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Should I get my passport stamped?


Most Arab countries in the region will not allow you to enter if you have an Israeli visa stamped in your passport. You can ask the Israeli visa to be stamped on a separate sheet of paper. Most people don't know you can apply for a second passport. A second passport is invaluable especially if you plan to travel a great deal in the Middle East.

Because Israel effectively occupies and controls the West Bank you will receive an Israeli visa not a Palestinian visa. Palestinians have no control over their borders. The general entry and exit requirements for Americans traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are as follows: A passport valid for six months beyond duration of stay, an onward or return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required for entry. A no-charge, three-month visa may be issued upon arrival and may be renewed. Please note that you may receive a one month visa if you enter Israel and Palestine by land from Egypt or Jordan. Palestinian Americans may be subject to special restrictions.

For more information visit: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1064.html

Many people coming in to the Ben Gurion airport request to NOT have their passport stamped with an Israeli entry visa. Usually the visitor is traveling on to an Arab country where the law does not permit entry for people who have first been to Israel. So, on request, the Israeli authorities stamp a piece of paper which is kept inside the passport and removed on departure from the country, enabling the traveler to arrive in the Arab country without 'evidence' that they have been in Israel.

However recently many people have not been given the stamped paper at the airport or one of the land crossings to Israel which is causing problems at West Bank checkpoints and police inspections. One of our tour groups to Hebron was recently stopped by the police and everyone had to produce a passport. One of the participants had no stamp and was detained at the local police station for 45 minutes. It was all sorted out once the police contacted the Ministry of Interior and determined that the person was in the country legally. However the situation could have been avoided.

Please remember to ASK the immigration police to give you a stamped paper for your visa that you can keep in your passport. DO NOT give the paper away at the inspection point after the immigration station. Sometimes the inspectors who double check the passport keep the piece of paper. Don't let them and this avoid problems later.