International Travel

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Country Information

Israel, The West Bank and Gaza

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza
Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • Gaza due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.

Reconsider travel to:

  • The West Bank due to terrorism, potentially violent civil unrest, and the potential for armed conflict.

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 Jerusalem and the West Bank without warning.

Jerusalem: Violent clashes and terror attacks have occurred throughout the city, including in the Old City. Acts of terrorism have resulted in death and injury to bystanders, including U.S. citizens. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within portions of Jerusalem.

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.     

U.S. government personnel can travel freely throughout Israel, except throughout the West Bank and for areas close to the borders with Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Additionally, portions of Jerusalem are occasionally placed off limits. 

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to the areas covered in this document:

  • Check the most recent Alerts at the Embassy and Consulate General websites 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.
  • Beware of and report to local police unattended items or packages.
  • Follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials.
  • Report suspicious activities or items to local police.
  • Learn the location of the nearest bomb or other hardened shelter.
  • Obtain comprehensive travel medical insurance that includes medical evacuation.
  • 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 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.

Gaza

Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization, controls security in Gaza. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile.

Demonstrations occur on a frequent basis and may turn violent without warning.  

Sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses may occur at any time. 

U.S. government employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza and are restricted from traveling close to the Gaza border areas.  

Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas.

The West Bank

Terror attacks and violent clashes in the West Bank have resulted in the deaths 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. 

Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas.

Restrictions on U.S. Government Employee Travel

  • U.S. government official travel into the West Bank is conducted only with enhanced security measures. U.S. government employees are largely restricted from most personal travel in the West Bank, though portions of the West Bank are occasionally authorized for personal travel, depending on the security environment.
  • U.S. government personnel take additional security precautions when visiting refugee camps and “seam areas” where Israelis and Palestinians are in proximity to each other, and which have historically been flashpoints for violence. For example, sites with significant religious meaning to multiple faiths can be subject to violent protests or security incidents with little or no warning, especially during or around significant religious holidays.
  • The U.S. government occasionally restricts travel for its employees to Jerusalem’s Old City based on the security environment. U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel into Jerusalem’s Old City on Fridays during the Muslim month of Ramadan.
  • U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses and public bus terminals throughout the area covered in this advisory.
  • U.S. government employees must observe additional security requirements if traveling for any reason to the following locations:
    • Within 7 miles of the Gaza demarcation line;
    • Within 1.5 miles of the Lebanon border; 
    • East of Route 98 in the Golan; and
    • Within 1.5 miles of the Egypt border along the Sinai (including all portions of Route 10 and portions of Route 12).
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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


No minimum requirement, but your authorized stay will not exceed the validity remaining of your passport and airlines may decline boarding if a traveler has less 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 less. 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 exiting 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.

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 Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv for information and assistance in Israel and the Golan Heights, at the ports of entry at Ben Gurion Airport and Ovda Airport, Ashdod, Eilat, and Haifa Ports, the northern (Sheikh Hussein) and southern (Yitzhak Rabin) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt.


U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem

18 Agron Road
Jerusalem 9419003
Telephone:
 +(972) (2) 622-7230
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(972) (2) 622-7230
Fax: No Fax
Email: ConGenJerusalemACS@state.gov

Contact the Consular Office of the U.S. Consulate General for information and assistance in the following areas: the West Bank, Gaza, and the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem provides limited special consular services for U.S. citizens in the West Bank and Gaza who cannot access consular services at the U.S. Embassy. Note that it provides no public services in Jerusalem. For consular services in Jerusalem – including American citizen services and visas–applicants must go to the U.S. Embassy at the address listed above.

U.S. Consular Agency - Haifa
26 Ben Gurion Boulevard
Haifa 35023
Telephone:
 +(972)(4) 853-1470
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv.
Fax: +(972)(4) 853-1476
Email: consage@netvision.net.il

Closed for public services from September 1 until further notice

Contact the Consular Agency during regular business hours for routine and emergency citizen services in the northern part of Israel.

