OMG! This is going to be my first time to Egypt, heck it would be my first time to the largest continent - Africa! I am overjoyed not only cause I will be diving among the fish for 5 days in the beautiful Red Sea but also cause I had always wished to see the Pyramids.
So, coming to the nitty-gritty of getting there, well the trip is actually organised by a friend through a diving company called Regaldive. They have arranged for everything including 5 days of diving in the Red Sea, accommodation in a 5 star hotel, and the to-and-fro flights. But as always, being a "foreigner" I have to always look into certain formalities which my western counterpart doesn't (lucky pig!).
So, coming to my golden ticket - Egyptian Visa!
Do I need it or do I not???
A lot of Indian people seem to be confused about visa for Egypt. Some say you need, some say you don't. As a matter of fact it was speculated that a few years ago (in 2013) that Egypt was going to make visa free entry for Indian citizens that year, but it still doesn't seem so… Then there are folks who claim to have travelled to Egypt without visa and had no issues what so ever despite being told the otherwise from the Egyptian Embassies. So, what's the truth…?
Well, after some extensive research, I found this:
Visa on Arrival
Indians can obtain an Egypt Visa on Arrival, for a maximum stay of 15 days provided that they are arriving at Sharm El Sheik, Saint Catherine or Taba airports and remain in South Sinai resorts only. They should not continue to any other part of Egypt. Visitors are required to hold proof of accommodation and confirmed flight tickets required for their return or next destination. If the visitors are planning to visit Cairo and other cities in South Egypt then a visa is required.
Right, so you CAN go to Egypt but only confine yourself to the little Peninsula, but if your whole point is to go to Cairo and visit the great pyramids, well, here's the bummer, you need visa PRIOR to travel. As a matter of fact, even UK citizens will soon be required to apply for visa electronically prior to travel from this year!
So there, no more confusions…
Anyway, it's still not too bad for those who do require Visa such as me… Everything can be done in person or via post and it hardly takes 5 days to get it returned all stamped and pretty.
Here's the website for those requiring Visa living in UK: http://www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk/visas.php
The Application Fee: £20
The procedure is as simple as it could get. If applying by post follow these steps:
1. Fill up the application form
2. Mail it together with your passport (original), 2 passport size photographs, application fee (postal order only), a self-addressed return postage envelope with name and address clearly written, and if necessary (but I wasn't asked for) proof of residence in UK.
3. Sit back and wait for them to return your passport.
And like I mentioned, the processing time is 2-5working days… 2 if applying in person, and 5 if sending by post.
Important note: Do not apply via VisaHQ since they charge you ridiculous amount of fee compared to that you actually need to pay when applying directly. However, they are very useful in finding out all the necessary infos and document requirements.
The procedure should be more or less the same for every other Indian citizen around the world unless in certain specific countries (see under section I).
For Indians in India here's the application form just in case. Here's a cool blog post by "Solobackpacker" answering all the questions especially for Indians applying in India.
So, there you have it. I hope it helps the ones looking for answers regarding Egyptian visa application and such. Hope I was useful in any way…
Cheers and see ya next post… Till then…
For the love of travelling…