Visa and Passports
Travel outside of the United States requires a passport valid for at least the next six months. No visas are required for entrance to Israel. If your tour includes other destinations, please contact the respective consulate or visa agency of your destination in order to determine if any visas are required for your trip. This information is for U.S. citizens only.
Health Concerns When Traveling
To be sure you’re travel worthy, speak to your doctor before your departure. We strongly suggest purchasing appropriate trip insurance covering medical, baggage and trip cancellation as needed.
**Special meals: If you require special meals for health reasons, please let the ARZA World office know at least 60 days prior to your departure so that the airline and travel office in Israel can be advised.
Transatlantic flights allow one (1) checked pieces of luggage per person and one (1) carry-on bag. Please check your carrier’s regulations as to the weight and size of the bags.
Airport Security Leaving the U.S.
Security checks are routinely carried out for your protection and safety. Expect to be asked about the contents of your luggage – whether you packed your bags yourself and were they in a supervised place before reaching the airport. Do not take any mail, packages or unknown items from anyone before or after arriving at the airport.
What to Pack
Summertime Travel in Israel – April to November
- Keep clothing loose fitting and lightweight during the summer.
- Cotton and linen garments will keep you comfortable and are easily laundered.
- Jerusalem and the north can be cool in the evening – pack a sweater or other lightweight warm layers.
- Think about covering up against the summer from May through September. Long shorts, skirts and even long-sleeved shirts will help you when the sun is most intense. Don’t forget a comfortable hat and sandals for walking in the sun.
- Don’t forget your bathing suit and goggles for enjoying the surf whenever it comes your way.
- For visits to Park Alona & Hezekiah's Water Tunnel we recommend you bring closed water shoes.
Year-round in Israel
- Sunglasses and a hat. You’ll find the sunlight is stronger that what you’re accustomed to, even in the winter. A hat is also useful sun protection, year-round.
- For women – have an easy, packable skirt, scarf and/or shawl for covering up in Israel’s holy places. Throw it in your bag in the morning and you’re ready for whatever stops you make.
- Comfortable walking shoes, sneakers and sandals.
- Swimwear is appropriate year-round, whether it’s to splash in the hotel’s indoor pool or hit a beach on a warm, winter day in the southern part of the country.
- Sunscreen and insect repellent are useful items as well.
- Water bottle – it’s a dry country and you should be drinking regularly.
Winter – October to April
- Winters in Israel are mild compared to North America but when the wind blows, it can get quite cold. Pack a shell or rain jacket of some kind as well as other layers – long pants, sweater, fleece jacket, hat and gloves. You may start the day out with a jacket, by midday take it off and put it on again come evening.
- Bring a jacket, a few sweaters and long pants for visits between October and April when temperatures range from the high 40s to the high 60s. Showers may fall during this period, so an umbrella is wise.
TIP: Unfortunately, luggage occasionally gets lost or misplaced. Pack a carry-on bag that includes some necessities for a few days -- a change of clothes, all medications, spare contact lenses or glasses, all forms of money and any important documents. Bring a Hebrew/English dictionary – it’s great to have along although most Israelis can speak a smattering of English.
Here’s a general guide for average temperatures year-round:
The Jewish Sabbath and Holidays
The Sabbath and all Jewish holidays begin at sundown, and end the following night when it gets dark. Banks, businesses and public institutions are closed at these times. In major cities, many restaurants, movie theaters, nightclubs and shopping malls remain open. Please note that in Jerusalem, certain neighborhoods have restaurants and movie theaters open but shops are closed, except for in East Jerusalem. On the holiday of Yom Kippur in the fall, taxi service is available - all other public transportation is not. The eve of Yom Kippur is traffic-free in most areas of the country, leaving the roads open for kids on bicycles and skates and pedestrians.
Electronic Appliances in Israel
The electric current in Israel is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. Most hotels provide hair dryers and virtually all hotel rooms have 110/220 electric shaver sockets. Electric shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may require adaptors and/or converters, which you can purchase prior to your departure.
Israel's Border Procedures
Upon arrival to Israel, visitors need to present their passports and entry forms; forms will be given on board your flight.
Israel Customs Upon Arrival
A dual-channel customs clearance system operates at all Israeli airports and at the Rafah Terminal -- Israel’s southern border crossing. Visitors without any Goods to Declare may pass through the Green Channel upon exiting the Arrivals Hall. Passengers bringing in items other than those listed below, even if exempt from duty, must declare them and use the Red Channel.
