Message to U.S. Citizens: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem (September 22, 2023)
Location: Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza
Subject: Updated FAQs Regarding New Israeli Travel Procedures for U.S. Citizens
On July 20, the Israeli government began implementing changes to travel procedures for U.S. citizens traveling with a valid U.S. passport who may now request to enter Israel visa-free for short-term visits up to 90 days for business, tourism, or transit. Under the updated travel policies, Israel has committed to treating U.S. citizens equally, without regard to national origin, religion, or ethnicity.
On September 11, the Government of Israel began implementing procedures for U.S. citizens traveling with a valid U.S. passport who are also listed on the Palestinian Population Registry for Gaza who may now request to enter Israel visa-free for short-term visits up to 90 days for business, tourism, or transit at all international ports of entry to Israel except for the Erez crossing which requires a permit to enter Israel.
Since July 20, thousands of U.S. citizens have traveled under the new policy, and we continue to receive valuable feedback from U.S. citizens about their experiences. Please see the answers below to the most frequently asked questions, including Israel’s policies applicable to vehicles entering Israel from the West Bank.
Can U.S. citizens listed on the Palestinian Population Registry for Gaza enter or transit Israel?
Yes. To ensure efficient travel, Israel recommends but does not require that U.S. citizens take some additional steps depending on where they reside.
A U.S. citizen traveling with a valid U.S. passport who is also listed on the Palestinian Population Registry for Gaza and has a center of life in Gaza – someone who has spent more than 50 percent of the last five years in Gaza (or more than 912 days) as confirmed by the Israeli government – may apply while they are in Gaza for a permit to enter Israel via the Erez Crossing from the Government of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) for business, tourist, or transit for up to 90 days. When located outside of Gaza, these U.S. citizens may apply to enter Israel visa free through any international port of entry.
A U.S. citizen traveling with a valid U.S. passport who is also listed on the Palestinian Population Registry for Gaza and has a center of life outside the Gaza Strip – someone who has spent more than 50 percent of the last five years outside of Gaza (or more than 912 days) as confirmed by the Israeli government – may request to enter Israel visa free for business or tourism purposes for stays of up to 90 days, including transiting Israel to and from the West Bank. Such U.S. citizens may transit Israel to enter Gaza via the Erez Crossing. If they enter Gaza without coordination with COGAT or a pre-approved permit to re-enter Israel via the Erez crossing from COGAT, these U.S. citizens will need to request a permit through the Palestinian Authority Civil Committee in Gaza at least 45 workdays before the proposed re-entry date into Israel or utilize the travel procedures for transit from Gaza to the Allenby crossing.
Questions regarding residency in the Gaza Strip can be directed to the COGAT call center at +972- 074-7642828.
We direct you to the Government of Israel for additional details. Please visit these websites for this information:
How do I know if Israel will consider my center of life to be inside or outside of Gaza?
If you are unsure of your status or you want to make sure you are registered with the Israeli authorities as having a center of life outside of Gaza, you can call the COGAT call center Sunday through Thursday from 8AM-5PM local time at +972-74-764-2929.
Can U.S. citizens residing in the West Bank depart from Ben Gurion Airport without a valid B2 admission paper (entry permit)?
No. U.S. citizens residing in the West Bank must have a valid B2 admission paper (labeled “entry permit” on the document) or a “US tourist approval” issued through the Al-Munassiq app to enter and exit Israel, including through Ben Gurion Airport. A U.S. citizen who does not have one of these documents will be directed to return to the West Bank and re-enter Israel with a valid B2 admission paper or tourist approval. Israeli authorities will not allow U.S. citizens without valid documentation of approval to enter Israel to request it through the COGAT Al-Munassiq app while at the airport.
Can U.S. citizens cross into Israel by vehicle from the West Bank?
Separate rules govern vehicle permits. U.S. citizens who are also listed on the Palestinian Population Registry and have obtained a valid entry B2 admission paper may not currently drive an Israeli plated vehicle through a vehicular crossing from the West Bank into Israel. They are permitted to enter Israel from the West Bank as passengers of a car, taxi, or bus at specific crossings but they may be requested to exit the vehicle and process through the checkpoint as a pedestrian. Otherwise, they will be re-directed to a pedestrian crossing. Israel states in its travel policies that a U.S. citizen who is registered as a resident of the West Bank may “cross at any of the pedestrian crossings except Erez.”
The current Israeli driving policy can be found here: https://govextra.gov.il/cogat/visa-en/entry-of-palestinian-american-tourists-into-israel/
The United States Government and the Government of Israel have established a bilateral working group to develop additional solutions so that all U.S. citizens, including Palestinian-Americans on the Palestinian Population Registry, can enjoy equivalent driving and vehicle crossing opportunities when entering Israel from the West Bank with their U.S. passport. This working group has already begun working towards this goal.
We will provide updates on any further policy changes by the Israeli government to vehicle travel by U.S. citizens into Israel from the West Bank.
I received a B2 admission paper at Ben Gurion but was denied departure at passport control when trying to leave through there?
If you entered Israel via Ben Gurion Airport with a valid B2 admission paper and then crossed into the West Bank but were either denied entry attempting to re-enter Israel or denied exit at Ben Gurion passport control , please contact us at JerusalemACS@state.gov (if denied entry at the crossing) or TelAvivACS@state.gov (if denied departure at Ben Gurion) and include a copy of the B2 admission paper.
I received a B2 admission paper at Allenby but was denied entry into Israel through a crossing from the West Bank?
If you entered at Allenby on your U.S. passport and received a B2 admission paper at Allenby and then were denied entry when attempting to enter Israel from the West Bank within 90 days of having received the B2 admission paper, please contact us at JerusalemACS@state.gov) and include a copy of the B2 admission paper. If you are a U.S. citizen who is also listed on the Palestinian Population Registry, you can verify whether you are eligible to enter Israel by submitting a request through the Al-Munassiq app.
The Government of Israel imposes closures on West Bank crossings during various portions of the High Holidays. Can I enter Israel with my U.S. passport and a B2 admission paper or a US Tourism Approval through a West Bank crossing?
If the Israeli government imposes a closure on West Bank crossings, then U.S. citizens may not enter Israel from the West Bank. Only COGAT can approve exceptions for humanitarian, medical, or exceptional cases when the crossings are closed.
Who can I talk to if I am denied entry or experience discrimination?
If you are a U.S. citizen traveling with a valid U.S. passport and you were denied entry to Israel for a short term visit up to 90 days (denial of entry does not mean that you were re-directed from a vehicle crossing to a pedestrian crossing), or you wish to report your travel experience (even if you were admitted to Israel) you can contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or at the Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv.
- By using the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and Branch Office Tel Aviv online reporting form.
- By phone (for denial of entry only): U.S. citizens may call the Embassy at the phone numbers on our website: U.S. Citizen Services – U.S. Embassy in Israel (usembassy.gov) (+972-2-630-4000)
- You may also wish to contact the auditor for the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority at TZ@piba.gov.il to report discrimination at an airport or Port of Entry or you can report discrimination at a checkpoint with the West Bank or Gaza to COGAT: email@example.com or +972-03-6977577
Actions to Take:
- All U.S. citizens should enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and ensure you can be located in an emergency.
- Refer to our website for the latest Alerts and Messages for U.S. citizens.
- Refer to our country information sheet for updated information on entry/exit requirements and safety/security information.