Other visa options are available to international tourists, including the Egypt visa on arrival, but it comes with its own downsides — most notably, the need to wait in queues at Egyptian border entry points in order to apply.
For those who intend to stay on Egyptian soil for a very limited time while en route to a different destination, transiting through Egypt visa-free or with a transit visa is also an option. This page includes important information regarding the Egyptian transit visa including eligible nationalities and exemptions, transit visa requirements for Egypt, and more.
Do I Need a Transit Visa for Egypt?
A transit visa is a specific visa that lets a person travel through a country. The traveler will only be allowed a limited time in the country so that they can change flights or other means of transportation and continue their journey to their end destination outside the nation issuing the visa.
Therefore, if the traveler is planning to change flights (or other means of transportation) in Egypt as they travel to a different destination, they may need to obtain an Egyptian transit visa to leave the airport and transit through Egypt lawfully. If the traveler is going to be at the airport for a few hours, a transit visa is not necessary.
Whether a traveler needs a transit visa depends on several factors, including their nationality and the intended duration of their transit.
What Nationalities Can Transit through Egypt without a Visa?
Exemptions apply to the transit visa for Egypt. Citizens of the following 9 countries are allowed entry to Egypt visa-free:
- Hong Kong
- Saudi Arabia
Other exemptions apply. That’s the case for holders of diplomatic, official, service, and special passports issued by certain countries.
Transit Visa Egypt: Requirements
To be able to obtain a transit visa for Egypt, the traveler will need to show the Egyptian authorities relevant documentation. The following are the Egypt transit visa requirements:
- A valid passport issued by an eligible country
- A valid onward ticket as proof of the traveler’s travel plans
After the documents have been inspected, the traveler may or may not be granted a transit visa depending on the time expected to spend on Egyptian soil. Iranian passport holders represent an exemption as Iranian citizens must apply for a transit visa regardless of the transit time between their flights.
Transiting through Egypt without a Transit Visa
Even if the country that issued the traveler’s passport did not sign a visa exemption agreement with Egypt, many foreign nationals may be able to transit through Egypt visa-free for up to 48 hours.
Eligible nationals are usually allowed to leave the airport and visit the surrounding areas if the time between their flights is expected to be between 6 and 48 hours.
If the traveler’s transit time amounts to less than 6 hours, they are required to stay in the airport as they wait for their flight. While most travelers will be able to leave the transit area and enjoy the airport’s facilities, some must remain in the transit area. This applies to nationals of Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, and the Philippines.
Cairo Transit Visa
Although the Egyptian transit visa usually comes with no geographic limitations, it is no surprise that most travelers obtain a transit visa for Cairo. In fact, long-distance flight routes in Africa and the Middle East are very likely to stop in Cairo for a layover.
Since its inauguration in the 1940s, Cairo International Airport has become one of the busiest airports in the world. Its 3 terminals welcome 40 million passengers every year and Cairo International Airport is now considered the second most trafficked airport in the African continent — the first being OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Many international travelers decide to make the best of their transit visa and explore Egypt’s capital city. Cairo International Airport is a mere 15 km from the city center. Whether travelers would like to do some shopping, visit the ancient and culture-rich city, or simply relax and sip mint tea in one of the many cafes, Cairo will make for a pleasant break. Foreign visitors can find buses leaving from Terminal 1 for Cairo’s business area as well as plenty of taxis. Some travelers also choose to hire a car.
Spending Transit Time inside Cairo International Airport
Should travelers not have time to leave the airport, they are able to enjoy a number of facilities, from luxury hotels to restaurants and cafes. Those who choose to work on the go can find a business center equipped with computers and fax services inside terminal 1 and free Wi-Fi is available across all terminals.
All terminals offer several lounges with food, TV, magazines, work stations, and more.
Should travelers need assistance, the airport staff is available to support them with formalities and luggage claiming at the following meet & assist locations:
- Arrival and departure areas in Terminal 1
- Departure area in Terminal 3
Several pharmacies and medical service centers are also available throughout the airport.