Israel’s Commitments to Extend Reciprocal Privileges to All U.S. Citizens
On July 19, 2023, the United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Extension of Reciprocal Privileges and the Visa Waiver Program (MOU on Reciprocity), which details the steps Israel is committed to take to extend reciprocal privileges to all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling to or through Israel for short term travel for business, tourism, or transit as required for participation in the Visa Waiver Program. Israel began implementing new travel policies consistent with the MOU on Reciprocity on July 20, 2023, and will further update its travel policies relating to travel by U.S. citizens who are on the Palestinian population registry for Gaza, including those who reside in Gaza, by September 15.
Israel made the following commitments:
- All U.S. citizens traveling to Israel with a valid U.S. passport are to be recognized by Israel as U.S. citizens and receive equal treatment without regard to race, religion, or national origin. This commitment does not affect Israeli law requiring that a citizen of Israel – even if they hold another citizenship – must enter Israel on their Israeli passport, just as the United States requires U.S. citizens to enter the United States on a U.S. passport.
- U.S. citizens may request visa-free entry to be able to enter or exit Israel – for short-term business, tourist, and transit purposes not exceeding 90 days.
- A U.S. citizen who requests entry into Israel for short-term visits is expected to be approved, barring legitimate security, criminal, health, or immigration concerns – which could justify a different result based on a uniform application of Israeli legal standards.
- Due to the security situation in Gaza, U.S. citizens who are residents of Gaza will not be eligible at this time for visa-free travel directly from Gaza to Israel via the Erez border crossing. Israel will instead establish new procedures for U.S. citizens residing in Gaza to request a permit or visa for short term visits, including transit and tourism, directly from Gaza to Israel via the Erez border crossing. Any U.S. citizen who is on the Palestinian population registry for Gaza, including a resident of Gaza, and is located outside of Gaza, will be able to seek to enter Israel visa-free through Israeli international ports of entry. The Israeli government will announce and implement new entry procedures by September 15 for Palestinian Americans on the Gaza registry, including those residing in Gaza, consistent with the July 19, 2023 MOU on Reciprocity. We will update our guidance accordingly after Israel announces these new procedures.
- Those U.S. citizens who are residents of Gaza and are denied a permit or visa to enter Israel via the Erez border crossing may apply to travel securely between Gaza and the Allenby Bridge border crossing. Request for such travel needs to be made at least 45 days in advance and also needs approval from the Palestinian Authority. Israel also will facilitate entry permits into Gaza for travel once a year by U.S. citizens who are first-degree relatives of a resident in Gaza. The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens that there is a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Gaza and U.S. citizens are advised not to travel there.
- Israel will launch its new “Marom” travel authorization system for all foreign visitors to Israel, including U.S. citizens. When the “Marom” system is fully operational (currently planned for May 2024), all U.S. citizens – including those residing in the West Bank – will be able to utilize that system for travel to and through Israel. As an interim step, Israel has made available an application managed by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) for U.S. citizens residing in the West Bank. Those U.S. citizens not wishing to use this interim application may leave the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge border crossing and seek to enter Israel via any Israeli international port of entry by presenting their U.S. passport. After Marom is operational, U.S. citizens residing in the West Bank will have an option to use Marom or the COGAT application for short-term visits to Israel.
- In the exceptional case a U.S. citizen is denied entry for security, criminal, health, or immigration concerns based on the uniform application of Israeli legal standards, Israel will direct the U.S. citizen to seek a visa or permit for travel to Israel, consistent with U.S. treatment of citizens of other VWP members who are denied visa-free travel to the United States.
- Israel is publishing updates to its travel policies and procedures, training its border personnel, and reporting aggregate statistics and data to the United States regarding implementation of its new travel policies and procedures.
Israel will implement new entry procedures by September 15 for Palestinian Americans on the Gaza registry, including those residing in Gaza, consistent with the July 19, 2023 MOU on Reciprocity. We will update our guidance accordingly after Israel announces these new procedures.
As noted above, Israel has committed that any U.S. citizen traveling with a valid U.S. passport should be treated as a U.S. citizen. U.S. citizens do not have to produce a Palestinian national ID for entry into Israel, though Israeli officials may request that a U.S. citizen traveling with a valid U.S. passport also present a Palestinian national ID for verification of identity. We encourage U.S. citizens who believe they have been denied entry or faced discriminatory treatment due to failure to provide a Palestinian national ID to share their experience per the mechanisms provided below.
The United States will make a final decision on Israel’s admission to the Visa Waiver Program by September 30, 2023. The United States remains committed to ensuring receipt of all relevant information necessary to evaluate Israel’s full implementation of its commitments under the MOU on Reciprocity. Should Israel be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program, Israeli citizens will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa, following a transition period.
Additional Resources for U.S. Citizens
U.S. citizens seeking to enter Israel who are denied entry or believe they have been discriminated against are encouraged to report their experiences:
- By contacting the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or at the Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv, using the (the U.S. Government will use reported information solely to investigate circumstances of potential discrimination or action by Israeli authorities that may be inconsistent with the MOU);
- By contacting 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
- By contacting COGAT at email@example.com or +972-03-6977577 to report discrimination at a checkpoint in the West Bank or Gaza.