Israel Travel Restrictions Today - COVID-19 Update
At long last tourism in Israel seems to be slowly opening up after over a 1.5 years of corona restrictions. Israel has a high vaccination rate, corona infection is down, kids are back at school, and face masks are no longer mandatory in open spaces. Restaurants, attractions, and places of entertainment in Israel are open but with some restrictions. Every day more airlines announce that they are restarting flights to Israel. Initially, incoming tourism will be from countries Israel has reciprocal agreements with. You can already book day tours and tour packages in Israel but current travel restrictions to Israel can be confusing. To understand who can visit the Holy Land and when you should be familiar with the terms FIT and GIT travel. So, what do FIT and GIT mean?
Masada Fortress. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Latest Information for Tourists Planning to Visit Israel about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as of 24 October 2021At the moment, entry to Israel is still denied to most non-citizens or non-residents of Israel. The rules regarding who can travel to Israel are constantly changing so double-check them before planning a trip to Israel.
In accordance with the decision of the Prime Minister of Israel of October 21, 2021, and subject to final government approval, from November 1, 2021, international visitors (FITs) from most EU countries, Panama, OAE, Turkey, Ukraine, and hopefully from California, NJ, NY, holding an acknowledged COVID vaccination certificate or a certificate of recovery will be able to travel to Israel.
As of November 21, 2021, vaccinated tourists will be allowed to enter from all countries of the world, even from those with which Israel has no reciprocal agreements (primarily the United States, Canada, and Britain). Please note this rule is only relevant to citizens of those countries, that do not require a visa to enter Israel. Tourists from "red" countries won't be able to enter Israel.
Tourists without a valid vaccine (more than 6 months or without a third vaccine) will be able to enter Israel in groups of 5+ from November 21, 2021, under the COVID groups program (families, friends, etc.). In addition to PCR tests on landing and 72 hours prior to the return flight, rapid antigen tests will be required upon entry to tourist sites if the previous PCR test was performed earlier than 72 hours. For more details please check this latest COVID-19 guidelines for tourists update
Latest Guidelines for International Travelers to Israel
- Travelers flying to Israel must fill in an inbound passenger statement online no more than 24 hours before their scheduled departure. Once the form is approved, you will be issued entrance clearance, which you should keep with you when you travel.
- Travelers must have a COVID-19 PCR test at least 72 hours before their flight.
- On arrival, incoming passengers must present the negative COVID-19 PCR test and entrance clearance to airline staff, and officials at Ben Gurion airport.
- Incoming passengers must take another COVID-19 test at Ben Gurion, and a serological test (an antibody test).
- At the moment travel restrictions for children under 16-years-old, who cannot be vaccinated are still unclear.
- While in Israel, face masks are mandatory indoors, but not required in outdoor areas. Restaurants, attractions, and places of entertainment may ask to see your “Tav Yarok” which is the Israeli version of a green pass or vaccination passport. Visitors should have their vaccination certificates with them at all times.
Tourist wearing a mask at Rosh Hanikra, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Understanding FIT and GIT Tourism
Free Independent Traveler (FIT): A FIT is a Free Independent Traveler or Fully Independent Traveler, Family and Individual Travelers, or Flexible Independent Travel. FITs leave their home country without an organized tour package or group. They could be solo travelers, couples, families, or even a few friends traveling together.
FITs plan their itineraries and make their own bookings for tours, hotels, flights, and attractions. They have no assistance from a dedicated tour guide or travel professional. If something goes wrong, they have no safety net.
Solo tourist in Acre, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Group Inclusive Tour (GIT): A Group Inclusive Tour (GIT) is an organized tour arranged for a specific group of people such as a church group, school, charity group, business, or club. The tour begins from the moment you board the plane to Israel. GIT travel is all-inclusive and covers international flights, airport transfers, hotels, meals, excursions, entrance tickets, travel insurance, and sightseeing.
One guide usually stays with the group throughout the trip and follows a fixed itinerary. GIT travel is a great team-building experience often organized by companies for their employees. One of the best examples of GIT travel is Taglit, an international program that brings young diaspora Jews to Israel for a once-in-a-life introduction to the Jewish homeland.
Group Inclusive Tour in Banias, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
The Best of Both Worlds-FIT Group Tours
There are many advantages to GIT travel, not only is it usually cheaper than FIT, and less stressful, but you are likely to see more of the country than you would if you were traveling alone. What do you do if you are traveling alone, but want the advantages of group travel? Bein Harim Tours has the solution for individual travelers who would like to enjoy a group tour but are not part of an organization, school, business, or church group that is visiting Israel.
- Group Day Tours for FITs - FITs traveling to Israel can join one of Bein Harim’s daily tours. These tours are for individual travelers that meet for the first time on the tour day. Day tours cover attractions across Israel and often focus on a particular theme, such as Christian landmarks, Jewish heritage, or Muslim sites. These tours cover the country from Galilee and Golan in the north to the Dead Sea and Masada in the south. Travelers get a professional guide for the day, and transportation in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle. There are even bicycle tours and graffiti tours in Tel Aviv, and a tour of Tel Aviv’s famous Carmel market.
- Tour packages for FITs - Bein Harim package tours are for individual travelers (FITs) that take a group tour together with other individual travelers. Many long-lasting friendships are formed when tourists from around the world meet on a package tour for FITs. The tours include hotel accommodation, guide service, and transportation in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle. The packages also include free time to explore on your own. Group package tours last 4-12 days, and any domestic flights are included in the price. These group tours for FITs don't include the cost of international flights. FITs can choose from a selection of group tour packages from Christian tours in Israel, and Jewish tour packages to classic tour packages in Israel. This way FITs get all the advantages of GIT travel. If you want more flexibility, then there are private tours for individuals and small groups in Israel.
Day group tour with Bein Harim Tourism, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
How, Where, and When to Book Post-COVID Tours in Israel
From October 2021, Bein Harim will be offering daily tours. Depending on the situation, it is assumed that tour packages in Israel will be offered from December 2021. Bein Harim offers tours to Petra and Jordan, but as it is difficult to predict how corona will affect crossing the border into another country, Jordan tours will restart at the beginning of 2022. Tours on the Bein Harim website are intended for FITs that want to join a group of individuals for a guided tour.
The FIT group tours are not intended for travel groups (GIT). However, Bein Harim has a dedicated Group Travel Department that can help you organize the perfect package tour for your club, school, colleagues, or congregation. If you are planning a group trip for 10 or more people, send a message to email@example.com for the best possible service. Whether you are arriving in Israel as a FIT or a GIT traveler, Bein Harim’s dedicated team is happy to advise you in your travel planning.
Wind turbines in the Golan Heights. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin