Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 15 August 2018, 11:05 NZST
  • Still current at: 22 September 2018

Do not travel

Do not travel to the Governorate of North Sinai, including the Suez-Taba road, due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping and the presence of armed groups and we advise against all travel.

Do not travel within 50 kilometres of the border with Libya (with the exception of Siwa Oasis) due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping and the presence of armed groups.

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel elsewhere in Egypt, including Siwa Oasis, due to the unpredictable political situation, civil unrest and threat of terrorism and kidnapping. 

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State of Emergency
Following attacks on Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria on 9 April 2017, Egypt authorities declared a state of emergency to allow for additional security measures to be implemented. New Zealanders currently in Egypt are advised to follow the instructions of local authorities, including any restrictions on movement. In light of recent terrorist attacks, you should avoid all locations and festivals of religious significance.

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism throughout Egypt, including in Cairo. We continue to receive reports that terrorist groups are planning attacks in Egypt, including to specifically target tourists and tourist areas.

There have been a number of recent attacks in Egypt, including attacks targeting religious groups, tourists and areas frequented by foreigners:

-       On 24 November 2017, a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed in North Sinai was attacked by militants, over 300 people were killed.

-       On 20 October 2017, Egyptian security forces were ambushed by militants in the Western Desert. A number of security forces were killed in the attack.

-       On 14 July 2017, two tourists were killed and four other foreigners wounded in a stabbing attack at a Red Sea beach resort in Hurghada.

-       On 26 May 2017, gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, killing at least 28 people and injuring 25 others.

-       On 9 April 2017, explosions occurred in St George’s (Mar Girgis) Church in Tanta and outside St Mark’s Church in Alexandria during Palm Sunday services, killing at least 45 people and injuring more than 100 others.

Small explosions and firearms attacks, which sometimes result in death and injury, continue to occur occasionally in Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of Egypt. Targets include police and security forces, however there is the potential for bystanders to be affected. Explosions and attacks have also targeted government buildings and infrastructure, metro stations, universities, Western and other foreign commercial interests. Further incidents are likely.

Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Egypt and may also be directed at locations known to be frequented by foreigners such as embassies, hotels, bars, restaurants, resort areas, markets, airports, shopping areas, tourist sites, public transport facilities and places of worship.

There is also a terrorism threat to aviation in Egypt. On 31 October 2015, a Russian charter flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg, Russia, crashed in North Sinai. A local branch of the terrorist group ISIL claimed responsibility. Airlines flying into Egypt have been reviewing security arrangements and Russian airlines are no longer flying to Egypt, while the airlines of a number of countries, including the UK, have ceased flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh. You should contact your airline directly if you have concerns about the safety of airline travel in Egypt.

New Zealanders throughout Egypt are advised to exercise a high degree of vigilance at all times and keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local information sources. We recommend following the advice of local authorities and avoiding tourist areas such as Luxor, Giza, Aswan, Southern Sinai and any other areas frequented by tourists.

North Sinai Governorate (Extreme risk)

There is a significant threat from terrorism in the North Sinai Governorate. Most attacks have in the past targeted government facilities and security forces.  Attacks frequently occur, including in and near al-Arish, Sheik Zuweid and Rafah, some of which have killed large numbers of Egyptian soldiers. The government has declared a state of emergency and curfew in the area.

Central and South Sinai Governorate

While attacks are less frequent than in the North Sinai region, extremist groups have shown the capability and intent to carry out attacks in the Central and South Sinai regions, including in the Sharm el-Sheikh resort area. Increased security measures are in place to protect tourist areas in Sharm el-Sheikh, however, the region remains an attractive target for terrorists.

Civil unrest
New Zealanders in Egypt are strongly advised to avoid any protests and large public gatherings in Egypt. In the past these activities have led to violence resulting in deaths and injuries, sometimes with little warning. Protests often occur after Friday prayers and on anniversaries of important dates.

