Reader Trip Report: Flying To Israel As A Foreign National Under A First Degree Relative Exemption

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Photo Credit: Askii [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
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Note: DDF member thaber recently flew to Israel under the first degree relative exemption and offered to share this trip report for the benefit of other DansDeals readers. Here is his Trip Report, in his own words:

As soon as there was a possibility for foreign entry to Israel we began discussing the potential of attending a family Bar Mitzvah the week of Parshas Emor, which until then had not even been on the table.

I emailed the Consulate General of Israel – New York Consular.Services@newyork.mfa.gov.il with all the details of who was traveling (at the time, five of us) and how we are related to my wife’s sister who is a citizen and was making the bar mitzvah. [Important to note that the first-degree relative is important, the bar mitzvah is not].

I received a reply on 4/7 detailing the new and more arduous regulations that went into place that day. Hesitant to spend money without having an Ishur (permit) I filled in TBD for the flight information, and submitted it for all of us. The regulations specified one pdf per person, less than 5 MB, so I sent 5 PDF attachments all filled out on 4/11/21.

The Consulate (coming from that same email address throughout) replied that they need all the PDFs for all the travelers in one PDF, less than 5 MB. This is an image heavy PDF, but they recommended using ilovepdf.com to shrink it down, which was a funny thing to hear from a government official. So I combined them all, shrunk them and resubmitted on 4/12.

On 4/13 they responded that we are missing travel insurance and flight info. Yaacov Hoffinger of Elyon Travel sent us to www.travelexinsurance.com who was able to give us the insurance, and a letter stating that we are covered in Israel for Corona, which is what was required. Yaacov also gave us reservations for our dates. At this point, two of our travelers dropped out, so we were down to three travelers. Two flying from LAX and one from NYC.

I resubmitted on the afternoon of 4/14 with everything. All of a sudden, the response time slowed down, and no word from the consulate. This was presumably due to Yom Hashoah, Yom haatzmaut and a Lag Baomer influx.

In the meantime, there was talk on DDF of people in Israel being successful getting the Ishur at the Misrad Hapnim in Israel from 8-10 am. So my sister in law went there on 4/21. But of course on Wednesdays they don’t process them…

On the afternoon EST of 4/21 the NY Consulate finally answered, and said they needed my birth certificate to show I am a first degree relative to the person in Israel. Frustrated, I shot back an email saying that I am the spouse of the first degree relative, and he had the marriage certificate that showed that.

On 4/22, my sister-in-law went back to the Misrad Hapnim. After four hours in line, they processed her and gave her the ishur! We were in business!

At 4:30am EST I received an email with the Ishur from the NY consulate, but from a different person, whose title indicated a superior position. We were not and are not sure if this was because of the Israeli intervention, or randomly simultaneous. The email also contained links for the forms to fill out prior to departure. The links and forms were somewhat glitchy, but we got that done.

I did receive another email from the original contact at the consulate, later on 4/22, saying that our application was submitted and we’d receive a response within 7 days (for a 4/26 departure). I still have not heard back.

So with two sets of Ishurs in hand, we were ready to go!

We took a PCR test at the brand new testing center that opened last week in the LAX International Terminal. The appointment was made online in advance here, and there was no line. It’s located across from the El AL counter and is different than the site that’s been outside for the last while. They guarantee results within an hour, and we had a 10am appointment. No one else seemed to know about this yet and there was no one there. The charge was $200 per person prepaid when you make the appointment.

The flight was at 1:30pm, there was a small line at the check in, I went over to confirm they’d be ok with results via email (that’s the only way they give them) and walked around a bit. Got results at about 10:50am, and came back to a zoo. On the business class line, we had a humbling 55 minute wait. There is a lot of yelling, crying, screaming and such from people who do not have the right PCR test, right paperwork, and so on.

We finally got to the front, where we happened to have a manager process us, I’m pretty sure the pre check in security also checked passports, they took them and brought them back. Generally, the check in person was distracted, glanced at the ishur, glanced at one of the PCR tests on my phone, he had no idea they were testing across the way, so he was excited about that, and handed over boarding passes.

