Covid Travel

You might think this page has nothing to do with our book. But it does. We want to help families navigate COVID-19 travel rules for those who have relatives in Israel-because we believe in bridging the gaps for olim and those who love them.

This page was born out of a need that exploded over the last few months to better understand the cumbersome rules for entering Israel to visit a first degree relative.

Ariella "met" Maureen Ash purely by accident. When this book was published, we somehow connected and before long, Maureen and Ariella were fielding thousands of questions on how to visit family in Israel. There is even a Facebook Group called Reunite Olim With Their Families here, where many of the same questions come up.

It seems like many people feel the need for an immediate answer, and we understand it. So Maureen and I pulled this page together to offer one easy link. It offers you the rules and regulations as we know it, and gives you some of our experiences, what we call our own "intel."  

If you are perplexed by the travel regulations to Israel, you aren't alone. When the government changed the rules for foreign travel to Israel, relatives were looking for some clarity to be able to properly jump through all of the hoops to secure a coveted permit to visit. And the rules keep on changing all of the time. 

The next scheduled change was supposed to be around July 1, 2021, allowing vaccinated tourists into the country with no permit required. It didn't happen. The Delta variant has increased Israel's COVID case load, and despite press reports, Israel will not open up on August 1 either. While there are rumors of closing the airport, we do not think that will happen, but we do think it is possible to create conditions that make it unpalatable for travel to Israel, such as requiring 7 day quarantine from certain countries. And so for now, the permit process continues.

The last few months have not been easy. Every Consulate around the world has posted the English version of the rules that are available in Hebrew, which you can find here. Yet, we have learned, the hard way, that there is quite a bit of ambiguity, and worse yet, inconsistency.

We tried to centralize what we have learned and give you links to forms you need, lists of documents you need in one place.

We will update this space as needed so be sure to check back, and please contact us (scroll down below for our contacts) so we can correct any errors.

Any errors are our own and if we made a mistake, we apologize.

Last update made: July 27, 2021

A few important things to keep in mind all the time:

Rules can change. Forms can change.

Not next week or next month. So it's hard to answer questions on what might happen in the summer or Sukkot.

If you get rejected for a permit to travel to Israel, contact us to look at your file to make sure that you submitted all of the required documents. Many people secure permits in Israel via Misrad Hapnim in Israel, so consider that route. More on it below. 

There are some threshold issues you need to be aware of:

For a period of time, one needed a ticket in order to receive an an ishur  (a permit) to enter Israel. It then changed so that no one needed to provide a ticket. Today, it seems that consulates want a ticket and Misrad Hapnim might want a ticket but don't really tell you and might not approve applications without it. Make sure your COVID health insurance covers the period of your travel.

Think of the consulate as your agent outside of Israel. Misrad Hapnim's (Ministry of Interior) Population and Immigration Authority  handles permits issued inside Israel. Their two systems are not tied together. Israeli citizens with first degree relatives overseas can now file on a centralized system at Misrad Hapnim (more about it below), in Hebrew only. And the Consulates have a centralized application process as well (more about it below). We suggest that you file in both systems 30 days pre flight. If you are approved, you will receive a 30 day permit. 

What is a first degree relative? Well no one defines it well enough, so here is the short and brutal answer. A first degree relative is someone you sit shiva for. Parents, children, and siblings and their spouses. In some cases, we have heard that half siblings and step-siblings who have secured permits, but it is rare. And those who managed to do it, did it from Israel via Misrad Hapnim. Recently, the Ministry of Health indicated that they will consider permit requests for grandparents of brides and grooms who are Israeli citizens. However, you will need birth certificate records in order to prove the relationship from grandparent down to the grandchild. 

First degree relatives can bring a spouse and children, but they all must be vaccinated or recovered, each needs a separate permit request. For a period of time, Israel issued permits for children under 6 without a recovery certificate, allowing them to do a full quarantine period (10-14 days at the time). They have rescinded that policy and decided that no foreign children can receive an ishur without a vaccination or recovery letter, with the exception of a child under 1, who does not need a recovery letter, but must do full quarantine and must have a specific ishur.  