You should exercise a high degree of security awareness in public places, including when visiting sites of religious significance, monitor the media for any developments that may affect personal safety and security and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.

There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Egypt. The threat is highest in the Sinai Peninsula and the remoter areas of the Western Desert.Several years ago, there were a number of kidnappings reported in the Governorate of South Sinai, especially along the road to Mount Sinai and St Catherine’s Monastery. 

A threat of kidnapping also exists elsewhere in Egypt and Westerners could be deliberately targeted. Travelling on roads between cities and at times when roads are less busy increases vulnerability. In July 2015, a Croatian national was kidnapped west of Cairo and subsequently killed for an extremist propaganda video.

There have been reports of taxi drivers mugging passengers, including foreigners. Reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women are common.  A number of criminals run scams in and around tourist sites.  Be wary of people presenting themselves as government officials or offering apparently free services.

Local Travel
Road and vehicle safety standards are significantly lower than in New Zealand.  Vehicle accidents resulting in injuries and death are frequent on Egyptian roads and occur at higher rates than most other countries.  We advise against travelling by road outside major urban centres at night because of the increased risk of traffic accidents

Border crossings
We strongly advise against travel to the Gaza strip because of the extremely dangerous and unpredictable security situation. Restrictions and rules on access to the Rafah border crossing are subject to change at short notice.

New Zealanders considering travel to Gaza should read the travel advisory for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and contact the nearest Egyptian Embassy for the latest information on border crossing requirements. 

You are required to obtain permission from the Egyptian authorities to enter and exit the Gaza Strip using the Rafah border crossing. People who enter the Gaza Strip through this crossing must leave the same way. You may be delayed in the Gaza Strip for an extended period (possibly months) while waiting for approval to return. The New Zealand Government cannot influence or hasten the granting of approval.

You should be aware that the ability of the New Zealand Government to provide consular services to New Zealanders in Gaza is extremely limited. 

There are landmines in some desert and coastal areas, notably in the desert areas around El Alamein, along the coast near Mersa Matruh, the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea coast south of Suez. Travellers should seek advice from local authorities on landmine locations if intending to venture off well marked roads.

General travel advice
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Egypt to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour. Publicising political comments or negative opinions about Egypt, the government, security forces or the President may be considered illegal under Egyptian law. Visitors to Egypt have been arrested following publication of social media posts considered critical of Egypt.

Encouraging religious conversion or proselytising is illegal. Egypt only officially recognises three forms of religion: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.  Adherents of other faiths, or certain sects within these religions, may face legal restrictions. Atheists have been prosecuted and imprisoned for ‘blasphemous’ statements and social media posts.

Homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage is considered immoral in Egypt and foreigners have been arrested and convicted of ‘debauchery’ in the past.  2017 has seen increased prosecutions of homosexuals and advocates of the rights of homosexuals in Egypt.

Photography of military or police personnel and buildings is prohibited, this includes the Suez Canal.

All flights between Egypt and the State of Qatar have been suspended until further notice.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Egypt should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.  Medical facilities and services in Egypt are not of the same standard as in New Zealand

New Zealanders in Egypt are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The New Zealand Embassy Cairo, Egypt

Street Address 8th floor, North Tower, Nile City building, Corniche El Nil, Ramlet Beaulac, Cairo, Egypt Telephone +202 2461 6000 Fax +202 2461 6099 Email Web Site Hours Sun-Thur 0900-1500 hrs Note In an emergency or if you require urgent assistance, please call the Embassy on +202 2461 6000. Outside of business hours you will be redirected to an after-hours duty service.

See our regional advice for Africa

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New Zealand Embassy Egypt

Street Address
8th floor, North Tower, Nile City building, Corniche El Nil, Ramlet Beaulac, Cairo, Egypt

Telephone: +202 2461 6000

Fax: +202 2461 6099



Hours: Sun-Thur 0900-1500 hrs

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