Our hearts and prayers are with our Israeli brothers and sisters as they endure the constant barrage of missiles and deal with the general unrest of the last couple of weeks. We hope and pray that things return to normal very soon and we can visit our friends and family and enjoy the beauty of the land of our heritage in peace and tranquility.
For those planning a trip to the Holy Land, we sat down with the Yaacov at PEYD Travel Team and asked them to share pertinent information to help those navigate their trip to Israel in this post-COVID world.
Joseph: How’s business?
Yaacov: Things are getting better, thankfully. Travel is opening up, and in fact I am pleased to share that you can actually travel to Israel now.
Joseph: Really? Tell me more.
Yaacov: For starters, Israeli citizens can travel to Israel without any restrictions. Similarly, American citizens with a first degree relative or those with special occasions (wedding/bar mitzvah/birth) can travel to Israel as well by obtaining a special permit (Ishur) to fly.
Additionally, Israel just announced that starting on June 1, a select list of vaccinated tour groups will be part of a trial of “regular” travelers not traveling for any special occasion or those with the close-relative requirement. And even more exciting is the announcement that on June 15, government-approved organized tour groups of at least five people will be able to travel to Israel.
Finally, readers should be aware that it has been rumored that beginning July 1, Israel plans on opening to individual tourists who are vaccinated who don’t have first-degree relatives in Israel.
Joseph: Wow, this is very exciting news! How can our readers go about obtaining this permit?
Yaacov: It’s a simple (albeit a little nerve-wracking) process actually. In order to receive your permit, you need to email your local Israeli consulate—the Consulate General of Israel–New York can be reached at [email protected] You must send the details of who is traveling and how you are related to the people you are visiting. You can read full description of what is required at https://embassies.gov.il/new-york/ConsularServices/Pages/COVID19PERMITS.aspx.
Joseph: How much time does it take to receive a permit?
Yaacov: It depends on how prepared you are. The consulate processes applications more quickly if all paperwork is in order. When preparing for travel, note that passengers must: a) apply for a permit with applicable documentation three weeks prior to flight. Additionally, passengers mus:t b) purchase COVID insurance, which is an insurance policy where the carrier will cover passengers in the event passengers come down with the virus. Insurance can be purchased at https://www.travelexinsurance.com/. Assuming you have all this information at the time you submit your application, you should receive your permit within two weeks.
Joseph: Not too bad. What about COVID testing and general health requirements? What do passengers need to do in advance in order to be able to travel?
Yaacov: Glad you asked, as this is an important element required by many countries in order to travel these days. The Israeli government requires negative PCR tests three days prior to travel. (This is required on return flights as well.)
Joseph: How about when you land in Israel? Do passengers have to quarantine upon arrival?
Yaacov: Yes and no. Upon arrival passengers (including those vaccinated) must quarantine until they receive antibody testing in Israel. (Results are very quick and generally obtained within 4-8 hours, which is good news for those who are vaccinated or have a high antibody count.) You can advance-schedule your antibody test at https://check2fly.co.il/auth.
Joseph: That’s great! Any requirements for staying at hotels?
Yaacov: For those staying at hotels, checking in to your hotel requires you to show an antibody test result document that gets you a green passport. (Some travelers have reported getting into their hotel with only the antibody test results.)
Joseph: So in summary for those wanting to travel to Israel, all you need is a good reason; a willingness to spend a little extra on PCR tests on the outbound (and return flights); a brief quarantine period while your antibody results are obtained; and you are good to go!
Yaacov: Correct!! Obviously, this is a very fluid situation and one that keeps changing, so travelers should check with the PEYD Travel team for the latest updates. We can be reached at (646) 801-7393 or by visiting www.travelwithpeyd.com.