Includes information on acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.
Last Published: 8/9/2019

Business Customs

Egyptian and foreign business community members who have broad experience in the market give the following suggestions:

- Have Patience: Unfamiliar paperwork processes and bureaucratic procedures can sometimes make business move slowly in Egypt. In light of this, contract negotiations can take more time than expected.  It may take a year or more, but in the end, a mutually profitable contract is attainable.

- Get Acquainted with Local Culture: Egyptians are proud people who trace their civilization back 5,000 years. Take time to learn the culture and develop an appreciation for the Islamic faith that is practiced by 90 percent of Egyptians. All private business leaders and most high-level government officials have a good command of English. Learn as much Arabic as possible - it pleases Egyptians if you know key phrases in Arabic ... Good Morning (Sabah El Kheir), Good Evening (Massaa El Kheir).

- Be Personable: When you visit a businessperson, don't just walk in, shake hands and get down to business. Get to know your business partners and if you have previously met with the person, chat about common friends; ask about their families, children, etc.

- Do Your Homework: The Egyptian market is complex and highly competitive. You have to study the market thoroughly before starting a business. A competent Egyptian agent will be instrumental to success in the Egyptian market.  Find yourself a good local representative with the help of the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy or through a reliable business group.

- Remain Flexible: The Egyptian market, like anywhere in the world, is constantly changing. It may not be advisable for the terms of a contract to remain the same during its entire duration.  Changing conditions in the market may necessitate exploring different markets or changing the structure of the business partnership payment methods, etc.

- Send Your Best: Your most experienced executive with knowledge of the area will be most successful in the Egyptian business environment and in a culture that respects age, social standing, experience and education.

- Business Rules: When doing business in Egypt, be prepared to adjust to Egyptian business expectations.  While the process can be time consuming, most foreign companies, once they have established a base in Egypt, find the Egyptian market a worthwhile and profitable place to do business.

Travel Advisory

For the latest travel and security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website at State Department where the following information can be found: Worldwide Caution: State Department Travel Warnings

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), created in 1985 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, promote security cooperation between American private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State.

The increase in terrorism over the last 30 years and the continuing threat against U.S. interests overseas has forced many American companies to seek advice and assistance from the U.S. Government, particularly the State Department.  In 1985, a handful of chief executive officers from prominent American companies met with then Secretary of State George P. Shultz to promote cooperation between the American private sector worldwide and the U.S. Government on security issues.  The subsequent establishment of the Overseas Security Advisory Council has developed into an enormously successful joint venture.  Today, over 3,500 U.S. companies, educational institutions, faith-based institutions, and non-governmental organizations with 16,000 users are OSAC constituents.  OSAC provides a forum for sharing best practices and provides the tools needed to cope with today’s ever-changing challenges and security-related issues abroad.

For information on OSAC membership and activities in Egypt please check the following website:
Follow on Twitter at @USEmbassyCairo and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook at @USEmbassyCairo as well.

Business travelers to Egypt seeking appointments with U.S. Embassy Cairo officials should contact the U.S. Commercial Service in advance at +20 (2) 2797-2340, fax at +20 (2) 2795-8368, or e-mail at:

U.S. citizens are advised to maintain valid travel documents and register your visit to Egypt through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for all non-Egyptian visitors traveling to Egypt. Tourist/business visas may be purchased upon arrival at the Cairo International for $25 (bring exact change).
For specific requirements, consult the Egyptian Embassy in the United States, 3521 International Court, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, Egyptian Consult (202) 895-5400) or nearest Consulate General: CA (415) 346-9700), IL (312) 828-9162), NY (212) 759-7120), or TX (713) 961-4915.
More information can also be found at the State Department’s Egypt Country Specific Information sheet website: U.S. Passports and International Travel

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links:
State Department Visa Website: State Department Visas
United States


The international dialing code for Egypt is +20. Calling landlines may require a city code such as (2) for Cairo and (3) for Alexandria. Cell phones have 11 digits. There are three companies providing cell phone services: Orange’s cellphone numbers start with 0122, 0127 or 0128. Vodafone’s starts with 0100, 0106, 0109 or 0101. Etisalat’s starts with 0111, 0114, 0112 or 0115. To dial a landline from a mobile phone; you need to dial 0 plus the city code. The Government of Egypt offers free dial-up service and using provide Internet access through ISPs, and billing is the same as making a local phone call. Wireless Internet can be found in many of the five-star hotels and some cafes.


