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Cairo: Visa and Residency Permits

The InterNations Expat Guide prepares you for some of the difficulties you may come across when moving to Cairo, from getting a residency permit to finding accommodation. Busy downtown, quiet suburbia and luxurious satellite cities await you.

Before you set foot on a plane headed to Cairo, please check with your local Egyptian embassy whether or not you require an entry visa prior to arrival. The list of countries exempt from visas for short stays is long, and many other nationals can acquire an entry visa at the airport. However, checking beforehand is highly recommended.

Foreign nationals coming to Egypt for work or study require a temporary visa to enter the country regardless of their nationality. Temporary visas are issued to those whose stay is between three months to one year, for reasons other than recreational purposes.

Getting Your Work Permit

Expats interested in employment in Egypt must obtain work permits and follow the regulations issued by the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration. The work permit is valid for up to one year and can then be renewed. After a work permit is acquired, the foreign national’s visa is converted into a work visa. Before foreign nationals can begin the process of applying for a work permit, they must get security clearance from National Security in Egypt. They also need to provide proof of health, which involves undergoing an HIV test. To apply for a work permit, you require:

  • a filled in application form which you can get from the work permit department at the Ministry of Manpower and Training Facilities at the Tahrir complex
  • a valid passport
  • seven passport-size photos
  • two copies of your employer’s incorporation contract
  • two copies of your Tax ID card (The Ministry of Manpower can help you with that.)
  • two copies of your academic degrees and certificates
  • a copy of the commercial register from your employer
  • license required for exercising your profession (if applicable)
  • a memorandum from your employer justifying hiring a foreigner instead of an Egyptian citizen
  • approval from the related authority
  • a representative from your company who is going to act on your behalf and apply for your work permit
  • proof of a negative HIV test
  • security clearance from Egypt’s State Security Service
  • payment of the permit fees (around 1,000 EGP)

In It for the Long Haul — Residence Permit

There are two types of residence visas in addition to the work-based one: The ordinary visa and the special visa. The ordinary visa is valid for three or five years. It grants your spouse a residence permit for the amount of time identified on your work permit. To obtain a work permit themselves, your spouse must apply for one on their own.

The special visa is for expats born in Egypt before 26 May 1952 or who have resided in Egypt for more than 20 years prior to this date. It is valid for 10 years and can be renewed.

You can check all the requirements regarding visas and documents on the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites.

Alien Registration

You will have to register with the police upon arrival. This is a very simple task and should not take a lot of time. You can also ask the tourist police (dressed in white uniforms during summertime) for help. If you first arrive at a hotel, they will take care of this task for you.

Take Care of Your Health

Please consult your doctor in order to check up on routine vaccinations well in advance of your move to Cairo. This is also a good time to get an HIV test done. This is necessary for your application for a work permit.

You should also get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, both very common in Egypt, and typhoid. Other health hazards include schistosomiasis — a parasitic disease mostly caught by swimming in the Nile — and diarrhea, which can be caused by drinking tap water. Please stick to bottled water, which is cheap and readily available everywhere.

Keep in mind that air pollution is a big concern in Cairo. With a third of the nation’s industry located in the metropolitan area and, at times, horrible traffic jams, the air quality suffers considerably. The fact that Cairo is surrounded by desert does not help to alleviate the problem: Dust and sand are all around. If you have any problems with your respiratory system, talk to your doctor before you leave.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Paul Zimmerer

"Before I moved to Cairo I contacted some local members on InterNations. They gave me some great assistance."

Barbara Sciera

"Cairo is a bustling metropolis. Through InterNations I met some other expat women. Now we meet on a weekly basis."

Global Expat Guide