Israel Launches Electronic Travel Authorization for Brits, Other Visa-Exempt Travelers

| June 25, 2024
Israel Launches Electronic Travel Authorization for Brits, Other Visa-Exempt Travelers
Image by Rakoon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Israel has introduced a travel authorization program for foreign visitors arriving in the country on a visa waiver.

The Population and Immigration Authority announced the launch of Israel’s Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA-IL) on 28 May.

It will apply to all travelers who can enter the country without a visa for short visits of up to 90 days.

The ETA-IL marks a significant step forward in Israel’s approach to managing tourist arrivals.

Its online application process will allow Israeli authorities to gather important information about visitors in advance.

The ETA-IL aims to help identify potential security or immigration concerns before travelers even board their flights.

According to the Population and Immigration Authority, “This measure has several objectives: security, immigration, and improved services.”

“It will prevent discomfort for tourists who land at the border and are denied entry,” it added.

Travelers from countries not covered by the visa waiver program must continue to secure a visa.

Those travelers can get a visa through an Israeli consulate before their journey and are exempt from the ETA-IL requirement.

All visitors to Israel are required to hold a valid visa or an approved ETA-IL before starting their trip.

How the ETA-IL system works

Since 1 June 2024, travelers with passports issued by the US and Germany must have an ETA-IL, which is a pilot program.

Beginning July 2024, all visitors who can visit Israel on a visa waiver will need to apply for an ETA-IL.

On 1 August, the ETA-IL requirement will be mandatory for all visa-waiver visitors.

The ETA-IL will be free of charge for the first year of implementation.

However, the government will impose a fee of approximately 25 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) (about £5 or $7) in 2025.

The ETA-IL will be valid for two years or until the traveler’s current passport expires.

Any change in the travelers’ passport information will require them to apply for an ETA-IL again.

Visitors must apply for the travel authorization at least 72 hours before booking flights and accommodations.

Applicants will be notified of their eligibility for the ETA-IL based on their country of origin before applying for authorization.

Under the new system, eligible travelers must complete an online application before traveling to Israel.

This application will likely request basic personal information, travel details, and possibly security-related questions.

If approved, the traveler will receive an electronic authorization, which they must present along with their passport when entering Israel.

Should issues arise during the application process, travelers must contact the Israeli embassy in their home country for further assistance.

For most visitors, the introduction of the ETA-IL should result in a smoother, more predictable entry process.

Completing the authorization in advance can give travelers greater confidence that they will be allowed to enter Israel upon arrival.

However, like other travel authorizations, an ETA-IL does not guarantee entry into Israel.

Border officials will still have the final say on admission based on their assessment at the point of entry.

Other countries that use travel authorizations

Eyal Siso, director-general of the Population and Immigration Authority, said the system will “reinforce Israel’s national security.”

He added that the ETA-IL puts Israel “on the same digital level” as other countries with similar visa waiver schemes.

The US, Australia, and Canada have their own digital visa waiver systems in place.

The United Kingdom (UK) also launched its Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme for select nationalities in November 2023.

It plans to roll out the scheme to all visitors who can visit the country without a visa by 2024.

The UK and Israel have a mutual visa-waiver status system. This means that British citizens will need an ETA-IL in July.

Conversely, Israeli citizens will also be required to obtain a UK ETA when visiting the UK for short trips.

This reciprocal arrangement highlights the growing global trend toward digital pre-screening for international travelers.

The European Union, on the other hand, will roll out its new Electronic Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in 2025.

Travelers must adapt to new pre-travel requirements as countries adopt these electronic systems.

While these new systems require an additional step in travel preparation, they also ensure a more secure and efficient entry process upon arrival.

Possible online Israeli visa application system

Before implementing the ETA-IL, Israeli authorities planned to introduce an electronic visa (E-visa) system.

Under the E-visa system, tourists from visa-requiring countries can apply for a visa online.

This online visa process will aid Israeli visa applicants by eliminating the need to visit the embassies.

Once approved, the e-visa will be sent directly to the applicant’s email.

However, Israel has not yet announced any update on its planned new online visa application system.