Visa Renewal at Mugamma
By Mona Ibrahim
Photo of the Mugamma building in Tahrir Square
Visiting Egypt can be such a rewarding experience; you might find yourself wanting to overstay your 30 day visa. If thats the case, a trip to the Mugamma building in Tahrir Square is required. Looking at this massive building, a feeling of intimidation is expected. However, if you follow these easy steps, extending your tourist visa will be much easier than expected.
One thing is for sure-the earlier you arrive at Mugamma the better! The building is located in Tahrir Square (Midan Tahrir in Arabic), and can be reached by Metro (El Sadat Station) or by taxi. Needless to say that, as with any activity related to government offices, the earlier you get started, the better. Since Mugamma opens from 8:00 to 3:30 PM, it is a good idea to make it down to the offices before 9:30 AM.
Photo of the Mugamma building with the Sadat Metro station
On your way to Mugamma to renew your visa for 6 months, make sure you bring the following items with you: your passport, along with a photocopy of the first page of your passport with the old visa, and one passport picture of yourself. If you dont have these items, you can take a picture, or make photocopies on the ground floor of the building at one of the kiosks for a small fee.
Once you arrive, ignore the immensely long lines for the 6 elevators, and take the stairs on the right hand side to the first floor. There youll be greeted by a security guard with a smile on his face who will ask you in his minimal English if you are looking for visas. Then, hell direct you down the hall and to the right. Once you make your way down the hall, look for window number 43; there you will be given an application form to fill out. Once your form is filled out, head over to window number 38, where you will be required to purchase a few stamps for your application. After youve got your stamps, youll head back to window 43 to submit your form. The person seated at the window will take all the documents and put them at the top of a pile next to her. The sight is a terrifying one, and you wont be able to control the worry that maybe your passport will get lost among the huge stack of papers, but after years of doing this job, theres a certain routine and way of doing the job that has a strange certainty to it.
The person will tell you to come back after two hours to redeem your passport. During this time, you can take a walk around, and observe the gaudy pictures of faraway beaches and sights that are hung randomly around the halls. However, a better option would be to go back down to Tahrir Square and take a walk around downtown Cairo, otherwise known as the Paris Along the Nile, or visit one of the nearby cafs or have a snack in McDonalds or KFC.
Once the two hours have passed, just head back to the first floor, and right back down to window 43 to pick up your passport and you can be on your way. Its as simple as that! Keeping these relatively short and simple steps in mind will shorten the process greatly. If at any point you need help, the friendly employees would be more than happy to help you with the few English words that theyve learned through experience with the many foreigners they encounter during their working hours. All in all, its a fairly short process that will give you an even longer chance to enjoy and experience all the wonders Egypt has to offer.