Israel’s business environment shares 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 United States. A business suit is appropriate in meetings with high level executives and government officials, and ties are optional.
Appointments can be made on fairly short notice; however, reconfirming appointments is advised, given that most Israelis tend to have busy, dynamic schedules. Israelis arrive well prepared for meetings and are very direct. It is preferable to provide your hosts with an agenda outlining your objectives in advance. Exchange of business cards is common, although some may be less accustomed to 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.
U.S. travelers can refer to the U.S. Department of State’s International Travel Information for the most up to date information on travel warnings and visa requirements for Israel.
A visa is not required for Americans traveling for tourism or short-term business visits. Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel for 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 the Israeli Government Services and Information Website, and the Embassy of Israel to the United States website.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website. Israeli citizens require a visa prior to entry, and the visa process may take several weeks. Typical wait times for a visa appointment have increased significantly as a result of the Covid pandemic. Visa applicants should apply well in advance of anticipated travel and should consider always maintaining a valid visa. Israeli applicants may refer to the following link for additional information: U.S. Embassy – Tel Aviv Branch Office, Consular Section.
As of June 2022, Israel has confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders, however the CDC mostly classifies the country as a low-to-moderate risk destination. All passengers, including vaccinated and recovered passengers, who arrive in Israel must submit an entry statement. It is advised to review the most updated information in the Israeli Ministry of Health website or the U.S. Embassy in Israel, as restrictions may change.
The State of Israel’s currency is the New Israel Shekel (NIS). There are one hundred agorot in each shekel. Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200; coins are in denominations of NIS 10, 5, 2, 1 and 50 and 10 agorot.
Unlimited sums of local and foreign money may be brought into Israel as cash, travelers’ checks, credit, or State of Israel bonds (although over NIS 50k, travelers are required to report to customs). 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. Certain tourist sites, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem, take payment in dollars.
Holders of international credit cards can withdraw local or foreign currency at banks which accept their credit cards. There are ATMs outside most banks.
In local stores, Mastercard and Visa are more widely accepted than American Express and Discover cards.
The annual average exchange rate for 2021 was NIS 3.23 per $1.00.
To learn about the current exchange rate please visit the Bank of Israel website.
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.
There are eight main Internet Service Providers (ISP’s): Bezeq International, NetVision, 012 Smile, 013 Barak, Partner, Triple Cloud, Xphone 018, HOTnet and Internet Rimon, all which offer broadband wireless internet service to clients. Wireless networks (Wi-Fi) can be found throughout the country, including restaurants, cafes, hotels and in Ben Gurion Airport. The rate for Wi-Fi varies between ISP’s, however, complimentary Wi-Fi is often offered to customers in restaurants and hotels.
As in many countries, 5G networks were launched throughout Israel in 2020. All international cell phone service providers will operate in Israel; however, renting a local cell phone or purchasing a local SIM card can reduce the cost significantly. If planning to use a local SIM card, you will require an unlocked phone. Cell phones for visitors are available for rental at Ben Gurion Airport or through hotels.
Country code: +972
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50 Cycles – An adaptor is necessary – 3 pronged
Israel has an extensive road network that connects the entire country and has advanced inland and international transport facilities. Rental cars, taxis and 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, including Jerusalem, and to Ben Gurion Airport.
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 domestic flights between Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat from Ben Gurion Airport.
There is no public transportation on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), besides taxi service (although taxis can be difficult to find on the Sabbath as well), or some municipal buses in certain cities.
- Israel Railways
- GO Israel (Tourist Information) - Transportation
- MoovIt – Web and mobile application for public transportation route planning
- Weekend Transportation - Bus service that operates on Israeli weekends (Sabbath)
Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel. English is the third and principal international language; Russian is also prevalent. Many signs in public places are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Most Israelis are multilingual.
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 in order to make arrangements in advance for service on these days. Travelers can find information regarding medical providers, including emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies, in the U.S. Embassy in Israel website.
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.
Food and water standards in Israel are similar to those in the United States. Additional information regarding vaccines and medicines, or general health-related guidance, can be found at Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Local Time: UTC + 2 hours (7-6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time - EST. Israel observes daylight savings.)
Business Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 8:00a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for most businesses and government offices. Occasionally, businesspeople will be willing to hold meetings on Friday mornings.
The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv are open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday and closed on U.S. holidays and Israeli holidays.
Additional information regarding Israeli public holidays and observances in 2021 can be found on the Time and Date website.
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
The ATA Carnet is accepted by Israel. For more detailed information regarding ATA Carnet please visit the International Trade Administration’s website.
It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C. or one of Israel’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
For general customs regulations please see the Customs and Import Restrictions page at the Department of State website.