Obtaining a European Tourist Visa for Israeli Passport Holders
What are the new rules regarding obtaining a European tourist visa for Israeli passport holders? Starting November 2024, the tourist visa reform regarding Israeli tourists in Europe will enter into effect. Those wishing to visit European Union countries with an Israeli passport will have to obtain a tourist visa (ETIAS) in advance. The visa application process will be performed online, prior to the visit.
The European continent is one of the most popular tourist destinations among Israelis. European capitals, such as Paris, Rome, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Barcelona are considered especially popular among Israeli tourists, as well as other destinations, such as the Islands of Greece. In recent years, various Eastern European destinations, such as various cities in Poland and Romania, have also become popular among Israelis. This follows the Freedoms of the Air Agreement between Israel and the European Union, and low cost airlines’ entry to the Israeli market, offering very cheap flights to these destinations. In light of the great demand for various tourist destinations in the European Union, it’s important to know about the veritable revolution that is expected to take place in this area in the near future. Following this reform, people would no longer be able to visit Europe with an Israeli passport without obtaining a visa in advance.
The European Union visa reform will not only affect Israelis, but also the citizens of approximately 60 different countries around the world, including the Unites States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. It’s important to note that even now, the visa requirements apply with respect to those only holding an Israeli passport, or a passport of any of the countries obliged to obtain a European visa. This requirement does not apply to those holding a European Union passport or a Swiss passport. This is one of many advantages that these passports are expected to grant to their holders. Below we explain the new visa, and the process required to obtain it.
European tourist visa – what does it mean?
Following the rise in cases of illegal immigration and terrorist attacks in various European countries, the European Commission decided to enact measures for dealing with these issues. One of them is establishing a visa requirement for tourists arriving in Europe, ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System). The new visa system is somewhat similar to the United States’ tourist visa system, the ESTA (which is relevant, for example, for the holders of certain European passports, but does not apply to Israeli passports).
Those arriving from countries obliged to obtain a tourist visa will have to register in the online system and obtain an approval to visit European Union countries which have signed the Schengen Convention (including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein, which are not members of the European Union). The European Union countries which will require the obtainment of a tourist visa prior to visiting include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
The ETIAS visa will allow people to visit these countries for tourism purposes for up to 90 days, subject to the presentation of a valid Israeli passport for the duration of the planned visit. The visa will remain valid for 3 years. Following this period, you will have to obtain a new visa. During the visa’s period of validity, you could visit the above countries according to the 90/180 rule. Meaning, within a period of 180 days, you would be able to stay in the above countries (and even travel between them) for a duration of up to 90 accumulated days. It’s important to note the duration of the stay, according to the stamp on the applicant’s passport, in order to avoid any sanctions, such as fines, or a future refusal of entry to the European Union’s jurisdiction.
What do you need to obtain a European tourist visa?
The European authorities promise that the visa issuance process will be simple, and that the great majority of applicants will obtain it. The visa application must be submitted through the online system at the ETIAS official website. After the system launches, you will have to use it to fill out an online form with various details, including, among other things, the applicant’s email address, their passport number, the passport’s validity, and the applicant’s personal details (full name, age, sex, contact details, occupation, etc.).
In addition to filling out the form, you will need to pay a fee, which is expected to stand at an amount of 7 Euro. Minors under the age of 18, as well as senior citizens aged 70 or over, will not be be charged with a fee to submit their visa application. It is emphasized that no additional payment will be charged by the European authorities. Private agency websites are expected to offer assistance services in submitting the application, for additional payment. It’s important to know that you have no obligation to use these agencies, since independently filling out the form, on the official ETIAS website, will very likely allow you to obtain this visa. The process of filling out the form is not expected to take more than a few minutes. After filling it out, you will receive a response for the ETIAS system, mostly a quick one (the European authorities claim that response will be sent within a few minutes).
What to do if your European tourist visa was declined?
In light of the positive and close relationships between European countries and Israel, it’s rather unlikely that visa applications would be declined. Despite this, there might still be anecdotal cases of ETIAS visa denial. Such cases might include, among other things, cases where false information was reported in the application form, cases of inter-state travel limitations due to a world pandemic (as in the COVID-19 pandemic), as well as cases where the applicants have a criminal record, which raises suspicion of terrorist activities or illegal immigration to Europe. In these specific cases, it is recommended to obtain the assistance of a lawyer specializing in immigration law, in order to submit an appeal regarding this decision, or to examine alternative solutions to enable their visit.
When will the reform enter into effect?
The ETIAS system’s launch was already postponed a number of times. In actuality, the system was already supposed to be in operation since 2022. Following this, the date was postponed to May 2023. Now, the European authorities have stated that the system will launch in November 2024. Our law firm, which specializes in immigration law, is closely following developments in this area, and will keep updating you on our website.
Obtaining a European tourist visa for Israeli passport holders – contact our immigration law specialists
In this guide, we have provided an explanation about obtaining a European tourist visa, in order to visit most European countries, which is expected to enter into effect in the near future. As stated above, this requirement will apply to Israeli passport holders, but not the holders of European Union passports or a Swiss passport. For any question or assistance with immigration to Europe, or with acquiring an additional citizenship, the lawyers from our law firm will be happy to be at your service. Our law firm, located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in immigration law and the obtainment of foreign citizenships in European Union countries, including German citizenships, Austrian citizenships, Lithuanian citizenships, Estonian citizenships, Polish citizenships, French citizenships, Dutch citizenships, and more. Click here to contact an immigration lawyer from our firm.