Entering and Exiting Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza

Access to Jerusalem and the West Bank is controlled by the Government of Israel. Access to Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Regulations related to entry, customs, arrests, and other matters in the West Bank and Gaza are subject to change without prior notice or may not be available. We recommend that you carefully read the Department of State’s country-specific information on Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for detailed information on entry and exit requirements. Additional important information is contained in the Department of State’s travel warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Below are a few basic points on travel to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. This information is intended for general information purposes only. While we make every effort to provide current information, we assume no responsibility for its reliability. For the most accurate, up-to-date information, you should contact the relevant Israeli, Palestinian, or Jordanian offices directly.

Important Travel Information

U.S. citizens planning to visit the region are encouraged to note the following important developments:

  • Palestinian Authority Areas-Only Stamp. Anyone indicating at the Allenby Bridge-King Hussein border crossing that he or she has connections to the West Bank or plans to travel to the West Bank may be given an entry stamp that permits travel only in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank. This stamp does not permit such travelers to enter Jerusalem or Israel. Travelers who have received such a stamp may file an appeal with the Israeli military’s district coordination offices in the West Bank, but appeals are rarely approved.
  • Palestinian-Americans Must Enter Through the Allenby Border Crossing. The Government of Israel does not currently permit U.S. citizens with Palestinian nationality (or even, in some cases, the claim to it) to enter Israel via Ben Gurion International Airport. Many travelers have been sent back to the U.S. upon arrival. Others have been allowed to enter Israel but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result, and other travelers have forfeited expensive airline tickets. If you believe that you may be affected by this rule, confirm with the Israeli Embassy in Washington before departure that you will be able to enter and depart through Ben Gurion. You may prefer to alter your travel plans to enter via the Allenby-King Hussein border crossing.

Denial of Entry into Israel or the West Bank

The U.S. government seeks equal treatment and freedom to travel for all U.S. citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity. Even so, all persons applying for entry to Israel and the West Bank are subject to security and police record checks by the Government of Israel and may be denied entry or exit without explanation. U.S. citizen visitors have been subjected to prolonged questioning and thorough searches by Israeli authorities upon entry or departure. Those whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin; those who have been involved in missionary work or activism; and those who ask that Israeli stamps not be entered into their passports may face additional, often time-consuming, and probing questioning by immigration and border authorities, or may even be denied entry into Israel or the West Bank.

While the U.S. Consulate General cannot facilitate U.S. citizens’ entry into Israel or the West Bank, those who feel they have been wrongly denied entry or unnecessarily subjected to additional security screening should report their experiences to our office or to the American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy should be contacted for information and assistance related to ports of entry at Ben Gurion Airport, Haifa Port, the northern Jordan River-Sheikh Hussein and southern Rabin-Arava border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt. The Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem should be contacted for information and assistance related to the Allenby Bridge-King Hussein crossing connecting the West Bank and Jordan.

Visa Requirements

A no-charge, three-month tourist visa may be issued upon arrival and may be renewed. Travelers carrying official or diplomatic U.S. passports must obtain visas from an Israeli embassy or consulate prior to arrival. An onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required for entry. Although a passport valid for six months from the date of entering Israel is not required by the Government of Israel, airlines routinely require this and may prevent boarding if a traveler does not have at least six months’ validity on their passport. Anyone who has been refused entry, experienced difficulties with his/her status during a previous visit, overstayed the authorized duration of a previous visit, or otherwise violated the terms of his/her admission to Israel should consult the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate before attempting to return. Anyone seeking returning resident status must obtain permission from Israeli authorities before traveling. The Government of Israel at times has declined to admit U.S. citizens wishing to visit, work, or travel to the West Bank or Gaza. Persons who are denied entry and seek an immigration court hearing to contest such denials may be detained for prolonged periods while awaiting a hearing.

Exit Fees

The Government of Israel charges an exit fee for foreigners departing via the land borders. For current fees, please visit the website of the appropriate border crossing, which you can find below under “Useful Links.” For information about fees and visa requirements for entering Jordan, please visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Amman. For information about fees and visa requirements for entering Egypt, please read the country-specific information on Egypt.

Single-Nationality U.S. Passport Holders

U.S. passport holders who do not hold Israeli or Palestinian passports or Palestinian identity card numbers are generally permitted to enter Israel via Ben Gurion International Airport, subject to the discretion of the Government of Israel. U.S. citizens may also enter Israel from Jordan via the Jordan River-Sheikh Hussein border crossing in the north and the Rabin-Arava crossing in the south. Access to the West Bank is permitted via the Allenby Bridge-King Hussein border crossing.

U.S. Citizens with Palestinian Passports

U.S. citizens with Palestinian passports must use the Allenby Bridge-King Hussein border crossing to enter or exit the West Bank. They are not permitted to transit via Ben Gurion International Airport.

U.S. Citizens with Israeli Passports

U.S. passport holders who also possess Israeli passports may enter or exit Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport, the Jordan River-Sheikh Hussein border crossing, and the Rabin-Arava border crossing. They are prohibited from using the Allenby Bridge-King Hussein crossing, unless as part of an official delegation or with special permission from the Israeli authorities.

Israeli citizens naturalized in the United States retain their Israeli citizenship, and children born in the United States to Israeli parents usually acquire both U.S. and Israeli nationality at birth. Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, are subject to Israeli laws requiring service in Israel’s armed forces, as well as other laws pertaining to passports and nationality. American-Israeli dual nationals of military age, including females, who do not wish to serve in the Israeli armed forces should contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., to learn more about an exemption or deferment from Israeli military service and should obtain written confirmation of military service exemption or deferment before traveling to Israel. Without this exemption or deferment document, such dual nationals may not be able to depart Israel without completing military service or may be subject to criminal penalties for failure to serve. Israeli citizens, including dual nationals, must enter and depart Israel on their Israeli passports, and Israeli authorities may require persons whom they consider to have acquired Israeli nationality at birth to obtain an Israeli passport prior to departing Israel.

U.S. Citizens with Jerusalem Identity Cards or Laissez-Passers

In general, Jerusalem identity card holders are permitted to enter and exit via Ben Gurion International Airport and the Allenby-King Hussein border crossing. They are not allowed to use the Jordan River-Sheikh Hussein or Rabin-Arava border crossings unless they obtain a Jordanian visa in advance.

Entry into Gaza

The United States Government for some time has warned American citizens to avoid travel to Gaza. Due to the situation there, the U.S. government cannot assist Americans in entering Gaza and cannot provide assistance in exiting Gaza. American citizens who decide in spite of this warning to enter Gaza should understand that many American citizens have found themselves unable to exit Gaza once they entered. Exiting Gaza via the Erez crossing into Israel, which is tightly restricted by the Government of Israel, is nearly impossible. Exit through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt is unpredictable and can involve significant expense. Neither the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem nor the embassies in Tel Aviv or Cairo can facilitate entry or exit via Erez or Rafah. For further information, please consult the Department of State’s travel warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

U.S. Government Personnel

U.S. Government personnel and dependents have special travel restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza as outlined in the Department of State’s travel warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. If you work for the U.S. Government and have questions concerning whether these travel restrictions apply to you, please check with the office responsible for setting your agency’s travel policy.

Useful links:

Websites of the Israel Airports Authority

Israel Tax Authority

Jordanian Border Crossing Information