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International phone calls

From Egypt to another country

You first dial the international access code which, from Egypt, is 00. You then dial the relevant country code, e.g. 44 for the UK or 27 for South Africa. Then dial the area and personal numbers, as you would when making a call within the UK, but leaving the first zero off the area code (so inner London is 1 instead of 01 and Birmingham is 121 instead of 0121). So to phone Birmingham, UK from Egypt you dial 00 44 121 plus the personal number.

Mobile 'holiday' SIM

You can use your own mobile with your 'home' SIM card, but it will be very expensive. It depends on the network and whether you have any special packages, but it can easily cost you £1.50 per minute.

One alternative, if your phone is unlocked, is to buy a 'holiday SIM' when you get to Luxor. Holiday SIM cards are available from several places in town. The most popular place to get them from is the Vodafone shop, about 100 metres on the right from the town end of Television Street (click here for a map that shows Television Street). You don't have to go to Vodafone. Other companies sell holiday SIMs as well.

Ask for a 'holiday SIM'. The people in these shops speak good English and will put the SIM in for you. They will also change your phone settings if necessary. Make sure you know how to change them back when you leave Egypt. You can use the SIM for calls within Egypt and for international calls.

The basic price of the SIM card is typically LE25. You can then add credits up to the amount you want. Most people find LE50 is plenty for average holiday use and occasional calls home. The credit does run out if you don't use it within a month, but you can keep the SIM and top it up next time you go to Luxor.

Using an Egyptian SIM will change your phone number to the number on the holiday SIM until you put your home SIM back in, so if anyone needs to call you, you will have to tell them your temporary number. Taking your home SIM out of your phone also stops people getting through on your normal number and the call-receive fees that you would otherwise pay on most mobile tariffs.

Your phone must be unlocked to use an Egyptian SIM. Even a phone locked to another country's Vodafone network will not work with an Egyptian Vodafone SIM. How easy it is to unlock your phone depends on the phone itself and whether you are still inside a minimum-term contract under which you got the phone for nothing or a seriously reduced price. Usually you can get a phone unlocked for around £10 in the UK.

International Sim card

An Egyptian Sim card is only good for a holiday in Egypt and unless you are a very frequent visitor, any credit left over will probably run out before you go back.

An alternative is to buy an international sim card, also known as a global or worldwide sim.

There are lots of these and their rates vary. Many are based in the USA or in Asia, but one or two, such as GEOSIM, are UK based.

These companies have contracts with the various international providers and use the strongest available network wherever you are to take your calls or text messages. You can buy the sim by post from about £10 (inc vat) or £15 with £10 call credit.

In Egypt you can receive text messages and calls free of charge in most cases with a GEOSIM although it will cost 15p to receive a call from Egypt Vodafone. To send text messages may be dearer than texting from a UK mobile SIM though.

Charges to make a call vary depending on the country and the provider of the phone service you a calling. Using the GEOSIM they are typically 19p - 46p per minute from a GEOSIM in Egypt to most service providers in the UK, which is less than most UK mobile companies charge.

You can see all charges on the GEOSIM web site.

You can use the same sim in your home country, but it is likely to be more expensive to do that than to use a native sim.

 

Updated October 2014

 

Into Egypt from outside Egypt

The access code into Egypt is 20 and the area code for Luxor is 95. To phone a Luxor landline number from outside Egypt you need to dial the international access code from your country (usually 00 or +) followed by the country code for Egypt (20) and the area code for Luxor (95), then the personal number.

Low cost calls to Egypt

Standard rate calls to Egypt are close to £1 from most standard UK lines. Costs vary depending on your telephone company and there are usually special plans that give you discounts in return for a monthly premium, which may be beneficial depending on the number and type of calls you make.

Many low-cost phone services offer much lower rates, which you can access without changing your telephone provider. To access some of these services you have to buy pre-paid card, sign up and register as a member of a calling service, or pay a connection fee. In other cases you just have to dial an access number. The services described below are available to anyone just by dialling an access number.

Be aware that with these services the charge starts when you are connected to the access number, so you will pay the rate per minute as soon as you connect to their system, even if the person you are calling in Egypt does not answer. The cost appears on your normal phone bill.

Calls to an Egyptian landline

At the time this page was last updated the lowest cost provider of calls from a UK landline to an Egyptian landline was 0844calls at 3p per minute. You do not have to sign up for their service or buy time in advance. To use their service, dial the access code (see below). A voice will confirm the price per minute and tell you to enter the number after the tone. When you get the prompt, dial the international access code (00) then the access code for Egypt (20), then the number you want (starting with the area code, usually followed by 7 digits). So to call a Luxor landline number 0844 439 15 15 (wait for prompt) 00 20 95 xxxxxxx.

You can check their latest rates on 0844calls web sites.

Calls to a mobile

The same companies provide cheap calls from a UK landline to a mobile in Egypt at 4p per minute. The principles are the same as with landlines, except that after the Egypt access code you dial the mobile phone number, leaving off the first zero. The 0844calls access number for mobile calls is 0844 428 25 25. Egyptian mobile numbers start with 01. Drop the 0. So to call an Egyptian mobile dial 0844 428 25 25 (prompt) 00 20 1xxx xxxxxx. Again, it is worth checking the latest rates on the 0844calls web site.

Calls using a mobile

If you are using a UK mobile, you may also have to pay your own mobile company's fee to access 0844 numbers, but you will have to pay this whether you use one of these low cost phone service providers or your own mobile company’s service.


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