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Saturday, 30 August 2008

Oh! We're going to Mogamma....

The Mogamma, located in the heart of Cairo, is the biggest public administrative building in the whole of the African continent and yes, this is where you go to get your residency visa etc.. But do not fear - despite the fact that my Egyptian Arabic teacher in London told me that they counted 1 million people a day entering the building but only 990,000 leaving - its not so scarey as you might think.

I made a long post in a forum last year about exactly where to go so you can do it blindfolded which I am now copying here for ease of reference.

This post tells you what's in the Mogamma and some info about temporary residency and visas. For the record, I am a British passport holder, but I think its the same for Americans (US) and Europeans.


I'm glad I went with someone the first time because its a bit confusing. However, when I went the second time on my own it was fine.


Photocopy your passport and keep safe - you don't get a receipt when you hand it in.

Go in the morning (before 12 or earlier – I went 11). If you can get it the same day, you will need to go back about 2pm so you will probably have to wait 3+ hours somewhere – be prepared – you can leave the Mogamma and go somewhere else – you don’t have to wait in there (BUT bear in mind you won't have your passport with you because you have to leave it in the Mogamma which might limit some of your options).

Take something to lean on to do writing!

You can get drinks and toilets in there (see below).

Get off at Sadat Metro and find the ‘El Mogamma’ exit.


Yes, its a very big building but for residency you only need to know about the entrance floor and the one above it (i.e. for Brits - what we call the ground and first floor and for Americans, what you call the first and second floor).

You see a circular entrance hall - not too big. On your left are lifts (ignore) and on your right is a big staircase. On either side of the big staircase are two photocopy places. At the back of the big circle is a corridor. Take the right hand corridor and the first door on your right is the photo place. This is actually a little office with photocopiers and people in it, not a machine.


Get photos from the photo office on the entrance floor. Pay 15LE to the person who gives you a number, then go to the back of the office (which is cramped with people taking photocopies etc), they take your photo digitally and print out a sheet of 8 passport-sized photos. Then its cut into 8 for you.
They let me use the mirror to comb my hair in advance


Cost 50pt each - you might prefer to wait until the people upstairs tell you what you need, but I had to get a copy of my passport (mugshot page) and a copy of the page with my current entry visa on it. I got mine from the photocopy place by the stairs not in the little office.


Go up the stairs - doesn't matter which branch you take, they come to the same result. You have to go through the security machine under the 'welcome' sign on the right hand side. There's a circular entrance with corridors off.

If you are a foreigner, take the corridor furthest round from the entry. If you get lost just say visa to someone official looking and they will point you (how do I know? – guess!). The most useful word for directions in Arabic to commit to memory is ‘al atool’ which means ‘straight on’. Wander the corridor until you start seeing the booths that look like bank tellers. They are all labelled (in English) – eg Arab nationals, non-Arab, refugee etc etc.. (There are some signs hanging from the ceiling indicating 'foreigners' 'residency' etc as well to assist). If all the booths are labelled purely in Arabic then you're in the wrong bit!

If you want temporary permits and entry/reentry visas, I can’t remember the exact number but it was about number 32 or similar. When you know what quantity of stamps you need to buy, you need number 43 or 44.


Refreshments are available. There are a couple of chaps wandering around with bottled water (2LE for half a litre) and various cans – all were cold, not warm. I also saw someone wandering round with pens for sale!

There are toilets – the ladies has both a squatty bog and a sitting down bog. I found paper in one, but recommend you take your own. I don’t know if the shitfer thing was working – I forgot to ask my friend who uses these devices!



Now, I have seen various conflicting information about what permit I am allowed to get. I own a flat, but it is not yet registered in my name and I haven’t yet got the electricity transferred into my name. I am not married.

The story is as follows: one woman in the Mogamma told my Egyptian friend that if I owned a property that was REGISTERED in my name PLUS had the ELECTRICITY registered in my name, I could apply for a RESIDENCY permit (3 years). Another woman, a couple of windows down said IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE WHETHER YOU OWN PROPERTY OR NOT – you cannot get a RESIDENCY permit unless you are married to an Egyptian. So, that is two different stories from two different windows.

Also, they told my friend that if I wanted to WORK, then I need to find the job first and the employer will do the work permit.

So, I applied for / obtained a TEMPORARY RESIDENCE FOR TOURISTIC PURPOSES valid for 1 year. This ends up stuck in your passport with the words ‘Work is Not Permitted’ on it.

The form is in English and Arabic and the woman tells you what you need to pay in stamps (91.10LE), which bits of the passport to photocopy and sticks your mugshot on the form.

Go away, find somewhere to perch with your handy ‘thing to lean on’ that you bought with you, fill in the form. Go and get the photocopies you need (back downstairs), then go to the stamps place (booth 43 or 44) and stick them on the top of the form. Then go back to the desk you got the form from. She’ll go through it and tell you to come back later. I THINK IT WAS TO A DIFFERENT COUNTER for this visa, I can’t remember (It may have been number 11 - this is ringing a bell in my head for some reason - but I might be wrong).


Now, again, I have heard different stories about the reentry visas and when to get them. To cut a long story short, the key seems to be to get the reentry visa BEFORE you leave the country and not back in the UK otherwise the Temporary Residence is invalid. It seems you do NOT need to get it at the same time as the TEMPORARY RESIDENCE.

I went back to the Mogamma a second time and got a multiple reentry visa 61.10LE which is valid for 6 months from the date I got it. Again, this entailed a 3 hour wait between requesting and issuing – but even with the cost of lunch and copious lemon juice drinks in the Nile Hilton, it was still cheaper than buying it in the Egyptian Consulate in London (£18 and just as much waiting about). This time I went back to the same booth as where I put in the application.

Hope this info helps someone!

[Please note this relates to my visit July 2007 and some regulations and prices may have changed since then! Actually I renewed my visa this year and it was about 82 or 83LE something like that, and was also able to renew it in 6th October rather than Mogamma. You still have to go to Mogamma for reentry visas]

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