We went to the regular security line as El Al does not recognize precheck (humbled again). One of our passports was not dinging right, So I went back down, got a new boarding pass from the same guy, and all good.

The lounges in Tom Bradley International Terminal in LAX are all closed. The AA flagship in terminal 4 just reopened, I was there last week and definitely wasn’t worth the airside walk. There was oddly no boarding call, we just noticed everyone going on the flight so we did too, and rearranged seats fairly easily to be next to each other. The flight was very full, the staff was very kind, and we finally took off an hour late for unknown security reasons, and had an uneventful flight.

General word for the religious traveler – when flying direct from the West Coast to TLV (LAX, LAS, SFO) your window to daven Shachris is very small, and on the Dreamliner, where they dim the windows, can be easily missed. Myzmanim has a great tool to help with knowing when to daven).

14 hours later, we landed, taxied, and deplaned. They do biometric passport upstairs in the arrival walkway, and no more crazy passport lines. (Hopefully this is permanent!)

 

My wife’s scanned, mine did not, there were two agents set up next to the biometric passport machine and they processed mine.

The biometric machine spits out an entry visa. Depending on how well you filled out your pre admission paperwork online, as well as other criteria, it either allows you to proceed to luggage, or to some tables set up in the hallway where they were reviewing quarantine paperwork. Again, minimal line and quick.

Then luggage and customs, as usual, and then you are routed to a huge tent right outside where you get your Covid test. If you made an appointment with check2fly.co.il (Dan’s Note: Readers have reported getting this test for free with code: FREE1) then it goes really quick, they scan the QR code you were given, send you over to a tester who does a cheek then nasal swab (same swab for cheek then nasal, and twice, one for each nostril), and you get a bracelet that lets you out of the airport.

Getting tested in TLV:

 

We had prearranged for antibody testing at the airport, which is hit or miss depending on the airport regulations of the day, and pretty strange, but she was waiting for us by the taxi stand, sat on a bench, rolled up our sleeves, and we were done pretty quickly and smoothly. Company is called Tenecare, you can Whatsapp them at +972 52-354-7650 or email tenelab@tenecare.co.il

Antibody test by the TLV taxi stand:

Start to finish, it was under an hour from touchdown to getting in the car. The process felt smoother and easier than Pre Covid arrival in Ben Gurion, and we were very impressed and pleased!

It was already 2:30pm by the time we did the antibody test, at 9pm we got a text message that the corona test was negative and at 4am we got a text message that we were out of quarantine. At 8:30 am (when their office opened) tenecare sent us the official record of the same.

Our third traveler was flying from NY, had a similarly smooth experience. She had her test done in Jerusalem by Ayala, who gets same day results if the test is before 12:30pm. She had her test at about 12pm, and was out of quarantine before 3pm! Ayala’s contact is +972 52-690-0576

I tried to apply for a green passport, but does not seem to work without a kupat cholim account.

On Motzai Shabbos we checked into the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. To get into the building (guest or not) they ask for a green passport. Showing an antibody test result from Israel was fine, and once they recognized us, they didn’t ask for it again. The rest of check-in was a breeze, status was acknowledged, and upgrades given.

Have you flown to Israel since the borders have opened, what was your experience?

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82 Comments On "Reader Trip Report: Flying To Israel As A Foreign National Under A First Degree Relative Exemption"

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JJ

Another Trip Report was emailed to us as we were posting this, here it is below:

Preparing for my trip: I emailed the Washington DC consulate and was sent a list of what to provide

· A certificate with Apostille stamp that proving the family connection (birth certificate/marriage certificate etc.)