Vaccinated (or recovered) parents of student visa holders can receive approval to enter Israel for the birth of a grandchild - within 30 days prior to the due date or within 30 days of the birth. The application must include all the regular documentation plus: Copies of both parents passports and visas, and the baby's birth certificate or a letter from a doctor with the due date. Please note that paternal grandparents have been rejected from receiving a permit but we suggest that you try anyway - some seem to get through when the request is made in person at Misrad Hapnim. 

Foreign yeshiva student between the ages of 17-25 can be issued student visas for the upcoming (2021-2022) academic year if they are vaccinated or have proof of recovery with a previous positive PCR test. The institution must file an organized list of incoming students to the government and the list will be sent to Ben Gurion Airport to allow travel into Israel between July 25 and August 8, 2021. They will receive student visas only until December 2021 and the institution  is responsible for extending the visa. 

Israelis living outside of Israel can now travel to Israel with their non-Israeli children without the need to register them as Israelis first. But the process of registering them as Israelis had to have been started. It is complicated and it is time consuming. Please see the post here and complete all the paperwork related to registration of children born to Israelis outside of Israel.

Student visa holders currently in the USA and those with permanent resident status in Israel who are currently in the USA can return to Israel with no need for approval. But this is a new policy and it is not clear how this will play out. Stay tuned.

A reminder about children. Today, all foreign children (with the exception of those under 1) require evidence of a vaccination or a recovery letter. Children under 1 must do full quarantine (7 days). There was a time when children under 6 were allowed do enter and do quarantine. That is no longer the case. 

Birth certificates no longer need to be apostilled when applying for a permits anywhere, although the consulate websites and the Israeli government websites continue to say you need it (even though it is no longer true.) We know your application is accepted today without that apostilled document. If the first degree relative's last name and your last name are not the same, you will need to provide documentation of name changes. 

As of June 1, grandparents are allowed to secure a permit for the wedding of grandchildren. Please ensure that you create a "trail" with birth certificates - grandparents to parents to the Israeli citizen - including evidence of name changes. 

There are two ways to secure a permit.

1. Via Ministry of Foreign Affairs centralized portal, 30 day before a flight. A 30-day permit will be issued. 

2. Via Misrad Hapnim's Population and Immigration Authority in Israel, 30 days before the flight. A 30 day permit will be issued. The Misrad Hapnim site is only in Hebrew, and it seems that the portal can only be accessed from inside Israel (unless you can use a VPN). The idea is that the Misrad Hapnim portal ought to be accessed by Israelis from within Israel. 

We recommend that you file with both the Consulate system and that your Israeli relative in Israel file on the Misrad Hapnim system. 

Please understand the Israeli concept of time, regardless of where you file. A flight in a week from now is not urgent for Israelis, either at the Consulate or Misrad Hapnim. 24-hours might be, but not a week. Either track is stressful and one ought to be prepared for that kind of last minute brinksmanship. And if that kind of tension is not for you, reconsider coming to Israel at this time.

Both tracks are explained more fully below. Either way, you will need this basic set of documents: 

