This post is being regularly updated (2018) thanks to the input from some awesome travelers, If you have more up-to-date information, kindly let me know in the comments section
The Israeli passport stamp issue is one of the most discussed topics among people traveling or living in the Middle East. Across all forums and Facebook groups, people keep on asking all sorts of questions related to this subject, over and over again: Will the Israeli authorities stamp my passport? Am I eligible to enter Dubai with an Israeli stamp?
The fact is that I followed some of these conversations and I was very surprised by the large amount of bullshit and misleading information that some people tell.
That’s why I have compiled a list which contains the most common FAQ addressing the Israeli passport stamp issue.
And why should you trust me as a source of information? Well, I’ve been to Israel twice, entering and exiting both by plane and overland. I lived in the Middle East for three years, I’ve been to most Arab countries and I’ve also got some extra information from other travelers. Of course, I might be wrong, but the information that you’ll find in this article is almost all verified.
For more Middle Eastern-related content, don’t forget to check all my guides and articles to the Middle East.
Avoid the Israeli passport stamp – FAQs
Does Israel stamp your passport?
The answer is NO. Some years ago, Israel stopped stamping passports. Instead, they give you a card containing all your personal information. This rule applies to tourists who enter either overland or by air. Please note that, if you travel to Israel for work purposes, however, you’ll definitely get a visa in your passport.
Update November 2018: Ovda Airport is the secondary international airport in Israel (located in the south). Until very recently, if you flew into Ovda Airport, the Israeli authorities used to stamp your passport but now, since this airport is gaining popularity, especially because budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air are flying in, the authorities no longer stamp foreign passports.
Do you need to keep this card and show it at your exit?
Yes and no. The Israeli authorities won’t ask you for this card when you leave Israel. However, if you enter the West Bank (Palestine) the soldiers might ask you for this tiny piece of paper. Please note that if you lose this card, you might not be allowed to enter the West Bank.
Furthermore, some fancier hotels may ask you this card, as well as when you are renting a car. Keep it just in case.
If you enter/exit overland from/to Jordan, does the Jordanian stamp give evidence that you’ve been to Israel?
Yes, unfortunately, if you enter/exit Jordan overland, the Jordanian stamp says, very loudly, that you spent your holidays in Israel. If you get one of these stamps, your passport is truly f***ed.
Can you avoid a Jordanian overland stamp?
The good news is that the Jordanian authorities are pretty cool and they are all completely aware of the Israeli stamp issue. There are three Jordanian border crossings: King Hussein Bridge, Wadi Araba and Sheikh Hussein. At King Hussein bridge, they automatically stamp on a separate piece of paper. However, make sure they do it, just to be on the safe side. At the two other borders, you must ask for it before giving them your passport. They will give you an exit form, which you need to fill out, and then you’ll get a stamp on it.
Important! If you avoid your Jordanian entry stamp, it means that, in your passport, you will have just your exit stamp. The question is: Will the Lebanese authorities notice it or ask any question? When I was in Tajikistan, I went to the Iranian Embassy in Dushanbe to apply for an Iranian visa. On my passport, there was clearly only the exit stamp for Jordan, so I was actually a little bit worried that they may ask some questions. However, nothing happened and I just got my visa within the normal timing. Is this going to be everywhere? Who knows… If you had a similar situation, kindly, let me know.
However, just to play on the safe side, if you are planning a Middle Eastern journey and plan to cross Jordan or Israel overland, I recommend you leave Israel for the last country.
Note: I don’t have information regarding the Egypt – Israeli border. If you have crossed it recently and have useful input to be included in this post, let us know!
Can I enter Israel with passport stamps from Arab countries?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. When I traveled to Israel for the first time, I had visas and stamps from Lebanon, Iraq, UAE and Oman. These are some of Israel’s worse enemies. Did I have any problem? Not at all. At my arrival, they didn’t even check inside my passport. When I left, before heading to the boarding gate, they just interrogated me for 10 or 15 minutes, like everyone else. That’s it. By the way, I also had my Pakistan visa and it was not a problem.
And what about the Iranian visa?
In the last year, the Iranian visa seems the most problematic one for entering Israel. A traveler reported that, back in 2016, at the arrival at Tel Aviv airport, the Israeli authorities interrogated him for 3 hours because he had an Iranian visa. He entered Jordan and, when he entered back to Israel, he had to wait for almost 2 hours due to the same Iranian stamp issue. Like if they wanted to punish him, they stamped his passport with an Israeli stamp, something that never happens.
Just to let you know that I had a completely different experience but the main take out is that he was allowed to get in the country. I believe that it depends on the person working at the border.
Moreover, another traveler (EU citizen) just reported (March 2018) that he was held for questioning for almost 4 hours at Tel Aviv International airport. Along with other travelers who also had an Iranian visa, the authorities checked their social media accounts and posts but, since they didn’t see any problematic content, they let them go. In the end, it was just a waste of time.
Which Muslim countries are you not allowed to enter with an Israeli stamp?
Israel has quite a big bunch of enemies and, if you show them any evidence that you’ve been to Israel, either if it’s a stamp, the Lonely Planet or an Israeli shekel, you’ll be banned from entering this country for the rest of your life. Luckily, you already know how not to get stamped. Moreover, before traveling to Lebanon or Iran, make sure you get rid of all Israeli evidence. Which Muslim countries are we talking about?
Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, Iran*, Yemen, Libya, Iraq**, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
*Iran: According to the MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), you can enter Iran with an Israeli stamp (or Jordanian overland stamp) if your last visit was more than 6 months ago.
**Iraq: Not Iraqi Kurdistan
Does Israel exchange information about travelers with its Muslim enemies?
You’ll be surprised, but I get asked this question all the time. Occasionally, after finding my articles about Lebanon, some people ask me: Hey, I just left Israel and I’m flying to Beirut through Istanbul. Will the Lebanese authorities know that I’ve been to Israel? The answer is very simple. Lebanon and Israel are the worst enemies. Therefore, how could they possibly exchange any sort of information, especially tourism information?
In which Muslim countries are you eligible to travel even if you have an Israeli stamp?
There are some Arab/Muslim countries where you are allowed to travel, despite having an Israeli stamp:
UAE*, Qatar, Oman, Iraqi Kurdistan, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia
*UAE: For some years already, the Israeli passport stamp is not an issue on arrival in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
I think that this is all that you need to know regarding Israeli stamps. Please note that bureaucratic matters are continuously changing. I will try to keep this article updated as soon as I am aware of any country’s new policy. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below. Safe travels!