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
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.