    1. Passports: Of every person seeking an ishur and the first degree Israeli relative. It is important to have them both just in case. Sometimes Israeli passports have someone's maiden name, which make an easier connection to parents. Please make sure your passport does not expire within 6 months of filing. You will be denied an ishur on that basis alone. 
    2. Ticket: The Consulate portal asks for a date of the flight. Misrad Hapnim's portal does not. Doesn't mean you shouldn't have it. These systems are too early to know whether they will reject on this basis as they did before. Try to get a refundable ticket or one where you can change the date, just in case you don't get the ishur/permit by the time you are supposed to fly. Some people have had trouble at Ben Gurion Airport if their stay in Israel is short and have been asked to go to the Misrad Hapnim in the airport to receive an "ishur yetzia me'haratez," approval to leave the country. Accordingly, if you plan on being in Israel for less than a week, leave yourself extra time at Ben Gurion upon your departure and make sure you have your release from quarantine and serological test results handy.
    3. COVID-19 specific insurance coverage: It has to be very specific for non-Israelis and it must have the name of every traveler and specifically say it covers COVID-19. It also must cover the entire period that you are in Israel, or you will not receive an ishur. Medicare or Medicaid or insurance cards are not sufficient. Permits have been rejected if the insurance is not specific. Options include: Allianz, Berkshire Hathaway, Trawick, IMG, Travelex, Square Mouth, TinLeg, Egert Cohen, Harel, Travel Guard and Travelinsuranceisrael.com. Please note that Israeli citizens living outside of Israel no longer need this COVID specific insurance. See post here.
    4. Proof of vaccination or recovery certificate: Try to have your recovery certificate be as detailed as possible (i.e., a positive PCR test when the person had COVID and a negative PCR test for then they recovered.) It is your best chance of receiving a permit. We have seen too many that were rejected without this information. 
    5. Teudat Zehut of the Israeli relative first degree relative: A first degree relative is someone you sit shiva for - mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter. 
    6. Marriage license, birth certificate or any other document that proves your first-degree relationship to the Israeli citizen. If your first degree relative is NOT a citizen or a permanent resident you will likely be rejected for now. If you are applying for spouses, the spousal relationship needs to be proven by a marriage certificate. If you are applying for siblings, you need both birth certificates. Do try and circle relevant information (e.g., siblings that share the same parent) to make it easy for the reader of your file. We have heard of some cases where half siblings and step siblings managed to get permission, but it is far from the norm.
    7. Isolation statement: Signed quarantine statement, a commitment to abide by Israel's rules. The form is here. Don't be surprised if Misrad Hapnim asks you for a different version of the form - sometimes this happens.
    8. Wedding: Those who are flying for a wedding might get asked for their children's proof of marriage by sending the tik number from Rabbanut - the documentation that they have a wedding date. Try and avoid this issue and just let them know you are visiting a child or sibling. Raising the issue of a wedding has caused issues. 
    9. Lone soldiers or lone bat sherut: Documentation that they are in this status. It helps. 
    10. Births for student visa holders: If a student visa holder seeking the visit of parents for the birth of a grandchild, attach doctor’s notes of the expected date and their student visa pages of their passport. See post about this issue here. Some paternal grandparents have been rejected so be prepared if this happens.
Please know that neither the Consulate site nor the Misrad Hapnim site give you much capacity to explain your personal situation. If you feel the need to, you might have to attach an explanation to one of the documents you upload. 
Reminder that every child over the age of 1 must have a recovery letter (with details of when they had COVID, when they recovered and even positive and negative PCR tests), or must show vaccination. Children under 1 do not need to have a recovery letter but must do full quarantine and must have an ishur.
No documents are needed for student visa holders currently in the USA and those with permanent resident status in Israel who are currently in the USA. Both can apparently return to Israel with no need for approval, but we aren't sure how this will play out.

Gone are the days of emailing the Consulates. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has centralized this process with a portal that can be found here: https://bit.ly/3ehJ6tz.

We suggest that you start by filing with the Consulate, 30 days pre flight. and also with Misrad Hapnim at the same time - the latter is for your Israeli relatives to complete.

Here are some tips about the Consulate portal: 