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. PA civil administration and security forces provide services to residents in certain areas of the West Bank (Area A), while Israel has full security control of Area C and partial security control of Area B. 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 and 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 from Israel and Jerusalem into the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian ID holders and Americans with only U.S. citizenship who are married to Palestinian ID holders may be required to obtain a permit from Israeli authorities to travel between the West Bank or Gaza and Israel. 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, Hamas operates internal checkpoints that may restrict the movement of individuals, including U.S. citizens, and regulate entry and exit from the territory.
  • 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 denials, 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 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 ACS unit of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem (JerusalemACS@state.gov), the ACS unit of the Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv (TelAvivACS@state.gov) or the Consular Office of the U.S. Consulate General (ConGenJerusalemACS@state.gov).
  • Individuals registered in the Palestinian Authority population registry, including those whom Israeli authorities believe may have a claim to a Palestinian identification card, are prohibited from entering Israel or visiting Jerusalem 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 identification card, and does not desire such status.
  • Upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, Palestinians, including Palestinian-Americans, may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from what location they will be required to depart. Some have been allowed to enter Israel or visit Jerusalem 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.
  • Palestinian-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 travel via any border crossing except the Allenby Bridge. U.S. citizen residents of Jerusalem who hold blue Jerusalem ID cards may have the Ministry of Interior re-entry stamp placed in their U.S. passports for travel in and out of Israel. Jerusalem ID holders who hold residency or citizenship elsewhere may encounter problems retaining their Jerusalem residence status. U.S. citizens who are also Jerusalem ID holders seeking returning resident status must obtain permission from Israeli authorities before traveling.
  • If a dual national Palestinian-American marries outside the West Bank, he/she must update their marital status in the PA population registry before their arrival. Americans with only U.S. citizenship who 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 from Israel, 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 Israeli government viewed 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 Jerusalem or 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) 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. Such individuals are required to obtain a permit from COGAT. 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 Consular Office at the U.S. Consulate General 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 Israeli government 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 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. Israel does not stamp passports with an entry stamp, but 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 to re-enter 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 and Jerusalem. These travelers should apply for visa extensions through the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Interior District Coordination Office in Ramallah, which coordinates with the Israeli government on their behalf.
  • 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 Israeli government 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 note from the non-traveling parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with neither parent, a note 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.”

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

Safety and Security

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 that 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) so that you can receive the most up-to-date messages from the Department of State regarding safety and security developments.

Jerusalem: Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli authorities have occurred in some parts of East Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Acts of terrorism 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, as these locations have been the scene of recent attacks. Attacks have also taken place in recent years in West Jerusalem. 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), and entering these neighborhoods with a vehicle 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 settlers 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 on route 443. 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. 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. While Israel and Hamas continue to observe the temporary cease-fire that ended the latest Gaza conflict in 2014, sporadic mortar and rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses continue to occur. In 2018, 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 and/or rocket fire, a Red Alert siren may be activated.  Follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately.  For additional information on appropriate action to take upon hearing a siren or explosion, see the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command website.

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.

Do not 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.

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

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the Embassy, the Embassy Branch Office, , or the Consulate General (contact information provided above).

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 Embassy, the Embassy Branch Office, and the Consulate General can do the following:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide 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(please 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

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes here. U.S. citizens should carry 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.

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

For further information:

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 and abused 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 Embassy, the Embassy Branch Office, or Consulate General 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 or Consulate General 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 or Consulate General 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 or Consulate General 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 Israeli government. 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. Consulate General of such arrests, and consular access to arrestees is often delayed or denied. 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. Consulate General 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.

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.

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, 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. 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 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 work place. 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.

PA 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 medical lists of the Embassy, the Embassy Branch Office, or the Consulate General.

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:

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 car 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.

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 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.

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: May 14, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

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