Green Channel: Items and Quantities Permitted Duty Free
Goods brought into Israel may require the payment of customs duty and other taxes; however, the following goods may be brought in duty and tax free if accompanying you at the time of entry
A) Clothing, footwear, personal toiletries of the type and quantities that would normally be brought in a person's hand luggage.
B) Alcohol/spirits and wine: For each entrant age 17 and above, 1 liter of alcohol/spirits and 2 liters of wine.
C) Cigarettes and other tobacco products: For each entrant age 17 and above, up to 250 grams of tobacco products.
D) Other items not detailed above may be brought in as long as they are for your own personal use or intended as a gift for another person. The total value of such items should not exceed $200. Included within this amount is up to 3 kgs of foodstuff per visitor, provided that the weight of each kind of foodstuff does not exceed 1 kg (1 kg = 2.2 lb)
E) Used and portable items that are allowed: Typewriter, camera, movie camera, video camera, personal computer, laptop computer, television receiver, tape recorder, radio, binoculars, jewelry for personal use, musical instruments, record player, stroller/baby carriage, tent (only one allowed), camping equipment, sports equipment. Bicycles: Only one allowed and must be non-motorized and similar travelers' equipment.
Note: This is an individual exemption for each entrant age 2 and above and may not be combined with that of another entrant (i.e. this exemption will not be granted for one item which exceed $200, even if a number of people enter together.)
Red Channel: Items to Declare and Related Information
If you have any doubts as to which channel to pass through, then you should enter the Red Channel in order to be sure.
A) If you are bringing in items that are not specified in either of the above-mentioned Green Channel lists, please enter the Red Channel.
B) You are bringing in items such as: Portable work tools, diving equipment, a new video camera, a new video machine, a new personal computer and similar items.
C) If you bring in any of the items mentioned in this section, you must take them out with you when you leave Israel.
D) When bringing in certain items, you may be requested by a customs official to deposit a guarantee equal to the tax that would be due on those items. The guarantee will be returned to you only when you take out those items when you leave the country.
E) If you enter the Red Channel, you must declare all items in your luggage. If you bring in any of the items mentioned in this section, you must export them with you when you leave Israel.
F) When bringing in certain items, you may be asked by the customs collector to deposit an amount equal to the tax that would be due on an item. This amount will be refunded to you when you show you are leaving the country with that item.
* For further information please contact The Department of Customs: www.mof.gov.il.
Arrival and Hotel Transfers
When on an ARZA World Israel Tour, our representative will meet you immediately after passport control upon your arrival in Israel. Our representative will lead the group to the bus where your guide and driver will be waiting for you. For travelers arriving in Israel on their own, arrange for a private transfer (please contact our office for more information), or, take a local taxi or shared ‘sherut’ to your destination.
For updated information and bus schedules, please visit: www.iaa.gov.il
Group Taxis (sherut)
Easy and less expensive. Expect to be traveling a bit longer when arriving in your city, as drop-offs are made throughout the city. Reservations by phone:
02-623-1231 or 02 -625-7227 / 3233 / 5332
Fax: 02 624-1114
Egged Bus Service
Israel's Egged Bus Company offers frequent bus services. For detailed schedules:
Israel Trains and Railways System
Israel's domestic train network links major cities. Express trains connect Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. For more information: www.israrail.org.il
Renting a Car in Israel
Rent a car from a number of internationally known car rental companies or choose an Israeli rental-company. A passport, major credit card and U.S. or Canadian driver's license will be required.
ARZA World uses modern air-conditioned motor coaches. Smoking is never permitted while on board the motorcoach.
Checking in at your hotel
If you arrive at your hotel before the customary 3:00 pm check-in time, your room may not be available. Store your luggage with the concierge and take the time to walk around, get a feel for your new city or enjoy a cup at one of Israel’s excellent espresso bars.
Israel Currency and Bank Information
The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Each shekel is divided into 100 ‘agurot’ (singular ‘agura’). NIS bills are in denominations of 200, 100, 50 and 20 shekels. Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 shekels, and 50 and 10 agurot. One may bring an unlimited amount of local and foreign currency into Israel in cash, travelers’ checks, letters of credit and State of Israel Bonds. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any bank and at many hotels.
Bank operating hours (generally): Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 am -- 12:30 pm and from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.