Air and Sea: Egypt is an important air terminus for the Middle East, and Cairo is served by many major airlines. EgyptAir is the only airline with direct, nonstop service between Egypt and the United States. EgyptAir is a Star Alliance member, and operates code-share flights with Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and others. Other major international airlines represented in Cairo include: Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Saudia, Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Emirates Airlines and Swissair.

Shipping lines serving Port Said and Alexandria (the largest port on the Mediterranean) are Adriatica, Farrel, Lykes, Ogden, Prudential, and American President Lines. Egypt has its own merchant fleet.

Local transport: In 2009, old taxis were replaced by white cabs with black-checkered stripes to move safety. Using Cairo's taxis effectively requires some basic Arabic phrases and practice. If you’re going to an area you do not know well, ask about local landmarks, such as hotels or cross streets, to help you and the driver find the location. Negotiating the fare is best done before the trip.  The price of riding in a cab includes a LE 6.00 (USD 0.33) base fair, including the first kilometer, and an LE 2.50 (USD 0.14) charge for every additional kilometer. There are a few taxi companies that may be called for pick-up. However, because of heavy traffic conditions these cabs are not very punctual. Additionally, there are alternative transportation options, such as renting a private car and driver from either a travel company or private limousine service.  The average price to rent a car and driver for the day is around USD 80.

Uber entered the Egyptian market in 2016 and is commonly used in Cairo, Alexandria and some places in the Red Sea. Payment options for Uber include credit card (via the app) and cash and no need to change the account details. There are other rideshare services such as Careem.

The Cairo Metro is a partly underground light rail system. One line runs from Al-Marg in the north through the center of the city to Maadi and on to Helwan. Another line runs from Shoubra El Kheima, north of Cairo, to Ramses Station in the city center. A third line runs from Tahrir Square, passing by the Cairo Opera House, and ending at Cairo University in Giza. A new line runs from Heliopolis to Attaba Square, downtown.

The Cairo Metro, buses and commuter micro-buses are usually extremely crowded and poorly maintained. These are not recommended.

Regional: The Western Desert Highway, a high-speed toll road, and the busier Delta Road connect Alexandria and Cairo. Buses take 3½ hours between the two cities, including a rest stop. A non-stop train takes just over 2 hours.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Roads in Cairo are congested, and traffic movement is free-for-all. Egypt has one of the highest fatal auto accident rates. It is strongly suggested that seatbelts be worn at all times. The roads in Egypt can be hazardous because they are poorly maintained, and traffic rules are generally ignored.   It is especially hazardous at night outside major cities because vehicles travel without headlights and at a high rate of speed. There are few, if any, areas for a vehicle with mechanical problems to pull off the paved surface, and no system for warning other motorists of a disabled vehicle. Wild and domesticated animals can regularly be found on the roads at night.

For those who prefer to go on foot, you should know that sidewalks are poorly maintained and often absent. Pedestrian crossings are non-existent, and drivers do not yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Additionally, emergency and intensive care facilities are limited outside of Cairo.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government websites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. For specific information concerning Egypt's driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Egyptian National Tourist Organization offices in New York at Egypt Tourist Authority, 630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1706, New York, NY 10111; telephone (212) 332-2570 or toll-free, (877) 773-4978; internet website: Egyptian National Tourist Organization ; e-mail address:


Arabic is the officials and main spoken language in Egypt. Colloquial Cairene Arabic, or Egyptian dialect, is expressive and rich in words with Coptic, European and Turkish origins. The written language, Modern Standard Arabic, differs from the spoken language. Based on the language of the Koran, Modern Standard Arabic is heard on radio, TV and in formal speeches. About 90% of Egyptians are Muslim, and Islam is the state religion. Most others are Christian, including Copts, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican Protestants. Indigenous minorities include about twelve million Copts, Nubians, Bedouin, and a very small Jewish community. Coptic continues to be the liturgical language of the Coptic Church.  English, and to a lesser extent French, is widely spoken among the business community and at hotels and tourist destinations.


There are many Western-trained medical professionals in Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo can provide a list of local hospitals and English-speaking physicians. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in tourist areas. Emergency and intensive care facilities are limited. Dar Al Fouad is the only hospital in Egypt which has Joint Commission Accreditation.  

Most Nile cruise boats do not have a doctor on board, but some employ a medical practitioner who may have recognized qualifications. Hospital facilities in Luxor and Aswan are inadequate, and they are nonexistent at most other ports-of-call. The Egyptian ambulance service hotline is 123, but it is not reliable.

Beaches on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts are generally unpolluted. Persons who swim in the Nile or its canals, walk barefoot in stagnant water, or drink untreated water are at risk of exposure to bacterial and other infections as well as the parasitic disease schistosomiasis (bilharzia).

It is generally safe to eat thoroughly cooked meat and fruits and vegetables in tourist hotels, on Nile cruise boats, and in tourist restaurants. Eating uncooked fruits and vegetables should be avoided. Tap water is not potable. It is best to drink bottled water or water that has been boiled and filtered. Well-known brands of bottled beverages are generally considered to be safe.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

A list of local hospitals, medical facilities and physicians can be found at the American Citizen Services website: Hospitals and Medical Facilities

For the most current information and links on influenza and pandemic preparedness, please visit the federal government’s Flu Website.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Typical work hours are Sunday through Thursday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. The U.S. Embassy is open Sunday through Thursday and is closed on American and Egyptian holidays. During the month of Ramadan, local employees work seven hours per day (one hour less than normal either in the morning or in the afternoon).

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Customs Regulations: Egyptian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Egypt of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency and ivory.

Personal use items such as jewelry, laptop computers, and electronic equipment are exempt from customs fees and are allowed into the country. Commercial merchandise and samples require an import/export license issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry prior to travel and should be declared upon arrival. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C. or one of Egypt's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the same protections available to the individual under U.S. laws. Penalties for breaking local laws can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Egyptian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Egypt are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. The death penalty may be imposed on anyone convicted of smuggling or selling marijuana, hashish, opium, LSD, or other narcotics. Law enforcement authorities prosecute and seek fines and imprisonment in cases of possession of even small quantities of drugs.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available. In accordance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Egypt is a party, competent authorities in the host country must notify a consular post of the arrest of one of its citizens without delay if requested to do so by the foreign citizen.

Photography Restrictions: There are restrictions on photographing military personnel and sites, bridges, and canals, including the Suez Canal. Please note, these locations are not always clearly marked.  Egyptian authorities may broadly interpret these restrictions to include other potentially sensitive structures, including embassies, police stations, and other public buildings with international associations, and some religious edifices. Visitors should refrain from taking photographs that include uniformed personnel.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to the website State Department on Child Abduction or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling +1-317-472-2328.

Embassy Location and Registration: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Egypt are encouraged to register at Smart Traveler Enrollment or at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and obtain updated information on travel and security within Egypt. The American Citizens Services (ACS) office of the U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Latin America Street, Garden City, Cairo, and is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon Sunday through Thursday. The ACS is closed the last Tuesday of each month and on American and Egyptian holidays. Those seeking routine services should schedule an appointment through the online appointment system. Those needing emergency services do not need an appointment.

The mailing address from the United States is: Consular Section, Unit 64900, Box 15, APO AE 09839-4900; in Egypt, it is 8 Kamal el-Din Salah Street, Garden City, Cairo. The main Embassy telephone number is +2-02-2797-3300. The Consular Section telephone number is +2-02-2797-2301, the fax number is +2-02-2797-2472, and the email address is: Consular information is available via the Internet at U.S. Consult Cairo:

For U.S. citizens who work or study at the Cairo American College and the American University in Cairo, the consular section maintains a special appointment day on Thursdays. It is not obligatory to make an appointment online, however U.S. citizens should notify consular staff at the following email address:

Travel Related Web Resources

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

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