Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens
The general entry and exit requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are listed below. The U.S. government seeks equal treatment and freedom to travel for all U.S. citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity. U.S. citizens who encounter difficulties are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem by e-mail or at the numbers above. However, Israeli-American nationals are treated as Israelis at the port of entry and U.S. citizens who may be Palestinian Authority (PA) dual nationals are treated as PA nationals at the port of entry.
Security Screening: U.S. citizens are advised that all persons entering or departing Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza are subject to security screening and may be denied entry or exit without explanation. U.S. citizen visitors have been subjected to prolonged questioning and physical searches and have been denied access to consular officers, lawyers, and family members.
Despite the legality of missionary activities, the Ministry of Interior has cited proselytism as a reason to deny entry into Israel. Members of religious groups have been monitored, arrested, and deported based on complaints that they have engaged in unauthorized missionary work. U.S. citizens suspected of being participants in planned protest activities are also frequently denied entry.
Anyone indicating at a port of entry that he or she has connections to the West Bank or plans to travel to the West Bank may be given an entry stamp that permits travel only in the West Bank. This stamp does not permit such travelers to enter Jerusalem or Israel. Travelers who have received such a stamp may file an appeal with the Israeli military's district coordination offices in the West Bank, but appeals are rarely approved.
Those with extensive travel to Muslim countries or U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin may also face additional questioning by immigration and border authorities, particularly if they ask that Israeli stamps not be entered into their passport. U.S. citizens of similar background who are suspected of wishing to enter those areas deemed prohibited to them by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) are requested by the MOI to sign a standard agreement. This agreement stipulates that they will refrain from entering those prohibited areas.
Video cameras and other electronic items must be declared upon entry to Israel. Travelers carrying such audio-visual or data storage/processing equipment report additional security-related delays, and some have had their laptop computers and other electronic equipment searched at Ben Gurion Airport. While most items are returned prior to the traveler's departure, some equipment has been retained by the authorities for lengthy periods and has reportedly been damaged, destroyed, lost, or never returned. U.S. citizens who have had personal property damaged due to security procedures at Ben Gurion may contact the Commissioner for Public Complaints at the airport for redress by fax to 972-3-9752387. Israeli security officials have also on occasion requested access to travelers' personal e-mail accounts or other social media accounts as a condition of entry. In such circumstances, travelers should have no expectation of privacy for any data stored on such devices or in their accounts. Audio-visual/IT equipment may also be confiscated for security reasons. Such property will not be returned to the traveler. There is no redress for such confiscations.
U.S. citizens who feel they have been wrongly denied entry to Israel or the West Bank or have been treated unfairly may contact the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem or the ACS unit of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Israeli-Americans: Israeli citizens naturalized in the United States retain their Israeli citizenship, and children born in the United States to Israeli parents usually acquire both U.S. and Israeli nationality at birth. Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, must enter and depart Israel on their Israeli passports.
Dual nationals who don't have an Israeli passport, including infants, may be required to obtain an Israeli passport in order to leave the country. Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, are subject to Israeli laws requiring service in Israel's armed forces, as well as other laws pertaining to passports and nationality. Israeli-American dual nationals of military age, including females, who do not wish to serve in the Israeli armed forces should contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., to learn more about an exemption or deferment from Israeli military service. They should obtain written confirmation of military service exemption or deferment before traveling to Israel. Without this exemption or deferment document, such dual nationals may not be able to depart Israel without completing military service or may be subject to criminal penalties for failure to serve.
Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, are currently not permitted to enter Gaza and are generally restricted from traveling to parts of the West Bank under PA control ("Area A"). Contact the Israeli Ministry of Interior or your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for more information on dual citizenship, passport requirements, and travel restrictions for Israeli citizens.
Palestinian-Americans: PA ID holders, as well as persons believed to have claim to a PA ID by virtue of ancestry, will be treated for immigration purposes as residents of the West Bank and Gaza, regardless of whether they also hold U.S. citizenship. Israeli authorities consider anyone who was born in the West Bank or Gaza or who has parents or grandparents who were born or lived in the West Bank or Gaza as having a claim to a PA ID.
PA nationals, including dual nationals, are required to enter the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan (also known as King Hussein Bridge) using a PA travel document, rather than via Ben Gurion International Airport, unless they have obtained advance permission from an Israeli embassy or consulate on humanitarian or emergency grounds. Even if they were permitted one-time entry via Ben Gurion Airport, these individuals are required to depart via the Allenby Bridge. Upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, such persons may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from where they will be required to depart. Many PA nationals seeking to enter via Ben Gurion have been sent back to the United States upon arrival. Others have been allowed to enter Israel but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result, and other travelers have forfeited expensive airline tickets.
PA dual nationals may depart at the Allenby crossing between Jordan and the West Bank using a PA identity card and a PA exit permit, provided they have a Jordanian visa in their U.S. passport. Such individuals may also re-enter from Jordan using a Palestinian ID card and a valid U.S. passport if that is how they departed. If they departed using a PA passport they are expected to return using a PA passport, as well.
Palestininan-American residents of Jerusalem are normally required to use laissez-passers (travel documents issued by the Israeli government) that contain re-entry permits approved by the Israeli Ministry of Interior for any out-of-country travel. U.S. citizen residents of East Jerusalem who hold blue Israeli ID cards may have this Ministry of Interior re-entry stamp placed in their U.S. passports for travel in and out of Israel.All U.S. citizens must enter and exit the United States on their U.S. passports. Jerusalem ID holders who hold residency or citizenship elsewhere may encounter problems retaining their Jerusalem residence status.
Palestinian Americans whom the Government of Israel considers residents of the West Bank or Gaza are subject to the same restrictions on movements between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza and within the West Bank and Gaza as those imposed by Israel on PA residents. During periods of heightened security concern, these travel restrictions can be onerous.
Entering Israel: For non-dual nationals an onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required for entry. Although the Israeli government does not require that a passport be valid for six months from the date of entry, airlines routinely do so and may decline boarding if a traveler has less than six months' validity on his or her passport. Travelers normally receive a free, three-month tourist visa upon arrival in Israel, which may be extended. Travelers carrying official or diplomatic U.S. passports must obtain visas from an Israeli embassy or consulate prior to arrival.
Anyone who has previously been refused entry, has experienced difficulties with his/her status during a previous visit, has overstayed the authorized duration of a previous visit, or otherwise has violated the terms of a previous admission to Israel should consult the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate before attempting to return. Such immigration violations may incur a 10-year bar to re-entry to Israel.
Anyone seeking returning resident status must obtain permission from Israeli authorities before traveling. The Government of Israel at times has declined to admit U.S. citizens wishing to visit, work, or travel to the West Bank or Gaza whom they suspect of being intending immigrants there. Persons denied entry have the right to an immigration court hearing to contest the denials, but they will likely be detained for the duration of the proceedings.
Entering the Gaza Strip: The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip, including by sea. U.S. citizens in Gaza are advised to depart immediately. Gaza is currently under the control of Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Moreover, U.S. consular officials cannot enter the Gaza Strip, so our ability to offer timely assistance to U.S. citizens there, including routine consular services, is extremely limited.
Entering Gaza via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt generally requires prior coordination with local authorities -- which could take days or weeks to process. Travelers who enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing from Egypt must exit the same way. Such travelers will not be permitted to pass through the Erez crossing into Israel except in situations of extreme humanitarian need. U.S. passport holders who also possess Israeli passports are prohibited from entering Gaza by the Government of Israel.
Travelers entering the Gaza Strip may not be able to depart at a time of their choosing. Crossing points may be closed for days or weeks. Those attempting to enter by sea may be forcibly diverted to an Israeli military port and placed in detention until deportation from Israel can be arranged. Private vehicles cannot cross the border in either direction. See the latest Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information on the threats to safety in the Gaza Strip. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem for updated guidance before attempting to enter Gaza.
Entering the West Bank: While travel to Bethlehem and Jericho is unrestricted for U.S. government personnel, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to other parts of the West Bank. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for the latest information concerning travel to the West Bank.
Israel-Jordan Crossings: The international crossing points between Israel and Jordan are the Arava crossing (Wadi al-'Arabah) in the south, near Eilat; and the Jordan River crossing (Sheikh Hussein Bridge) in the north, near Beit Shean. American citizens using these two crossing points need not obtain prior visas to enter either Israel or Jordan, but they will be required to pay entry fees, which are subject to change.
Allenby Bridge (King Hussein Bridge): The Government of Israel requires that Palestinian-Americans with residency status in the West Bank enter Jordan via the Allenby Bridge. For detailed information, please refer to the Consulate General's web site. U.S. passport holders require visas in advance to cross the Allenby Bridge between Jordan and the West Bank. Persons with residency status in Gaza seeking to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan should contact the Jordanian authorities for information concerning special clearance procedures for PA ID holders before traveling to the bridge. U.S. passport holders who also possess Israeli passports are prohibited from using the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge crossing, unless as part of an official delegation or with special permission from the Israeli authorities.
Procedures for all three crossings into Jordan are subject to frequent changes. Visit the Embassy of Israel web site for the most current visa information.
The Israeli Ministry of Health imposes some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to and foreign residents of Israel, and the Ministry of Health reserves the right to deny entry to visitors who declare their status. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Israel before you travel.