Egypt considers itself to be part of the Cradle of Civilization. It is also home to magnificent historical icons such as the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza, with the estuary of the world’s longest navigable river, the Nile, on its Mediterranean coastline. It is geographically and politically strategically placed in North Africa, giving easy access to markets in Europe, the Middle East, and the rest of Africa, with Asia within reach through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. Egypt is a popular destination for foreign workers, especially teachers, IT specialists, media personnel and the oil and gas industry.
People travelling to Egypt for leisure require an entry visa, apart from a few visa-exempt countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Macao, and Malaysia (14 days only). Over 180 countries’ nationals can apply for an e-Visa. All others must apply for the visa at an Egyptian embassy or consulate in their country of residence. Although some nationalities can get a visa arriving at the airport, it is not advised, as bureaucracy in Egypt depends on various factors which can differ daily, and queuing is a national pastime.
Working in Egypt requires various procedures, some before entering and some completed after arrival. Generally, employers are part of the process. Timelines are variable but typically between one and two months pre-entry and two to four months post-entry. Bradford Jacobs has been a Professional Employer Organisation and Employer of Record for more than 20 years and is aware of the intricacies and necessary measures when completing the paperwork successfully. Knowing the system can be a boon to the uninitiated in all aspects of company expansion into Egypt. Start as you mean to go on with the best advice and qualified specialists who can navigate the system, saving you time and dealing with obstacles that occur.
Although a few countries’ nationals are visa-exempt for leisure purposes or to visit family, most citizens apply for an e-Visa online or obtain one from an Egyptian embassy abroad.
Main Short-Stay Visas:
They fall into two categories, single or multi-entry. Single Visa allows one 30 day-period within the three months validity. With a Multi-entry, holders can come and go for over six months for visits of 30 days at a time.
Main Long-Stay Visas:
Also exist the following Long-Stay Visas designed for people eligible for a long-term Residence Permit.
However, regarding employment, all foreign nationals require specific documentation allowing them to enter, work and stay in the country. Exemptions are few, e.g., religious men, journalists, crews of vessels or through international agreements. For employees coming to work for either global companies expanding their businesses abroad or Egyptian-registered companies, various steps are required, and paperwork is to be applied.
All foreigners require:
* Note: Not all embassies or consulates abroad can provide long-stay visas, including Work Visas. Therefore employees need to apply for a short-stay Visa, e.g., Tourist/Temporary Visa, and after arriving, convert to a Work Visa when finalizing their Work Permit and applying for Residence Permit.
Main steps to work in Egypt:
Processes and procedures can change quickly in Egypt; sometimes, it may depend on the official in charge. Employers or their agents, such as Bradford Jacobs, are more experienced and have their contacts to smooth the route to working in the country.
To apply for a Work Permit, the individual must have a confirmed job offer and security clearance from the National Security Agency in Egypt. As part of the application for the Work Permit, they also need a good health check-up and an HIV test.
Both employee and employer must supply documentation. Generally, the job offer comes first, and the employer applies for the permit. Entering Egypt and then applying for a license needs expert advice. However, individuals can look for a suitable job on a tourist visa and then leave the country, and the employer initiates the work permit application. Work permits are valid for up to one year and renewable from three to five years.
Employers should be aware that Egypt applies annual quotas to foreign nationals that companies can employ. For semi-skilled or unskilled, the limit is 10% of the workforce; for skilled workers, it’s 25%; and for those companies operating and employing foreigners in the free zones; plus, they apply percentage limits to payroll for foreigners. Employers in the country are urged to hire locals and may be asked to prove they have advertised the position (Labour Market Test). If a qualified local cannot be found for the job, an employer can apply for the relevant work permit for the foreigner.
Note: Health care in Egypt is costly, and many expatriates take out private insurance, which is highly recommended, although not mandatory.
Employees who want to work in Egypt, and employers who are expanding into the country by bringing staff from abroad, need to understand the process required to work legally in Egypt. There is an ‘informal’ workforce, and those not compliant with work documentation face stiff penalties and possible deportation. It is not easy, and help to navigate the system can be essential for companies. Bradford Jacobs has 20 years of experience in this field and has the contacts and specialists to steer you through. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure their staff are legal.
The Work Permit
Documents for the Work Permit
They are typically needed during the application process.
From the Employee
From the Employer
While still abroad with the work permit approved and the employee has received security clearance, the Entry Visa can be applied for at the designated consulate or embassy. Long-stay Visas are not available in all embassies, so a Temporary/Tourist Visa is issued (and from some countries can be done online).
Upon receiving the entry visa, the employee can travel to Egypt, taking any paperwork to finalize the Work Permit and, if necessary, convert the temporary Visa to a Work Visa and apply for the Residence Permit.
All workers need to register with the police within seven days of arrival.
For employees going to Egypt to work for local or registered foreign companies. This can be for between one and five years.