· The israeli relative passport

· Vaccine certificate

· Quarantine form

· Health insurance that covers covid 19

I found that my marriage certificate did not have my parents name on it, I asked if they accept a notary instead of the Apostille seal and, as you have noted, they no longer require the Apostille seal. Honestly I didn’t get my birth certificate notarized either and they accepted it with the stamp on it from 50+ years ago. I also included a copy of my flight itinerary. The permission letter is only good for 14 days, so you will not receive it until a week before your trip. I was nervous so I email them 10 days before to remind them and I got the permission letter the next day. Three days before my flight I got a PCR test and within 24 hours of my flight I completed the online declaration form https://corona.health.gov.il/en/flights/?utm_source=go.gov.il&utm_medium=referral

I made copies of everything including my lab results, permission letter and the email that is sent after completing the above form (make sure that you keep copies on you).

At the Airport:

When checking in for my flight, they asked to see my PCR result and my permission to enter Israel letter.

Arrival at Ben Gurion in Israel:

This was a very different experience. When exiting the plane we needed to scan our passports at the cameras (the ones near the plane exit that never work) before you ever get to the long marble ramp. You then took the ticket with your picture and showed it to a health ministry person a few feet away. It seemed that if you did not have an Israeli passport, you were sent to a row of tables where you had to show a copy of the email that you received when you completed the online declaration within 24 hours of your flight and they confirmed you in the computer. They gave you an entry pass that allowed you to go down the long marble ramp. At the bottom of the ramp, the boarder control was closed and you just walked through and scanned your picture card to open the gate (make sure that you remove your mask and look at the camera or the gate wont open). Then I collected my luggage. When you walk through to leave the airport, it is blocked off and you need to get online to enter a huge tent that does COVID PCR testing (while online you sign up on your phone and enter a code “free1” and the test is free). After getting COVID tested they put an amusement park like wrist band on you with your testing number and you are free to leave the airport. You can see your results on your phone after about 4 hours.

Quarantine:

You need to then either stay in quarantine for 14 days or “test out”. In my case I needed the spike antibody test to reflect that I had the vaccine. Most labs perform the test, its really just a matter of how fast you want the results and how much you are willing to pay. I met people on the plane who had someone meeting them at the airport. I planned on driving to a lab but when I got to the rental car garage they were there with the guy drawing their blood so I got in with them and paid $128 dollars. (The guys information is arcady.levitas@gmail.com 053-7016121 Whatsapp +972 51-559-1166). They WhatsApp’d the results in about 8 hours. The labs were run at Shamir Medical Center ans sent to the Ministry of Health. Here is the most important piece of information. You then need to request to exit quarantine by using this “magic” link https://govforms.gov.il/mw/forms/QuarantineExceptionExit@health.gov.il and aslo upload your lab report.

It is much easier if you use a Hebrew computer or it takes forever to scroll through the drop downs. I used google translate to make my explanation into Hebrew and copied and pasted it into the explanation box. Also have someone who speaks fluent Hebrew on speed dial as the medical terms are not general.

Approximately 5 hours after submitting, I received my email that I am out of quarantine.

Of note, they (the lab, the Ministry of Health) also ask you for an Israeli cell phone number that can receive text messages, so if you don’t have one then get someone’s number to use. They never sent any messages to the person but you need that cell to get through the forms.

Overall the (once I had the exit quarantine form link) the experience was quite efficient and painless.

I hope this help

DansDeal Reader

Yossi

Can you please confirm that you don’t need an apostille to get the ishur for the entry of non-Israeli citizen? I am an Israeli citizen but my wife is not and needs it to enter Israel with me.
Israeli consulate in LA states on their website that marriage certificates need to have an apostille, we are confused.
Thank you for the report.

Avi K

I am pretty sure they dropped the apostle requirement a few days ago.

Corinne E

according to Rabbi Dov Lipman, it was dropped. However, there are MANY MANY forms and protocol to follow to obtain a Visa

eli

I did not need the apostille seal

Yossi

Eli,
My apologies for being a nudnik but was your situation the same as mine, where the apostile was needed for a non Israeli spouse of an Israeli citizen to get an ishur?
Thanks

Chh

Are you vaccinated? If you are not vaccinated will they issue an ishur?

Joel Rosenberg

Has nothing with vaccinations atm

AYZ

Vaccinated with a valid reason.

Mark

Sounds like I’ll wait until they regain their sanity before travelling. This sounds like far more hassle than it needs to be. Not for my nerves.

eli

Look at my first long post, it was actually hassle free, you just need to follow the steps

AF

I went to visit my mother two weeks ago and my experience once I got to israel was not so smooth. I landed on Wednesday afternoon and went directly to get tested for antibodies in Yerushalim. The place I got tested at said I would have results the next day and that they automatically send it to Misrad Habruit as well so I should get out of quarantine quickly. They sent the results at 8:00AM and at 12:00PM I still hadn’t heard anything. I called the testing center and they said I should fill out the online form to get out of quarantine but it cound take up to 24 hours. I didn’t hear anything all day Thursday so on Friday morning, I called Misrad Habruit who said I should hear soon. Quickly after, they sent me an email requesting a copy of my passport and positive Corona test from America but I didn’t hear anything before Shabbos. I did not officially get out of quarantine until Sat. night.
Then when I got to the airport to leave, I was flagged at passport control. They said I was never released from quarantine. I showed them the two emails I received but they said I was not in the system so I was told to wait on the side. There was another woman there who had missed her flight the previous night because she was also not in the system. She said many people missed their flight the night before for that reason. They did eventually allow me on the flight but with ten minutes to spare.

C

Quarantine is a jk. They don’t have address or number. They are just not interested in a influx of tourists.

Achshell

If you want to leave before 14 days in Israel, then it’s not such a joke. You really depend on the antibody test

Avi K

The police checked on us 4 times during quarantine…. but I do know plenty of others that weren’t checked on even once ‍♂️

Macher

Was this recently? I haven’t heard of anybody being checked on recently

Macher

Currently in quarantine and it’s been a joke so far. Gave an american phone number and my address but nobody has bothered me whatsoever. Also, you can get out of quarantine after 10 days by getting a second covid test – even if you don’t have antibodies.

Hesderguy

Where do you go for the temporary quarantine until you get permission that you don’t need it? Can you stay in a hotel?

AYZ

Hotels will not allow you entry without proof of vaccination.

Yehuda E Goltche

If you are vaccinated in the USA does that count? And do you have to go through the whole hassle above?

AYZ

For most allowable reasons (with the exception of a wedding) you will need to have both. Been vaccinated in the US and show proof and then take a Serology test in Israel to prove it again…

Achshell

When can you leave Israel?
Did they put an electronic bracelet on you?

AYZ

No electronic bracelet but if you leave before end of quarantine they’ll know and block you from reentry for 5 years.
Last week they blocked someone from exciting.

G

Any tips on getting permission to fly out of, and returning to, Israel for a citizen needing to fly to a red zone? Besides C”V a tragedy, what qualifies as an exceptional circumstance?

Achshell

It really boils down to whatever they decide that week.

Liz

Thank you for this post. Can I ask how much you paid for the antibody testing at the airport?

Achshell

I sent a whatsapp message to them. It sounds like they quote based on the amount of people you are getting tested

Aryeh Sonnenberg

Tene are is 500 NIS, or 450 per person for two.

Note that the Ministry of Health says that Tenecare is not recognized because they are not on this list:

https://govextra.gov.il/media/34323/bz-10841721_29042021.pdf

I am trying to figure that out now.

Steven P

any update on this? i was planning on using tenecare as seemed easy with the airport meetup….

Aryeh

It’s definitely easy. They did my parents today, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t work to get them out of quarantine tomorrow already. There are much cheaper options (150 NIS as opposed to 450/500 NIS), but the at-airport testing is a nice bonus.

Rachel

Can you rent a car or must you use a taxi?

eli

I rented from hertz, as a gold member i went directly to the garage office

AYZ

For anyone trying, the FB group below has all the information and personal experience you’ll need.
Myself, I’m still waiting for the NY consulate to provide me the ishur. I finally got a case number last Tuesday, so some progress.
One question for Thaber, from all I read one needs to text MOH the results but from the story it seems they got it from the lab?

