Due to the recent launch of our Israel and Palestine tour we’ve received various enquiries regarding entry to Israel, passport stamps, and how a visit to Israel affects your travel to other countries in the Middle East. In today’s article, we’re going to answer all of these questions.
Will I get an Israeli passport stamp?
We have bad news for stamp collectors and good news for those who want to tick off every country in the Middle East: there is no longer an Israeli passport stamp!
Upon entering Israel you are issued with an entry permit on a shiny piece of paper. You are to keep hold of this until you leave the country where you will have the chance to keep it as a souvenir. Thus, there will be no evidence in your passport of visiting Israel and therefore no problems when you enter any other countries in the Middle East.
When you leave Israel, you will have a yellow barcode sticker placed on your passport. Ranging from one to six, the first number on the sticker indicates your perceived threat level to the airport security. Foreigners automatically get 5.
Ben Gurion airport is regarded as the safest on earth, so don’t be offended by this as they’re doing their job in a heavily targetted part of the world. Once you’ve left Israel, it’s a good idea to remove the sticker as an eagle-eyed border agent in another Middle Eastern country may spot it and prove you’ve been to Israel, thus denying you entry.
Do Arab stamps cause a problem entering Israel?
There’s a myth that Israel bans entry to people with passport stamps from countries who ban entry to those with Israeli passport stamps. You can expect some questions when you enter Israel regarding the nature of your visit to those countries, but many people conduct business across the Middle East, and increasingly, people are backpacking or travelling across the region, so it is not uncommon, and not in any way in itself, a problem when entering Israel.
Is Israeli airport security as bad as they say?
Whilst the situation in Israel has improved massively since the noughties, security at Ben Gurion airport remains some of the highest in the world. During my first visit to Israel, I dreaded the airport due to the rumours I’d head.
On arrival, I was questioned politely by a female security officer who was curious as to my purpose of visit. But I’ve faced far worse in other countries. The Israeli security staff are polite if you’re polite to them.
Always remember, they have a job to do and they’re there all day. You have a plane to catch. If you get annoyed or treat them badly because of the inconvenience of a security check, they can most definitely mess with your happiness.
Entering Israel via land:
Whilst the new disposable visa feature is mandatory at Ben Gurion airport, this does not apply to entry into Israel via land border crossings with Egypt and Jordan which in most cases will result in a passport stamp being placed in your passport either by Israel or Jordanian / Egyptian border officials. All of which will constitute proof of visiting Israel and cause significant problems when trying to enter most other Middle Eastern countries.
Increased attention based on profiling:
Unfortunately, due to the prolonged conflict that has defined Israel for decades. Travellers from an Arab, Middle Eastern or Muslim background can expect to receive increased attention from the Israeli authorities at the airport. Even if have a western passport but you have an Arabic or Islamic sounding name, you can expect to be subjected to questioning by immigration officers and a search of your self and your belongings. There are a large number of reports by passengers who have been deported and refused entry to Israel after being subjected to interrogations and held in confinement without any explanation being provided or access given to consular authorities.
Reports have recently been made of immigration authorities demanding access to some travellers’ email and Facebook accounts. So ensure your social media presence is clean of political material relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
We hope this article has cleared up some common misconceptions about entering the State of Israel. To visit this fascinating and divided land, sign up for our Israel and Palestine tour
Running this November that’s guaranteed to be an action-packed, unforgettable journey.
Get in touch with us for more details here!