Tag Archives: visas

How to Renew Your Tourist Visa at the Mogamma

After posting my rather tongue-in-cheek entry about my perilous journey to the Mogamma to renew my Egyptian tourist visa,  I noticed that a number of people came to my site wanting more information on how, exactly, to go about renewing your visa if you want to stay longer in Egypt. Here’s my step-by-step guide.

EDIT 1/3/2017–A reader who renewed her visa in December of 2016 provided an excellent update to this post–find it here!

What to Bring:

  1.  Yourself.
  2.  Your Passport.
  3.  A photocopy of your passport photo page.
  4. A photocopy of your passport visa page–if it’s not your first renewal, bring copies of your initial visa page and your most recent renewal.
  5.  A passport-sized photo of yourself.
  6.  A pen.
  7. Lots of patience.

I usually get the photocopies and passport photo done ahead of time at a local place, but if you forget, you can get them done when you get to the Mogamma. Photo and copy center is to the right, past the ridiculously crowded staircase.  You will probably need to use your elbows to maintain your place in line.

What to Do:

  1. Arrive at Mogamma, the earlier the better. The building opens at 9.  I highly recommend making sure there’s nothing major happening in Tahrir before you go.
  2. Go through security. If you’re carrying a camera, they’ll ask you to check it at the entrance.
  3. If you didn’t get  your photocopies and passport photo in advance, do so now.
  4. Go up the massive, crowded staircase on your right.
  5. Go down the linoleum lined hallway to the right at the top of the stairs.
  6. Look for the window for visa renewals–it’s near the end of the hallway.
  7. Get your paperwork and find a spot to fill it in.
  8. Find the window that sells stamps. The person who gave you your paperwork will tell you how much you need to buy in renewal-stamp currency.
  9. Give your completed paperwork, stamps, passport photo, passport and visa photocopies, and passport to the first window where you got your paperwork.
  10. Get the hell out of the building. (For the sake of brevity, I’ve omitted all of the wait-in-line-in-an-overcrowded-unairconditioned-hallway steps, but you should be aware that they’re a big part of the endeavor).
  11. Spend the next 2 hours doing something relaxing, preferably a little ways away for mental space. You’ll need the time to recharge.
  12. Return to the Mogamma, go back through security, back up the stairs and down the hall.
  13. Join the massive throng of people waiting for their visas.
  14. When the people behind the counter hold up your paperwork with your photo attached, your visa is ready. Elbow your way to the window to pick up your passport.
  15. Make your escape.

Congratulations! You’ve just renewed your visa for another 3 months!

Note:

This information is accurate at the time of posting. Egypt’s visa laws and procedures have been fluctuating wildly since the revolution started, and every few months there’s a scare within the expat community that visas will no longer be renewed. Several people have reported in the last week that the Mogamma told them that they were on their last 3-month renewal and that they would not be able to renew again. Three months from now, that may or may not still be the case.  Check with your friends before you go to renew your visa, just to be on the safe side. Good luck!

 

To the Mogamma! Visa Renewals and a Visit to Tahrir

The past two days have involved a great and perilous adventure known as Renewing my Visa. Permission to Remain in the Country needed to be Obtained. While normally this activity is not problematic in Egypt, since foreigners usually bring needed money, the matter of recent  events has made engagements with the bureaucracy less predictable than normal. Rumors were circulating that visa renewals were getting more difficult, with one Egyptian newspaper claiming (in sensationalist manner) that foreigners should just stay away or go home. 

Nevertheless, I had no plans for leaving, and my visa was expired. Which meant that I had to brave the journey to Tahrir to visit the dreaded Mogamma–an enormous government office building that is the scourge of everyone who needs more than a 30-day standard tourist stay. A gift of the Soviet Union in 1952, the Mogamma remains a bastion of Soviet-Era efficiency and charm in the heart of Egypt.

Hence the  dread.

I arrived  shortly after the 9am opening time on Tuesday, accompanied by my housemates (one of whom also needed her visa renewed–misery requires solidadrity). Tahrir was relatively quiet, but closed to automobile traffic and Occupied by a number of makeshift tents. In January and July of this year, revolutionary activities actually blockaded the Mogamma building. Fortunately, the current protests aren’t denying access.

Photos of Tahrir are currently frowned upon. I tried to be discreet.

El Tahrir Square, with the Mogamma in the background

My efforts at discretion were probably unsuccessful.

Tents in front of the Mogamma in Tahrir

Inside the Mogamma, there was first the fairly painless line to get my passport and visa photocopied.  Then there was the first window, to get the paperwork for a re-entry visa, followed by a second window to get the visa extension paperwork. A third window sold me stamps to pay for my visa extension, which I brought back to the second window, which sent me back to the third window because my first set of stamps was insufficient, and back downstairs for another photocopy of my visa page. Back at the second window, I dropped off my passport, extension paperwork, pile of stamps, photocopies, and supplemental passport photo, and was instructed to come back in two hours to window number 38.

While this process was annoying, it was actually made better by the fact that there’s a fairly low volume of tourists right now.  Last time I renewed my visa, the process was comparable, but complicated at each window by nearly endless queues. At least this time around, the queues were short.

Two hours later, after lunch in the khan-el-khalili, we returned to the Mogamma and the fabled Window 38, where a woman held up stacks of papers with passport photos attached. When you recognize your photo/paperstack in the window, your visa is done. In my case, though, because I needed both the extension (now finished) and the re-entry (unable to be processed simultaneously), I had to take my newly-returned passport back to window number one, where I was told that it would be ready the following morning.

So. They didn’t fail to renew my visa, or order me out of the country, or otherwise tell me that I couldn’t stay. My foreign self is still welcome. But because bureaucracy is never done, my visa was not actually ready the following morning.

It was ready ten minutes past closing time, the following afternoon.