Cairo at a Glance
Employment Matters for Expats in Cairo
Dear Readers, due to the continued turmoil Cairo and all of Egypt have been experiencing for the past years, with no clear end in sight for the foreseeable future, there is no way for us to ensure the factual information contained in this article series is up-to-date. Cairo should not be considered a safe destination for expatriates at the moment (August 2013). This current version of the article was accurate as at August 2011. As soon as the political and social situation in Egypt stabilizes, we will return to our usual update schedule. Thank you for your understanding!
InterNations Editorial Office.
Many nations have realized Egypt’s economic potential, therefore establishing chambers of Commerce in Cairo. Everyone who’s interested in working in Cairo can find help and guidance as well as many job listings there. Chambers of Commerce are highly valuable stepping stones on the path towards working in Cairo, and they should be among your preferred sources of information.
We highly recommend finding employment before actually settling in Cairo. Acquiring a work permit is somewhat of an arduous task, and local newspapers rarely advertise jobs suitable for expatriates. Settling on a company and signing an employment contract will drastically simplify matters in every respect. That being said, we are sure you will find working in Cairo a very rewarding experience in one of the world’s most fascinating places.
Work Permits and Other Paperwork
You have to acquire a work permit before you can take up paid employment in Cairo. Unfortunately, the process is far from being uncomplicated, as the Mugamma (Cairo’s government building) is not exactly famed for its efficiency. Getting a work permit can take quite some time and requires a bit of patience.
Signing a work contract well in advance is highly recommended, as your future employer will then take care of the paperwork. The process commonly takes anywhere between 3 and 6 months, so please plan ahead accordingly. A security clearance from the State Security Service and a clear bill of health (including a negative HIV test) are only two of the requirements.
If you have decided on working in Cairo without prior contract, please keep the lengthy process and the many steps involved in mind. A comprehensive list of the required paperwork can be found on the website of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.
Taking up employment in Cairo before all necessary legal steps have been taken can result in fines. Additionally, a work permit is prerequisite to acquiring a residency permit. Unfortunately, your employer cannot assume this responsibility for you. Please see our article on Moving to Cairo for further details on residency permits.
Work permits are usually issued for the duration of 10 to 12 months, after which they have to be renewed. Once again, your employer will help you with the process.
Current Situation for Expats
In the wake of the recent political changes in 2011, the newly appointed Labor Minister El-Borai announced a moratorium on new work permits for foreigners. This measure is expected to improve job opportunities for unemployed Egyptians.
Employers are supposed to give jobs to locals and grant them the full benefits of the social security system, rather than employing foreigners which usually do not enjoy the same rights. However, this should not affect highly skilled professionals, but rather seasonal workers and similar groups. You can expect this moratorium to be only a temporary solution. It may be dropped once the political situation has stabilized again.