There is a lot of confusion out there about what it actually means to have a passport stamp from Israel in your passport. Well, what it means is that you can not visit any of the countries in the following list with the same passport:
There are also unverified rumors about the same problems for these countries:
- Saudi Arabia
How to avoid getting the Israel passport stamp
This is actually really easy, at least if you travel by airplane. When arriving at the airport passport control you just kindly ask to get the stamp on a separate paper, which he or she in most cases will grant you. The guard will then ask you to fill in a form (17L) and then you will get the stamp on that form. Keep this form as you need to leave it back when exiting the country. You will also get a stamp on another paper that the next controllant will take back as proof of that you passed the passport control.
In my case there was some interesting misunderstanding which led to me only getting one paper and giving that paper away just 30 seconds later. This meant I had to travel through Israel & Palestine without any Israel stamp whatsoever, which was interesting but not impossible.
Also it’s easy to forget to ask about the stamp after the long interrogation/interview from the border guard (which consist of a bunch of stupid questions and provocations about the situation in Palestine) is finally over.
What happens if I travel by land and get an exit/entry stamp to a neighbor country?
Most people say this is not a problem but there are definitely reported situations where people got denied to enter some of the countries in the list above because they had border stamps from for example the border to Jordan.
Do you need a visa to enter Israel?
Most nationalities are free to travel to Israel without a visa and to stay for up to 3 months. Be aware that you might need to prove that you have a return ticket out from Israel, as well as enough money (or payment card) to cover your travel costs. As always you need a passport that are valid at least 6 months AFTER your EXIT from Israel.
How is the airport security to/from Israel?
Always calculate with at least 1½ hour of questioning from the security personnel at the airport. That is, if you usually come to the airport 1 hour in advance, this time make it 2½ hours. For me, as a single traveler without any booked hotels or fixed plans the risk of being singled out in the security is bigger. The normal questioning to/from Israel is about 30 minutes including unpacking your bag and you packing it again, but for me it took 1½ hour both ways. The security check always include molecule tests of your bag and sometimes also of your clothes together with a forced striptease. In the end I was not allowed any carry on board luggage to Israel, including my throat candy that I was forced to send.
If you have electronics you will be forced to start them to show that they are working (and are not a bomb). This means that if some of your electronics are out of battery there is a big risk that you will have to wait while the security men charge your batteries to be able to test the product. I am curious what happens if you have no charger, anybody had this problem?
It is possible that you will have to pay VAT for expensive electronics like video cameras and computers when you enter Israel. Keep the receipt as you will only get the money back when leaving the country if you still have the receipt.
What do I do if I get the Israel passport stamp anyway?
Well, as long as you don’t travel to any of the countries in the list above there is no problem. But if you have plans to go to any of those countries or if you want to be able to improvise your travels 100% you need to loose your passport and apply for a new one. I have also heard about the idea to put a visa paper (from another country) on top of the stamp, covering it, but it’s unclear how well this tactic works.
Is there also a problem entering Israel with stamps from certain countries?
This is a common misunderstanding but there are NO passport stamps that could get you refused to enter Israel. There will be extra questioning and mistrust if you have for example a stamp from Egypt, but they will not refuse you to enter the country.
Always when traveling
Check other sources just to be sure you always have the most updated information, and contact the embassy/consulate with questions.