Egypt’s new visa requirement for Canadian travellers has been nothing short of confusing, as PAX has documented over these past few days, but a posting from the Egyptian Embassy may shed some clarity on the matter.
According to instructions acquired at Egypt’s embassy in Ottawa, visa applications for Egypt can be completed both in person and by mail.
If applying by mail, applicants must submit a visa application form, their passport, two passport photos, their travel itinerary/booking information and $150 (CAD) either in cash or money order – in a prepaid return envelope – the document shows.
The document lists two mailing addresses: one for Egypt’s Embassy in Ottawa (454 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6R3) and one for Egypt’s Consulate General in Montreal (1800 McGill College Avenue, suite 900, Montreal, QC, H3A 3J6),
PAX obtained a copy of the document from G Adventures, who sent a staffer to Egypt’s embassy in Ottawa this week to seek out official information about the new visa process, which is set to take affect this fall.
Starting Oct. 1, 2023, Canadian passport holders will have to visit Egypt’s embassy in Ottawa or consulate in Montreal, or go the snail mail route, to apply for a visa before they leave the country.
The policy update is listed on Global Affairs Canada’s travel page, and it complicates a process that was once quite simple.
Previously, Egypt-bound travellers could obtain visas upon arrival at Cairo airport, or obtain an e-visa before departure through an online portal.
Under the new rules, those carrying an electronic visa on or after Oct 1, will be denied boarding and/or entry into Egypt as their e-visa will be considered void.
“We hope common sense will prevail”
The news has lacked instructions and details, as per feedback collected from travel advisors and tour operators this week.
The policy also appears to have been implemented without any heads up.
In a statement to PAX on Wednesday (Sept. 6), David Green, managing director for G Adventures, which sells Egypt, said it’s “disappointing” to have received little warning of the new visa changes, “which do little to support Canadian travellers.”
“This is a blow to both Canadian travel agents trying to support their clients and operators like G Adventures that send thousands of travellers to Egypt each year,” Green said yesterday. “Other than the announcement that was made, there have been no details provided around the process to obtain visas. It has also proven impossible to reach the embassy for clarification on the new process.”
Green added that an online application form “should be the minimum expectation,” which doesn’t appear to be available beyond September.
“We hope common sense will prevail and at the very least the visa changes are delayed until a later date, allowing more notice for travellers and for efficient processes to be established,” Green said. “Failure to do so will lead to thousands of Canadian travellers cancelling their travel plans to Egypt.”
Green is urging members of CATO and ACTA to raise this issue with the government, “as this new visa rule needs to be reversed or, at the very least, delayed.”
Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA, told PAX yesterday that it is “extremely frustrating” that travel plans for Canadians are being disrupted by sudden visa processing changes for Egypt.
“It is important that governments understand the impact their decisions have on individuals and families,” Paradis said Wednesday.
She confirmed that ACTA has reached out to both Canadian and Egyptian officials expressing the challenges of the decision on travellers and the Canadian and Egyptian travel industries.
One reason for the confusion is that travel advisors and tour operators have had a difficult time trying to reach Egypt’s Embassy and Consulate for details.
“I’ve been trying to call and email them. The phones are never answered, the mailboxes are full,” Jayne Mandic of Marlin Travel in Peterborough, ON, told PAX earlier this week.
Mandic has clients travelling to Egypt this October. She said they will likely apply for a visa in person as they are not comfortable sending their passports in the mail.
But even the in-person method offers no guarantees. The Egyptian consulate in Montreal only operates for a few hours in the morning, while the embassy in Ottawa has limited hours in the morning and afternoon.
“You can’t call to see if you need to make an appointment. You could show up, but still, nothing could happen,” Mandic said.
There’s also the question of whether Egypt’s offices have the resources to handle a sudden spike in visa requests.
The processing times for an Egyptian visa, whether requested in person or by mail, in the current climate, isn’t 100 per cent clear.
Steve Born, chief marketing officer for the Globus family of brands, which also sells Egypt, told PAX yesterday that Globus has departures for Egypt after Oct. 1, and has implemented flexible change policies.
“For those Avalon, Globus or Cosmos guests that are not able to obtain this visa before travel, we are allowing them to change dates without penalty to provide more time,” Born said. “We hope a more convenient option for Canadian travellers going to Egypt is available soon.”
Tom Smith, vice-president, sales and marketing, North America for Intrepid Travel said the company is “actively working with our resources to find the best solution for our Canadian customers.”
“This was very sudden and unexpected, leaving many with upcoming travel plans scrambling for information, so we recognize just how urgent this is,” Smith told PAX in a statement yesterday. “We are keeping a close watch alongside the industry for clarity and will continue to keep our travellers and partners updated with as much information as possible.”
Goway Travel‘s Moira Smith, vice-president, Africa and Asia, has also spent the week trying to gain some clarity on the issue from Egypt’s Embassy and Consulate.
She said the phone lines for both offices have had “consistent busy signals” and offline websites.
“The best outcome will be if Canadian travellers to Egypt can apply for a visa through the Egyptian visa e-portal,” she said.
Travel warning raised
According to a CBC News story, an email from the Egyptian embassy in Ottawa outlining the new visa application process for Egyptian nationals was sent Monday.
The change cited a “principle of reciprocity” and claimed the new rule is a response to Canadian measures that deny visas to Egyptian citizens, the report says.
It claims those measures are “offensive in nature to the dignity of the Egyptian state.”
The Canadian government raised its travel warning for Egypt on Aug. 31, advising Canadians to “exercise a high degree of caution,” with regional travel advisories, due to the unpredictable security situation in the destination and the threat of terrorism.
The warning specifies a high degree of risk in Egypt’s North Sinai and Western Sahara regions.
Source: PAX News