egypt. Sexual harassment is common on the street and in taxis. This can quickly escalate into sexual assaults and rape. What in Ireland is regarded as ordinary social interaction, for example eye contact and smiling, may be regarded in Egypt as flirtation. While it may be safer to travel in an Uber or the women-only carriages of the metro, vigilance must be maintained. Where possible, women should not travel alone and if travelling in a public transport car alone with a male driver should sit in the back seat behind the driver. It is advisable to cover your legs and arms when travelling outside of resorts, particularly during Ramadan or if you are visiting more religiously pious areas.
Egypt is a very popular scuba diving destination. If not fully qualified, please ensure you are accompanied by a qualified, reputable instructor. The safety standards of diving operators in Egypt can vary considerably. Before diving, please consult with your doctor to ensure you are fit to dive. Diving beyond the depth limit specified in your insurance policy, or diving unaccompanied, can invalidate your cover.
Driving conditions in Egypt are often hazardous, particularly at night outside major cities. Accidents are common and drivers often pay little heed to the rules of the road. Most sign posts outside major cities are in Arabic only.
If you want to drive:
• Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
• Exercise extreme caution at all times.
• Avoid driving at night outside main urban areas.
• Know your routes.
• Be aware that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
• Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Public transport in Egypt has a poor safety record. There have been numerous accidents in recent years involving buses, micro-buses, trains and metro services which have resulted in a considerable number of deaths, including foreign tourists. The train and metro network has also been the target of terrorist attacks. Where they are available, women should use the women only carriages of trains.