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New Mandatory eTA System for Tourists to Be Introduced This Year

This February, PIBA announced the upcoming implementation of an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system, that will be used to process entry requests of tourists from visa-exempt countries. Under the new system, visa-exempt tourists will no longer be allowed to “just arrive” to Israel. Instead, they will be obligated to apply for an electronic clearance that will be checked at the origin airport. Additionally, a fee of approximately 25 shekels will be charged per application.

The new system will introduce a pre-screening process before travelers board their flight to Israel. All travelers will be required to complete an online form providing information about their identity, length of stay, reason for travel, etc. If the application meets all criteria and there are no issues, the traveler will receive an electronic Travel Authorization valid for two years. However, PIBA will retain the authority to decline applications, preventing tourists from boarding planes to Israel. Denied travelers will then be required to apply for a tourist visa at the Israeli embassy in their place of residence.

If all of this sounds familiar, you aren’t wrong. The groundwork for this legislation was laid back in 2022, when AIC successfully advocated for an exemption visa-holders from such boarding denials. The new system will embody the authority granted to PIBA at that time, and it will only be applied to tourists.

While the new system may offer advantages by reducing the likelihood of entry denials after ticket purchase and lengthy travels, significant concerns arise. Therefore, AIC, as the sole organization advocating for international couples in Israel, has stepped up to advocate that partners of Israelis who visit Israel won’t face extra obstacles due to the new system.

In an elaborate paper submitted to the legislator, AIC presented the apparent issues and suggested fixes to minimize the burden that will be laid on tourists, specifically partners of Israelis. We argued that the legislation must limit PIBA’s ability to deny applications to a closed list of causes, only in cases where an entry denial is certain (security threat, past immigration violations, past deportation, etc.). In addition, we argued that the online form must not include irrelevant questions pertaining to family or romantic relations of the tourist to Israelis. We noted that the legislator must verify that the boarding process of visa holders is not unjustly blocked or hindered due to the new requirement. Finally, we have made various suggestions on how to improve the legislation.

The United States and Germany were chosen for the first pilot phase of the system that will be launched on June 1st 2024. During the pilot period, citizens of these countries will have the option to apply for Travel Authorization before their flight, for free. A 2nd pilot phase including all countries will start July 1st.

The system is scheduled to become fully operational and mandatory for all visa exempt visitors on August 1st, while the application fee will be waived for the initial pilot periods.

For complete information about the system, the application process and a step-by-step guide, visit AIC’s ETA-IL Complete Guide.

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Adv. Lior Beres
Articles: 85

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