Many visitors to Israel are confused about the Israeli passport stamp, the implications it can cause on future travels, and the question of whether or not they can ask for no stamp.
Visiting Arab Countries with an Israeli Passport Stamp
Israeli passport stamp. Image Matthew Wilkinson
Some Arab countries do not allow people with an Israel stamp in their passport to enter, others have no problem with the stamp, whilst some will let you in, but after some questioning.
Visiting Jordan and Egypt with an Israeli stamp in your passport is no problem at all as there are full diplomatic relations and open borders between Israel and these countries. It is also not a problem to visit Morocco, Oman, or the UAE (Dubai, Qatar, etc) with an Israeli passport stamp. In most other Arab countries, having an Israeli stamp in your passport can cause problems or even refusal in entering at the border.
Stamping a Piece of Paper
The traditional way that visitors to Israel have got around the Israeli passport stamp “problem” has been by asking the border officials to stamp a piece of paper, or entry card. In fact, since early 2013, at Ben Gurion Airport, passport stamping has almost totally stopped, and been replaced by the issuing of an entry card. This solves the problem for most visitors… in theory.
Whilst your passport might not contain an Israeli passport stamp, if you decide to make a trip to Jordan or Egypt via the land borders with Israel, the Jordanian or Egyptian border officials will stamp your passport. Trained agents in many Arab countries will see these stamps and consider them the same as having an Israeli entry stamp.
How to get around the problem
If you are likely to visit a “hostile” Arab country after visiting Israel, the simple solution is to get a second passport, or a new passport when you need to enter that country. It’s unfortunately, a relatively common practice, and one which can prevent any issues when it comes to entering these countries.
Do Arab stamps cause a problem entering Israel?
There’s a myth that Israel bans entry to people with passport stamps from countries who ban entry to those with Israeli passport stamps. You can expect some questions when you enter Israel regarding the nature of your visit to those countries, but many people conduct business across the Middle East, and increasingly, people are backpacking or traveling across the region, so it is not uncommon, and not in any way in itself, a problem when entering Israel.