Is it safe to travel to Egypt now? Advice from the British Government (Part 4)
Click here for a previous story about the raucous demonstrations in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, July 29. Below is a continuation of updated information from the UK’s Foreigh and Commonwealth Office (FOA). It was updated on Wednesday, July 27. Click here for part one of the FOA’s advice, including a recap of the recent violent demonstrations in the country this summer.
Safety and Security – Local Travel – Border Areas
All border areas should be treated with extreme caution. If you intend to travel to the south west corner of the country near the Egypt/Sudan/Libya border, you must apply for a permit from the Travel Permits Department of the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior. We advise extreme caution in travelling to this area, and carefully consider whether your security arrangements are adequate. In 2008, 19 people were kidnapped whilst on safari in the Karkur Talh area, near the border. The borders in this area are porous and bandits and armed groups operate.
The area of the border between Egypt and Gaza and surrounding North Sinai area is often tense with occasional outbreaks of violence. There have been reports of cross-border shootings into Egypt, including on 6 January 2010 when an Egyptian border guard was shot and killed. Demonstrators on the Gaza side of the border near the Rafah crossing were injured during clashes on 6 January and the security situation in the area remains tense. Since 11 February, security has been looser in North Sinai and there have been attacks on government buildings and energy infrastructure – mainly in the Al Arish area. Exercise caution if travelling around this area.
From Saturday 28 May the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be open from 09:00 to 17:00 on a daily basis, except for Fridays and public holidays. Male holders of Palestinian passport aged between 18 and 40 will need to seek prior clearance before entering Egypt. Non-Palestinian nationals crossing into Gaza from Egypt will still need clearance. For the latest requirements on crossing from Egypt to Gaza, delivering aid or entering for humanitarian purposes, you should contact the Egyptian Embassy in London. However, the Egyptian authorities have stated that all aid going into Gaza from Egypt must be channelled through the Egyptian Red Crescent (Tel + 20 226 703 979 , + 20 226 703 983 , Fax + 20 226 703 967). Short notice requests for humanitarian access and those made in Egypt are unlikely to be considered. The Egyptian authorities can request a letter from the British Embassy in Cairo as part of their entry requirements. The British Embassy considers each request carefully and is only able to provide letters in certain circumstances and against strict criteria when entry is for humanitarian aid purposes. Please contact the British Embassy (http://ukinegypt.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/our-embassy/contact-us/) directly for details. You should also read the FCO Travel Advice forIsrael and the Occupied Territories.
Safety and Security – Road Travel
Road accidents are very common in Egypt, mainly due to poor road conditions, including main roads, dangerous driving and non-enforcement of traffic laws. Police estimate that road accidents kill over 6,000 people in Egypt each year. This is double the UK figure. Avoid driving outside main cities and resorts at night and observe the local speed limit. Make sure you obtain adequate insurance. In the event of an accident emergency medical facilities are limited.
You can drive in Egypt on an International driving licence for up to six months. If you intend to remain in Egypt for a longer period you must apply for an Egyptian driving licence.
By law, seatbelts must be worn when travelling in the front of a vehicle. Where available, seatbelts should be worn at all times. Child car seats are available locally.
Only certain categories of foreign residents may import vehicles. Vehicles of visitors should be temporarily imported with a valid “carnet de passage” available from the Automobile Association.
There have been a number of serious bus crashes in recent years with large numbers of fatalities, including tourists. On 19 November 2010, eight tourists were killed and around 22 were injured when their bus crashed on a highway near the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. On 26 December 2010, eight tourists were killed and 21 were injured when their bus collided with a truck which was parked on a road near Aswan. If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is travelling at an unsafe speed you should firmly instruct the driver to slow down.
If travelling off road, a qualified guide should be employed and appropriate permits obtained from the Ministry of Interior.
See our Driving Abroad page.
Click here for part 5 of the British government’s warning and advice about travel to Egypt.