The Department of State Travel Advisory warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of travel to Sharm El-Sheikh by air) and the Western Desert. Travel to the Libyan and Sudanese borders is also not recommended. U.S. citizens in Egypt should maintain a high level of vigilance throughout the country due to the threat of terrorism.
Between December 2018 and May 2019, terrorist incidents in tourist areas in greater Cairo killed four tourists and wounded at least 18 others. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, and have targeted diplomatic facilities, tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, western businesses, resorts, and local government facilities. There is a possibility of terrorist attacks in urban areas, including in Cairo, despite the heavy security presence. In August 2019, a car bomb explosion outside of a hospital in Cairo killed at least 20. Additionally, terrorists have targeted religious sites, to include mosques, churches, monasteries, and buses traveling to these locations.
The Egyptian government has attempted to address security concerns and has visibly augmented its security presence at tourist locations, but challenges persist, and the threat of terrorism remains. Police and military are also engaged in operations to combat terrorism and disrupt terrorist cells in the Sinai Peninsula and the Nile Valley.
Do not travel to:
- The Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of travel to Sharm El-Sheikh by air) due to terrorism.
The Sinai Peninsula remains a particularly dangerous area, with frequent terrorist attacks on security forces and civilians.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula as U.S. government employees are not authorized to travel to these areas (with the exception of the beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh; travel to Sharm El-Sheikh is only permitted by air).
- The Western Desert due to terrorism.
- Egyptian border areas other than official ports of entry.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Egypt’s borders are under military control; movement of non-military persons and vehicles is substantially restricted, and in some cases prohibited, within these areas. U.S. citizens should not travel in these border zones.
It is illegal to photograph police stations, military barracks, and certain other sensitive public buildings.
U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments, avoid demonstrations, and be vigilant regarding their personal security at all times throughout the country. U.S. citizens should also carry identification and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt, and it is advisable to pre-program the U.S. Embassy’s telephone number (+20 2 2797-3300) and email address (ConsularCairoACS@state.gov) into the device.
Travelers must obtain permission and a travel route from the Egyptian Military Intelligence and the Tourist Police Headquarters via a local or overseas travel agency to access Egypt’s frontiers, including the borders with Libya, Sudan, Israel, and parts of the Sinai Peninsula off paved roads.
High concentrations of World War II-era unexploded landmines are located in the World War II battlefields along the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, the Eastern Desert between Cairo and the Suez Canal, and much of the Sinai Peninsula. Travelers are urged to be especially cautious in these areas.
Crime: Crime levels in Cairo and Alexandria are moderate.
The vast majority of criminal acts against foreigners are crimes of opportunity, such as purse snatching and pickpocketing.
Harassment of women, including foreigners, remains a serious problem. Incidents of harassment range from lewd comments and gestures to indecent exposure and inappropriate physical contact.
Tourists should be alert to being overcharged for various services and for being victimized in scams common to tourist destinations worldwide. Tourists should expect to encounter aggressive vendors at Egypt’s shops in urban areas, as well as at the many temples and archaeological sites. Some will offer “free” gifts to tourists which, once accepted, lead to demands for money. Most sites have specially designated tourist police who can assist in uncomfortable situations.
International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Egypt. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
- Romance/Online dating
- Money transfers
The U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of online financial scams, often involving a fraudulent romantic partner requesting money for hospital bills or legal expenses to depart Egypt. Be skeptical about sending money to anyone known only through online contact.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to the local police at 122 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(20) 2-2797-3300. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. The Embassy cannot intervene in legal disputes.
Failure to report crimes before leaving Egypt will make it impossible to seek prosecution at a later date. U.S. citizen tourists can forward their complaints for investigation to the Tourist Police Headquarters. For crimes involving children, you may call Egypt’s Child Emergency Help line by dialing 16000. Egypt’s National Council for Women provides some assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence, or other complaints, at phone number 15115 or website: http://www.oo-ncw.org.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call the State Department in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and adventure facilities may not frequently occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are not always able to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.