The Israeli passport is issued to nationals of Israel for international travel. It entitles the holder to the protection of the nation’s consular officials overseas. Israeli citizens are also allowed to apply for and carry foreign passports but it is the Israeli passport that should be used when entering or leaving the country. Israeli passports have a validity period of 10 years for bilingual persons older than 18.
Israeli passports are navy blue with the state’s coat of arms emblazoned on the front cover below the words “State of Israel” in both English and Hebrew. Below the coat of arms is the word “passport,” also in English and Hebrew. All information in the passport appears both in English and Hebrew. Bear in mind that because Hebrew is written from right to left, Israeli passports are opened from the right end. Their pages are also arranged from right to left. Generally, the passport contains 32 pages.
All information appears both in Hebrew and English. The information page ends with the Machine Readable Zone. Signature of Bearer is to follow on page 3.
Where to go? Where not to go?
Israel is definitely not the most diplomatic nation in the world. Thus, if you’re a globetrotter, you may find your Israeli passport a liability. Some countries do not allow any Israeli national or people carrying an Israeli passport to cross their borders. Some do not accept any passport with an Israeli visa stamp on it. Israel also prohibits its nationals to visit certain countries.
Countries not accepting Israeli passports:
Here are the countries that do not allow persons holding an Israeli passport to enter their territories.
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates (For more information on UAE, read The Guide to United Arab Emirates)
If you have an Israeli passport and you attempt to enter any of the countries listed above, you will find yourself dealing with their immigration officers. If you really need to visit any of these countries, you need to secure a permit from their government. For example, the Malaysian government requires a clearance permit from the Internal Security Ministry.
Note that some of them, like Iran, do not allow Israeli nationals to set foot on their territories under ANY circumstances. To know what these countries, contact the immigration office near you.
Countries not accepting passports containing Israeli visas or stamps:
In some countries, even if the passport you carry is not Israeli, you may still be denied entry if you have Israeli visas or stamps on it. This applies to the following:
- Saudi Arabia
These countries do not allow entry to people proven to have visited Israel. They also do not allow people with any foreign passport with used or unused Israeli visas. To overcome the problems that come with these policies, Israeli border guards will stamp a piece of paper rather than the passport.
Some countries are aware of these exit stamps in passports by Jordan and Egypt at their borders with Israel. They will treat these stamps as proof of visit to the Jewish nation and may block entry based on these stamps. For instance, you may be denied entry to any of the countries listed above because an Egyptian exit stamp is present in your passport indicating you left Egypt at the Israeli border. You may also be denied entry if you attempt to enter Syria from Jordan by land and if your passport doesn’t have any indication how you arrived in Jordan.
Note that this is not something shared by all Arab nations. Some Arab countries, such as Egypt, Oman, Jordan and United Arab Emirates, allow entry with Israeli passport stamps.
Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States may allow you to have two passports to circumvent the restraints regarding Israel if you can explain why you need a second passport when applying.
The Israeli law dictates that Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen are considered “enemy states” or “enemy countries.” If you’re an Israeli citizen, you are not allowed to visit any of these countries unless you have a special permit issued by Israel’s Ministry of Interior. Hence, if you visit this country, whether with an Israeli or a foreign passport, you may be prosecuted upon your return to Israel. Iran has been recently suggested as an addition to the list.
How to apply
Whether you are in Israel or in another country, you should apply for a passport months in advance of your departure to make sure you fill in the dates of your trip in the right place on the application. Generally, it takes about 25 working days for your passport application to be processed and delivered to you.
If you are living outside of Israel, contact the Israeli consulate or embassy nearest you for the complete list of requirements and the step-by-step process. Meanwhile, here are the documents they are likely to ask for:
- three (3) color passport-size recent photographs (facing front, 2” x 2”)
- an accomplished and signed passport application form
- your old passport (if any)
- application processing fee
Note that there are two types of forms available to obtain a passport. Ask for an “application for a new passport” form if you have never had an Israeli passport before or if the last passport you had was issued over 10 years ago. You can also apply over the Internet.
If your last passport is less than 10 years old, obtain an “application for passport renewal” form. Complete the form and submit it together with the same requirements listed above. This process cannot be done on the Internet. You may download an application form but you’ll have to print it out and submit it at the Immigration office or consulate.
- Lines are usually long at passport offices from January to July. To avoid the crowds and waiting times, you might want to apply through a nearby post office or clerk of court that accepts Israeli passport applications.
- Losing your passport can bring you a lot of worries and troubles. It is especially scary if is lost or stolen in a foreign country. To avoid all the hassles associated with it, it is important to carry your passport with you and keep it in a secure place. Better yet, make two photocopies of your passport’s photo ID page. Leave one copy at home with your family or with your friends. Keep the other copy buried in your checked luggage. This will help if you need your passport replaced.
- If you’re a former national of Israel with a foreign passport, you should have written proof that you have given up your Israeli identity or nationality. Otherwise, immigration officers may require you to get a new Israeli passport.
* If you want to be stress-free in traveling, you must learn how to travel light.