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 change all of the time.
The government postponed the July 1, 2021 opening, and postponed it again after the Delta variant increased Israel's COVID case load. Today, it looks like the permit system will remain in place for a while.
The permit process has 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.
Red Countries/High Risk: As of August 31, 2021, entry to Israel is prohibited for foreign nationals from the following countries: Bulgaria, Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey. There are procedures in which foreigners from these countries can go to a "green country" for 14 days and apply for a permit from those countries. Contact us for these complicated issues and what is needed to do so. To follow the list of banned countries, click here.
Yellow Countries: As of August 31, 2021, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Taiwan, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Slovakia, Poland, and Czech Republic are considered yellow.
Orange Countries: Any country that is not red or yellow is considered "orange." Nearly every country in the world is categorized by Israel as orange.
There was a period of time when quarantine requirements, and the ability to shorten them, were tied to the countries' color. Israel's mandatory 14 day quarantine, for example, could be shortened to 7 days, with day 1 and day 7 PCR, and self-release upon a negative test on day 7. In early September 2021, quarantine rules for foreign nationals from orange or yellow countries changed, with quarantine now tied to vaccination and serological status.
Foreign nationals can apply for early release from quarantine from the Ministry of Health if:
Rules can change. Forms can change.
Not next week or next month. So it's hard to answer questions on what might happen for after the Jewish holidays or Hanukkah.
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.
Today, it seems that consulates and Misrad Hapnim want a ticket even though they are not supposed to require it. Yet they 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 on it below), in Hebrew only. And the Consulates have a centralized application process as well (more on 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. Israeli citizens living outside of Israel must use the Consulate system only.
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. You have a better chance if you are a half-sibling than if you are a step sibling. The Ministry of Health will consider permit requests for grandparents of brides and grooms who are Israeli citizens. However, you will need birth certificates in order to prove the relationship from grandparent down to the grandchild.
First degree relatives can bring a spouse and children (under 18) but all applicants for a permit must be vaccinated or recovered, and 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 no foreign children can receive a permit 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 (7 days) and must have a specific permit.
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.
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.
Student visa holders with an mֿ\ר or the word רבות on their visa can travel in and out of Israel without a permit, unless they are from a red country. If you are student visa holder but are in a banned/red country, you need to get to a "green" one for 14 days and apply for a permit from there.
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.
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 an apostille when applying for a permits, 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 an apostille 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 (a marriage license, for example).
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 and we strongly recommend you do both to cover all of your bases:
We recommend that the foreign national file online with the Consulate portal, and that the Israeli file online on the Misrad Hapnim portal.
Please contact us to make sure the documents are correct before you file either at the Consulate or Misrad Hapnim. It is impossible to correct or amend the file after submission which means you have to refile if there is an error. Refiling takes time.
Please understand the Israeli concept of time. 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. Both tracks are stressful and one ought to be prepared for this 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 and you might need more depending on your situation:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has centralized the application process with an online portal that can be found here: https://bit.ly/3ehJ6tz. We suggest that you file with the Consulate 30 days pre flight, and have your Israeli relative file with Misrad Hapnim at the same time (more on this below).
Consulate Portal Tips:
Receipt: 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. You will also receive an email confirmation and it will include your entire application in a PDF. Please check the PDF to ensure that all attachments uploaded properly. If there are blank pages where documents ought to be, it can be because your documents are too heavy. Compress them and refile. Save your application.
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).
Rejections: If you application is rejected, we will ask you to send us the file so we can see what was missing from it. Some consulates actually tell you what is missing and why you were rejected so look for those comments in the rejection letter. You can cure the file by reapplying with the letter P in front of the passport number in order to get around the 14-day block.
Permits: You will receive a 30 day permit from this system and you need to fly within that 30 day period. Please count the days to make sure you don't overshoot it. Once you arrive in Israel, you receive a 90 day tourist visa. Most consulate permits look like the first few pages of your application and they don't look very official. You might run across an airline clerk who questions the permit. To avoid this, print out the email that came with the permit (in addition to the permit itself). The email from the consulate will have the consulate information in the signature line and that can help with airline clerks.
You might get a permit 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 sometimes they try to balance the work between consulates and farm it out.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.
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. Today, Misrad Hapnim's Population and Immigration Authority has this online portal, accessible only from an Israeli IP address. To access it outside of Israel, create a VPN.
Misrad Hapnim Portal Tips:
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 a permit must do full quarantine (7 days).
Once you have your permit to travel to Israel, PRINT IT, along with all the other documents above. It is good to have it all.
1. 24 Hour Declaration Statement: Complete a travel entry declaration statement/form here within 24 hours of your departure to Israel. 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 it works better 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. Autofill seems to not work sometimes and you might need to scroll down a long list to find the selection you need. You DO NOT need to upload your vaccination record - if often makes the form malfunction if you try. 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. The form used to ask you for the dates of your vaccination but it no longer has these fields.
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 and Arabic. Print it. You might get a letter that tells you that you have a quarantine requirement for 14 days. Don't panic. That is Israeli law, and as noted, your quarantine can be shortened under certain conditions. 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.
Where you can quarantine: You cannot quarantine in a hotel unless you get permission from them and that is less common with the increase of the Delta variant. 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.
Quarantine Requirements: The State of Israel's mandatory quarantine is 14 days but there are options to shorten them. There was a period of time when quarantine requirements were tied to the countries' color (yellow or orange). For example, one could be shorten quarantine to 7 days, with day 1 and day 7 PCR, and self release upon a negative test on day 7, if you were from an orange country. As of September 2021, Israel linked the length of quarantine to vaccination and serological status, as noted more fully below.
