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Chapter 8: Business Travel

Business Customs Return to top

Israel’s business environment has no particular business protocols; it mainly follows western U.S. style conventions, which makes most U.S. businesspeople feel very comfortable in doing business in Israel.

American business travelers will find the dress code in both the public and private sectors to be much less formal than in the U.S. Business suit is appropriate in meetings with high level executives and government officials.

Appointments can be made on fairly short notice; however, reconfirming appointments is advised, given that most Israelis tend to have busy schedules. Israelis arrive well prepared for meetings and are very direct. It’s desired to provide your hosts with an agenda outlining your objectives in advance. Exchange of business cards is common, although some may be less alert by this practice. Therefore, provide your business card early on and politely request one in return, if not offered.

English is widely spoken in the business community and in government offices, but knowing and using a few Hebrew words, especially introductory phrases and greetings, can be useful.

Travel Advisory Return to top

U.S. travelers can refer to State’s International Travel Information for the most up-to-date information on Travel Warnings and Visa Requirements for Israel.

Visa Requirements Return to top

A visa is not required for Americans traveling for tourism or short-term business projects. Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel up to three months from the date of their arrival, in accordance with the conditions of the visa issued to them upon their entrance to Israel.

Visitors intending to work in Israel must submit a request to the Ministry of the Interior for a special visa. For more information please visit:


U.S. companies that require travel of Israeli businesspersons to the United States should be advised that Israeli citizens require a visa prior to entry, and that the visa process may take a number of weeks.  Visa applicants should apply well in advance of anticipated travel and should consider maintaining a valid visa at all times.  Visa applicants may apply in either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.   Visa applicants should go to the following links:

State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html 

US Embassy Israel, Consular section: http://israel.usembassy.gov/consular/niv/nonimmigrant.html

State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html

US Embassy Israel, Consular section: http://israel.usembassy.gov/consular/niv/nonimmigrant.html

Telecommunications Return to top

Israel has a very competitive and dynamic telecommunications market with one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world and one of the highest household broadband penetration rates as well. 

According to the UN Department of Economic and social Affairs (2014), 70% of the Israeli population use the internet. There are seven main internet service providers, Bezeq international, NetVision, 013 Barak, 012 smile, Triple Cloud, Xphone 018, HOTnet and Internet Rimon, all whom offer broadband Wireless Internet service to their clients.

While social media has been shaping the scope of today’s field of communication, according to comScore, Israel has been ranked first in hours spent per visitor on social network websites.

Israel's competitive mobile communications market has expanded and is now served by five mobile network operators, Cellcom, Pelephone, Partner, Hot Mobile and Golan Telecom. Competition has led the mobile network operators to engage in a round of merger and acquisition activity with fixed line players to offer integrated services. The competition was intensified in June 2011 following MVNO (mobile virtual network operator or ‘wireless resale’) licenses to Rami Levi Cellular, Home cellular and YouPhone.

It is estimated that Israel has one of the highest levels in the world of people who own and operate a cell phone on a daily basis. Cell phones for visitors are available for rental at Ben Gurion Airport or through hotels.

Transportation Return to top

Israel has an extensive road network that connects the entire country and has advanced inland and international transport facilities. Rental cars, taxis and limousines with drivers are readily available for U.S. Visitors. U.S. drivers may rent cars with a valid U.S. or international driver’s license.

One of the most notable advances in transport in Israel in recent years has been the modernization of the train system. Commuter trains run from Tel Aviv to most of the large cities from Nahariya in the north to Dimona in the south, including Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport. Extensive freight services are available and most often used between Haifa, the port in the north, and Ashdod, Israel’s primary port in the south.

Ben Gurion International Airport offers connections to major international destinations. Ben Gurion is the country’s center of air passenger and cargo operations. Several companies provide internal flights between Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat from Sde Dov city airport and Ben Gurion Airport.

There is no public transportation on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown).

Ben Gurion International Airport: http://www.iaa.gov.il/RASHAT/en-US/Rashot
Israel Railways: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/Pages/HomePage.aspx

Language Return to top

Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel. English is the third and principal international language, and Russian is also prevalent. Many signs in public places are in all three languages. Most Israelis are multilingual.

Health Return to top

Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. Service may be somewhat limited on Fridays and Saturdays (the Israeli ‘weekend’) so special attention should be paid for in order to make arrangements in advance for service on these days. Travelers can find information written in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the "Jerusalem Post" newspaper.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven useful. The international traveler's website for the Center for Disease Control can be accessed at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays Return to top

Local Time: UTC + 2 hours (7-6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST), and observes daylight savings.)

Business Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 8:00a.m – 5:00 p.m. for most businesses and government offices. Occasionally, business people will be willing to hold meetings on Friday mornings.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday and closed on U.S. holidays and Israeli holidays.

Israeli Holidays: All businesses in Israel are closed

2015 2016

Passover (1st Day)* Saturday April 4 Saturday April 23

Passover (Last Day)* Saturday April 11 Saturday April 30

Israeli Independence Day Thursday April 23 Thursday May 12

Shavuot (Pentecost) Sunday May 24 Sunday June 12

Rosh Hashanah (Day 1) Monday September 14 Monday October 3

Rosh Hashanah (Day 2) Tuesday September 15 Tuesday October 4

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Wednesday September 23 Wed. October 12

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)* Monday September 28 Monday October 17

Simhat Torah (Rejoicing of the law)* Monday October 5 Monday October 24

*Note: Some businesses and all government offices are closed during the week of Passover (April 23- April 30, 2016) and Sukkot (October 17 – October 24, 2016).

Currency Return to top

The State of Israel’s currency is the New Israel Shekel (NIS). There are 100 agorot in each shekel. Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200; coins are in denominations of 10, 5, 2, 1NIS and 50 and 10 agorot.

Changing Money
Unlimited sums of local and foreign money may be brought into Israel as cash, travelers’ checks, credit cards or State of Israel bonds. Foreign currency of all kinds may be exchanged at the airport, banks, post offices, most hotels or licensed exchange agencies in large cities. A passport is required when exchanging travelers’ checks. The rates vary from place to place, and banks charge a commission. It is recommended, though not obligatory; to carry a small amount of US dollars, since certain tourist sites, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem, take payment in dollars. 

Cash Withdrawal

Holders of international credit cards can withdraw local or foreign currency at banks which accept their credit cards. There are Automated Teller Machines outside most banks.

(Source: www.igoisrael.com)

The annual average exchange rate for 2014 was 3.57NIS per $1.00.

To learn about the current exchange rate please visit: http://www.boi.org.il/en/Markets/ExchangeRates/Pages/Default.aspx

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings Return to top

The ATA Carnet is accepted by Israel. For more information please visit: http://export.gov/logistics/eg_main_018129.asp

It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Israel in Washington or one of Israel's consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding customs requirements.

For general customs regulations please see our information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html or http://ozar.mof.gov.il/customs/eng/mainpage.htm

Web Resources Return to top

U.S. Travelers: Online Internet Registration for U.S. citizens

Travel warnings: State - International Travel

  Notice to Visitors!

  The link you have chosen will take you to a non-U.S. Government website.

  If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site

  Export.gov is managed by the International Trade Administration and external links are covered by its website  disclaimer statement.

  Notice to Visitors!

  The link you have chosen will take you to a non-U.S. Government website.

  If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site

  BuyUSA.gov is managed by the International Trade Administration and external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.