Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza International Travel Information

International Travel

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Israel, The West Bank and Gaza

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza
Reconsider Travel to Israel due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

Reconsider Travel to Israel due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

Do not travel to the West Bank due to COVID-19, travel restrictions and quarantine procedures instituted by the Palestinian Authority. Exercise increased caution when traveling to the West Bank due to terrorism and civil unrest. Do not travel to Gaza due to COVID-19, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.

Some areas have increased risk. Read the county information page and this entire Travel Advisory.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.    

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Israel due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Israel. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for the West Bank due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in the West Bank.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Gaza due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Gaza.  

Terrorist groups and lone-wolf terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza without warning. There has been a marked increase in demonstrations throughout Israel, some with little or no warning.  

West Bank: U.S. government travel throughout the West Bank is extremely limited. Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas

Gaza:  The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Gaza as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling there and are restricted from traveling close to the Gaza demarcation line. Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization, controls the security infrastructure in Gaza. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile. Sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses may occur at any time. During periods of unrest or armed conflict, the crossings between Gaza with Israel and Egypt may be closed.

Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas.

If you decide to travel to Israel and/or the West Bank:

  • See the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page.  
  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.  
  • Have a plan to depart Israel and the West Bank, which does not rely on U.S. government assistance.
  • Carry additional supplies of necessary medication in carry-on luggage due to quarantine restrictions. 
  • Check the most recent Alerts at the Embassy website for the latest information on travel in all of these areas. 
  • Maintain a high degree of situational awareness and exercise caution at all times, especially at checkpoints and other areas with a significant presence of security forces.
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials.
  • Beware of and report suspicious activities, including unattended items, to local police.
  • Learn the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened shelter. Download the Home Front Command Red Alert application for mobile devices to receive real time alerts for rocket attacks.  
  • Obtain comprehensive travel medical insurance that includes medical evacuation prior to travel. Most travel insurance packages do not cover mental health related illnesses/care. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Report for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. 
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update:  Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.  

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


No minimum requirement, but your authorized stay will not exceed the validity remaining on your passport and airlines may decline boarding if a traveler has fewer than six months validity on his or her passport.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page (although passports are normally not stamped upon entry).

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Not required for stays of 90 days or fewer. Please see below for detailed information about entry, exit and visa requirements.

VACCINATIONS:


None.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


You must declare if you are carrying 50,000 shekels or more when entering or exiting Israel by air and 12,000 shekels if entering or exiting by land.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


You must declare if you are carrying 50,000 shekels or more when entering or existing Israel by air and 12,000 shekels if entering or exiting by land.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
14 David Flusser Street
Jerusalem 93392
Telephone:
 + (972) (2) 630-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (972) (3) 519-7551
Fax: + (972) (2) 630-4070
Email: JerusalemACS@state.gov

Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem for information and assistance in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.


U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Branch
71 HaYarkon Street
Tel Aviv Israel 63903
Telephone:
 + (972) (3) 519-7575
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (972) (3) 519-7551
Fax: + (972) (3) 516-4390, or 516-0315
Email: TelAvivACS@state.gov

Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv for information and assistance elsewhere in Israel, and the northern (Sheikh Hussein) and southern (Yitzhak Rabin) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt.

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Israel Fact Sheet for information on U.S.–Israel relations. Please read the Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Travel Advisory for additional information.

In 1994, negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), a body that administers a limited form of Palestinian self-governance in Areas A and B of the West Bank. In the West Bank, there is a division of security-related and civil administration responsibilities between the Government of Israel and the PA, differing by location. The PA administers civil and security control in Area A, the PA administers civil control while Israel provides security control for Area B, and Israel has full civil and security control of Area C (although the PA operates some health and education facilities there). Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, violently took control of Gaza in 2007 and exercises de facto control there.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

United States citizens traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should read this section in its entirety to be aware of the complexities regarding entry, exit, and permission to stay in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza

  • The Government of Israel administers immigration and security controls at its international land crossings with Jordan into the West Bank and Israel, with Egypt, and at Israel’s airports and seaports. A separate network of security checkpoints and crossings operated by Israeli authorities regulates the movement of people and goods between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Palestinian identification (ID) card holders and U.S. citizens with only U.S. citizenship who are married to Palestinian ID card holders may be required to obtain a permit from Israeli authorities to travel between the West Bank or Gaza and Israel, though the issuance of a permit is not guaranteed. Detailed information regarding Government of Israel-controlled crossings and borders is available from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority exercises security and civil control in Area A and civil control in Area B; Israel exercises security control in Area B and security and civil control in Area C. In Gaza, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas operate internal checkpoints that may restrict the movement of individuals, including U.S. citizens, and regulate entry and exit from Gaza. Hamas and Egyptian authorities regulate exits from Gaza into Egypt.
  • All persons seeking to enter or depart Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza are subject to immigration and security screening, possibly including prolonged questioning and physical searches, and may be denied entry or exit. Persons who are denied entry have the right to an immigration court hearing to contest the denial, but they may be detained for the duration of the proceedings. 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 are denied entry into Israel or the West Bank should receive a written explanation from Israeli authorities. Some U.S. citizens of Arab or Muslim heritage (including Palestinian-Americans) have experienced significant difficulties and unequal and occasionally hostile treatment at Israel’s borders and checkpoints. U.S. citizens who have traveled to Muslim countries or who are of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin may face additional questioning by immigration and border authorities. U.S. citizens should immediately report treatment by border officials that they believe is discriminatory or hostile to the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem (JerusalemACS@state.gov), or the ACS unit of the Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv (TelAvivACS@state.gov). Individuals registered in the Palestinian Authority population registry, including those whom Israeli authorities believe may have a claim to a Palestinian ID card, are prohibited from entering Israel without advance permission, regardless of other nationality, including U.S. citizenship, or place of residence. These individuals are permitted to enter the West Bank, but are required to enter and depart through the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, using either a valid Palestinian Authority (PA) passport without an exit permit or a PA ID card together with an exit permit. Such individuals may also re-enter the West Bank from Jordan using a PA ID card and a valid U.S. passport, if that is how they departed. If they departed the West Bank using a PA passport they are expected to return using a PA passport. Individuals may apply for a permit to enter Israel via Ben Gurion Airport prior to travel at an Israeli embassy or consulate abroad, though the traveler may be required to depart the West Bank via the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge into Jordan. The restrictions above may apply even if an individual is not aware of being listed on the PA population registry, does not possess a Palestinian ID card, and does not desire such status.

Upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, U.S. citizens traveling to the West Bank may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from what location they will be required to depart. Some have been allowed to enter Israel but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion Airport without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result, and other travelers have forfeited airline tickets.

  • U.S. citizen residents of Jerusalem who hold permanent residency permit cards (colloquially known as “Jerusalem ID”) 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 travel via any border crossing except the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge. Additionally, they may have the Ministry of Interior re-entry stamp placed in their U.S. passports for travel in and out of Israel. Jerusalem permanent residents who hold residency or citizenship elsewhere may encounter problems retaining their Jerusalem residence status. U.S. citizens who are also Jerusalem permanent residents seeking returning resident status must obtain permission from Israeli authorities before traveling leaving Israel or before traveling to Israel.
  • If a dual national Palestinian-American marries outside of the West Bank, he/she must update their marital status in the PA population registry before their arrival. U.S. citizens who do not possess other nationality but are married to dual national Palestinian-Americans have been denied entry when information for their spouse has not been updated prior to travel.
  • Individuals with Israeli citizenship, regardless of other nationality, including U.S. citizenship, must enter and depart Israel using their Israeli passports. Israeli citizens are prohibited from using the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge crossing, unless as part of an official delegation or with special permission from the Israeli and Jordanian authorities. They must cross to and from Jordan at the Yitzhak Rabin/Wadi Araba crossing in the south near Eilat or the Jordan River crossing/Sheikh Hussein Bridge in the north near Beit She’an. They are also prohibited from entering Gaza and are generally prohibited from traveling to parts of the West Bank under PA control (Area A), to include Bethlehem and Jericho. Individuals holding only U.S. citizenship are not prohibited from using any of the crossings into Jordan.
  • Israeli citizens naturalized in the United States retain their Israeli citizenship (unless they formally renounce it), and children born in the United States to Israeli parents usually acquire both U.S. and Israeli nationality at birth. U.S.-Israeli citizens of military age, including females, who do not wish to serve in the Israeli armed forces should contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC 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. Dual U.S.-Israeli citizens of military age who have not completed Israeli military service may be prohibited from departing Israel until service is completed or other arrangements have been made. These individuals may be subject to criminal penalties, including military imprisonment, for failure to serve.

Additional Entry/Exit Requirements:

  • The Israeli Ministry of Interior has continued to deny entry into the country of some foreign nationals (including U.S. citizens) affiliated with certain political and non-governmental organizations that the Government of Israel views as anti-Israel. Participation in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)-related activities is one of the considerations Israeli authorities at ports of entry take into account when deciding whether to refuse entry to individuals into Israel and the West Bank. U.S. citizens have been denied entry to Israel and the West Bank for involvement in and/or expressing support on social media for the BDS movement.
  • Israeli authorities require some foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, to sign declarations stating their understanding that “all relevant legal actions” would be taken against them, “including deportation and denial of entry into Israel for a period of up to ten years,” if they traveled through the country to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas without appropriate authorization.
  • Individuals entering Israel and/or the West Bank with family, professional, or political connections inside the West Bank may receive an entry stamp that permits travel only in the West Bank. This stamp does not permit the bearer to enter Israel. Travelers who have received such a stamp may file an appeal with the Government of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office at Beit El. However, appeals seldom result in changes to this entry stamp. The relationship between the stamp and visa extensions is discussed below.
  • U.S. citizens whose stay is restricted to the West Bank or Gaza may experience delays in accessing in-person routine and emergency consular services from the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or the Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv. Such individuals are required to obtain a permit from COGAT to visit either of these locations. In the case of U.S. citizens in Gaza, permits for consular services are rarely granted. U.S. consular officials periodically travel to the West Bank and the Erez crossing with Gaza to assist U.S. citizens. Contact the ACS unit at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem for additional information.
  • Those wishing to perform volunteer work in the West Bank should apply for an Israeli visa through their sponsoring organization. The sponsoring organization works with the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Israeli Civil Administration Office (COGAT/CIVAD) to obtain the necessary approvals and visas. U.S. citizens who have previously been denied entry to Israel or the West Bank or had other legal issues there are advised to provide this information to the Israeli authorities during their visa application. Volunteers who arrive without the correct visa may be denied entry and returned to their point of origin or given a limited visa.
  • U.S. citizens suspected of wishing to enter areas prohibited to them by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) may be required to sign an agreement stipulating that they will refrain from entering those areas.
  • Please consult the Israel Tax Authority for items that must be declared upon entry into Israel. Carrying audio-visual or data storage/processing equipment may lead to additional security-related delays, and some travelers 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 confiscated and reportedly been damaged, destroyed, lost, or never returned. U.S. citizens who have had personal property damaged due to security procedures at Ben Gurion Airport may contact the Commissioner for Public Complaints. There is no redress for confiscations.
  • 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.
  • 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 traveling.

Additional Information for Non-Dual Nationals:

  • Although the Government of Israel does not require that a passport be valid for six months from the date of entry, airlines routinely do, and may decline boarding if a traveler has fewer 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. Israel does not routinely stamp passports with an entry stamp, and instead provides all travelers with an entry card, although they reserve the right to stamp the passport. All travelers should retain this entry card throughout the duration of their stay in Israel as proof of lawful entry; the entry card is often requested at hotels and car rental companies. Although not required for exit, travelers are advised to keep their entry card with them to avoid delays when departing Israel. Travelers carrying official, service, or diplomatic U.S. passports must obtain visas from an Israeli embassy or consulate prior to arrival.
  • Anyone who has previously been refused entry, experienced difficulties with his/her status during a previous visit, overstayed the authorized duration of a previous visit, or otherwise 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 multi-year bar on re-entering Israel.
  • The Government of Israel may deny entry to U.S. citizens wishing to visit, work, or travel to the West Bank or Gaza whom they suspect may intend to immigrate.

Additional Information on Extending Israeli Visas for Residents of the West Bank:

  • Single-nationality U.S citizens living, studying, and working in the West Bank may face difficulties renewing their visas, even if they received unrestricted visas upon arrival in Israel or the West Bank.
  • Those who do not have family connections to Palestinian nationals may apply for a visa extension without travel restrictions directly to the COGAT office at Beit El.
  • Dual-nationality derivative Palestinian nationals and spouses of Palestinian nationals commonly receive visa extensions/stamps bearing the restriction limiting their travel to within the West Bank. U.S. citizens who receive this restriction must obtain permits from the Israeli authorities to enter Israel. These travelers should apply for visa extensions through the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Interior District Coordination Office in Ramallah, which coordinates with the Government of Israel on their behalf. Visa extensions are not always approved.
  • U.S. citizens (and their dependents) who are employed in the West Bank by organizations registered inside Israel may apply for unrestricted visa extensions via their Israeli-registered employer through the Ministry of Interior, but these are not always approved.

Additional Information on Israel-Jordan Crossings: (Note: The information below does not apply to dual Palestinian-U.S. nationals registered in the Palestinian Authority population registry or to dual Israeli-U.S. nationals.)

  • The international crossing points between Israel and Jordan include the Yitzhak Rabin/Wadi Araba crossing in the south, near Eilat; and the Jordan River crossing/Sheikh Hussein Bridge in the north, near Beit She’an. U.S. citizens using these two crossing points do not need to obtain visas before arriving at the crossings to enter either Israel or Jordan, but they will be required to pay entry fees, which are subject to change.
  • U.S. passport holders must obtain Jordanian visas in advance to enter Jordan via the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge near Jericho. For U.S. passport holders entering Israel via Jordan at Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, Israeli authorities issue visas on arrival.
  • Individuals who receive the rare approval from the Government of Israel to exit Gaza from Erez can only depart Israel via the Allenby Bridge/King Hussein crossing into Jordan and will need advance approval from Jordanian immigration authorities in order to do so. These individuals will not be permitted to depart Israel via Ben Gurion Airport.
  • Procedures for all three crossings into Jordan are subject to frequent changes. Visit the websites of the Embassy of Israel and the Jordan Tourism Board for the most current visa requirements. 

Minors: Israel does not require minors (defined as under the age of 18) traveling with one parent or with someone who is not a parent or legal guardian to have written consent from the other parent or parents to either enter or depart Israel. Nonetheless, it is recommended that the accompanying adult have a signed, dated, and notarized letter from the non-traveling parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with neither parent, a letter signed by both parents) stating “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my/our permission to do so.”

Further information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations can be found on our website at travel.state.gov.

Safety and Security

Terrorism: Terrorist groups in and around Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are intent on attacking Israeli Security Forces and, occasionally, Israeli citizens. While not the intended target, U.S. citizens visiting Israel or the West Bank could become collateral damage of terrorist attacks.

Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
  • Places of worship
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Shopping malls and markets
  • Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)

For more information, see our Terrorism page.

The current Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza advises U.S. citizens to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza due to the security situation and heightened tensions there, and warns against travel to Gaza. U.S. citizens have been killed and wounded in attacks in recent years, though there is no indication they were specifically targeted based on nationality. U.S. citizens who visit or reside in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should consult the Travel Advisory to ensure they are aware of the security concerns. There is also a danger of occasional indirect cross-border fire from Syria into the Golan Heights. Please enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the most up-to-date messages from the Department of State regarding safety and security developments.

Jerusalem: Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis have occurred in some parts of Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Violent acts have resulted in death and injury to bystanders, including U.S. citizens. The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution in the Old City, particularly around the Damascus, Lion’s, and Herod’s gates. Travelers are reminded to exercise caution at Islamic religious sites on Fridays and on holy days, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. Many orthodox Jewish communities in and around Jerusalem restrict vehicle traffic on Shabbat (Friday night to Saturday night). Entering these neighborhoods with a vehicle on Shabbat or with revealing clothing at any time may result in protests and violence. See the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.