    • File 30 days pre flight. But don't hesitate to file even if you don't have 30 days.
    • One form for every single traveler but start with a "primary" to link other travelers.  Open up multiple applications in multiple tabs and cross reference the other since the application number is at the start of every new online form. You can add a number of rows to the application so it is easy to connect multiple applications to one. However, his might be a tad complicated particularly if you by accident close a tab. If you cannot manage multiple tabs, consider a primary traveler the one with a first degree relative in Israel. Once that primary is done and you have an application number for the primary, start a new application for the other applicants. You can either select  "other," explain the situation, and ADD multiple Application Numbers for the primary traveler. The very first application, i.e., the "primary applicant," ought to be the person who has the immediate first degree relative. Then, all subsequent applications can reference that first one.   
    • In the field “purpose of traveling,” there are 14 options:
      • A foreign parent of a minor Israeli child who resides in Israel
      • A foreign passenger married to an Israeli citizen or a permanent resident of Israel 
      • A lone soldier or a Sherut Leumi volunteer or a visit of their first-degree relatives
      • A passenger who has a first-degree Israeli family member (Israeli citizen or a permanent resident of Israel) that is currently in Israel
      • A passenger who is a son or a daughter of a parent(s) who is/are an Israeli citizen(s)
      • Accompaniment for an urgent and life-saving medical procedure
      • Arrival for an urgent and life-saving medical procedure
      • Attending a funeral in Israel
      • Attending the funeral of a first-degree relative
      • Attending a wedding of Israeli citizens or permanent residents or foreigners who reside in Israel
      • Foreign grandparents who are requesting to visit Israel on the occasion of the birth of their grandchild (providing that the grandchild's family is residing in Israel)
      • Other
      • Students and Yeshiva Students 
      • Visiting a first-degree relative who holds Israeli citizenship
    • All above options will require you to attach documents and no document can be larger than . 1MB. Which means you need to compress each and every document on ilovepdf.com to upload. 
    • You will be asked to upload certain required documents depending on the reason for your travel. They also give you an additional 5 documents to upload that are optional.  Depending on the reason for your travel, the consulate site will trigger certain mandatory document requirements. You will also be offered the option of uploading 5 additional documents that are not required fields. See below for a list of the bare minimum and required documents you will need.
    • 14-day block to reapplying: If you applied once, and you try to reapply with the same passport number (even to fix a deficient application) you will be blocked from doing so. To get around it, put the letter P in front of the passport number and you can apply again. Beware, this is a one-time fix only.  
The system can work fairly well if you are dealing only with a permit for 1 person traveling to Israel. The complexity is when you have, multiple people traveling. The form does give you an ability to enter another traveler, except it asks you for an application number for that second traveler and you won't have the application number for the "primary" first degree relative unless you file it first. 
For example, if you have minor children, you start with seeking a permit for the parent, the "primary applicant" with the first degree relative in Israel. Make sure to have the reference number of that filing. Then start a new application for the minor child who might not have a first degree relative in Israel. You add a traveler to that application, add the primary applicant's name, passport and application number. Select "Other" in the "purpose for traveling" field. Then, in the explanation box, indicate that this is a filing for your minor child that is connected to reference number XYZ of the parent. And you can add other minor children as additional travelers with the same primary application number. Otherwise, there is no way to connect those two filings.
Any Israeli citizen who resides outside of Israel must use the Consulate system to get an ishur. It cannot be done from the Misrad Hapnim site. 
Below is a bare minimum punch list of documents for the Consulate portal upload. Each document is no larger than 1MB and you might need to compress on ilovepdf.com. Depending on the reason for your travel, you might be asked to submit additional mandatory documents. You are also given an additional 5 documents that are optional to upload. In most cases, you are given a comment box in which to explain you particular situation, and if you are not, use the optional document upload to attach a letter explaining your situation. 
    1. Passport. Required field. Make sure it does not expire in the next 6 months or you will be rejected.
    2. Vaccination card or proof of recovery.  Once you choose either, you will be given dedicated field to upload vaccination record or recovery letter. Try to have your recovery certificate be as detailed as possible (i.e., a positive PCR test when the person had COVID and a negative PCR test for then they recovered. It is your best chance of receiving a permit. We have seen too many that were rejected without this information).
    3. COVID specific medical insurance. Required field. Some of the companies we know of that provide such insurance include Allianz, Berkshire Hathaway, Trawick, IMG, Travelex, Square Mouth, TinLeg, Egert Cohen, Harel, Travel Guard and Travelinsuranceisrael.com). Make sure that it covers the length of your stay in Israel. 
    4. Teudat Zehut of the Israeli citizen that is your relative. Required field. 
    5. Proof of family connection via birth certificates or marriage Certificates: If you are coming to see a parent, you need your birth certificate with the names as they appear on the passports. If you are coming to visit a child, you also need the child's birth certificate. If there are siblings applying for one another, you need both birth certificates. Any name changes in any of the documents need to be attached as well. To make it easier on the reader, perhaps circle the relevant names in the documents. This will be a required field if you are traveling to see a first degree relative.
    6. Obligation To Abide by Israel's MOH Rules here (aka, Health Declaration or Isolation form). This is one required field. 
    7. Ticket. This is one of your 5 optional documents to be added
    8. Lone soldier or bat sherut documents and IDF card. This is mandatory if you are applying to visit a lone soldier or bat sherut.
    9. Birth of a grandchild: Mandatory documents to upload include proof of family connection, documents that prove pregnancy/birth. grandparents passports. 
    10. Miscellaneous: Depending on the reason for your travel, there are a slew of mandatory documents you must submit and the portal tells you what they are. 

At the end of the process, after you submit, you are given a choice to download the file you just submitted. Download it and save it. It will also be emailed to you. Save it. If you get rejected, we will ask you to send us the file so we can see what was missing from it. 

Do the best you can to explain the documents you so that it is clear to the reader - like circling family connections, or highlighting COVID insurance.

