[ETA Requirement Delayed To 2025] Despite Tourism To Israel Being Down 80%, It Will Soon Be More Difficult To Visit

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Update: The ETA requirement has been postponed to 1/1/25. You will now be able to obtain a free ETA through 12/31/24. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were pushed back again…


Originally posted on 5/27:

Unsurprisingly, Israel’s tourist economy is hurting. I visited Israel after Purim and was taken aback by the eerie emptiness of the normal throngs of tourists everywhere from the airport to city centers. Renting a car in Israel is usually a lengthy process, but there was nobody else in line renting a car. Hotels were running at small fractions of normal occupancy and their restaurants were closed. Storefronts in many areas were closed and sitting empty.

Everywhere we visited, locals thanked us for coming and asked us to tell other Americans to come visit, even if it’s just to spend their dollars to help out the economy. Of course, you can do much more than that. There are endless volunteer activities that you can find on Facebook groups like this. Chabad of Katamon also does incredible work with volunteer opportunities from making sandwiches to missions to the Gaza Envelope cities and BBQs for soldiers, which you can learn more about via their Whatsapp group. Colel Chabad’s Pantry Packers is another amazing activity where kids and adults of all ages will have fun while helping out.

The lack of visitors wasn’t just my perception. Israel’s Ministry of Tourism shows that 78.6K visitors came to Israel in March 2024, compared to 351.9K in March 2023 and 425.8K in March 2019. That’s a drop of 82% from pre-COVID times and 78% from last March.

So, naturally, Israel is doing what any other country would do in its predicament. It will add more friction to the process. 🙄

Effective August 1st, visitors of all ages from visa waiver countries, such as Canada, Europe, and the US, will need to apply for an electronic travel authorization, or ETA-IL. You will need approval before you can board a flight to Israel.

The ETA-IL will cost 25 shekels and is valid for stays of up to 90 days. It will expire 2 years after approval, but if you get a new passport you will have to apply for a new ETA-IL.

The form says you should apply for an ETA-IL “at least 72 hours prior to any booking of flight tickets, hotel rooms and other similar expanses that are related [to] your planned travel to Israel.”

You will receive a reply, “within 24 to 72 hours (sometimes within a few minutes).” If it really takes a few days to arrive, it could hamper the ability of people to take a last minute trip.

Want a deal?

US and German citizens can apply for an ETA-IL during the months of June and July at no charge. Other nationalities can apply during July at no charge. It will be valid for 2 years from the approval date, or until you get a new passport, whichever comes first.

It sure seems like an odd time to add another hassle and expense to visit Israel, but like taxes and death, bureaucracy is one of the great certainties of life.

Israel isn’t alone in adding an ETA requirement, Europe plans on adding one next year as well, which it says is because the US has one as well. Isn’t reciprocity grand?

What do you think of Israel requiring an ETA in order to visit?

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174 Comments On "[ETA Requirement Delayed To 2025] Despite Tourism To Israel Being Down 80%, It Will Soon Be More Difficult To Visit"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Joe

What’s the official purpose of requiring something like this? Aside from collecting a few shekels…

Anon

Usually it’s retaliation. Reciprocal treatment of Israelis.

Yael

You don’t make any sense

Chaim

Same as the US

Abe2023

Wow just another tax before you even get there

JR

Buy Israeli wine, buy Israel made goods.

Yael

We always take gifts to Israel from here and fill our suitcases with Israeli products on the way back

MosheG

Just another way to keep track of everyone and store all our personal info for future reference…

H

If you have nothing to hide and aren’t planning to do any trouble, what’s the problem?

Zalman

@H

Things fascists say…

Hava

Do you think they aren’t already doing that with the passport scans at the airport??

TzviR

So I can apply now for free and it will be valid for all trips I take in the next 2 years?

R

correct

jb

i hope they do a retake on this. another pr disaster in the making

Shneerhere

Agree, sadly.

E S

So basically everyone in the US who might be going in the next two years, should apply for one in June or July.

CtownBin

Yes, assuming their passport isn’t expiring before their next trip.

Mordechai

Is the extra Shekels for ETA what you mean by more expensive?

Shmueli

Do Israeli Visa holders (all Americans living / studying in Israel) need this?

Nissim

Wondering the same.

Dan\'s the Man

Of course not. You already have a visa!

Shmueli

This is not a Visa. It’s an authorization to travel to Israel.
You would be surprised at how little an Israeli visa does for you…

On the website I only see exemptions for citizens and Those with a Teudat Zehut.

Does anyone have a source that specifically says visa holders don’t need it?

Dan\'s the Man

With a visa you already have an authorization to travel to Israel. The point of this is to check people before they come. They have your info. The US doesn’t require this for people who have a visa only for people visiting for countries that don’t require a visa as Dan pointed out in the beginning of the article.

BachurInEY

Check out the website, the wording is pretty clear “As of August 2024, all travelers to Israel must have A VALID VISA or ETA-IL approval before starting their journey.” Sounds pretty clear that a visa is enough.

Ari

Will you need this if you have a valid student visa?

Morty

No.

Liz

I’m booked to go to Israel on July 29th and staying for 10 days. Do I need to do this since I’m there after august 1? Or am I ok because I’m going before that date?

matt

why not apply anyway, it is free in June and July

Shira

They had this during covid for everyone evening, wasn’t that bad. Although I don’t think it cost anything.

Sanity Please

The application is not active yet, they say it will be active June 1…

Tavster

It’s reciprocity for other countries, like the US, doing it..

yelped

And what does that help? The EU says they’re doing it because of the US and Israel is doing it because of the EU and US.

Anon

It’s a version of everyone stand back or I blow us all up. A game of chicken.

yelped

Governments are supposed to represent their citizens.

As gold

What if you already ordered a ticket?

Zalman

Is there any way that we can protest this terrible decision by the Israeli government?

A boycott perhaps? Divestment? Or maybe some type of sanction?

David

This comment is disgraceful. I hope it’s removed.

tt

whats the disgrace in saying the the truth

Fan

It’s a joke

Abe

Why?
Just because your a Zionist doesn’t mean that Israel is always right.
The right to protest applies equally to Israel.

CtownBin

I think he was kidding… poking fun at BDS.

nachum l katlowitz

what if you order a tkt before the system goes live will u be grandfathered in

Dan\'s the Man

The wording from Israel is a little misleading. It has nothing to do with when you buy your ticket. As long as you have it before you fly. Just like a visa- you can buy a ticket before you have a visa (for almost all countries) and as long as your have the visa when you fly you’re good to go.

Giorgies

You are asking why a vendor who has lost customers and is trying to regain them would add a hassle to annoy those customers? Remember, we are speaking of a country that brutally evicted its own citizens from their home and turned that territory over to their worst enemies, and then supplied those enemies with money and arms. And how did that turn out?

Moe8555

It is quite sobering when you look at it from that macro viewpoint. I should do that more often.

M Grunhut

What is the purposes of this requirement? It was good without it till now. What changed?

matt

of course the website is not working!

Dan\'s the Man

It’s not set up yet Article clearly states that.

AL

And this is besides the hassle of booking and flying with ElAl!
Dan, is there any way to change an ElAl ticket online? Is there any way to get anyone on ElAl to help without having to contact the DoT?

Dan\'s the Man

You can chat with them on Whatsapp

Beth

I have found that you actually get a person when you call them now so I would try calling them.

Abe

How long did you wait on the phone?

123

i happen to like this, as long as it stays 25NIS
משיח is filtering incoming traffic to the true ענווים ahead of the redemption

Dov

If flights were cheaper I would visit more enough.

Jake

It’s a smart idea. Especially if it cross links to campus thugs and other Jew haters.

Dan\'s the Man

They can do that without charging lol

Moe8555

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a big part of it. We haven’t really dealt with a situation like this before where so many Jews and alleged Jews exposed and acted upon their evil or ill-informed views.

Eugene

Honestly, another useless and purposeless impediment. There is nothing that they already don’t know about you to justify such a thing. Just makes me mad and want to visit less

David

Even when tourism is doing well, it’s about 2.5% of Israel GDP.
Not sure that tourism is the central consideration everyone thinks it is.

Aaron Hauptman

Is this being done just for reciprocity with the US & EU or might it also be for security purposes?

a

While the added paperwork is definitely going to be a pain, writing that going to EY is going to be more expensive is a bit ridiculous. $8 per person on a trip that costs thousands is insignificant.

