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Get in Israel

Posted by in on 6-10-13

Many countries have a Visa Waiver program with Israel which allows their citizens to visit Israel without a visa arranged in advance. Before embarking on a trip, visitors desiring to stop in Israel on their way to other destinations must check if they need a prearranged tourist visa. The list of countries below specifies from which countries tourists are required to present a prearranged visa. All Visa Waiver Program travelers must present a machine-readable passport at the port of entry in order to enter Israel without a prearranged visa; otherwise a visa is required. This applies to tourists arriving with a passage card from countries with a Waiver Program.

If you’re in Israel on a tourist visa (B2) and decide to renew your visa for a longer term, you may do so at the Ministry of the Interior Visa office. In Tel Aviv, it is located at 125 Derech Menachem Begin on the second floor. The office opens Su-W 08:00-12:00. Alternately, citizens from most European and North American countries can renew their visas by crossing into Jordan and returning to Israel at the Arava border crossing near Eilat, or by crossing into Egypt and returning to Israel at the Taba crossing.
By Plane

Israel’s main international airport is Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport (code IATA:TLV, ICAO: LLBG) which is approximately 40km from Jerusalem and 12 km from central Tel Aviv, and serves both cities. Ben Gurion acts as a hub for Israel’s three main international airlines, El Al Israel’s largest airline and flag carrier offering flights across the globe, Arkia Israel Airlines, Israel’s largest domestic airline that also serves a number of European destinations, and Israir that also serves many European destinations. Most American and European carriers have flights to Tel-Aviv, a full list of which can be found on the airport’s website.

Israel’s second international airport, which is used mostly by charter carriers, is located at Ovda, and serves the south of Israel, predominantly, Eilat (code: VDA)

Security measures above and beyond what you might encounter in most countries are taken for flights both to and from Israel. These measures are undertaken for your safety and security and the security of Israel. On arrival in Israel, as with all countries, passengers will be required to go through passport control, where it is possible that you will be pulled aside for additional questioning. If travelling as part of a group, questioning will be done individually. Foreign citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin may face additional, often time-consuming and probing questioning by immigration and border authorities, or may even be denied entry into Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza.

Upon departure from Israel, arriving at the terminal at least three hours before your flight is well advised, as Israeli security procedures can be time-consuming. Bag inspection, both by machine and hand, is routine and should be expected, in addition to an interview about your time in Israel. The interview is casual, as the security personnel just want to ensure that you are not a potential threat.

Transportation to and from the airport is very convenient. Visitors can access Ben-Gurion by bus, train, taxi, or Sheirut (shared taxi). Note that bus and train service are suspended from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Buses to all points in Israel receive passengers at Airport City, a location a few minutes from the airport. To access this bus stop, take the Line 5 Egged bus from the terminal to Airport City, also known as El Al Junction.

To get to:

Jerusalem by Bus: Take Egged line 947 or 950 (07:00-21:00, every 20 minutes, ₪20 to the Central Bus Station) or a Sheirut (shared taxi) (operates 24/7, ₪63 per passenger for door-to-door service). Be careful not to accidentally board the bus going to Haifa (947) or Netanya (950).

Train: Trains to Jerusalem are notoriously slow and inefficient, so you’re discouraged from using this option.

Tel Aviv:

Bus: Take Veolia line 475 to the Tel Aviv New Central Bus Station from El Al Junction until about 22:15. Veolia line 476 leaves at c. 21:30 and 22:50, stopping directly at Terminal 3′s bus platform instead, and also going to the Tel Aviv New Central Bus Station. Be careful not to board the buses going to Lod.

Train:Take the direct Tel-Aviv train (03:53-23:23, every half an hour during day, every hour during night, ₪14). From Tel-Aviv to other destinations, continue by train or bus.


Bus: Take the Line 947 Egged bus to access points north of the airport. The bus goes from the airport to Haifa, stopping at Petakh Tikvah, Ra’anana, Netanya, and Hadera. The ride to Haifa costs ₪37.50, and runs from 6:41-21:10.

Train: Take the direct train from Ben-Gurion Station to Haifa. There are three train stations in Haifa. The central bus station is Haifa HaShmona. A trip costs ₪39.50.