A reminder about children. Today, all foreign children above the age of of 1 need a vaccination or a recovery letter with detailed information in a recovery letter, for instance a positive PCR and negative PCR to show they were sick and they were recovered. There was a time when children under 6 were allowed to enter and do quarantine. That is no longer the case. Children under 1 must quarantine if they receive an ishur (and they need an ishur). 

Our Intel:  You will get a 30 day ishur from this system and you need to fly within that 30 day period (but can stay in Israel for 90 days).  There was a short period of time when the Consulates changed the way their permits looked - it came as an email and not a document, with no Consulate logo. They have since reverted back to old practice but if you have an ishur that does not have Consulate logo, airports and airlines around the world have been notified of this change, yet you still might run across a clerk who does not know this - and who might reject the permit as not valid. See if you can find someone from El Al who can help you explain to the airline that these are valid permits.

You might get an ishur from a Consulate that is not in your area. We know of people in Chicago who received permits from Singapore and people in New York who received permits from Atlanta. It makes us believe that they are trying to balance the work between consulates and farm it out. As of this writing, if you are rejected, they might not tell you why but we have seen applications where they detail why you were rejected. This is why it is important that you be in touch with us so we can tell you what needs to go in the filing. 

As of this writing, some Consulates are not letting applicants file new requests to cure their former defective ones. There is a 14-day block on refiling. We hope it changes soon. 

For many months, Misrad Hapnim was not a centralized operation. Some took the application via email. Others could walk in. Nearly all found it maddening and stressful dealing with such a decentralized process.

Gone are the days of emailing and traipsing down two days before the flight. The Misrad Hapnim's Population and Immigration Authority has this online portal, accessible only from an Israeli IP address. 

It appears that Misrad Hapnim is now issuing 30 day permits which means the Israeli relative can apply at the same time at Misrad Hapnim 30 days before a flight. If you previously filed at Misrad Hapnim under the old system (of emailing), you need to refile via the portal.

Here are some tips about the Misrad Hapnim portal and a document punch list for your use:

    • It is all in Hebrew. It will never be in English or any other language for that matter. Contact us if you need help.
    • "Hamazmin" (the "inviter") is the Israeli citizen or can be a visa holder: He/she will have to put in their personal information (TZ, email, phone, and address) in order to be directed to the right branch office in one's area. If one enters a foreign passport, it is assumed that Misrad Hapnim knows what kind of visa they have and will act accordingly. 
    • "Hamuzman" (the "invitee") is the foreigner: Here one has to enter the name and passport number of the person who seeks a permit. To add two invitees or more, just press the + sign for "hosafat muzman" and can add the information for all the other invitees. 
    • Kind of permit sought: here there are a few options 
      • For a spouse or significant other 
      • First degree relative 
      • Experts/artists/sports 
      • Other permits 
    • Document attachment (under 1MB): You will have to attach the following documents and there are fields for each one:
      • Foreigner's passport. Picture page. Make sure it does not expire within 6 months or you will be rejected.
      • Ashrat Knisa (AS1) form here. Please do not stress this form. It seems to make everyone a little crazy. You only need 1 per family. First section is for the Israeli inviter (whether they are a business or individual). Second section is for the invitee, the foreigner's information. Third section is for the spouse of invitee. Fourth section is for the children of the invitee. Regarding signatures, first signature is by the Israeli applicant and second one is by the foreigner. You can see a fake one dummied up here. Mickey Mouse is the Israeli and Mom Mouse is the foreigner being invited. 
      • Letter of explanation, including where the invitee is invited: This was a field that was available for a few hours and they have seemed to have removed it. Should they return this field, it is hard to know what Misrad Hapnim wants in this document but this is your opportunity to explain for what purpose are you inviting your relative to visit Israel, add ticket information etc. We strongly suggest it be written in Hebrew. 
      • Proof of first degree relation. There is only one document you can upload so if you need to upload two birth certificates (for proof of siblings) or a marriage certificate and a birth certificate, you will have to combine the documents into one. 
      • Isolation Form (aka Health Declaration Form) here
      • Vaccination record or recovery letter. Try to have your recovery certificate be as detailed as possible (i.e., a positive PCR test when the person had COVID and a negative PCR test for then they recovered.) It is your best chance of receiving a permit. We have seen too many that were rejected without this information.
      • Insurance document: Circle or highlight the names of insured and where the COVID insurance coverage is. Make it easy for them. And make sure it covers the entire stay in Israel.
      • Multiple applicants: If you have more than person for whom you seek a permit, you need to scan similar documents and upload them as one. For example, if you are inviting 2 siblings, you need to put the two birth certificates in one document and upload to the proof of first degree relation. It's a pain. 
      • Ilovepdf.com is your friend. Compress every file to under 1MB or it won't attach. 
  • No other information can be attached. You can't explain your application or any special circumstances, at least for now. If it changes, we will let you know. 
  • Length of ishur. 30 days.
  • Downloading the form: Once you complete the form and it is submitted, you get to a page where you are offered the option to download ("horada") the form. Download it and save it because you will be given no other option to do so later on.  It will give you entire form with all of the attachment you filed
  • You get a receipt of the form: Unlike the Consulate form, you simply get an automatic response that you submitted along with a case number and the Misrad Hapnim that you selected.   
  • The inability to explain. At some point, perhaps they will change this portal so one can offer an explanation of their application. Like a lone soldier application for family coming for a tekes. For now, it is what it is. 
  • What happens with current applications. Don't know. They claim they will honor the current ones, but we'd suggest you apply again via the portal.
  • Israeli citizens living outside of Israel: You cannot file via Misrad Hapnim. You need to use the Consulate system.

