Egypt postpones decision to end visas on arrival

6 Apr 15

EGYPT

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has postponed implementation of a decision that would have ended visas on arrival beginning May 15.

What does the change mean? Travelers from qualifying countries may continue to use visas on arrival until Egypt implements a new electronic visa system that is expected to replace visas on arrival.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visas on arrival.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals from qualifying countries, including the U.S. and most of Europe.
  • Impact on processing times: Visas on arrival eliminate the need to apply for a visa ahead of travel.
  • Business impact: Although business travelers often rely on visas on arrival, they are advised to apply for business visas before travel to be in full compliance with Egyptian law.

Background: Last month, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that visas on arrival would no longer be issued as of May 15. The move was aimed at tracking foreign visitors for security reasons. Egyptian embassies in the U.S. and U.K. also posted notices that all foreign nationals should apply for visas in advance of travel.

On April 2, the ministry announced that it will postpone the end of visas on arrival until it implements an electronic visa system that will track all foreign visitors. The Egyptian Embassy in the U.K. also updated its notice to state that tourists may continue to obtain visas on arrival until the electronic system is implemented. A date for that system has not been set.

This is not the first time Egypt has retracted an announcement of an end to visas on arrival. In 2011, the ministry similarly announced that it would end visas on arrival, but revoked its decision after protests from Egyptians and foreign nationals.

BAL Analysis: Business travelers from the U.S. and Europe often rely on visas on arrival for short business trips to Egypt. While this is sometimes allowed for limited, one-off activities, it is recommended that they obtain business visas before travel to avoid any possibility of being turned away upon arrival in Egypt.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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