The West Bank: U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling to the West Bank, including to Bethlehem, Jericho, and Hebron, due to the complex security situation there. Violent clashes between security forces, and Israeli and Palestinian residents have resulted in the death and injury of U.S. citizens and others. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within the West Bank, and some areas may be placed under curfew. U.S. government employees are restricted from personal travel in the West Bank except to the cities of Bethlehem, Jericho, and Ma’ale Adumim and the portions of routes 1, 90, and 443 that traverse the West Bank. Additional limitations may be applied to U.S. government travelers as warranted. See the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.

The Gaza Strip: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Gaza Strip and urges those present to depart immediately. Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile. Violent demonstrations and shootings occur on a frequent basis and the collateral risks are high. Sporadic mortar and rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses continue to occur. In recent years, Palestinians have demonstrated near the fence with Israel, and some have used violence. The Israeli military has responded with live fire that has killed Palestinians. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Gaza cannot rely on the U.S. government to assist them in departing Gaza. Many U.S. citizens have been unable to exit Gaza or faced lengthy delays while attempting to exit Gaza. U.S. government employees may not travel to Gaza for personal or official purposes. See the Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.

Mortar and Rocket Fire: In the event of mortar or rocket fire, a “red alert” siren may be activated. Treat all such alerts as real; follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space. U.S. government personnel and their family members may be restricted from traveling to areas affected by rocket activity, sirens, and/or the opening of bomb shelters. For additional information on appropriate action to take upon hearing a siren or explosion, see the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command website (available on devices within Israel) or view the Preparedness Information PDF. U.S. citizens may also wish to download the free Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command application on Android or Apple devices to receive real-time security and safety alerts. Free commercial applications, such as Red Alert: Israel, are also available.

Crime: The crime rate is moderate in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Parked vehicle break-ins are common at public beach areas, national parks, and other tourist sites. Vehicle theft also remains a problem. U.S. citizens should not leave their valuables (including passports) unattended in parked vehicles, on the beach, or unsecured in hotels. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings in tourist areas and watch for crimes of opportunity, such as pickpockets.

Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but such purchases may also be violating local law.

U.S. citizens have occasionally been subject to high-pressure sales tactics in Jerusalem's Old City and other tourist areas. In some cases, vendors have not disclosed the true cost of an item and convinced the buyer – who is unfamiliar with the exchange rate – to unwittingly sign a credit card sales receipt worth thousands of dollars.

For additional information, read the most recent Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Report for Israel and.

Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events. 

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent. 
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations. 
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police. The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Israel and the West Bank is 100 for police, 101 for an ambulance, and 102 for the fire department.

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. You can reach the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Embassy Branch Office at the contact information provided above. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide information on possible Government of Israel assistance to victims of crime:
  • Provide information on Government of Israel assistance to victims of terrorist acts (contact the National Insurance Institute for more information)
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence should contact local police but may also contact the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Embassy Branch Office to report it.

Beach Safety: Swimming areas at some popular tourist destinations have dangerous conditions. Strong rip currents at beaches along the Mediterranean Sea warrant particular caution. U.S. citizens have died in Israel due to these dangers. Swim only at officially designated beaches when lifeguards are present. Consult a lifeguard for current bathing conditions before entering the water. Avoid the consumption of alcohol while swimming. Consult the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s English language water safety website for beach safety information and a list of officially designated beaches. 

Tourism: The tourism industry in Israelis generally regulated and rules concerning best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. 