Most important thing to know is that a similar set of documents can be filed by the first degree Israeli citizen in Israel 30 days pre- flight, and at the Consulates 30 days pre-flight. Work together :)

A reminder about children. Today, all foreign children above the age of 1 require evidence of a vaccination or a recovery letter, the latter with specifics on the positive PCR, the negative PCR which demonstrate recovery. There was a time when children under 6 were allowed to enter and do quarantine. That is no longer the case. Children under 1 who receive an ishur must do full quarantine. 

Once you have your ishur to travel to Israel, PRINT IT, along with all the other documents above. It is good to have it all. 

Before you fly, fill out these forms:

 

    1. Complete a travel entry declaration statement/form within 24 hours here before you fly. Every single person does it - even Israeli citizens. It must be within 24 hours of your flight to Israel (departure) but the form seems to perform better if you fill it out after midnight of the day you fly. Filling it out can be a little unfriendly and you need to do it on a computer or tablet. There have been complaints about entering area codes and arrival times in Israel. The telephone area code box (if using an Israeli cell phone as we recommend), type ISR and then select Israel - 972 will fill the box). If you select a telephone area code of United States (which we don't recommend), type UNI and selected the second "United" which will be the United States. The next box has your number without dashes or zeroes (e.g., 549451234). Try to give them an Israeli cell because that is the cell that will receive an SMS releasing you from quarantine. You might encounter problems with the arrival of your flight section. Don't stress it - just take whatever date they give you. We know it sounds strange but it works. Estimate the time you will go into isolation. Whatever isolation address you put on this form will be the place where the authorities will check on you. If you are at an AirBnB, say that you are in a vacant apartment. If you are an Israeli citizen and were vaccinated or recovered in Israel, you will be exempted from quarantine after you file the form. If you are a foreigner, the form will ask you for a vaccination certificate number, the date of a first dose, and date of a second dose. If you have J and J, put in a date 4 weeks from the first dose (nothing you can do because the dose date is a required field). Many many people do NOT have a vaccination certificate number but do have a date of the first or second dose. Skip the vaccination certificate number or enter 0000, but enter the dose dates (for J and J, enter the second date 4 weeks after the first). The form will tell you that you need to enter quarantine until you do a serological test. You know you did the form correctly if you get an email response after submission from a "do-not reply MOH" email along with a number in the subject line. That email response will be in Hebrew followed by English. Print it. You might get a letter that tells you that you have a quarantine requirement for 14 days.  Don't panic. That very same letter can come back to you after your serological test saying your quarantine is מבוטל  - canceled. If you have a problem with this 24 hour pre flight entry declaration, contact us. Once you complete the form, it will give you a link to schedule a PCR test at Ben Gurion.

