Flying to Israel? Here’s Your Latest Travel Guide
There’s been some great news recently for anybody who wants to visit and is who has plans in flying to Israel. The authorities are gradually rolling back the COVID-19 travel restrictions and opening up the country again.
The goal is to normalize international travel as much as possible and kickstart the Israeli tourist industry after a couple of disastrous years. It’s also excellent news for anyone making Aliyah, returning citizens, and for Israelis who want to travel abroad.
Despite a fairly successful mass vaccination program, COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and there are still restrictions in place. The Israeli Ministry of Health has set strict basic rules that travelers must follow. To their credit, they’ve managed to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum (at least by Israeli standards) and the rules are fairly straightforward.
We’ve explained the latest COVID-19 travel rules for people flying to Israel below. We’ve also provided some useful tips for anybody who is planning to travel to Israel in November or December 2021. If you’re planning a trip, and want a stress-free journey with no unpleasant surprises, read on.
COVID-19 and International Travel
Before you try to figure out the actual COVID-19 travel regulations for flights to Israel, it’s a good idea to understand the basic terminology:
A Covid certificate is issued by the Ministry of Health or a kupat holim. It’s available to anybody who has either had 2 vaccinations, has received a certificate of recovery, or has tested positive in a PCR test (even if not vaccinated). The Ministry of Health operates reciprocal agreements with many other countries, recognizing each other’s Covid certificates.
A declaration form (flight form or entry statement) is a mandatory document that all travelers must complete and upload 48 hours before flying. If you don’t upload a declaration form, you won’t be allowed to complete your journey.
A Green Pass is a digital and printable document valid within the State of Israel. It contains a scannable QR code that entitles holders to enter public places and basically go about day-to-day life without inconvenient restrictions. A Green Pass establishes your COVID status and guarantees that you are either adequately vaccinated, fully recovered, or have been tested to Ministry of Health standards.
The mandatory isolation period for travelers is 14 days. If you have a COVID certificate you are only required to self isolate for 24 hours, or until you test negative in a PCR test - whichever is sooner.
A PCR test is a simple nasal swab that detects whether you are currently infected with COVID-19. A positive PCR result means that you have COVID-19 and will require isolation and possibly treatment.
A serological test is a blood test that checks for COVID-19 antibodies. If there are antibodies present (and you have not previously been vaccinated) it means that you already had COVID-19 and recovered. A positive result is required for a Covid certificate. Many people had asymptomatic COVID-19 and are surprised to discover that they have antibodies to the virus. A negative result means that you have not recovered from COVID-19 and are more vulnerable to infection.
Israel recognizes the following COVID-19 vaccines:
- Johnson and Johnson
- Serum Institute of India
The Sputnik V vaccine has conditional recognition in Israel. If you have had 2 doses you may enter the country. However, you must begin initial isolation and test negative in a PCR test and positive with a serological test after landing. If you don’t produce a negative PCR test within 24 hours, you will be required to undergo a full period of isolation.
COVID 19 Travel to Israel: Key Information
- All Israeli citizens now have the right to return to the country from abroad, vaccinate or not. Nor do you have to have recovered from COVID-19.
- If you have been out of Israel for less than 72 hours, you don’t need to take a PCR test.
- If you had a positive PRC test result between 3 months and 11 days before your flight, you don’t need to take another PCR test.
- You might also need to do A PCR or serological test upon entry. A positive result may entitle you to a one month Green Pass.
Flying to Israel?
If you have proof of vaccination (a minimum of two doses with an approved vaccine) or a checkable digital certificate of recovery, your journey should be straightforward. If you're flying to Israel, there's a bit of bureaucracy present at Ben Gurion Airport. But, it's minimal as long as you follow the rules.
Vaccinated Against COVID-19
- I had two doses of a recognized vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
- My last vaccination was between 180 days and 14 days before I will arrive in Israel.
- I had a booster dose at least 14 days before my flight to Israel.
Recovered from COVID-19
- I have a digital certificate of recovery issued in Israel or one of the following countries.
- I tested positive in a NATT test between 190 and 11 days before my flight to Israel.
- Vaccinated with at least one dose of an approved vaccine (before or after a NATT test.
Providing that your vaccination or recovery can be digitally verified by the Ministry of Health, you’ll be entitled to either minimal or reduced isolation upon arrival, a COVID certificate or Green Pass, and the same rights as vaccinated or recovered citizens in Israel.
Planning your Flight to Israel
Unless you meet the current exemptions for a PCR test (see above) you’ll need to take one up to 72 hours before flying to Israel.
- Take a PCR test if required
- Complete the Traveler’s Declaration Form
- Option1: Upload a digital recovery certificate with the form if you have one.
- Option 2: Use the declaration form to list all vaccinations you have received. Upload any relevant documentation.
Completing either of these steps will automatically entitle you to a Green Pass before boarding.
- Pre-Flight Check In
Before you leave for the airport, make sure that you have proof that you completed the online Traveler’s Declaration Form. Decide which of the following documents apply to you and any family members who are accompanying you. Ensure that you have them ready for inspection:
- Negative results of a PCR test taken within the last 72 hours
- Proof of positive results from a serological test taken between 3 months and 11 days before your flight to Israel
- Your certificate of vaccination (compatible with Ministry of Health requirements)
- Your digital certificate of recovery (compatible with Ministry of Health requirements)
- Official clearance for exceptional entry
- A valid Israeli passport.
Flying to Israel may be tiring after a long journey. To deal with the authorities at Ben Gurion Airport, make sure you eat and drink enough on the plane. Authorities will check your documents so always be patient and polite. You might also need to do A PCR or serological test upon entry. It’s not worth trying to argue - just go with the flow. The quicker you finish the process, the faster you’ll be out of the airport!
Most travelers won’t need a serological test. It’s only a requirement if you were vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine (or a vaccine that’s not currently approved by the WHO), don’t have a Ministry of Health approved recovery certificate, or you haven’t verified your status with a PCR test.
A negative serological test means mandatory 14-days isolation. A negative PCR result on day 7 means the end of your isolation period.
There is a plus side to taking a serological test. A positive result means one-month Green Pass access.
|If you have digital documents or verification, consider printing spare copies, or having a copy easily available for remote access. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport - either abroad or in Israel - and suddenly be unable to produce your certification. Something as simple as a dead battery on your phone or a forgotten password could really foul things up|
Hopefully, 2022 will see further easing - or even scrapping - of COVID-19 travel restrictions in Israel. In the meantime, it’s a lot easier to fly. Anybody who wants to enjoy Hanukkah with family in Israel should be able to make a hassle-free trip. Hopefully, we’ll also see foreign tourists flying in for Christmas in the Holy Land, or winter breaks in Eilat. If you’re planning a trip abroad - nessiah tovah - and check back regularly for any changes or updates to the travel rules!
11-27-2021: Latest Update to COVID Travel Regulations in Israel
Due to concerns about the possible spread of the Omicron COVID variant, the government has closed Israel to foreign citizens for a period of 14 days. In exceptional cases, entry permits may still be issued. You can apply to the Exceptions Committee here.
The actual threat posed by the Omicron variant isn’t fully understood yet. The government may change the travel regulations again without warning. We’ll update you as new information becomes available. We’ll also explain any new travel rules and offer practical advice and useful links.
Stay healthy and have a Happy Hanukkah!