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws and legal systems, which can be vastly different from our own. If you violate Israeli or Palestinian laws, even unknowingly, being a U.S. citizen will not help you to avoid arrest or prosecution. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking illegal drugs in Israel and PA-administered areas are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Individuals expressing views, including on social media, which the Government of Israel considers incitement to violence or hate speech may face criminal penalties. Palestinian Authority security officials have also arrested Palestinians who posted criticism of the PA online, including on their Facebook pages. In Gaza, individuals publicly criticizing authorities have risked reprisal by Hamas, including arrest, interrogation, seizure of property, and harassment.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrests and Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Embassy Branch Office immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Arrests and Arrest Notification by Israel: 

  • The Government of Israel is required by a bilateral treaty and customary international law to promptly notify the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is arrested if the citizen identifies him/herself as a U.S. citizen and requests that the U.S. Embassy be notified. In practice, however, Israeli authorities often fail to provide notification, particularly in the case of resident Israeli-Americans and Palestinian-Americans, which limits the ability of the U.S. government to provide timely consular assistance. In case of arrest or detention, U.S. citizens should promptly identify themselves as such to the arresting authorities and request that the authorities notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. There are credible reports that U.S. citizens have been mistreated by Israeli security forces during their arrest and interrogation, including suffering injuries that required hospitalization.
  • Some youths over the age of 14 have been detained and tried as adults. Arrestees have reported pressure to sign documents in Hebrew that they do not understand.
  • U.S. citizens arrested in Israel for criminal or security offenses are entitled to legal representation provided by the Government of Israel. U.S. citizens arrested by Israeli authorities for security offenses may be prevented from communicating with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy periods. Even after notification, consular access to the arrested individual may be delayed for days to several weeks. Under Israeli law, individuals detained for security offenses may be held for up to six months without charges.

Arrests and Arrest Notification by the Palestinian Authority (PA):

  • Individuals arrested by PA security forces in the West Bank for security offenses may be prohibited from communicating with lawyers, family members, or consular officers for lengthy periods. In addition, they may be held in custody for long periods without formal charges or before being brought before a judge for an arrest extension. The PA often does not notify the U.S. Embassy of such arrests, and consular access to arrestees is often delayed or denied. There are credible reports that arrested individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been mistreated by PA security forces during their arrest and interrogation. In case of arrest or detention, U.S. citizens should promptly identify themselves as such to the arresting authorities and should request that the U.S. Embassy be notified immediately.

Gaza: Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the Hamas Executive Forces (EF) have dominated security matters in Gaza. The U.S. government has no contact with the EF and cannot assist those arrested in Gaza.

Court Jurisdiction: Civil and religious courts in Israel actively exercise their authority to bar certain individuals, including nonresidents, from leaving the country until debts or other legal claims against them are resolved. Israel's religious courts exercise jurisdiction over all citizens and residents of Israel in cases of marriage, divorce, child custody, and child support. U.S. citizens, including those without Israeli citizenship, should be aware that they may be subject to involuntary and prolonged stays (and even imprisonment) in Israel if a case is filed against them in a religious court, even if their marriage took place in the United States, and regardless of whether their spouse is present in Israel. The U.S. Embassy is unable to cancel the debt of a U.S. citizen or guarantee their departure from Israel when they face a bar from leaving the country until debts are resolved.

Purchases of Property: U.S. citizens should always seek legal advice before buying or leasing property in the West Bank and Gaza. Please see the most recent Investment Climate Statement for the West Bank and Gaza for additional information on property rights.

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) events in Israel. Israeli anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTI individuals. Acceptance and tolerance of LGBTI people varies throughout the country and from neighborhood to neighborhood. As of August 2014, the Law of Return allows that same-sex spouses of Jews immigrating to Israel – known as “making Aliyah” – are eligible to make Aliyah with their spouses and receive Israeli citizenship.

The legal systems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are based on the 1960 Jordanian penal code which prohibits consensual same-sex sexual activity. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not prosecuted individuals suspected of such activity. Societal discrimination based on cultural and religious traditions is commonplace, making the West Bank and Gaza challenging environments for LGBTI persons. PA security officers have harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested LGBTI individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. NGOs reported Hamas also harassed and detained persons in Gaza due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBTI travelers are encouraged to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially when entering religious or socially conservative areas.

Israel’s Aguda organization provides useful information on LGBTI issues in Israel.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Persons with Mobility Issues: Individuals with mobility issues may find accessibility and accommodation in Israel very different from in the United States. Legislation mandates access to buildings and transportation, as well as accommodations for persons with disabilities in services and the workplace. The government enforces the laws with only limited success, however. Societal discrimination and lack of accessibility persist in employment and housing. The law mandates accessibility to urban public transportation but not intercity buses. Most train stations maintain access for persons with disabilities; however, many buses still do not have such access. Television stations include subtitles or sign language, and the courts accommodate testimony from persons with intellectual disabilities or mental illness. Tourists will find restaurants, foot paths, and public transportation less accessible than in the United States.

