On our way to Johannesburg, we had a stopover in Cairo, for nearly half a day. Naturally, we decided to use it for a city tour. So the next question became, did we require a tourist visa to do so. Web wisdom suggested yes, we needed one. And both the tour operators I checked with also recommended getting one. One website mentioned that a visa was not necessary for the transit of fewer than 48 hours. But that we would have to hand over our passports to the authorities while we toured the city, something we weren’t willing to risk.
Egypt offers online visa processing as well as visa on arrival. However, our Cairo itinerary was tightly scheduled. The flight was supposed to land around noon and after immigration and customs, we had an hour’s drive to the Pyramids, based on Cairo traffic. The Pyramids close at 4 pm which meant we could not risk getting delayed with the visa on arrival process.
So we decided to apply for the visa online. Online visa applications have to be created at least 7 days prior to departure. Egypt offers both single entry and multiple entry visas. The cost for single entry was $25 per person and $60 for multiple entries. I made several attempts to find out how long a multiple entry visa would last for, with little luck. I knew we would definitely return to Egypt within the next several months to years and assumed the multiple entry visa would be worth the money spent and the time saved reapplying in the future.
To apply, I went through the Egypt e-visa portal. The process was quite simple. I first created an account under Mr. JJ’s name. Then confirmed the registration by email verification. Next, I signed into the account and started an application for him. The questions were straightforward. Name, date of birth, gender, nationality, country of birth, profession, marital status, passport details, details of any prior visits to Egypt, and contact details. Then I submitted supporting documents (passport pages, in our case) in the form of JPG or PNG files.
After completing Mr. JJ’s application, I was able to create three others for the rest of us, all linked to his account. I ended the process by paying the nonrefundable processing fee of $240 for four multiple entry visas.
The following day, I got an email congratulating me on my visa approval. The others were asked to update their applications. The reason stated was wrong given name. Puzzled, I logged in to find that I had not listed their middle names along with their given names (even though this was clearly mentioned in the specific field). I don’t have a middle name and hence mine sailed through.
Once I corrected the mistake and resubmitted (within 72 hours of the email), all the other visas were approved. To my disappointment, the multiple-entry was only approved for six months, until May 2020 (applied in November 2019). Such a bummer! I even thought of making a spring trip run to Egypt but that didn’t work out either. So I paid an extra $140 for nothing but a lesson in futility! Oh well!!
My two takeaways for you, dear reader:
- be sure to fill in given and middle names in the appropriate field
- stick with single entry visa applications, unless you know for certain you can visit again within six months
Otherwise, the whole process was rather simple and straightforward.
Happy armchair travels for now!!