Immigration procedure

In order to enter Palestine, you need to pass the Israeli immigration, which is one of the hardest things.

Bengurion train station

This post is just a small advice from a Japanese traveler, which doesn’t ensure your safe entry into Israel.

The situation can be changed often. It’d be better to check the latest forum on Lonely Planet or so before you fly.

Also see: How to cross the border

The 3 important points for Israeli Immigration

1. Ask no stamp onto your passport

With Israeli stamp, you won’t be able to enter these 9 countries below;

Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Iran

Reference: 「一般旅券に係る各種処分に関する審査基準」の改正案の概要(PDF, Japanese)

If you’ll visit those countries, be careful not to get stamps on your passport both when you enter and leave Israel.

You will be catechized the reason after asking “No Stamp” at passport control.

In general, if you seem just a normal traveler, they won’t stamp. But sometimes they will if he/she would a bit mean.

2. Be careful not to have stamps of Arabic countries on your passport

It is sure you’ll be catechized about every detail if you have Arabic countries’ stamps on your passport.

It’s better having nothing. But if you really have any, prepare a logical reason for explaining.

3. Do not say you’ll visiting Palestine

Israelis won’t be happy to know foreigners go to Palestine.

If it’s your first visit, it’d be better to give Israeli cities as your destinations.

An immigration experience of a traveler

I, the author, entered into Israel two times, flying with EL AL Airlines (Israel’s national airline).

When you check in with El Al Airlines, everyone is interrogated so strictly. And maybe because of that, questioning at Ben Gurion Airport wasn’t so difficult (it took anyways 10 minutes, though).

Things to be asked at immigration (at Ben Gurion Airport)

  • your purpose of travel Israel
  • where to visit
  • where to stay
  • why you travel alone
  • (after asking “no stamp”) why you prefer no stamp

After passing that tiring immigration, you might start dancing…

Questioning before check-in with El Al Airlines

El Al Airlines require strict examination to all passengers before check-in.

*However, I imagine it’d be not very difficult if you are Jewish.

These are the questions I was asked.

  • Why are you going to Israel?
  • Do you have any friends/relatives in Israel?
  • Where to visit
  • Where to stay
  • Do you know the currency of Israel?
  • Show your travel guidebooks
  • What did you do & where were you before coming to the airport?
  • Who pays for your trip?
  • Who packed your baggage?
  • Do you have any presents or packages from others?
  • (After they found my diary of travel) Read out loud it in English
  • (After they found my digital camera) Show the photos
  • Do you have any arms?

Unless you pass those questions, you won’t be able to check in.

Not the first time? It would be more strict

If you’ve already been to Israel (or Palestine) by El Al, the examination would be more difficult.

At my second time with El Al, it was a nightmare.

They opened my carry-on baggage without notice and messed up (even some small items missed when I checked my bag after arrival). Still more they forced me to come into a special room for a strict body examination; they checked even inside my hair.

After those examinations, no other passengers were waiting, four staffs surrounded me and discussed if they’d accept me or not for 1 hour.

At last, I was allowed to board, but one of the staffs escorted me to the gate of the aircraft; she watched me even in front of the bathroom door.

I didin’t have any right to choose the seat; I was packed into the window seat with 2 big Russian ladys on isle side, which make me unable to move.

My carry-on baggage was changed to check-in baggage by them, even I wasn’t allowed to pick up my lipstick.

In my impression, most of the passengers flying with El Al are Jewish. Travelers are rare enough, I seemed eye-catching to them.

Even though you prepare so well for the examination, it exhausts you for sure. It might be okay for one time, but it’s hard to recommend El Al Airlines very much.