Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.
Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.
Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.
Must be valid for 6 months beyond date of entry
1 page (although passports are normally not stamped upon entry)
Not required for stays of 90 days or less
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 Warning for additional information.
In 1994, negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, there is a division of responsibilities between the Government of Israel and the PA that is complex and subject to change. PA civil administration and security forces provide services to residents in certain areas of the West Bank (Area A), while Israel provides security in others (Areas B and C). Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, violently took control of Gaza in 2007 and exercises de facto control there.
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 and the West Bank and Gaza.
Additional Entry/Exit Requirements:
Additional Information for Israeli-Americans:
Additional Information for Palestinian-Americans:
Additional Information for Non-Dual Nationals:
Minors: Israel does not require minors traveling with one parent to have written consent from the other parent to either enter or depart Israel.
Golan Heights: See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for information concerning travel to the Golan Heights.
Entering the Gaza Strip: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Gaza Strip and urges those in Gaza to leave immediately when border crossings are open. Should a U.S. citizen enter Gaza, the U.S. government’s ability to assist him/her in departing Gaza is extremely limited as U.S government officials are not allowed to travel to Gaza. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for information on the threats to safety in the Gaza Strip.
Entering the West Bank: The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling in the West Bank. U.S. government personnel are restricted from personal travel to most areas of the West Bank. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for information concerning travel to the West Bank.
Additional Information on Extending Israeli Visas for Residents of the West Bank:
Additional Information on Israel-Jordan Crossings: The information below does not apply to dual Palestinian-U.S. nationals registered in the Palestinian Authority population registry. See information above for entry and exit restrictions for Palestinian-Americans.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
The current Travel Warning 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. A rise in political tensions and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank has resulted in injuries and deaths to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens who visit or reside in these areas should consult the Travel Warning to ensure that they are aware of the security concerns. Please enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that you can receive the most up-to-date messages from the Department of State regarding safety and security developments.
Jerusalem: Demonstrations and violent clashes between activists and Israeli authorities are a regular occurrence throughout East and West Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Acts of terrorism have resulted in the death and injury to bystanders, including to U.S. citizens. The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution in the Old City and particularly around Damascus, Lion’s and Herod’s gates, as these locations have been the scene of recent attacks. 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, and entering these neighborhoods with a vehicle may result in protests and violence. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for a complete description of security and safety issues in Jerusalem.
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. Increasingly frequent and violent clashes between Israeli security forces, Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the West Bank have resulted in the death, injury and kidnapping 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 towns of Jericho, Bethlehem and on routes 1, 443, and 90. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for a complete description of security and safety issues in the West Bank.
The Gaza Strip: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization. The Department urges those in Gaza to leave immediately when border crossings are open. The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. Exchanges of gunfire between the Israel Defense Forces and militant groups in Gaza take place intermittently, and civilians have been caught in the crossfire. U.S. government employees may not travel to Gaza for personal or official purposes. See the Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for additional information.
Crime: The crime rate is moderate in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Break-ins of parked vehicles are common at public beach areas, national parks, and other areas frequented by tourists. 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.
Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but if you purchase them, you 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.
Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates).
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank is 100 for police, 101 for an ambulance, and 102 for the fire department.
In the event you are a victim of crime, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Consulate General in Jerusalem can do the following:
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime here.
U.S. citizens should carry a copy of their passport or some form of photo identification with them at all times when traveling. U.S. citizens have reported being stopped and questioned by police and immigration officials regarding their immigration status. The U.S. Embassy has received some confirmed reports of U.S. African-American and Asian-American citizens being stopped by police conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Tel Aviv.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence should contact local police but may also contact the Embassy or Consulate General to report it.
For further information:
Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. A few 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 Embassy's or Consulate General's medical lists.
The U.S. government does not pay private medical bills incurred by U.S. citizens abroad. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
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.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (see our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further health information, go to:
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 also arrested and abused Palestinians who posted criticism of the PA online, including on their Facebook pages. In Gaza, individuals publicly criticizing authorities risked reprisal by Hamas, including arrest, interrogation, seizure of property, and harassment.
Arrests and Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Arrests and Arrest Notification by Israel:
Arrests and Arrest Notification by the Palestinian Authority (PA):
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 should be aware that they might be subject to involuntary and prolonged stays 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.
Purchases of Property: U.S. citizens who buy or lease property in the West Bank and Gaza may find their ownership challenged by people earlier displaced from those lands. Prospective property buyers should always seek legal advice before buying in these areas. The possible establishment of a Palestinian state may have legal consequences for property owners in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTI) events in Israel. Israel has anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTI individuals. Acceptance and tolerance of LGBTI people varies throughout the country and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. As of August 2014, the Law of Return allows for same-sex spouses of Jews making Aliyah to be 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 was commonplace, making the West Bank and Gaza challenging environments for LGBTI persons. Some Palestinians have claimed PA security officers 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 very different from that in the United States. Israeli law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. Legislation mandates access to buildings and transportation, as well as accommodations for persons with disabilities in services and the work place. The government enforces the laws with only limited success. Societal discrimination and lack of accessibility persist in employment and housing. The law mandates accessibility to urban public transportation but not inter-urban 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.
PA law prohibits discrimination based on disability. The Palestinian Disability Law was ratified in 1999, implementation has been slow. It does not mandate access to buildings, information, or communications. Palestinians with disabilities continued to receive uneven and poor quality services and care. Familial and societal discrimination against persons with disabilities existed in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
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.
Traffic Laws: Aggressive driving is commonplace, and many drivers fail to maintain safe following distances or signal before changing lanes or making turns. Overtaking on high-speed, undivided two-lane roads is common and may result in an accident. 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.
Public Transportation: U.S. government employees and their families are prohibited from using public and inter-city buses (and associated bus terminals) throughout Israel and the West Bank due to security concerns.
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 Bureau of Motor Vehicles for road safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority as being 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.