Palestinian Authority law prohibits discrimination based on disability. The Palestinian Disability Law was ratified in 1999, but implementation has been slow. It does not mandate access to buildings, information, or communications. Palestinians with disabilities continue to receive uneven and poor quality services and care. Familial and societal discrimination against persons with disabilities exists in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. Some hospitals in Israel and most hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, however, fall below Western standards. Travelers can find information in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the Jerusalem Post and the English-language edition of the Ha'aretz newspaper, or refer to the U.S. Embassy’s medical information list.

Ambulance services are widely available in Israel. Ambulance services in the West Bank are available but training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. The U.S. government does not have knowledge of ambulance services in Gaza. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) operates in the West Bank and Gaza.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (see our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Israel Ministry of Health to ensure the medication is legal in Israel. Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. government does not pay private medical bills incurred by U.S. citizens abroad.

Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most health care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

For further health information, go to:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Health facilities in general:

  • Adequate health facilities are available throughout Israel but health care in the West Bank and Gaza may be below U.S. standards.
  • Medical staff may speak little or no English.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.

Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery

  • Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry. People seeking health care overseas should understand that medical systems operate differently from those in the United States and are not subject to the same rules and regulations. Anyone interested in traveling for medical purposes should consult with their local physician before traveling and visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information on medical tourism, the risks of medical tourism, and what you can do to prepare before traveling to Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza.
  • We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation in the event of unforeseen medical complications.

Pharmaceuticals

  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.

Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy

  • If you are considering traveling to Israel to have a child through use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) or surrogacy, please see our ART and Surrogacy Abroad page.
  • Surrogacy is subject to complex local regulation. For additional information, visit the Israel Ministry of Health website for information on surrogacy.

Water Quality

  • In many areas of the West Bank and Gaza, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

Adventure Travel

  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

  • Israel: Israeli roads and highways tend to be crowded, especially in urban areas. The Government of Israel requires that all occupants of passenger cars wear seat belts at all times. Passenger cars must use headlights during all intercity travel, both day and night, and during winter. All drivers are required to carry fluorescent vests and safety triangles in the car with them at all times, and they are required to wear the vests whenever they get out of their cars to make repairs or change tires. If a vehicle is stopped for a traffic violation and it does not contain a fluorescent vest, the driver will be fined. These vests can be purchased for a nominal price in all local gas stations. While cellular handset phone use is prohibited while driving, hands-free units are authorized. The acceptable limit for blood alcohol content is lower in Israel than in the United States.
  • West Bank and Gaza: Crowded roads are common in the West Bank and Gaza. During periods of heightened tension in the West Bank, protestors have targeted cars and buses with stone throwing, improvised incendiary devices, small arms fire, barricades, and burning tires. Emergency services may be delayed by the need for Palestinian authorities to coordinate with Israeli officials. Seat belt use is required and drivers may not drink alcohol. Individuals involved in accidents resulting in death or injury may be detained by police pending an investigation.

Traffic Laws: Aggressive driving is commonplace, and many drivers fail to maintain safe following distances or signal before changing lanes or making turns. Overtaking at high-speed on undivided two-lane roads is common and may result in accidents. Drivers are also prone to stop suddenly on roads without warning, especially in the right lane. Drivers should use caution, as Israel has a high rate of fatalities from automobile accidents.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. We suggest that you visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and Israel's Ministry of Transport and Road Safety for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed that the Government of Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority is in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Israel’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: November 24, 2020

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
14 David Flusser Street
Jerusalem 93392

For Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv, e-mail TelAvivACS@state.gov. For additional contact information for the Embassy Branch Office, see the Embassies and Consulates section on this page.
Telephone
+ (972) (2) 630-4000
Emergency
+ (972) (3) 519-7551
Fax
+ (972) (2) 630-4070

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Map