Early Release From Quarantine: A foreign national with a permit can be apply for a release from quarantine if:
7 Day Quarantine: If your vaccine that is more than 6 months old, you will likely be required to quarantine for 7 days. This means you that you are required to take a day 1 PCR upon arrival at Ben Gurion, and a second PCR on day 7, anytime after 12:01. If your PCR is negative on day 7, you can self release and you do not need MOH permission to leave quarantine. You may leave quarantine to do serological testing if you wish and to do a PCR test on day 7. Save both of your negative PCR tests. Serological testing will not help you secure release from 7 day quarantine if that is your requirement.
Countrywide PCR Testing: For those who need to do a day 7 PCR test, or otherwise want to test if they think they are ill, there are quite a number of places. Pikud Ha'Oref's list is here, their tests are free and can be done with a passport, but cannot be used for pre-flight travel. Please know that they have been known to take 48 hours to get results. Other options include Superpharm or Hatzala (see Airport city location/times here and Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh locations/times here). Another great option is this website, www.coronatestisrael.com, where you can search for other PCR options in your area.
Ben Gurion's PCR and Serological Testing: You cannot exit Ben Gurion Airport without doing PCR which 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 for both the PCR and serological test. If you book the test online, it is 80 NIS. If you don't book in advance it is 100 NIS. Results of your PCR will be sent to the Ministry of Health but will also be emailed to you within 24 hours. If you don't receive it, go to the TestNGo website and download it.
Serological tests at the airport cost 127 NIS. Sometimes you can book it in advance, but if you can't, you can do it at the airport without any additional fee. If you do serological testing at the airport, it saves you a step later on. You receive immediate results, you take a photo of those results, and you receive an email as well. Serological testing is needed for a tav yarok, as noted more fully below.
Countrywide serological testing: If you chose to opt out of serological testing at the airport for whatever reason, there are other locations to do the testing.
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 has locations in Jerusalem and Airport City (Hagolan 1, in Waze put in United Hatzalah Corona tests - Airport City) that are 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. See here for days/hours and locations in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, and see here for the Airport City location. Hatzala 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, see here for hours, telephone and email, is often used for those who think they might be low on antibodies. Tenecare can meet you at or near the airport for 450NIS and will come to your home. RDN Medical makes house calls even on Fridays. Search for serological testing options in your region at www.coronatestisrael.com.
Please remember that all labs in Israel operate at a slower pace on Fridays, Shabbat and holidays and this might delay your serological results.
Prior Serological Testing: If you have done serological testing in Israel in the last six months, you can use those serological tests to be released from quarantine, but only under the circumstances noted above in the "minimal/early release quarantine" heading. If you are required to do 7 day quarantine, serological testing will not offer you the possibility of early release. Prior serological testing conducted in Israel within 6 months can be used for a green pass (see more fully section below on this issue).
Be responsible for your own tests: Make sure that all testing labs put your passport number on the serological results. Without the proper passport number on the serological paperwork, your release from quarantine can be a longer process. Always make sure that you get a copy of your own serological tests. Never rely on a lab to send your results to the Ministry of Health.
Contacting Ministry of Health: If you have not been released from quarantine when you think you should be, or you need to otherwise want to try and push them to move faster (somewhat of a wasted exercise), you can reach the Ministry of Health at *5400 from any Israeli phone.It can take 24-48 hours to receive a reply, not inclusive of Friday, Shabbat or holidays. You must wait for a written release (either SMS or email) from the Ministry of Health. Save this information as proof of your release.
How to get a Green Pass (Tav Yarok):
Green passes (tav yarok) returned to Israel in late July 2021. They are valid only when they are displayed electronically on the Ramzor app. You can find the Apple and Android versions for download on this page here.
On September 3, 2021, Israel announced new definitions of what constitutes it constitutes a vaccinated individual:
These definitions were issued based on Israeli research findings that vaccinations have a reduced efficacy in month 6. There were many vaccinated individuals who tested positive for COVID in their six month, and it was the cause of a spike in cases in Israel in August 2021. As a result, Israel has linked the definition of a vaccinated individual to their ability to receive a tav yarok. Israelis who don't meet one of the above conditions lose their ability to have a tav yarok which means inability to access certain places.
Israel's findings effected foreign nationals who previously secured a tav yarok during earlier trips to Israel. Anyone who received a tav yarok, but left Israel, will find that their app no longer has a green pass on it when they return. Effectively, this means that foreign nationals need to reapply for a tav yarok and cannot rely on their old one.
As of this writing, it appears that the Ministry of Health has been slow to issue a tav yarok to foreign nationals. Those in the best position to receive one are those with a recent 3rd booster, those who have had a vaccination clearly within the last six months, and those with serological testing in Israel that is less than six months old. Please be aware that if your visit Israel to Israel takes place during your six month since your vaccine, MOH seems not particularly keen on issuing a tav yarok. You can try, but manage your own expectations.
אנא תנפיקו לי תו ירוק. מצ״ב בדיקה סירולוגי חיובי, 2 בדיקות קורונה שליליות, תעודת חיסון וצילום דרכון
If you did it right, you will receive an email back with your request as a PDF and with a reference number.
It can take a while before you are issued a tav yarok and you might be denied, particularly if you are in Israel during the 6th month after your vaccination.
It is far from clear whether the tav yarok will be valid on your next trip to Israel and you might have to reapply, as evidenced by what transpired over the last few months.
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. You need a ticket in order to get a test at Check2Fly. Pikud Ha'Oref's tests cannot be used for outbound PCR tests for flights.
As of June 1, 2021, Israel has dispensed with all form requirements for foreigners when leaving Israel. Israelis, even dual citizens, 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 September 19, 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.