    2. Schedule a PCR test at Ben Gurion with the submission of the above. The new company, TestNGo, allows you to make an appointment for the PCR test at Ben Gurion and you can now pay for the PCR even before you do the 24 hour form (something that was not the case earlier). TestNGo's site for booking can be found here

    3. Do a PCR test 72 hours pre-flight. It cannot be a rapid test. It must be a PCR test. It can't be more than 72 hours before you fly. Please account for connecting flights or the PCR test will not be valid and because of this, it's best to try a direct flight. Please note that some airlines have requested a passport number on the top of the PCR test result

Traveling To And From Israel:

It must be made clear that you are required to quarantine until you are released from it via Ministry of Health's notification. You cannot quarantine in a hotel. Quarantine means a bedroom with a door and a bathroom. Israel takes quarantine seriously. The authorities will indeed check on you. They will knock on your door to see if you are there. Please honor the quarantine rules.

Your "get out of quarantine jail free card" is a serological test, which is discussed below. It is not required, but if you want to be out of quarantine, you have to do this step.

If you have visited Israel since April 2021 and have done serological testing previously, you can use those serological tests to be released from quarantine for your current visit. There as a period of time when you would be released from quarantine even before you arrived in Israel (upon completing a form that is no longer used). However, since the outbreak of the Delta variant, this has been abandoned. You must do PCR in Israel upon arrival and then upload your old serological tests here to be released from quarantine.

Israel does not currently honor vaccines given overseas nor does it honor serological tests done overseas. If you do the PCR and serological test the first day you arrive, you can be out of quarantine by day 2-3 of your trip (excluding Fridays and Saturdays). It can take about 24-48 hours from the time your serological tests are uploaded to MOH to the time that MOH releases you from quarantine (not including Fridays and Saturdays). We can all be grateful that it such a minimal time and it is worth being patient. Release from quarantine has slowed down a bit since the Delta variant and we hope that it improves. 

Ben Gurion's PCR: You will go through Ben Gurion Airport and will be sent automatically for a PCR test. You can't get out of the airport without it. PCR tests are done by a company called TestNGo. It was once free and now it is not - for Israelis and foreigners alike. You can book and pay before you arrive in Israel. If you book the test online when you file the 24 hour entry declaration, it is 80 NIS. If you don't book in advance it is 100 NIS. Results of your PCR will be sent directly to the Ministry of Health. The company recently started to email PCR results, but if you don't receive it, go to the TestNGo website and download it.
Serological Tests: Arrange for a Ministry of Health approved serological test because this is your “get out of quarantine jail free” card. If you have done serological testing since April 2021, you can use those test results. If you do NOT get a serological test, you will remain in quarantine until you take a second PCR test on day 7 and once it is negative, you can leave quarantine on day 8. From the time you upload your serological test results, it can take about 24-48 hours until you receive final confirmation from MOH to be released from quarantine (not including Fridays and Saturdays). Here is a list of various serological testing services:
  • Ministry of Health approved serological testing sites (in Hebrew) here and in English here. Some of the more popular ones are Assaf Harofeh which is not far from the airport, Assuta, and Ichilov but note that hours vary.
  • Hatzalah now has locations in Jerusalem and Airport City (Lod - right near the Cafe Ne'eman Bakery) that is open 24/6 and on Fridays until 1:00 and after Shabbat; Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak, and every day 9-21:00 and Fridays until 1:00. You can see here for days and hours and locations and fees. In many cases, they use Asaf Harofeh as their lab but because Asaf Harofeh closes earlier than some flights, it does pay to go to Hatzala to get the process started. They will also come to your home for a higher fee, 600NIS before 11:00 PM and 1,000NIS after 11:00PM.
  • Rambam Labs in Jerusalem, 16 Hillel Street, see here for hours, telephone and email. Use these folks if you think you are low on antibodies. They have special testing equipment. 
  • Herzliya Medical Center also does these tests, but email them to check on it.
  • Another website has cropped up with serological information here and you can search by region.
  • You can also follow a thread on Facebook here for more information.
  • Tenecare that can meet you at or near the airport for 450NIS and will come to your home.
  • RDN Medical does seem to make house calls even on Fridays.
Make sure that all testing labs put your passport number on the serological results and whoever you use, make sure that you get a copy of your own serological tests and upload to MOH here. Without the proper passport number on the serological paperwork, your release from quarantine can be a longer process. Please note that these tests might not be cheap depending on where you do them.
In addition, not all of the locations are labs. Some just draw blood and send the sample to a lab. Most labs are not open on Friday or Saturday for these kinds of tests. If you land on a Thursday or Friday, be aware that the Ministry of Health does not work at full capacity on Friday or Saturday and it might take more time to be released from quarantine. Your serological test must be reported to the Ministry of Health.
Upload your serological results to the Ministry of Health via the request release from quarantine form here. The form is available in English but you have to click on the menu bar and change the language. We'd advise you to submit your serological test, passport, vaccination card (or recovery certificate) with this form. Some people rely on the lab to do this - and in many instances they do, but if something gets lost, you need a reference number from that form to track your release. You know you have done it right when you receive the form back via email in a PDF and it will have a reference number. We cannot help you if you don't file this form. This is the only way we can get MOH to move faster on a release request and this form is crucial. On occasion, MOH will ask you multiple times for different documents and there is no rhyme or reason for it.
At some point in the future, there is supposed to be  serological testing at the airport. Should it become available, it will alleviate all of the running around for serological tests and uploading to MOH. No word on when this will be rolled out. 
Our Intel: Serological test costs can be a few hundred NIS, so don't be surprised but remember it is the way out of quarantine and a whole lot less than your ticket - or your aggravation - cost. TestNGo does NOT do the serological tests in the airport. They only do PCR which are sent directly to the Ministry of Health. You will have to log onto their site to secure PCR results yourself. Also note that serological labs tend not to be open at night, which makes it inconvenient for those who arrive late in the afternoon and cannot make it to a testing site. You might have to go the next day to get the test done. You may leave quarantine to do the test. Please remember to wear a mask. If you have not been released from quarantine within 24 hours, call MOH at *5400, (press #2 and then #1), when a person comes on, give your name and passport number and they will send you an SMS that you are out of quarantine. 
Again, please understand that serological labs are likely closed or short staffed on Friday and Shabbat. MOH runs with less staff on Friday and Shabbat. Keep these kinds of situations in mind when you book tickets. Your release from quarantine will take 24-48 hours from when MOH receives your serological results - not counting Friday and Saturday.