Morty

Facts.

Yehudah

Thanks Dan for all the advice. I booked a ticket yesterday for round trip EWR-TLV in August on ElAl for $89 (and 80k Alaskan points), thanks to your Alaskan Airlines cc offer. $32 Amtrak ticket to get to EWR and I have plenty of funds to spend in Israel. I think the registration is good. It’s the easiest way to keep out the undesirables, who make trouble.

Lali

Please come visit Israel!
More important then ever at times like this!
The stores are closed and streets that are usually full of tourists, empty….
Very sad to see and experience….

sam

Once approved for an ETA-IL is it valid for 2 years even for multiple trips?
or do you need a new one for every trip even in the 2 years?

AYC

“Your ETA-IL authorization is generally valid for multiple trips over a period of up to two years from the date your application is approved. or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. This means that as long as you received an ETA-IL authorization to travel, you do not have to reapply during the validity period.”

https://israel-entry.piba.gov.il/get-help/

Michael

This is in addition to getting the border control card after deplaning and stopping at the passport booth before the luggage hall, correct. This simply allows you to get on a TLV bound flight.

Sharon

What if you visit Israel a multiple times in that 2 years? Each trip may be less than 3 months but they will add up to much more than 3 months. This is really strange because in October the US removed the need for Israeli visitors to have a visa to visit the USA.

Ricky Adler

It’s less than $10 and helps boost the economy a bit. Don’t we all care just a bit about how Israel is hurting right now?

yelped

Boost the economy? Keeping tourists away costs the economy and the government (tax loss, unemployment, etc.)

Sn

I think it’s to let Israel keep certain people out, while still maintaining reciprocity

Shloimi

what if I use an Argentinian or French passport? If/when EU will require ETA, will it be 1 for each country visited?

Chaim Casper

I’ve already got tickets to go in August. Then I saw this. I’ve been trying for the last couple of hours to apply but the link to submit my application is down.

ChaimS

So how would this work if you needed to go to Israel on short notice to bury a family member? Wait 72 hours?

chaim

or if someone had a baby and you want to visit or there could be any number of reasons that you need to visit last minute-is that no longer possible?

Chaim

That’s why there are Askanim!

MDY

So good reasons to apply when you can and have it, esp since it’s free now.

Abe Bakst

I do not see what the complaint is here. Is an extra layer of security that every country in the world seems to be doing. We are in a war. It seems appropriate to add it as well. As for cost, it is 25 shekel. Seriously people get over it. I thought everyone understood the country needs money. Lastly, if you want to get around the Visa waiver requirement, make Aliyah! יחד ננצח!

Rifky

My passport expires in February 2025 should I apply for a new passport now before I apply for the e-visa Oh, should I wait until after I get my new passport

Work-for-ur-muny

C’mon, it’s free now, and it’s only 25 NIS later. Why wouldn’t you do twice. I haven’t seen gone through the details yet, but I have completed this to enter Australia, and it was a fairly painless process.

yy

February 2025 is very near. Some places won’t let you in if your passport is near expiration. Unless you’re pretty sure you won’t be going overseas for quite a while, you should renew your passport a few months before it expires.

MosheG

Israel did something similar during corona and realized why not continue collecting a lot of your personal details that aren’t on your passport….
The website isn’t too professional…

An Electronic Travel Authorization only allows you to reach the border crossing into Israel, but does not grant you permission to enter or reside in Israel. When you arrive at the border crossing, you will be checked by a border control officer, who may determine that you are not authorized to enter Israel.

Joel Palmtree

Cmon guys. It’s only 8 bucks and takes a few minutes online. As long as you only eat cholent and not related to
The neutra karta reshoim. You will be approved instantly.
Big deal. Although Dan does have a point.

Side note Israel tourism should jump in and do something temporary to bring back normal airline prices. That’s the real reason tourism is down.

Yerushalmi

Well, if you call Neutra Karta reshoim, you probably call, the police who split heads in meron Tzadikim.

Hershel

With so many airlines cancelling on/off flights to Israel. What would be the best cc strategy to accumulate miles to fly on ELAL? Is Alaskan Airlines cc the best choice? Can you transfer Chase points to that airline?

samdaman

@Dan says wake him up when the EU starts requireing ETAS
I say wake me up when Israel actually starts charging $8
It’s going to get pushed off, and then they’ll be a new interior minister and he;ll pause everything for reveiw, and…
You know Israel!

