Out of Israel’s 4 million yearly tourists, nearly a quarter are U.S citizens. If you want to be one of the many Americans that come to see and experience Israel, you need to be aware of Israel’s new travel requirement, the ETA-IL for Israel.

Do Americans need a visa to enter Israel?

Citizens of the United States enjoy visa-free entry to Israel. In the past few years, Americans simply booked tickets and entered the country without any restriction. However, the visitor requirements for citizens of the United States are changing soon.

America will stay on the no-visa list when it comes to entry to Israel. However, Israel is introducing a new system to keep track of tourists and visitors from visa-exempt countries. That means that while Americans won’t need to apply for a traditional visa, they will be required to acquire a document known as an ETA-IL.

What is the Israeli ETA-IL and why is it being introduced for U.S nationals?

The ETA-IL is an online document which certifies that the holder has applied for and been approved to enter Israel. It is similar to a visa in the sense that it provides access to the country of entry. However, unlike the visa, the application process is quick and simple, taking only a few days, and is done entirely online without a need to book an appointment with an embassy or consulate. You may have heard of similar programs by other names, such as e-visa, or of America’s own equivalent, the ESTA.

The Israeli ETA is being introduced as a requirement for U.S.A citizens because America is on the list of visa-exempt countries which will benefit from this program. The ETA-IL system aims to regulate and track the large influx of tourists into Israel and maintain national security for residents and tourists alike.

The Israeli ETA-IL – Validity

The ETA-IL is valid for short stays of up to 3 months (90 days), and is intended for tourists and non-working visitors. Once you have your ETA-IL, you can use it for 2 years after issue as long as your passport remains the same.

I’m an American citizen - what do I need to enter Israel?

In terms of documentation, all you will need to have on hand for your entry to Israel is the ETA-IL document on your phone and the corresponding valid passport. These provide the sole authorization you will need to enter the country.

Israeli-American dual nationals will be expected to continue using their Israeli passport to enter and leave the country as usual.

How to apply for the Israel ETA-IL for American citizens

The application process is simple and straightforward.

  1. Load the online form. You will be asked to fill in a number of personal details, including your name, date of birth, and address, as well as information from your passport.
  2. Apply. Fill out the form in as much detail as possible, and make sure to check and double check what you’ve written to avoid delays.
  3. Wait for approval. This step usually takes a few days, but allow up to a week.
  4. Bookmark or flag your ETA-IL when it arrives. You will be required to show this at the airport to enter the country. No need to print – showing it on the smartphone screen will also be accepted.

Eligibility criteria for the Israeli ETA-IL

There are some prerequisites to being approved for an Israeli ETA-IL.

  • A valid American passport. This will be the same one you are going to use for the trip. It needs to be valid upon entry to the country, and ideally for a few months after for good measure. Note that special, diplomatic and temporary passports are not considered as part of the e-visa program.
  • Means to pay the processing fee. Most international credit or debit cards will be accepted.
  • An email address that you have access to. This is how you will receive communications about your application, and later on, how you will receive the document itself.
  • To submit your personal details. This will include your U.S address, telephone number, passport number, and most likely some information about your personal history, i.e your current employment status or details of a criminal record.
    • If you have a history of overstaying your permitted stay in Israel, or have a criminal record that could violate security interests, you should expect that your e-visa may be delayed or rejected. If so, plan ahead to allow time for an application through the embassy.

Summary of ETA-IL requirements for American citizens

As a U.S citizen, your travel requirements are changing when it comes to entering Israel. You need to make sure you have an approved ETA-IL document ready to show airport staff upon both departure and arrival in Israel.