TIP: The most convenient way to obtain currency is through Bank ATM machines which may be found all over Israel. Enter your 4-digit numeric pin number and receive shekels debited in U.S. dollars to your account. The exchange rates are fine at the local banks.
Tour schedules are planned many months ahead, but occasionally there are changes made to your scheduled sightseeing and/or advertised visits. Your tour director or local guide will notify you of all changes.
Should tips for your guide and driver not be included in the cost of your tour, the following suggestions are guidelines for tipping and are provided for your reference.
- For a guide driving a private car for up to 3 passengers - $70 per touring day in total
- For a guide driving a private car for 4-5 passengers - $90 per touring day in total
- For a group of 5-9 passengers in a mini-van with a separate driver: $100 per day for the guide & $50 per day for the driver
- For a group of 10 – 19 passengers: $10 per participant per day for the guide & $5 per participant per day for the driver
- For a group of 20 passengers and more: $8 per participant per day for the guide & $4 per participant per day for the driver
- In the case where a hostess is included in the package: $2 per participant per day for the hostess or a minimum of $50 per touring day in total
- In the case where a security guard and/or a youth counselor is included: $1 per participant per day per security guard, per youth counselor
Newspapers in Israel
Local, international newspapers and periodicals are readily available in a number of languages. For English, look for The Jerusalem Post or Haaretz English Edition, which comes bundled with the International Herald Tribune.
Israel is reasonably well equipped for catering to travelers with special needs. Airports, public transportation and many tourist sites are wheelchair friendly and most hotels have special rooms designed for handicapped travelers. When making dinner plans, check with your hotel as to recommended restaurants that can accommodate your needs best. Should you require handicapped facilities please contact our office.
Time difference in Israel
Israeli Standard Time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, U.S.A.
ARZA World Emergency Information
ARZA World – Israel
19 Washington Street, P.O. Box 71047, Jerusalem, 91710 Israel
ARZA World – USA
147 West 35th Street, Suite 801, New York, NY 10001
Toll-free number: 888-811-2812
Telephone usage and important phone numbers:
- Dialing Israel from the U.S.: Dial 011-972 and then the number in Israel (omitting the initial zero of the area code). For example: 011-972-2-111-1111.
- Dialing the U.S. from Israel: AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all have toll-free access numbers in Israel. Ask your hotel operator how to dial directly from your room. If dialing from a public phone, check the instructions on your calling card (which will tell you to dial either: 012, 013 or 014 for overseas) and then continue with a 1 for the United States, followed by the area code and phone number.
- Calling cards. Public phones in Israel operate with calling cards, which are available at your hotel, local post office and newsstands throughout the country.
- Internet access in Israel: Some hotels have pay-for access in their rooms, or have service available in the lobby or hotel business center. Many hotels now have free WiFi as well. You can also access the Internet by stopping in for a cup of coffee at Aroma or other local cafes – enjoy your espresso along with free WiFi service for customers.
Stamps, envelopes, picture postcards and greeting cards may be easily purchased at your hotels and local post office. The post office sells phone calling cards and can help with money transfers as well. Please note that post offices are closed on Shabbat and major holidays.
Departing Israel via Ben Gurion International Airport
Airline Check-In: Passengers must check in at Ben Gurion International Airport at least three hours prior to departure time.
Security checks are carried out routinely for your protection and safety. Expect to be asked about the contents of your luggage – was it packed by you and in a supervised place before reaching the airport. Do not take any mail, packages or unknown items from anyone either before or after arriving at the airport.
- Please make certain that you have a valid passport.
- Please do not forget your passport and flight tickets.
- We recommend that you keep a photocopy of your passport in your purse or wallet.
- Please pack medications in your carry-on bag and not checked luggage.
- Never leave your passport, valuables or money in your hotel room, unless placed in the safe.
- If you require special meals, please let the ARZA World Office know at least 60 days prior to your departure so that the airline and travel office in Israel can be advised.
Dictionary – useful Hebrew words and phrases
Israeli books – recommended reading list
Israeli films – recommended films list
Israeli music – track down CD’s from Israel for your MP3
Israeli currency – Bills and coins
Synagogues – selected Israeli Synagogues
Israeli coffee – recommended café’s in JRS & TLV
Jerusalem Restaurants – recommended restaurants in Jerusalem
Tel Aviv Restaurants – recommended restaurants in Tel Aviv
Timelines – Jerusalem through the ages
Packing list – What to pack