Israel Travel Tips

Israel Travel Tips

Business Hours:
Stores are generally open from Sunday through Friday 08:00-19:00. Shops in hotels are often open until midnight. Due to the variety of religions in Israel, there are different shopping hours depending on the venue: Muslim shops close on Fridays, Jewish shops on Saturdays and Christian shops close on Sundays.

Banks are open Sunday to Friday 08:30-12:00 and Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 16:00-18:00. Closed Saturday

Currency:
New Shekel (ILS)= 100 agorot (singular, agora). Notes are in denominations of ILS200, 100, 50, and 20. Coins are in denominations of ILS100, 50, 10, 5, 1 and half and 50 and 10, 5 and 1 agorot.

Foreign currency can only be exchanged at authorized banks, hotels and exchange shops. Exchange shops found in most cities charge no commission and equal the bank exchange rates. Payment in foreign currency exempts tourists from VAT on certain purchases and services, and is sometimes preferred by shop keepers. A maximum of US$500 worth of Israeli currency can be changed into foreign currency by traveller’s leaving Israel. It is advisable to leave Israel with a minimum of Israeli currency.

There are no restrictions on the import of local or foreign currency. Travellers planning to export local currency should apply to a local bank before departure from Israel. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount imported.

Currency Exchange:
All major credit cards are accepted. ATMs are widely available.

Traveller's Checks:
These are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers should take traveller's Checks issued in US Dollars.

Customs:
The following goods may be imported into Israel without incurring customs duty (alcohol and tobacco can only be imported by persons aged 17 years and over): 250 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco products; 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; 250ml of eau de cologne or perfume; gifts up to the value of US$150.

The following items may be imported and re-exported for personal use: one video camera, one photographic camera, one movie camera, one tape recorder and up to a value of US$250 in film and video cassettes. These items are subject to high deposits paid in either cash or Visa credit card only. For flowers, plants and seeds, a health certificate is required.

Prohibited items are fresh meat, bananas and pineapples; fruit and vegetables from the African continent; and dogs and cats aged less than three months.

Health:
No vaccines are required for entering Israel. Certain immunizations or boosters are sometimes recommended. Consult your local doctor if you have any concerns.

Insect repellents and other measures are recommended to prevent mosquito bites from August through November, due to the occasional presence of West Nile virus. Malaria is not normally present.

Israel has excellent medical facilities, especially in Tel Aviv, and tourists may go to all emergency departments and first-aid centers. Health centers are marked by the red Star of David on a white background. However, any medical form of treatment can be expensive. Medical travel insurance is recommended.

Travellers can find information in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the Jerusalem Post and English language Ha'aretz newspapers.

Tap water is normally chlorinated, and whilst relatively safe, may cause mild abdominal upsets. Bottled water is available and is advised. Tap water outside main cities and towns may be contaminated. Milk is normally pasteurized and dairy products are generally safe for consumption. Be wary of street vendor food that does not appear to be fully cooked.

Language:
Hebrew is the official language, spoken by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by around 15 percent of the population. English is spoken in most places and other languages, including French, German, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish are widely used.

Electricity:
230 volts AC, 50Hz. Three-pin plugs are standard; if needed, adaptors can be purchased in Israel.

Telephone:
Full IDD service
Country code: 972

Emergency Numbers:
Police: 100
Ambulance: 101
Fire: 102

Time:
GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from end of March to mid-September/October. Exact dates vary from year to year)

Safety:
The security situation in Israel remains tense and unpredictable, particularly in the northern border regions and areas surrounding the West Bank and Gaza. The areas near the Lebanese border are very unsafe and should be avoided.

Social Conventions:
Israelis are usually very informal but in keeping with the European style of hospitality. Visitors should observe normal courtesies when visiting someone’s home and should not be afraid to ask questions about the country as most Israelis are open to talking about their country, religion and politics.

Often the expression shalom (peace) is used for hello and goodbye. Dress is casual, but in Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy places, modest attire is worn. For places such as the Wailing Wall, male visitors are given a yarmulke (skull cap) to be worn to show respect.

Business people are expected to dress smartly, while fine restaurants, nightclubs and hotel dining rooms may require guests to dress formally for dinner. Formal evening wear is usually specified on invitations. It is considered a violation of the Shabbat (Saturdays) to smoke in certain restaurants and many hotels. There is usually a sign to remind the visitor.

Visa and Passports:
Visas are usually issued for three months but vary according to nationality. Some nationalities do not require a visa or will be issued one upon arrival. Check with nearest Israel Embassy or Consulate for current visa requirements.

Passports valid for six months beyond the duration of stay, an onward or return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required by all.

Note:
As a consideration to travellers intending to travel to an Arab country other than Egypt or Jordan after visiting Israel, entry stamps will be placed only on the entry form AL-17 and not on the actual passport (on request). This facility is not available to those required to obtain their Israeli visas in advance. Most Arab countries will refuse entry to anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport