Page update - Aug 27, 2023
Customs rules for tourists in Egypt are formed by a dozen of local laws. The main ones are: Law 66 (1963), Law 118 (1975), Law 770 (2005), Law 137 (1974), Law 155 (2002). It does not make much sense to read them all, but it is better to read this review, where we "have laid out everything on the shelves".
The information on this page is updated in August 2023. On 7 August 2023, new amendments to Law 118/1975 (Export and Import Law) came into force.
Fortunately, these amendments did not affect ordinary travellers. The amendments only affected containerised transport.
The new Law 207 (2020) on customs rules has come into force. This law has not changed the rules, but has set new penalties for smuggling and violations. The punishment for severe violations of customs regulations is now from 2 to 5 years in prison or/and a fine from 25,000 to 250,000 Egyptian pounds. And such punishment can be applied to tourists also. Be aware!
In Egypt, the list is standard. You can't carry through customs:
- Weapons, ammunition, military equipment, explosives;
- Elements of chemical, bacteriological, nuclear weapons;
- Narcotic and psychotropic substances;
- Any counterfeit products, fake documents and money;
- Any informational materials containing pornography, appeals to national, ethnic or religious hatred, extremist nature;
- The animals, parts of animals, products made of animals from the CITES protected list.
Regarding CITES animals, we will give a detailed explanation. All crocodile species are on the CITES list, so any crocodile skin products cannot be transported between countries. Both elephant species (Indian and African) are on the CITES list, so any ivory products are not allowed to be transported between countries at all.
Exporting any flora and fauna from Egypt is strictly prohibited. Please note that this includes corals, coral souvenirs, shells, including empty shells. The fine is USD 1,000 paid directly at the Egyptian customs. Without payment they will not let you out of the country. Look for money where and how you want.
Many tourists successfully bring home shells and corals, as customs officers do not check all the passengers thoroughly, and often simply do not pay attention. But these facts of success do not mean the corals and shell export is allowed. No. It just means these people have not been caught. The situations "allowed" and "wasn't caught" are not the same. Whatever, remember what you risk. Our advice - it's better not to try.
And consider this. Live coral will quickly die and go straight into the trash. The seashells will end up in a drawer somewhere in the house and you'll probably never remember them again. Is it worth the risk?
Under the laws of Egypt, any object over 100 years old is an antique, is of cultural and historical value. You can take out such items only with a special permit from the Egyptian Antiquities Authorities.
Keep in mind an important point! If you came on vacation with an antique in your luggage, then at the entry into Egypt no questions. However, you can not take out the object. Therefore, it is better to leave at home antique cigarette cases, boxes, or generally any objects that look like antiques.
We don't recommend trying to take out any stones as customs may have suspicion. Who knows if you suddenly broke off this stone from the Cheops Pyramid? That is why it is better not to risk and not to try at all.
Smuggling antiquities is a big problem for Egypt. Recall the most recent sensational case, when on February 24, 2019, a mummy was packed into stereo speakers and tried to be smuggled out through Cairo airport. The customs officers uncovered the mummy, and the smugglers were arrested. You can see these speakers in the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
Local currency "Egyptian pounds" can be taken out, but not more than 5,000 pounds.
There is no point in bringing Egyptian money home, as it will be very difficult to exchange it. We advise spending all remaining Egyptian pounds in Duty-Free stores at the airport.
Money in other currencies may be taken out, but not more than 10,000 US dollars (or the same amount in other currencies calculated at the current exchange rate to the US dollar).
If you take out more than that, you need to declare and show proof of the legal origin of the currency. For example, if you bring it with you but haven't spent it, you need to show a currency declaration stamp you got when entering Egypt. Conclusion: if you bring money in an amount more than 10,000 dollars, then be sure to declare at the entrance, do not be lazy!
If you received money by transfer or withdrawn from the account, present the documents from the bank or cheques. If you received money through any other transaction (you inherited it, received it as a gift, sold something), then show the corresponding document.
If you have nothing to show, then expect big trouble. Confiscation of the currency is a must, and arrest until the circumstances are clarified is likely.
According to Egyptian law, only small quantities of gold and silver jewelry for personal use may be exported. Unfortunately, the laws do not disclose the concept of "small amounts". Therefore, we strongly recommend not taking any jewelry with you to Egypt at all, except for the simplest and smallest.
It is better to be reinsured.
You can take alcohol out of Egypt without restrictions. But what is the point? After all, the Egyptians themselves do not have any interesting alcoholic beverages, except for a few local wines. We wrote about it in the review "Egyptian alcohol".
If you want to bring Egyptian alcohol or buy at a Duty Free store, then remember your home country has import restrictions for sure. Please, learn your home country's entry customs rules.
There are no restrictions on the Egyptian side. Again, there is no point in bringing Egyptian cigarettes, they are not famous for quality and taste.
If you want to buy Egyptian cigarettes or aim to buy cigarettes at a Duty Free store, then remember your home country has import restrictions for sure. Please, learn your home country's entry customs rules.
The situation is doubtful. On the one hand, many sources on the Internet and travel guides say that it is forbidden to take food out of Egypt. On the other hand, it is not clear which law prohibits it. For example, the recommendations on the official website of Cairo airport says nothing about it. And the official website of Hurghada airport says that food cannot be taken out.
In reality. Egyptian customs officers do not confiscate food from passengers. Tourists are happy to take Egyptian fruits, especially strawberries, national sweets, karkade, and cheese.
However, you should be aware of the restrictions on entering your home country. Please, learn your home country's entry customs rules about food products.
- What exactly tourists bring from Egypt and about the prices, read in our review "What to bring from Egypt";
Have a great holiday in Egyptian resorts, and read our interesting pages about Egypt (see the list of the pages below).
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