Yanky

What is the Fb group –

Aryeh

MOH gets the results from the lab, and then will send a release SMS to whatever number they were given.

Shloime

Has anyone been able to bring kids (non Israeli citizens) under the age of 7 into Israel? If so, what did that process look like?

MaiaG

Children under 16 are not eligible to be vaccinated but proof of vaccination is one of the requirements. I don’t see any way around this unless the rules are changed again. I doubt they are in any rush to allow even more people in.

SM

Proof of a positive test, followed by proof of a negative test, qualifies in leiu of vaccination to get the permit.

Of course, you still must take the antibody test to get out of quarantine.

If you (or a kid) have antibodies bit never got tested (and aren’t vaccinated) you’re SOL.

MaiaG

My last comment was missing the option to prove( by Israeli standards)that kids have recovered from COVID instead of showing vaccination proof. That would apply to adults who aren’t vaccinated too so if you have the proper proof it should work.

Yehuda E Goltche

How do you prove they recovered? A past positive?

Lima Saft

Thank you very much for a very detailed report. Would you please confirm that NO apostille is required for the marriage certificate? This is very important, as we have tickets for May 21, and cant get apostille until May 14.
Also, is the certificate of insurance coverage enough if it shows covid coverage?
Thank you,

Bibi

Can anyone share a specific insurance policy/company used that worked for the Israeli entry permit. How much would it cost for one person?

Tlv

I sent my request to the NY office last week Tuesday. When should I expect to hear back?

YB

adding to the question, if I don’t get a reply with a case number does that mean anything?

AYZ

I have up on expectation but I’m going today or tomorrow to get the ishur. Which will be 2 weeks after applying.

Refundable

Waldorf- best way to pay not too hefty ? What points do you use / how many ?

Hara

honestly Ani BehShok. I mean who ever said Israel was a democracy?l, because this reeks of a foul stench of something George Soros (yemachshemo) and his global goones would orchestrate … yaala Israel you need to lay off the lachatz… MASPIK, Netanyahu Tauff, it’s time for someone new…

is it really true!!!

so you don’t technically need a first degree relative to enter Israel?
it’s enough if your spouse has one?
am I missing something?
thanks

thaber

Correct. Unknown is if you can go without the spouse

thaber

Last piece of the pie, this guy came to do the pcr test. Fluent English, perfect service, cheek swab. Would recommend. All done on whatsapp.
550 shekel pp with 3 people.
+972 3-742-7761

MaiaG

Has anyone added up the typical costs per person for all the required tests, insurance etc? It’s a shame that people with the greatest need to visit, those with first degree relatives, may not be able to afford all the extra costs. Many people are looking for a simple family visit coach flight, stay with family not hotels.

Eve

So if I wasn’t vaccinated and never had Covid I have to quarantine for 10 days then get another Covid test and then I’m good to go? Can I get in malls etc?

SM

No. You can’t get a permit under this exception without vaccination).

eli

Thank you all for the great info
Is their any insurance that covers the covid testing there?
Thank you in advance

Sam

Some give you a receipt in English, you should bee able to get reimbursed from your insurance in the US because of the CARES Act. I know this guy gives English +972 3-742-7761

Isaac

Anyone knows how to get babies out of quarantine when arriving to Israel in order to fly back before the 10 days?

AP

Does first degree relative need to be a citizen? What about a permanent resident?

Susan

I don’t see Tenecare on the list of approved labs in the document attached to the chaimvchesed webpage. Do you have another source for approved antibody testing? Thank you.

Aryeh Sonnenberg

I’m trying to understand this, too. Waiting an answer from Tenecare.

Susan

Is it sufficient for your U.S. insurance “letter” to say you are covered for medical care internationally? Does it have to mention COVID?

eli

Needs to mention COVID, I attached a screen shot from my insurances website, in my case blue cross

Susan

Eli – I have BCBS and they said they will provide a letter but it won’t mention COVID specifically. I don’t see your attachment. Can you send it to me privately? Is that allowed on DD?

