Foreign Ministry announces end of visas on arrival

19 Mar 15

EGYPT

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that it will end tourist visas on arrival beginning May 15, and some Egyptian embassies have updated their websites to require all individual visitors to obtain a visa before travel.

What does the change mean? Foreign business travelers are advised to obtain a visa before travel.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visas on arrival, tourist and business visas.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals visiting Egypt.
  • Impact on processing times: The change will increase processing times for business travelers, as they will need to apply for and obtain a visa from an Egyptian consular post before traveling.
  • Business impact: The move will slow business travelers, who are accustomed to relying on visas on arrival to conduct short-term activities such as attending meetings and conferences or participating in trainings. They will now have to plan business trips further in advance to allow for visa processing.

Background: The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that starting May 15, tourist visas on arrival will no longer be issued. The move is aimed at facilitating better tracking of foreign visitors for security reasons. The Egyptian embassies in the United States and United Kingdom updated their websites this week to state that all foreign nationals should apply for visas in advance and that visas on arrival will only be issued to tourist groups.

Currently, business travelers from qualifying countries, including the U.S. and most European nations, often rely on visas on arrival for short business trips. They will now have to apply for a visa at the nearest Egyptian embassy or consular post.

In 2011, the Foreign Ministry similarly announced it would end visas on arrival, but revoked its decision less than one week later, after protests from Egyptians and foreign nationals. While there are currently mixed messages from the Immigration Department and Foreign Ministry, the elimination of visas on arrival appears imminent this time.

BAL Analysis: Foreign travelers should no longer rely on visas on arrival as of May 15. To avoid delays or being turned away at the airport, they should plan for the added processing time and apply for visas before travel.

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

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