Driving in Egypt is an adventure to say the least, and requires your complete attention. There is no logic to Cairo traffic. In fact, it defies explanation, and does take some understanding. Traffic is terrible, drivers are undisciplined and the roads are in bad condition. Traffic lights and regulations are ignored, and accidents are frequent. Drivers drive with their horns, contributing to a cacophony of irritating sounds. There aren’t that many signs out there; some are in Arabic and some in English. Road signs are similar to those used throughout Europe. Driving is on the right-hand side.
To make your life easy in Cairo, get yourself a driver. One reason it makes sense to get a driver is parking, or lack thereof. With a driver, you’re deposited where you want to go, and you let the driver worry about parking. When you want to go home, ring the driver on your mobile, and he’ll collect you right where he left you!
If you do go it alone watch out for speed limits which are enforced by radar. Note that the speed limit on the Autostrad is 60 km/h, on the Alexandria Desert Road 100 km/h. and the Ayn Sukhna road, 120 km/h. Speeding tickets start at LE 100 and you can loose your driver’s license from one month onwards if caught several times.
If your driver’s license is confiscated for a traffic infraction, you must retrieve it; pay your fine and a penalty at Dar Al Salam in Abbassiya. It is best to take an expediter or someone fluent in Arabic. The cost will be about LE 50 plus the fine. You must do this in person. Always carry your driver’s license and car registration in your car. These documents are required by the traffic police and at checkpoints.
In view of the traffic congestion and the scarcity of parking spaces, renting a car with a driver is recommended. Be aware that the cheaper the company, the less likely it will be registered. Your best bet is to rely on international rental agencies like Avis, Hertz or Budget, etc. Prices are higher, but for the sake of safety and less aggravation, it’s well worth it. If contemplating driving a rental yourself, you will need your passport, a valid international driver’s license and be at least 25 years of age. Car rental agencies are at most major hotels and elsewhere. Be sure to check the contract carefully and check that all dents and scratches are listed and therefore are not your responsibility. All major credit cards are accepted.
Driving your own Car:
If you’re living here on a long term tourist visa, you can legally drive on a valid international driver’s license for (1) month. If you intend to live here for an extended period of time or have a resident visa, you need an Egyptian driver’s license. To obtain this, you must go to a license office and bring:
- Your passport and a valid visa
- Your (4) photos – passport size.
- A note from both a medical and eye doctor certifying your good health.
- A lab report stating your blood type.
- A statement from your Embassy confirming your place of residence in Egypt (with Arabic translation).
That said, we’ve been told that there are many other ways to get your driver’s license and they apparently all work. You will have to take a driving and a theory test. Be prepared to dedicate several hours at the driving department. If possible, take an Egyptian staff member or an Arabic-speaking friend to facilitate and translate. Remember that Third-party liability insurance is obligatory.
In case of a Minor Accident:
Take all possible precautions to prevent additional accidents by stationing people to direct traffic and clear the road.
- Give your name and company address only to appropriate officials.
- Do not sign your name on a card or piece of paper for anyone.
- Do not remove the vehicle from the scene of the accident until police arrives.
- Do not give statements or express opinions except to the appropriate officials.
- Do not admit fault or liability!
- Get the necessary data concerning the other vehicle involved. Be sure to include all the necessary information, including the name and address of the other driver, driver license number, car description and license.
- Ask for the telephone number of the owner if he is not the driver.
- Contact your insurance company and your Embassy.
- If situation becomes inflammatory, leave the site and go immediately to the nearest police station.
There are petrol stations throughout the country, offering full service and mini-markets. Fuel, inexpensive (1 LE/per Liter) is available in 90 octane and 80. Spare parts for imported vehicles are scarce and expensive. On the other hand, parts and service for European models that are assembled locally is more accessible. If you import a car, bring extra spark plugs, wiper blades, gas caps, air and oil filters, and belts. Imported cars must have their engines adjusted to the local octane rating which is low.