Israel Travel Visa Issues: What Travelers Need to Know

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An Israeli visa stamped in your passport may affect your future travels to certain countries. Here's what you can do and what you need to know.

Old Jaffa streets, Tel Aviv, Israel Photo © Getty Images/Nick Brundle Photography

Due to ongoing tensions between Israel and its neighbours, travelers must be very careful when presenting their passport to enter or leave Israel.

Will I get my passport stamped on entry to Israel?

A few years ago, Israel stopped stamping passports of visiting travelers. To make things easier for travelers to Israel, they now issues slips with stickers on them for you to keep in between the pages of your passport. Keep this on you at all times, until you leave the country.

However, if you are working in Israel, they will issue a stamp on your passport.

What's the deal?

There is a huge issue with passport stamps from Israel, as some countries block passports containing stamps or visas from the country. Of course, the countries that have issues with the Israeli stamp are their enemies.

These countries include Afghanistan, Iran (but only if your visit was more than 6 months prior), Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Be aware of land border stamps

Be aware that the countries listed above will also search for Jordanian or Egyptian exit stamps from land borders with Israel, and will likewise prohibit your entry if they find one. 

Stamps from other Arab countries

Likewise Israeli immigration may take a dim view of travelers arriving from Arab countries that are their enemies, but you are unlikely to face anything worse than very time-consuming, repetitive questioning. Occasionally, customs officers may get a bit abrasive and strict, however this is rare.

Depending on the situation, if you have stamps from other Arab countries in your passport, you should expect to be taken to one side (without any explanation) and eventually questioned.

This usually takes around 10 minutes, very rarely does it take an hour or more.

Your bags will be thoroughly searched on arrival and on departure.

But the key thing to remember is if you have nothing to hide, then, other than the inconvenience of questioning, you should have nothing to be worried about.

Think of it as all part of the experience of traveling in this complex region.

If you are a young backpacker, especially if you travel alone, it is much more likely you will be detained for questioning in Tel Aviv airport.

There is a 'selection committee' of 2 security guards waiting when you go up the escalators from your flight, and if you seem suspicious they will not hesitate to stop you.

If you dress nicely, try to act like you are part of another group or a family, they are less likely to bother you.

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