Lamother

1. Olah, been in USA 15 yrs and expired israeli passport. Will I need?
2. If no, didnt register our kid born here, both parents israeli, will we need?

danthecan

Can you apply if you don’t have current travel plans? Do you need to make up fake travel plans, like entering a flight you have no intention of taking? Or can you skip entering the travel information? Thanks.

danthecan

Also, do minor children need to register, or is it enough if their parents register? Thanks.

Debbi S.

I think it’s just more red tape…..& if you’ve looked at the form. Why do they need all that information about us??? It’s sad….

Anon

Is this INSTEAD of a tourist visa, or will need to get a tourist visa as well?

Jacob

Not that expensive, 25 shekel on top of everything is very little. Only issue is just like the esta required when visited the usa, it does not speed up the process of entry into the usa.
Here too I doubt it will mean less harassment by Israeli border officials

MDY
Boy

It’s about reciprocity. But not as you have discussed.

It’s totally an unnecessary process as the purpose is to cater for those Palestinian holding us passports to travel visa free to Israel from West Bank.

Thanks to this administration that evaded reality, our travel freedom is totally compromised by this damn agreement.

Read the MoU: https://fmep.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/US-Israel-VWP-MOU-.pdf

IL

I just applied for an ETA-IL and got it approved in a second.

Yaari

Did you put in a travel date

Liz

Same

Abe

I read, the reason is because there are people arriving in Isreal that they won’t allow into the country and it wasn’t simple getting them on another flight to leave. This will eliminate people that aren’t allowed in the country from entering in the first place.

Sockgal

Kind of ridiculous since they want tourists. If it’s the money, just charge something upon entry. But more bureaucracy in a country steeped in it – crazy.

Sanity Please

Applied today, get instant approval via email

frequent traveler to Israel

also applied today and received instant approval
Its really no big deal and it is free

Cee

And can you register 2 passports or only 1? Plenty of dual USA/Canada passport holders want to know.

Noted

Just filled out application. Got approved instantly.

This is a quote from the declaration page: “I also hereby declare that i have not committed any criminal offence, I have not acted against the jewish people and the security of the State of Israel”
Just wondering, was this line thrown in to keep out all the liberal anti semitic college students and professors who mask themselves as pro palestinian protestors and the likes?

Yehudah

Applied and approved within minutes, no charge. Much better than during the Covid days but they could still use some help on UX.

Adelle

I see it asks for a date of travel, what if i don’t have one yet??

Danny

Wondering the same

Steve G

Dan you mentioned that it would be free for June and July. On the website it says fee is 25sheckel?

Ezra

Just filled this out for myself and 5 family members – was a real tortuous process

L

Do you need a visa to go to seminary in Israel? or this ETA is enough?

MDY

Yes you need a student visa since you presumably plan to be there more than 3 months. The ETA is for Israelis and non-visa holders.

Janice

The ETA is not the visa. You will still need to get the visa.

My experience after getting it before my trip – absolutely no question at booth. I just have my passport and visa (that you get at machines at the end of the gate Hallway) and was handed my exit slip.

So in theory, this will make your lines to exit shorter.

Aaron

I see suggestions to get one now, while it’s free. But the form asks “when are you planning to arrive?“ So does that mean if one does not know their specific date of arrival, it would be too early to apply now?

A

I just filled out this form yesterday because I wanted to make sure I was still in the free period. Oh well.

Yossi

My wife applied and received approval in 2 minutes.
Her status is now “approve”.
We actually expected it to be “approved” .
By the way, you should beware of fake websites, such as etaisrael.com.
Make sure you are in israel-entry.piba.gov.il

TS

Bezrat Hashem We are traveling to Israel in the first week of August. Does this update mean we do not need to do the eta-il at all? We can travel there like without like we always did?

Eugene

So I applied for the ETA and my wife did also. Hers came through right away. Because I said I had gotten something in 1982 when I was in Yeshiva for the year (and I don’t remember what it was, maybe visa, maybe something from US embassy), I didn’t get one. All I got was an email saying I’d hear in a few days. It has been almost 2 weeks and nothing. Any idea how to contact someone and see what is going on?

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