Green passes were returned to Israel in late July. The Ministry of Health has a record of your serological test and has indicated that it will honor it until the end of 2021, provided there are no new variants that are resistant to vaccinations. You can try to secure the Green Pass on the Ramzor App here (which can only be used when you are in Israel), make sure to select passport and not Teudat Zehut, or you can email MOH at Call.Habriut@moh.gov.il to have them send it to you.

For practical purposes, what does this mean? If you did a serological test in Israel, and you return for another visit before the end of 2021, you can upload your old serological test here, and once your PCR test is complete, you will be released from quarantine.  Since the appearance of the Delta variant, some foreign visitors have decided to repeat their serological tests. 

Israel requires that you do a 72-hour pre flight PCR test before you leave Israel (unless you are Israeli and were vaccinated in Israel, in which case, you are governed by the rules of the country you are traveling to). Hatzala does PCR tests (in a number of locations), as does Superpharm, and Check2Fly at the airport (located at the Tamar Gate and there are signs at the airport where to go). Check2Fly continues to do outbound PCR tests. You can find other private testing sites for non citizens at public hospitals here. The maximum cost is around 297NIS. Please note that Check2Fly is cheaper but must be done at the airport. There are other companies that have cropped up including aidg.co.il.

If you stayed in Israel for less than 14 days, you might be asked at Ben Gurion to go to the Misrad Hapnim in the airport to secure a written "ishur yetzia me'haretz," permission to leave country. This is not an online form or an application you can file for. You simply need to arrive at the airport a little earlier than planned in order to get this slip of paper. Please make sure that you have you serological test results with you and the release SMS from the Ministry of Health when departing from Ben Gurion.

As of June 1, 2021, Israel has dispensed with all form requirements for foreigners when leaving Israel.  Israelis have to file this form before they leave, declaring that they will not be traveling to a "red" country. The fine for violating this rule is 5000 NIS.

We will update this page whenever rules or forms change, so check back with us. Most recent update on this webpage has been July 27, 2021.

Contact us anytime. We are happy to help. You can contact Ariella via the form here. Ariella is located in Jerusalem and would be happy to hear from you when you arrive. Maureen can be reached at this email: AshMaureen@gmail.com. Please use subject line: Olim and Their Families.

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