Travel News

Israel Is Open for Tourists Again – But With Requirements

Written by Charlie

Israel is open to tourists again but there are several steps involved to be able to travel there. Here is a look at what you need to do and who can NOT go.

Israel has been in the news quite a bit about the Covid situation as they closed their international airport (and opened it and closed it and opened it and closed it) as well as preventing any tourists from entering for a while. But, they were also in the news for achieving the greatest level of vaccination rates early on before having a bunch of positive tests yet again. Now, they are open for tourism once again – but you need to know these things before booking your trip!

Israel Open for Tourists

Link: Israel Covid Site

I have been to Israel over 20 times and was supposed to go back again last week for the Jerusalem Marathon (my third running of it) which had been postponed from March of 2020. I was hopeful they would open in time but, they did not so I had to watch from the cyber sidelines this year.

If only the marathon had been one more week, I would have had a chance! That is because Israel opened to tourists again on November 1. But, traveling to Israel is not doing to be as easy as it has been in the past as there are many requirements you need to fulfill before your trip, when you arrive, and then waiting for your test. Furthermore, not everyone can go so no family trips for a little while yet.

Traveling to Israel – Before You Go

There are two important conditions that people must fulfill before they are allowed to travel to Israel. Those conditions are:

  • You have not been to a “red country” within the last 14 days prior to entering Israel
  • You have been vaccinated or had a recovery from Covid, per the  protocol that Israel has been observing

Here are the vaccines that are recognized: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, SinoPharm, the Serum Institute of India. In addition, Israel does recognize the Sputnik V vaccine but there are extra procedures in place that you can see below.

What Does Israel View as “Fully Vaccinated”?

Just having been fully vaccinated with one of the above vaccines is not enough, though. There are requirements that Israel has in place for each vaccine so let’s get to those.

  • Those who have been vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, SinoPharm, the Serum Institute of India:
    • Received two doses and at least 14 days have passed from the second dose by the day of entry into Israel (but not more than 180 days before departing Israel) Or
    • Received a booster dose and at least 14 days have passed by the day of entry into Israel.
  • Those vaccinated with Janssen (J&J) vaccine:
    • Received one dose and at least 14 days have passed by the day of entry into Israel (but not more than 180 days before departing Israel).
    • Received a booster dose and at least 14 days have passed by the day of entry into Israel.
  • Holders of a digital recovery certificate, which is recognized by Israel, based on a positive result in a NAAT test (molecular test similar to PCR):
  • Those vaccinated by Sputnik V, as of 15.11.2021, who underwent a serological examination in Israel and received a positive result:
    • Received two doses and at least 14 days have passed by the day of entry into Israel (but not more than 180 days before departing Israel).
    • Received a booster dose and at least 14 days have passed by the day of entry into Israel.
    • Note: Those vaccinated with Sputnik will stay in isolation until a positive serological test result is obtained in addition to other requirements.
  • Those who received one dose or more of a vaccine approved by the WHO, and have recovered, and they hold a digital recovery certificate that can be verified with a positive NAAT test result and no more than six months have passed from recovery.Those who do not meet these conditions will be denied entry to Israel unless they apply to the Exceptions Committee and receive a special entry permit.
  • Those who do not fit those above requirements are not allowed to enter Israel unless they are approved by the Exceptions Committee Apply for the Exceptions Committee

Traveling to Israel – Entering Israel

The below is directly from the Israeli government so I thought it better to just use their own words. Within 24 hours of your flight to Israel, you need to fill out this Entry Form

Non-Israelis who want to enter Israel will go through several steps along the way:

  1. A PCR test must be performed up to 72 hours before the flight to Israel.
  2. An entry declaration form for Israel must be filled out:
    • Holders of a verifiable digital certificate – will scan or upload their vaccination or recovery certificate to the incoming passenger form and receive a green pass before boarding the plane.
    • Those who do not have a verifiable digital certificate – will declare the vaccines they received in the entry declaration form to Israel, and will also fill out a declaration regarding the vaccines administered abroad, to which they will attach the relevant documents, and will receive a green pass before boarding.
  3. When boarding the plane, the following documents must be presented:
  • Documentation of a negative PCR result in a test that taken up to 72 hours before the flight to Israel.
  • Confirmation of submission of an entry declaration form.
  • One of the following documents:
    • Vaccination certificate attesting to the performance of vaccinations in accordance with the procedure required in Israel.
    • Digital recovery certificate
    • Exceptional entry permit from the Ministry of the Interior (exceptions outline, groups).
  1. Random examinations of documents and compliance with the conditions will be carried out by the Population and Immigration Authority at Ben Gurion Airport.
  2. A PCR test must be performed after landing at Ben Gurion Airport and travelers must enter isolation until a negative result is obtained, or for 24 hours, whichever is earlier.

