Country guides Middle East
230 volts, 50Hz; European-style two-pin and round three-pin plugs are used
Hebrew is the official language of Israel. Arabic was an official language until 2018, when it was downgraded to having a 'special status in the state'. Most of the population also speaks English.
Israel's currency is the Israeli Shekel (ILS), which is divided into 100 agorot (singular is agora). Money can be changed in the small exchange bureaux found on most main streets, or at banks and hotels. ATMs are prevalent throughout the country. Most banks are open Sunday through to Friday until noon, and are open again from 4pm till 6pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
Tipping is expected in Israel, according to the level of service (unless a service charge is added to the bill). About 10-15 percent is customary.
There are no special health precautions required for travel to Israel, but insect protection from August to November is recommended due to the prevalence of the West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. A hepatitis A vaccine is sometimes recommended by doctors, as is a tetanus vaccine and an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination for those who haven't already had it.
Medical facilities in Israel are excellent but treatment can be very expensive, so it is essential that travellers take out full travel health insurance. It should be possible to get all necessary medications in the cities but it is always advised that travellers who need certain medications take them on their travels, along with the prescription and a letter from their doctor.
Travellers in Israel should maintain a high level of vigilance and keep up to date with developments. The risk of terrorist attacks remains high and travellers to the region, including Jerusalem, need to exercise caution, particularly around locations specifically targeted by attacks in the past such as bars, nightclubs, markets and buses. Suicide bombers and other militants have targeted crowded public areas, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries over the years. Although foreigners have not been specific targets, many have been caught up in the attacks because they visited famous landmarks and religious sites.
All travel to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the eastern border with Syria should be avoided. Foreign nationals face an ongoing threat of kidnapping in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The frequent outbreaks of violence in these areas makes them extremely dangerous, even if tourists are not directly targeted.
Street crime is rare in Israel though, and generally only a problem in 'bad' areas. The mugging of foreigners is unusual but pick-pocketing is not unheard of in busy market areas, so visitors should take normal precautions against this kind of crime.
Israel is a largely religious society and religious customs should be respected. Indecent behaviour is not tolerated and offenders will be arrested and fined heavily or imprisoned. Care should be taken not to photograph any military or police personnel or installations, and visitors should be discreet about taking photographs in Jewish Orthodox areas and of Jewish Orthodox people. It is advisable to carry official identification at all times, and to dress modestly.
The majority of business in Israel is centred in Tel Aviv. Dress tends to be less formal than in the US and Europe, but as business people tend to wear suits for important meetings or presentations, formal attire is recommended. Women should dress more conservatively, especially in strictly religious areas.
Business cards are usually exchanged, though with little formality involved. Meetings often do not begin promptly and much time can be given to socialising. Business hours are usually from 8:30am to 5pm, from Sunday to Thursday, and on Friday mornings. Sundays are regarded as a normal business day.
Travellers to Israel do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 250g of other tobacco products; 2 litres wine and 1 litre of other types of alcoholic beverages; 250ml of eau de cologne or perfume; and gifts to the value of US$200. Prohibited items include fresh meat and fresh fruit (especially from Africa).
The international access code for Israel is +972. The outgoing code is 00 (not from public phones) followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.
Passport & Visa
All foreign passengers to Israel must hold proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay in the country. Additionally, visitors should hold return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination.
Passengers intending to proceed from Israel to Arab countries other than Egypt, Jordan or the United Arab Emirates should ensure that their passport does not contain an Israeli visa or stamps, since no passenger is allowed to enter other Arab countries with such passports.
Note that travellers may enter Jordan directly from occupied territory, but must hold a visa for Jordan (to be obtained from a representation of Jordan abroad), otherwise entry will be refused. The Jordanian authorities will NOT permit re-cross to occupied territory. Travellers may also enter occupied territory directly from Jordan. The Israeli authorities will permit a re-cross to Jordanian territory.
NOTE: It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months for British passport holders, irrespective of the endorsement regarding their national status contained therein.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Israel. No visa is required for stays of up to three months.
Israeli Tourist Office: www.goisrael.com100 (Police); 101 (Ambulance)
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Israeli Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 364 5500.
Israeli Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7957 9500.
Israeli Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613-567-6450.
Israeli Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6215 4500.
Israeli Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 470 3500.
Israeli Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 230 9400.
Consulate of Israel, Wellington, New Zealand: + 64 4 439 9500.
Embassies / consulates in Israel
United States Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 3 519 7575.
British Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 3 725 1222.
Canadian Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 3 636 3300.
Australian Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 3 693 5000.
South African Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 3 525 2566.
Irish Embassy, Tel Aviv: +972 3 696 4166.
New Zealand Embassy, Ankara,Turkey (also responsible for Israel): +90 312 446 3333.