Is It Safe to Travel to Egypt?

Located on the north-eastern tip of Africa, Egypt is home to one of the oldest and greatest ancient civilizations the world has ever known. With a population spanning 102 million+ people, the country is the most populous Arab nation and the third most populous country in Africa.

But before you hop on the next flight out, the question that’s likely on your mind is – Is it safe to travel to Egypt?  Here’s everything you need to know.

Egypt Travel Advisory

If you’re thinking of traveling to Egypt as an American, the US Department of State (DOS) has issued a Level 3 travel advisory urging citizens to strongly reconsider visiting the country at this time. Here’s what the various advisory levels mean:

US Department of State Travel Advisory Levels
LEVEL 1 - Exercise normal precautionsThis represents the lowest level of security and safety risk.
LEVEL 2 - Exercise increased cautionThis level requires travelers to be aware of heightened security and safety risks in those particular territories.
LEVEL 3 - Reconsider travelThis level represents serious security and safety risks; the US Department of State urges travelers to reconsider travel to areas classified as such.
LEVEL 4 - Do not travelThis level represents the highest risk level; individuals traveling to these countries face higher-than-average, life-threatening risks to their security and safety.

The reasons given by the DOS against Egypt travel has to do with the threat of terrorist attacks and the limited ability of the US Embassy to offer assistance to individuals with dual-nationality (i.e., US-Egyptian citizens) who end up arrested or detained for any reason.

The Egypt security situation is particularly precarious in the following regions:

  • The Egyptian border regions – Ensure you steer clear of these areas as they are military zones
  • The Sinai Peninsula – This area has a high terrorism threat, especially if you’re traveling by road (Traveling to Sharm El-Sheikh beach resort is safer by air)
  • The Western Desert – Some of the areas within the desert are terrorist havens

Terrorist groups continue to plot attacks in different parts of the country and may do so at any time with no prior warning.

In the past, these attacks have targeted transportation hubs, local government facilities, diplomatic facilities, resorts, restaurants, foreign-owned businesses, and shopping malls.

They have also targeted religious sites, including churches, monasteries, mosques, and buses traveling to these locations. Most attacks have taken place in the country’s capital Cairo, despite the heavy presence of security in the city.

is it safe to travel to egypt
(Photo credit: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)

Other Egypt Security Issues

Aside from the threat of terrorism, the local laws outlaw all protests or demonstrations that take place without a permit. If you’re found participating in anti-government protests or posting content on social media that’s critical of the Egyptian government and its allies, you will be arrested and detained. This law applies to both the locals as well as US-Egyptian citizens with dual-citizenship status.

According to Egyptian law, Egyptian-American dual citizens are considered Egyptian. As a result, the US Embassy may not be able to provide you with consular services if you get detained.

Keep in mind as well that international travelers are subject to local laws. The country’s standards of due process, evidence, and rule of law are significantly different from those in the US. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may end up getting arrested, imprisoned, expelled, or denied entry altogether. Always be conscious of your behavior and how the Egyptian authorities may interpret it.

It’s also important to mention that Egyptian law enforcement officers do not require probable cause to stop, search, question, or detain civilians, whether local or foreign. You need to have proper documentation on you at all times to avoid getting detained. It is not unusual for American suspects to be detained for several months without formal charges or access to legal counsel.

Punishments in Egypt are often quite harsh for comparable crimes under US law. Drug-related offenses, for instance, regardless of how trivial they might seem, attract severe penalties in Egypt, including the death penalty or life imprisonment. These penalties apply to foreign nationals as well.

Egypt Travel Tips

If you decide to travel to Egypt despite the DOS travel advisory, here are a few tips to help you stay safe during your trip.

  • Avoid going to locations and venues frequented by Westerners
  • Don’t participate in protests or demonstrations
  • Don’t post content on social media criticizing the government
  • Get a comprehensive medical insurance package that includes emergency evacuation
  • Always have a contingency plan to help you safely navigate emergencies

If you need to get around town or even travel to the outskirts of the city, we recommend hiring a driver in Egypt.

Driving through Cairo’s maze of busy streets can be hazardous, especially if you’re used to a culture of structured road regulations. The country has one of the highest road-related fatalities in the world per mile driven.

Pyramids of Geezeh (Giza)

As for cybersecurity in Egypt, ensure that you back up your electronic files in the cloud and remove sensitive data that may leave you or your loved ones vulnerable to security threats. Install strong passwords on all your electronic devices, and don’t use the same credentials in each of them.

Also, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi, especially when making online purchases or doing any other kind of financial transaction. Pay attention to the goings-on around you, and be aware of how you use your digital devices.

Stay Alert

Is it safe to travel to Egypt?  For the most part, it’s not.  Terrorism is the biggest threat in the country.  The security services Egypt has to offer may not be adequate to keep you safe if you intend to stay there for an extended period.

Hiring a competent private security firm with experience in this region of the world is your best bet if you must travel to Egypt.

Not sure whether you need private security services for your upcoming trip?

Get in touch with us today for a free security assessment.