Are You Banned From Certain Countries If You Have An Israeli Stamp In Your Passport?
The mystery around whether you are banned from certain countries if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport is one of those vexing travel questions that seems to come up during every discussion about travel to Israel, especially given the number of travelers visiting Israel through Birthright. So the question remains, is it true? Are you prohibited from visiting other countries in the Middle East if you have a stamp from Israel?
The answer is that the answer is not very clear. One thing to remember when trying to find hard “rules” regarding entrance requirements for countries in much of the world is that there are no hard rules. (Ask five different people what was required of them to enter country “X” and you’re likely to get five different responses, each depending on the competency, level of training and desire for bribes by the local official at that particular border crossing.)
Needless to say, trying to find exact information as to which countries will deny you entrance based upon having an Israeli stamp varies wildly. As one would assume, a country that denies entrance to another country’s citizens based solely on their citizenship is likely not a country with a model bureaucracy staffed with honest, highly-trained personnel who follow strict orders.
However, there does seem to be some consensus as to which countries do restrict access. They are as follows:
Iraq (except the northern Kurdish region)
There have also been reports of problems entering the following countries:
Saudi Arabia (reportedly not strictly enforced due to pressure by the U.S.)
However, that being said, even a cursory search through Lonely Planet’s thorn tree forum reveals numerous instances of travelers entering the above countries despite having an Israeli stamp — most likely a result of local border guards stamping passports without bothering to spend much time looking through it. Bribes, insistent pleadings, name-dropping and just plain good luck all seemed to have also played a part in travelers getting by these restrictions.
Of course, planning to drop your Uncle’s name or slipping $20 to an immigration official isn’t the best way to organize a trip. Most visitors recommend getting by this restriction by simply asking the Israeli immigration official upon arrival not to stamp your passport, but instead to stamp a piece of paper that you can present upon your departure. Most travelers have success with this tactic, but be forewarned, there have been reports of Israeli officials finding this behavior suspicious and singling those travelers out for questioning. So make sure to allot plenty of time for your departure if you plan to take this route.
The good news is that neighboring countries Egypt and Jordan clearly allow travelers with Israeli stamps, and you will have no problems crossing over their borders, something our friend Aaron of Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures told me recently upon returning from the region.
Given the region’s recent unrest and political turmoil, this list is obviously in flux. Where have you been recently? Have you had any experience or problems traveling with an Israeli stamp? If so, leave your comments below.
By Matt Stabile
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Stabile is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheExpeditioner.com. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time at TheExpeditioner.com. (@TheExpeditioner)