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The visa regime of Egypt and the order of entry of tourists
On some reputable sites, including on the websites of tour operators, false information is posted that from May 1, 2021, you no longer need to pay a visa fee. Sometimes it is indicated that they no longer put a free Sinai stamp, which is also not true. The information in our article has been tested in practice and is relevant as of at least the beginning of 2023.
Visiting Egypt for tourists from Russia, the Baltic states, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus and some other countries of the former USSR is extremely simple – you can get a visa on arrival by paying a visa fee of 25 US dollars or 25 euros, or get a free Sinai stamp upon arrival at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport. No more documents such as PCR tests, vaccination certificates, airport testing, and the like are required as of early 2023.
For tourists who arrive in South Sinai via Sharm el-Sheikh airport at the resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Dahab and Nuweiba (the coast from Sharm el-Sheikh to Taba, including Santa Catarina Monastery and Mount Moses), a free "Sinai visa" or "Sinai stamp" is provided for a stay of up to 15 days. However, in this case you will not be able to leave the territory of South Sinai, i.e. go on an excursion to Cairo, the pyramids, Luxor and other interesting places in Egypt.
If your country is not included in the list for obtaining a visa on arrival or for some reason you want to apply for it in advance, then this can be done at the embassy in Moscow, at consulates in your homeland or apply for an electronic visa on the website.
Attention! In accordance with Egyptian law, the fine for staying in Egypt after the visa expires is $17 (payable on departure). At the same time, persons who have overstayed their visa do not have the right to fly on charter flights from Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh airports. They can leave the country only on a regular flight from Cairo airport.
The documents required to enter Egypt are minimal, and at the border passport control, the border guard (not the customs officer) theoretically needs to be presented:
- International passport;
- travel voucher;
- completed immigration card;
- return ticket;
- boarding pass for the flight you arrived on
In practice, everything is even simpler, and you don't need anything except a passport, a completed immigration card and a boarding pass from the flight you arrived on.
An immigration card is a form that you need to fill out with your own hand before going to passport control. It is filled in in a couple of minutes, passport details, arrival flight number (from the boarding pass), place of arrival and place of stay (usually just the name of the hotel) are entered there. Blank cards are issued free of charge (but read about the wiring with immigration cards below), they can usually be found at the desks for filling out before passport control or they are issued at the visa desks. Airports have samples to fill them out, but be sure to bring a ballpoint pen with you, there are none here.
And also, do not forget to check whether you have unpaid fines and other debts, because of which a ban on leaving the Russian Federation may be imposed. You can do this yourself from the bailiffs, or use a commercial service:
Passport validity requirements
It is not uncommon to find information on the Internet that the validity period of a passport is not important for entry into Egypt. However, in fact, when entering Egypt, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of your entry. This is official information from TIMATIK (a database with requirements for passenger documents for airlines), which means that if your passport is valid for less than 6 months, you may legitimately not be put on a flight at the airport of departure. And although, judging by the reviews, cases of successful trips of tourists with a passport for less than 6 months do occur, we would not risk it.
However, if you have such an extreme situation that everything has already been bought and you don't have time to change your passport, we can only give you advice to try to apply for a visa at the embassy or an electronic visa on the website in advance of the trip (more details below), and maybe then the problem will be solved. But this is already a matter of luck, so it's better to change your passport in advance, rather than risk a trip.
Obtaining a visa to Egypt on arrival
A visa to Egypt on arrival is only a one-time visa. Issued for a period of 30 days. The validity period on the visa itself is not affixed, but is determined by the entry stamp, which you are affixed at the border (attention, not at the customs!!!) control. Do not be alarmed by the fact that you will not see the set date after passing through passport control. It's just that the dates in the stamps are not stamped with the modern Arabic numerals we are used to, but old Indo-Arabic, which are officially used in Egypt. The visa itself is a stamp or sticker confirming the payment of the visa fee, and that's it. Therefore, it is also sometimes called "mark" in the tourist environment.
Attention! Information has now begun to spread on some websites that the period of stay on a visa for Russians is 90 days. We have not found any official confirmation of this information. Most likely, the authors of these sites mistakenly confuse the length of stay with the validity of the visa. The validity period of a visa is the time during which you can use it, i.e. enter it after receiving it, and for Egyptian visas received in advance, this period is just 90 days.
A visa on arrival can be obtained at any of the country's entry points and international airports, with the exception of the land border crossing with Israel, where the "Sinai stamp" is simply placed.
By the way, this visa can be obtained not only on arrival, but also during a holiday in Egypt. Sometimes this is required by vacationers who arrived at the resorts of the Sinai Peninsula (Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Dahab and Nuweiba) and initially decided to get a free Sinai stamp at the airport, and therefore wanted to go on an excursion outside the peninsula, for example to Cairo. In this case, the sellers of excursions will offer you to paste this stamp from $ 30, or you can go to the airport yourself and buy it there at a "state price" of $ 25. At the same time, its validity period will be counted not from the moment it is pasted, but from the date of entry into the country, which was originally stamped in the free Sinai stamp upon arrival.