Susan

Can you repost the screenshot from blue cross?

Aryeh Sonnenberg

This is really helpful, thank you.

Aryeh

Tenecare is not on the list of approved Serological (antibody) testing locations.

They said that they send their tests in as Assaf HaRofeh, an approved hospital, and that their test are therefore approved.

That sounds like it works, based on the original report. It is more expensive (450/500 NIS compared to 300 NIS) than hospital, but can save hours of traveling and aggravation.

Liz

Plus if you have to travel by taxi it costs for that too

Aryeh Sonnenberg

Used Tenecare, they came right outside the airport exit. I don’t expect any problems. There are much less expensive options, and depending on where you are travelling to, can also be really quick. That said, the travellers are in quarantine when they arrive. I won’t tell anyone.

Mark davidson

Considering how Israel allowed the masses at meron seemingly with no fear of covid spike to it’s own population this all feels like a big government scam and a lot of companies making alot of money running it

chaya

i just want to point some things out to people who were in the same position as me.
I never did a PCR and did not vaccinate; HOWEVER, they did give me an ishur as I had a doctor’s note stating that I recovered from COVID. There is a big misconception out there that this cant be done but it can. i guess it also depends on your mazal of who processes your application. Also, i got out of bidud with antibodies, also without a vaccine.
very strangely though, it took days to get the exit quarantine paper even though it listed the date i was released as a few days earlier.
The one thing no one seems to be complaining about is that we need to Covid test before coming back in. You seem to spend half your trip testing, and paying nicely for it. i wish I had known about places that come to you and saved that hassle but hey were the lucky ones.
Many thanks to whichever dansdeals reader who posted the tinleg insurance option. it was $10- a lot cheaper then some other quotes

davetrek

What’s the link for this tinleg insurance option? Thanks!

chaya

i also want to mention that it took a week to get a case number and i was told it can take 7 business days (past my travel date) to get a response. I panicked but the ishur came in 2 hours.
I am hearing that ultimately the best way to get the ishur is to have your israeli relatives get it for you.
Also-there were people in the airport who were giving too much information. They asked one guy why hes coming and he said he has a sister and also a family bar mitzva and they questioned him extensively. Im not sure why he didnt just say he has a first degree relative and thats all.

Yitzy

Can somebody explain me what is the difference if am vaccinated when I am arriving to Israel or I am not vaccinated if I have anyway to take a test again?

NH

So if one has a family member blood relative that is Israeli they can get an ishur to go visit him (he’s sick) but any idea if it’s at all possible to get an ishur for an aide that has to medically accompany the traveler?

Mort

Question: Why aren’t Israeli (or US) travel agents offering a service where they handle the paperwork for you? They give you a list of required documents. You send them the material. They have people go to the offices and set everything up for you – including the medical tests. I saw a segment on Arutz 11 today about an Israeli travel agent that recently went out of business- he could be doing this service as a bridge until we are back to “normal”. I needed to change car plates in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (from out of state to MA) and you **don’t** go to the DMV. The car insurance agents have “runners” that do the leg work for you (go to the DMV and file the paperwork – the same day!) for an additional fee.

Mendy

I just spoke on the phone with the people at tenecare.co.il (WhatsApp +972 52-354-7650).
they no longer come to the airport to do testing. Only at homes or business or a more private place. its a great serivce.

Aryeh Sonnenberg

Tenecare told me Sunday (May 9) that they are no longer meeting at the airport.

In addition, I had major delays with them. I cannot say if it’s their fault, but I would be very wary of time is critical.

R

Anyone know if they would accept the Walgreens RT PCR test? (Abbot ID NOW RT PCR)

Jon

Thank you for the great information…. I see that you emailed the NY consulate but it appears that you live in CA. Is that correct? We were told to contact the consulate in Miami, but they do not reply to any message we send.

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