Egypt has complex laws regarding alcohol consumption. While it is not completely illegal to drink in Egypt, there are many restrictions and legal gray areas to understand.
Is alcohol banned in Egypt?
No, alcohol is not completely banned in Egypt. However, Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country that restricts alcohol consumption through laws and social norms. Egyptians who do drink tend to do so privately in hotels, clubs or homes. Public intoxication and drunk driving are illegal.
Can tourists drink alcohol in Egypt?
Yes, tourists over 18 can legally drink alcohol in Egypt. Popular tourist destinations like resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars serve alcohol. However, public intoxication laws still apply to tourists. It is best for tourists to drink responsibly indoors rather than consuming alcohol openly on the streets.
Where can you legally buy alcohol in Egypt?
There are only two places where citizens can legally buy alcohol in Egypt:
- Licensed liquor stores
- Bars and restaurants located within tourist establishments like hotels
Liquor stores require permits and ID checks upon entry. They cater mostly to foreign tourists and the Egyptian elite.
Is it legal to sell alcohol in Egypt?
Selling alcohol without a license is prohibited in Egypt. Only establishments within the tourism industry, like hotels and resorts, can obtain liquor licenses. There are also restrictions on Muslims owning and operating bars that serve alcohol.
What is the legal drinking age in Egypt?
The legal drinking age in Egypt is 18 years old. This applies to both tourists and Egyptian citizens. Of course, enforcement tends to be more relaxed for tourists versus local Egyptians.
Are there restrictions on consuming alcohol in public?
Yes, Egyptian law prohibits public intoxication and the consumption of alcohol openly on the street. Even carrying unsealed alcohol containers outside is technically illegal, though rarely enforced on tourists. Public drunkenness can potentially result in fines or even jail time in Egypt.
What are the penalties for alcohol-related offenses?
Egypt imposes both fines and imprisonment for alcohol-related offenses:
- Public intoxication – Up to 6 months imprisonment and/or fine up to 300 EGP (~$15 USD)
- Drunk driving – Up to 6 months imprisonment and/or fine up to 300 EGP
- Selling alcohol without a license – Over 1 year imprisonment and/or fine up to 5,000 EGP (~$250 USD)
Foreigners may avoid jail time and get deported instead. Police also have wide discretion on enforcement. Bribery attempts are common but ill-advised.
How strictly are alcohol laws enforced?
Enforcement tends to vary based on location:
- Tourist areas – Relaxed enforcement towards foreigners
- Urban areas – Moderate enforcement
- Rural/conservative areas – Strict enforcement
In recent years, Egypt has tightened enforcement around Ramadan. Overall, Egyptian citizens face much stricter scrutiny than tourists regarding alcohol laws.
Are there any exceptions to Egypt’s alcohol laws?
Egypt makes a few exemptions to its strict alcohol regulations:
- Christians are allowed to produce and consume alcohol.
- Alcohol consumption is permitted on Egyptian airlines and cruise ships.
- Some upscale social clubs skirt alcohol rules for members.
Christian Egyptians must obtain a permit to manufacture alcohol for religious occasions only.
Can you drink in hotel bars and restaurants?
Yes, it is legal for tourists to drink alcohol sold by bars, restaurants and hotels holding liquor licenses. These establishments can serve alcohol 24 hours a day. However, intoxicated guests still risk penalties if causing disturbances.
Is it OK to drink around Ramadan?
Egypt’s alcohol restrictions become stricter during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Some bars close or stop serving alcohol. Others only sell alcohol to non-Muslims upon presentation of a foreign passport. It is best for tourists to avoid public alcohol consumption out of respect for those fasting.
Are alcohol taxes high in Egypt?
Yes, alcohol taxes are very high in Egypt compared to most countries globally:
These sky-high alcohol taxes aim to curb Egyptian consumption by making drinking financially prohibitive. A bottle of beer can cost $5 USD or more in Egypt.
Do Egyptian citizens drink secretly?
Despite religious and legal prohibitions, some Egyptian Muslims secretly drink in private settings. Upper class Egyptians often have alcohol in their homes to offer to Westernized friends and associates. An underground illegal alcohol industry also persists.
While not fully banned, Egypt does restrict alcohol consumption through Islamic norms and legal controls. Tourists have latitude to drink in hotels and tourist sites, but public drunkenness remains risky. Egyptian citizens face more barriers to drinking through high prices and strict enforcement. Overall, it is best to enjoy alcohol responsibly while respecting local customs.