Payment is made and the visa is pasted on the counters BEFORE PASSPORT CONTROL, after which, with the "stamp" already pasted in, filled in with an immigration card and boarding pass of the flight you arrived on, you need to go to passport control, where you will be stamped with the dates of entry into the country.
The cost of a visa to Egypt on arrival is 25 US dollars. They do not pay for a visa for children who are entered in the passport of the parents of the old model. The visa is paid in cash in US dollars or euros, it costs 25 or 30 dollars in euros, it probably depends on the mood or greed of the staff, and maybe on the exchange rate. If you have a large bill, then you will be given change in foreign currency, but you can also ask for local Egyptian pounds. However, as a rule, such a currency exchange will not be very profitable, we described this in detail in the article - where is it better to change the currency in Egypt.
Attention! At the airport of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, tourists are constantly being "bred" for money, for which a whole scheme is organized with the participation of officials. The bottom line is that they demand to pay $ 27 for a visa on arrival instead of its actual cost of $ 25. This is justified by the fact that for $ 2 they give you an immigration card. But in fact, immigration cards are free, it's just that the staff collects them from all available places for tourists, where border control officers should put them. Most tourists automatically pay this additional divorce fee without resenting it. But if you do not want to contribute to their dishonest profit (just count how much they collect from one flight!!!), then you can first take an immigration card directly from the window of the passport control officer (border guard), and then go to the visa reception desk, where to submit a passport, $ 25 without change and demonstrate, that you already have an immigration card. Recall that the card is filled in just a couple of minutes, and there are samples for filling in at the airport. But you need your own ballpoint pen.
Visa-free entry by "Sinai stamp"
For tourists arriving in South Sinai – this is the coast from Sharm el-Sheikh to Taba, including the monastery of Santa Catarina and Mount Moses - a free visa-free entry is provided for a period of 15 days. Instead of a visa at passport control, you will simply be given a so-called "Sinai stamp" or "Sinai visa", you do not need to pay anything. However, it should be borne in mind that this visa assumes being only in part of the territory of the Sinai Peninsula, and will not allow you to travel beyond its borders if you want to visit Cairo, the pyramids, Luxor.
Such a stamp is given to tourists at the airport of Sharm el-Sheikh, at the seaport of Nuweiba and at the Taba checkpoint with Israel. Moreover, when entering Egypt from Israel, a tourist is given an exclusively Sinai stamp, and it is not possible to obtain a visa on arrival.
Fortunately, if you still want to leave Sinai during your vacation, this problem is easy to solve. To do this, while already in Egypt, you can get a visa on arrival. Sellers of excursions will offer you to paste a visa stamp for a fee of $ 30, or you can go to the airport yourself and buy it there at a "state price" for $ 25. At the same time, its validity period will be counted not from the moment it is pasted, but from the date of entry into the country that was originally stamped on arrival.
Attention! Enterprising Egyptians manage to impale tourists even with the receipt of a free Sinai stamp, for which a whole scheme works at the airport. After disembarking from the plane in front of the passport control counters, you will be met allegedly by representatives of tour operators and distributed in queues at the counters. In fact, they will not provide you with any information and documents, but will simply require you to pay $ 2 for filling out an immigration card, or $ 27 for a visa on arrival (although in reality the visa costs 25). Remember! These counters are not passport control, you don't have to pay anything for an immigration card. And if they refuse to give you an immigration card form and you won't find them in this zone (they should be in a public place), then just go to the passport control window without a queue and ask for a form there.
Visa processing at the embassy or e-visa
If you are not included in the list of countries that are issued a visa on arrival, then you will have to apply for a visa in advance. Tourists from Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan will not be able to obtain a visa to Egypt upon arrival, they will have to open a visa at the embassy in Moscow or in their countries, if there is one there. Citizens of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania can apply for a visa in advance in electronic form on the website https://www.visa2egypt.gov.eg / by paying a fee of $25 directly on the site, that much easier. It is recommended to apply for an electronic visa no later than 7 days before departure.
Why apply for an electronic visa in advance if you can do it at the airport? There are several reasons for this:
- If you need a multiple-entry visa, not a single-entry one. The fee for a multiple–entry visa is higher - $60.
- If you do not want to stand in line for a visa on arrival and immediately proceed to passport control.
- And finally, if you just want to pay with a bank card on the website, and not pay cash dollars at the airport.
But for most tourists, an electronic visa is still a useless option. After all, even if you pass the tourists' queue for a visa and pass all the controls the very first, you will still have to wait for the rest of the tourists to be collected for transfer to the hotels. Well, it should also be borne in mind that the fee for an electronic visa is not refundable, and if suddenly your trip does not take place, for example, due to flight cancellation or problems with the tour operator, which sometimes happens, then your money will simply be wasted.