Planning your next vacation can require tons of research and paperwork. For example, do you want to travel to Israel in the new few months but have no idea how long you can legally stay? Is there a cut-off period for vacationers? What happens if you overstay your welcome?
Luckily, we've done plenty of research into this topic and have the answers below. The answers in this article are for entertainment purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have additional concerns, you can email the Israeli embassy in your country. Here's the link to the Israeli embassy in Washington.
And by the way, we researched the question from the perspective of an American visitor - if you're coming from a different country, other laws and regulations may apply.
According to Israel's official travel website, visitors from the USA can stay up to three months (90 days) in the country for their vacation. However, this timeline can also vary depending on your visa type and if you plan to work in the country during your stay.
Since tourist visas are the most common, you can plan for up to 90 days of legal vacationing, and anything longer will require additional paperwork and acceptance.
As we start this article, we will cover all things staying in Israel and discuss how long you can do this. Whether you have family abroad, want to visit various Israeli cities, or need extra help, we've got you covered. With that said, let's dive right into this post!
How Long Can A Tourist Stay In Israel?
If you want to go to Israel on vacation, expect to have a three-month limit. According to Visit Israel, visitors are entitled to remain in Israel for up to three months from their arrival date.
However, this timeline can vary depending on your visa and current travel restrictions. Therefore, you don't want to book a hotel or Airbnb for more than those 90 days.
Interestingly enough, Israel doesn't currently stamp passports at airports or most land crossings. So, if you're going on to another Arab country, you might want to request that an Israeli stamp not appear on your passport.
You also want to remember that at any time during your stay in Israel, an official inspector or police officer can request identification from you to check your tourist/residence status.
If you aren't willing or able to show your documentation, there's a chance you'll be deported from the country. So, to be safe, we recommend always having your passport in a safe, easily accessible place.
You may even want to take a picture of this documentation if someone stops you.
What Happens If You Overstay Your Visa In Israel?
Since Israel has strict visa laws, you don't want to try and cheat the system. Suppose you're at the 90-day mark on your vacation and don't have a flight scheduled home yet.
In the event someone checks up on your status, you face immediate deportation and arrest. According to law experts, illegal residence in Israel (past three months) can result in future refusal to permit entrance to Israel.
So, even if you want to try and test your luck, this could end badly for you. On top of that, Israel may approve an extension to your tourist visa, depending on the current magnitude of visitors and global travel conditions.
However, if you can stay in Israel longer than 90 days for travel, don't expect to be allowed to work there. The B/2 tourist visa they often offer to longer-staying guests doesn't permit work.
In addition, the country's government website mentions that in "exceptional cases," you may be able to extend your travel. The best way to check if that applies to you is to visit one of the open bureaus in your current city.
A good example of this would be if your family member becomes ill or something devastating happens while you're traveling through Israel.
Is It Hard To Get A Tourist Visa To Israel From The US?
In general, getting a tourist visa to Israel from the United States won't be too difficult. Since we have a good relationship with the Israeli government, getting to and from the country should not be difficult.
You want to submit your application at the Israeli embassy or consulate in your country of residence before traveling to Israel. Many visa-processing centers in the US work with the Israeli government, so you may be able to do this locally.
Furthermore, this entire visa application and approval should take 20 business days. From the time your visa is issued, you have 90 days to enter and exit the country.
As we said, you want to avoid being in Israel past your three-month threshold. If you stay longer than your visa allows, this can result in fines, detention, and deportation.
You might even be barred from ever entering the country again.
Most visa-issuing agencies recommend reaching out to schedule an appointment four weeks before your planned travel departure. You may be able to expedite the request, but this can be iffy.
Do US Citizens Need A Visa To Visit Israel?
When it comes to what US citizens need to visit Israel, the most common situation is having a passport valid for at least six months longer than your arrival date in the country.
Generally, tourists from the United States will receive a free 90-day travel visa once they arrive in Israel. For stays up to three months in the country, you don't usually need a special visa or complex paperwork (as long as your passport checks out).
However, if your passport expires within six months of your arrival to Israel, you'll need to apply for an official tourist visa or renew your passport early. This same guideline applies to Canadian residents.
As we said before, Israel doesn't usually stamp passports for arriving tourists. This is done for your safety when moving through the middle east.
However, knowing exactly what day you arrived and when you needed to depart can be more challenging. We recommend keeping a personal calendar with these dates.
The last thing you want to do is accidentally overstay your visa and be barred from future entry.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Passport?
If you need a passport before traveling to Israel, expect to spend around $150. According to Passports and Visas, here are the following prices for passports:
- New adult passport book - $130 (standard shipping)
- New adult passport card - $30 (standard shipping)
- Both book and card - $160 (standard shipping)
And if you need to renew your passport in compliance with Israeli law,
- US passport renewal book - $130 (standard shipping)
- Both book renewal and passport card - $160 (standard shipping)
It's also worth noting that these are all prices for standard shipping plus the passport book or card. If you are in a rush, you'll need to pay extra for faster shipment.
For example, if you need a new adult passport book in 4-6 weeks instead of the regular eight, expect to spend closer to $190. The same applies to even faster shipping (within a week) which could be as much as $220.
Unfortunately, the only way to spend less money on passports is to wait long periods for them. Luckily, the standard shipping times should be fine if you plan your trip far enough in advance.
We recommend getting your new or renewed passport 90 days early to be safe. You also want to remember that depending on the time of year, standard shipping may take shorter than eight weeks, or vice versa.
Do Minors Have To Pay For A Passport?
Yes. Even if you have a minor traveling with you, they'll need to apply and pay for their passport. According to official travel protocols, you should expect to spend $100 for your minor application fee and a $35 acceptance charge.
For a passport card, you will pay around $15 for a minor application, paired with a $35 acceptance fee. If you need a book and card, your total application price will be close to $115, plus a $35 acceptance fee.
So, a common theme here is that regardless of what passport you need, you'll pay two fees: one for the application and another for the acceptance.
Minors need to go into a verified passport issuer to get their photo taken and book/card issued, so that's another detail to remember.
Furthermore, the US considers those younger than 16 to be minors. So, if you or someone traveling to Israel with you is 16+, they'll pay as adults.
Think of this as if the applicant can get a driver's license; they'll need to follow adult passport protocols.
What If I Want To Work In Israel During My Trip?
If you plan to work while vacationing in Israel, you'll need to apply for a B1 visa. These allow you to make money while in Israel and require additional paperwork, vetting, and fees.
Remember, for regular free 90-day tourist visas, you cannot get a job and make money in the country. This is standard for most global traveling, as it wouldn't be fair to those seeking employment in the given territory.
On top of that, law experts also point out that tourists with current 90-day travel visas cannot switch theirs to a B1. Working in Israel requires a valid work permit, so even if you try and apply for a job anyways: that company cannot legally employ you.
However, if you're a US citizen and want to continue to work for your company abroad, this should be fine.
To Wrap It All Up
Whether you have a trip planned to Israel or are curious about going to the country, it's always good to have your paperwork in order. We found that you can legally stay in Israel for up to three months with a standard tourist visa.
Furthermore, if your passport doesn't expire in the next six months from the date you arrive in Israel, you may not need to file for a visa.
Regardless, we recommend submitting any applications for your visa at least one month before taking off and getting your passport at least 90 days ahead.
While you're here, check out these related travel articles!