Egypt is one of the most epic countries we have ever visited. From the ancient pyramids to the glistening Red Sea, there are thousands of reasons to visit Egypt. The problem for many travelers is that they aren’t sure how to get an Egyptian tourist visa.
While many countries allow visa-free travel for most nationalities, Egypt is one that requires just about every traveler to attain a visa. Without a valid visa, entry into Egypt is impossible for most nationalities, including travelers from the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, most of Europe, and Australia.
What Is a Visa?
A travel visa is essentially a document permitting you entry into a country. Many countries allow visa-free travel, which enables your valid passport to act as your visa. However, in many cases, you need to take extra steps to secure a visa before you can pass through a country’s immigration enforcement.
Visas come in different forms, and it is important to decide what type of visa you need before you depart on your trip. Visas can be issued for tourism, study, business, and other reasons, and it’s crucial that you get the right type of visa to avoid breaking any immigration laws. If you want to make money while in the country, for example, most countries require you to apply for a business visa instead of a tourist visa.
Ways to Get an Egyptian Tourist Visa
In reality, most travelers to Egypt are tourists. The vast majority of people entering Egypt do so with an Egypt tourist visa. The government of Egypt allows travelers to get a tourist visa in several different ways, depending on their nationality.
The three most common ways to get an Egyptian tourist visa as an American are through your local Egyptian Consulate, upon arrival in Egypt, and online in advance of your trip. There are special rules regarding each one, as well as advantages and drawbacks that may lead you to choose one over another.
Visa on Arrival in Egypt
The first (and best, in my opinion) way to get an Egyptian visa is by completing the Visa on Arrival process. This is exactly what it sounds like; you land in Egypt and follow a few steps to get your visa before passing through the immigration counters.
Visa on Arrival is not available to all nationalities, but it is available to many. Specifically, travelers with passports from the EU, United States, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom are eligible, as well as some other nationalities as long as they have a valid visa to one of those countries.
If you are entering via a land border or by sea, you should opt for one of the other tourist visa application methods.
There are requirements for the Egyptian Visa on Arrival. In addition to being citizens of eligible countries, foreign nationals must have at least two blank pages left in their passport, have at least 6 months of validity left until it expires, and they might have to prove that they purchased a flight home from Egypt. The Egyptian Visa on Arrival is only a single entry visa, meaning that once you leave Egypt, your visa is no longer valid.
Visa on Arrival at Cairo International Airport
The most common place to get an Egyptian Visa on Arrival is at Cairo International Airport. This is the biggest airport in Egypt, and it is the most common arrival point for U.S. citizens and other travelers from outside of the Middle East. Getting a Visa on Arrival in Cairo can be a bit confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.
When you land in Cairo, you will follow the signs to the immigration area. Right before the immigration counters, there will be several signs pointing you in the direction of banks. You will need to proceed to any of these bank counters in order to purchase your visa on arrival.
The visa costs $25 US dollars and must be purchased in cash. They might have change for you, but I recommend bringing the exact amount you will need. The attendant will ask to see your passport to check its validity, and if all looks good, he or she will hand you a small visa sticker.
Do not stick this in your passport.
Instead, proceed to the immigration line with your stickers, passports, and the rest of your belongings. The immigration agent will stick the visa in your passport, ensure that you meet the Egypt visa requirements, give a stamp of approval, and send you on your way.
It’s very common for this process to take a little while, as the lines at the banks and the lines for immigration can both get long. It took us about an hour to get from the plane to the baggage claim, and our bags arrived shortly after we got through immigration.
The second most common way to get an Egyptian visa is by applying online for the Egypt E-Visa. The Egypt EVisa, or electronic visa, is an online visa that can be purchased from the comfort of your home.
There is only one official place to get the Egyptian E-Visa, and that is from visa2egypt.gov.eg. This is the official government website that is in charge of managing the online application form and electronic visa service. There are many other agencies that appear to be the official place to apply online, but only this website can be fully trusted.
This is the only website that can be trusted to apply for your online visa. visa2egypt.gov.eg
The application process is very straightforward and clearly laid out on the government website. You need to make an account with your email address, fill out the online application form, select your visa type, submit your payment, and wait for your approval email. It is as simple as that!
The Egyptian E-Visa can be purchased as either a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa. Naturally, the cost of the multiple-entry e-visa is higher than the single-entry, with current prices being $60 and $25 respectively. The processing time is usually within 5 business days, and you then have to enter Egypt within 30 days of the visa being issued.
The Egyptian E-Visa is available to travelers from about 80 countries, including Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, most of Latin America, and most of Asia. One notable country that is ineligible for the Egyptian E-visa is Israel. Israeli nationals must obtain a visa from the nearest Egyptian embassy or consulate.
Visa Granted Through an Egyptian Embassy or Consulate
The least common way to get an Egyptian tourist visa is through your local Egyptian consulate or embassy. These places are the international offices of the Egyptian government, and they have the power to grant all types of visas to travelers. Historically, the only way to get a visa was by visiting an embassy or consulate, but that has changed with modern technology.
There are 5 locations in the U.S. where you can apply for an Egyptian tourist visa. The Egyptian Embassy is in Washington D.C., and there are consulates in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.
What Is the Best Way to Get an Egyptian Visa?
The Best Option Is Visa on Arrival
Of all the different types of visas you can get to go to Egypt, I think there is a clear best option. As long as you qualify and your travel plans are less than 30 days in total, the Visa on Arrival is the clear best choice. It requires no work before your trip, no additional required documents, and no hidden fees.
As long as your passport meets the entry requirements and you bring cash for the visa, there is very little room for the process to go wrong. The Egyptian authorities were very friendly in helping us figure out how to buy our visa on arrival, and the immigration officers never even asked to see our travel itinerary.
E-Visas Are a Good Choice Too
If you don’t trust the visa on arrival process, or if you will need multiple entries into Egypt during your trip, the Egyptian E-Visa is the best bet. It is very straightforward and costs the same as the visa on arrival. The only drawback is that you need to spend some time filling out the online form before you travel, and you need to keep track of a printed copy of the e-visa while you travel to Egypt.
Personally, I think it is already enough of a task keeping track of my family members’ travel documents, and I’d much rather just handle it upon arrival at the Egyptian border in the airport. If you do decide to get an online e-visa to Egypt, make sure to use the official government website instead of an agency. The process is easy to do on your own, and agencies add fees that you simply shouldn’t have to pay.
Avoid the Embassy Route Unless It’s Your Only Choice
The least preferable way to get your visa is at a consulate or embassy in advance. If you need Egyptian travel visas for tourism of longer than 30 days, business, or something else, this is your only option. If all you need is a tourist visa for less than 30 days, and you’re eligible for one of the other two methods, definitely stick to those.
Hopefully this post answered the question any questions you have about how to get an Egyptian tourist visa. If you have any questions about getting an Egyptian visa, let us know by dropping a comment below!