Those vaccinated with Sputnik V – a serological test must be performed at Ben Gurion Airport and travelers must enter isolation until a positive result is obtained (subject to a negative result in the PCR test to be performed after landing).

If the result of the serological test is positive, travelers may receive a green pass for a month and stay in short isolation (until receipt of a negative result in the PCR test done upon arrival in Israel or for 24 hours – whichever is earlier).

If the result of the serological test is negative – travelers may stay in Israel but must enter full isolation (i.e. for 14 days with the option of shortening the isolation to 7 days) or decide to return to their country of origin.

How to shorten the isolation period

Foreign nationals who do not meet these conditions will be denied entry to Israel and will be required to return to their country of origin.

Please note: Those who present a forged document, or are found to be infected and refuse to go to an isolation facility, or violate the isolation requirement – will be denied entry to Israel for a period of 5 years.

Violators of isolation, who are not confirmed cases, will be denied entry to Israel for a period of 3 years.

Leaving Israel

What, you thought you were all set after the above steps? Nope! Now we get to what you must do in order to leave Israel. As anyone that has traveled to Israel can tell you, the departure process always takes a while with the security protocols anyway. Now with Covid protocols, you can expect even more time at the airport so make sure you get there early enough for your flight.

Pre-departure test
  • If you stayed in Israel more than 72 hours, you must present an Israeli COVID certificate
  • Alternatively, you can present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time from Israel
  • The PCR test result must be in English, and include the traveler’s passport number
  • You can have your PCR test in one of the hospitals that offer private COVID-19 testing or another authorized facility
  • Only PCR tests are accepted, no rapid tests or any other types of tests
  • This guidance applies to all international travelers, regardless of age
Submit the exit statement form
  • You must fill out and submit the online exit statement form no more than 24 hours before your scheduled departure time from Israel
  • You will have to provide your personal information and the personal details of the people traveling with you, and agree not to visit a red destination, unless you have permission from the Exceptions Committee
  • All Israeli citizens and residents 16 years of age and older must submit this form
Check whether you cannot leave Israel
  • If you are unsure whether you are registered as a COVID-19 patient, or as a person who must enter isolation, or there is a stay of exit order on your name, check the Population and Immigration Authority’s website
  • If you are a confirmed patient or required to stay in isolation, you will be denied boarding under penalty of law
Requirement for presenting a COVID-19 test result or COVID certificate

You must show the airline one of the documents below:

  • Negative PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before scheduled departure time from Israel
  • An Israeli Ministry of Health-issued COVID certificate
Show your travel clearance
  • Before boarding, you must show the airline a clearance to leave Israel that you get after submitting the exit statement form
Access to terminal allowed to ticketed travelers only
  • People who accompany ticketed travelers are not allowed to go inside the terminal, excluding individuals accompanying minors or people with disabilities

One More Thing – No Children Allowed

This is a big one if you planned on taking the family to Israel on a tourist trip, particularly when it is likely that the country will be more tourist-free than normal. Because most countries have not cleared the vaccines for children under the age of 12, Israel will not let children under the age of 12 visit Israel. 

Furthermore, if you were vaccinated more than 6 months before the time you would depart from Israel, you are required to get a booster shot. Not all countries are giving booster shots yet so this is yet another thing that may keep people from traveling to Israel right now.

However, if you are able to travel there, you will probably find it one of the best times to tour the country (weather permitting) due to a lack of tourists. Yes, there are a lot of steps involved with a trip to Israel right now so it may be something you may want to wait for. Either way, I am glad to see countries reopening, especially countries that are used to welcoming tourists like Israel is.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

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