This study applies the motivation – opportunity – ability (MOA) theoretical framework to study the intention – behaviour gap for asylum seekers and refugees who are currently transiting through Egypt and are intending to leave the country in the short term. Primary data were collected through the narratives of fifteen asylum seekers or refugees, coming from South Sudan, Libya or Syria. Results are threefold: firstly, findings confirm the need to rely on behavioural factors while studying transit migration. Secondly, the respective role of motivational, opportunistic and ability factors is significantly different across our three origin country groups. Lastly, extrinsic motivation, performance experience and societal factors are the most important drivers of transit through Egypt for South Sudanese respondents, while intrinsic motivation plays this crucial role for Syrian and Libyan respondents.