All other locations in Israel can be reached easily from these three cities.
By boat

It’s surprisingly difficult to travel to Israel by boat. The main route is from Limassol in Cyprus to Haifa, and the main operators are Louis Cruises [1] and Salamis Cruises [2]. As the name says, these are cruise services and they do not advertise one-way fares, but they may be willing to carry you for around €150-170 if you’re persistent and they have space — showing up at the port office on the day of departure may work. Both companies seem to start and stop cruises on short notice, so enquire locally.

If you manage to hitch a lift on a freighter, Israel’s major sea ports are Haifa and Ashdod. Private yachts use the marinas at Herzliya (north of Tel-Aviv), Ashkelon (South of Ashdod), Haifa and Tel Aviv.
By Road

There are five border crossings that can be reached by road. There are two on the Egyptian border and three on the Jordanian border. There are no border crossings accessible to tourists with either Syria or Lebanon. All border crossings have extensive security measures in place to ensure the safety of both Israelis and tourists.

Border Crossings with Jordan:

Allenby/King Hussein Bridge: Is located just north of the Dead Sea, in the center of the country. This crossing is the the shortest way between the capitals, Amman and Jerusalem, and is the busiest land crossing. The crossing is open Su-Th 08:00-00:00, and F-Sa 08:00-15:00. The crossing only closes for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.

Jordan River: This crossing is located just south of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias. The crossing is open from 6:30 – 21:00 Sunday through Thursday, and 8:00 – 20:00 Friday and Saturday. Entry into the crossing for processing will end at 19:00 on Fridays to ensure that the crossing closes on time. The crossing only closes for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Id al-Hijara, the Muslim New Year.[3]

Yitzhak Rabin: This crossing is located in the south, a few kilometers from Eilat. This crossing is used mostly by tourists visiting Petra, a day trip that is very much worth your time. It is highly recommended that any trip to Petra be with a tour bus, as crossing the border can be time consuming. The crossing is open from 6:00 – 20:00 Sunday through Thursday, and 8:00 – 20:00 Friday and Saturday. The crossing only closes for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.[4]

Border Crossings with Egypt:

Nitzhana: This crossing is located in the Negev, south of the Gaza Strip. The crossing is open from 8:30 – 16:30 Sunday through Thursday. The crossing is closed for most Jewish and Muslim holidays. Please check in advance if you intend to use this crossing.

Taba: This crossing is located just south of Eilat. The terminal is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the exception of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice. This is the preferred crossing if you intend to visit Egypt.

There is one border crossing with Gaza, the Karni crossing. However, before embarking on a journey to Gaza, be sure to make arrangements well in advance. The Israeli army patrols this crossing heavily, and exiting and entering Israel may be difficult and time consuming.

Israeli rental cars are not generally permitted across the borders for insurance reasons. In addition, it may not be advisable to travel in Arab countries while displaying an Israeli number plate.
By bus

See also: From Cairo to Jerusalem by bus

Daily direct buses are available from Amman to Tel Aviv, Haifa and Nazareth, via the King Hussein bridge. Call the operator (+972-4-6573984) for details. Otherwise, you can take a taxi from the north bus terminal in Amman (5JD each for four people sharing: if you don’t have a group, either wait for either people to arrive or pay 20JD and go yourself). After clearing Jordan customs, a separate JETT bus will take you across the border to Israeli customs for a small fee, then once past Israeli customs, a Palestinian bus company offers buses to Jericho and Ramallah. From Ramallah, a share taxi will take you to Jerusalem.

To get from Cairo to Israel by bus, or vice-versa, take a look at the From Cairo to Jerusalem by bus article.

If you have more money to spend, there are buses from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (US$95-110 one way) to Cairo, operated by Matzada tours (Tel 972-2-6235777) and Aviv tours (Tel 972-36041811). You still have to change buses at the border.

(Note: Use Matzada tours at your own risk! They subcontract the Egyptian side of the Journey and do little to nothing to help if there is any mix up. At least one Matzada group from Tel Aviv/Jerusalem reportedly was held at the Taba Border – Egyptian side for 7 hours due to the fact that the Israeli company failed to pay the Egyptian company.)

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