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Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Liverpool, United...
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Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

I'm flying to Israel from the UK later in the week. I'm really looking forward to visiting Israel for the first time. I will be spending 3 nights in Tel Aviv and then 4 nights in Jerusalem before flying back to the UK. I'm travelling with a colleague/flat ate. We're both in our late 20s and white with no family connections/ties in the middle east.

I visited Syria 5 years ago on holiday for a week (visiting the sights in Damascus and Allepo) and now have a Syrian stamp on the first page of my UK passport. After reading reports on various forums, I'm now concerned about security procedures when entering Israel. Am I likely to be interrogated for hours? I don't have anything to hide, but it would be good to know - if possible - what to expect? Does anyone have recent first hand experience?

I still have my travel journey from my Syrian trip. This has all my tickets and various receipts etc (I tend to keep these things as souvenirs). Would bit be sensible to take this alone with me or is that just over-doing it?

Thanks to all for sharing your experiences.

Liverpool, United...
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1. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Apologies for the typos in my previous post! I was using my smartphone.

E.g Travel journey - I meant travel journal etc...

Israel
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2. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Israel doesn't bar entry to anyone based on where they have been. As long as all you were doing in Syria was tourism, and not engaging in hostile activity, and likewise your visit to Israel is for tourism and not in order to stir up trouble, you have nothing to fear.

You will be asked a lot of questions, which you must answer truthfully, no matter how irrelevant or stupid they seem. If you're asked what you ate for breakfast, it isn't because the immigration official is remotely interested in knowing what you ate for breakfast. He wants to know if you are telling the truth. A person with something to hide will likely fluff his answers. Be honest, and like thousand of others who have visited Syria, Lebanon, Iran etc., there is no reason why you should "be interrogated for hours". You don't need to bring all the receipts - I'm sure nobody else does!

Israel
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3. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Odds are you will be questioned a bit more than others, but as you say, you have nothing to hide and no hidden agendas for your visit. If it's not too much of a problem then, yes bring your travel journal with you - it can only help you if a problem arises.

NYC/Israel
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4. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

You will be asked a few extra questions and depending upon your answers that may be it. There is more written about "interrogation for hours" that there is reality to it. AND many who do have longer questions are only sharing half truths. A number of months ago someone here posted about their severe severe questioning. They also described themselves. However, another reader ( not a regular) provided a link to the person's true biography. It was very obvious why there was a lot of questions. If they were going to be on my flight--I would have wanted it too!

As shuffaluff wrote--honest, patient, calm! An acquaintance of mine just received a number of extra questions in NYC. Her passport was taken and they appeared to make a phone call. It was obviously returned. Her profile--white, Jewish, 59 years old, traveling alone and somewhat nervous. (by her own omission)

Manitou Springs...
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5. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Dear SaveFerris,

My partner and I visited Israel in March, and we had stamps in our passports indicating that we had gone to Syria about 16 months prior. At immigration, we were asked why we went to Syria, and we explained that it was for tourism. The agent then asked politely for us to go into a waiting room. We waited about 90 minutes. I think that we were asked a few questions, but basically we waited for them to complete their inquiries. It was perfectly fine! No problem at all, and everyone was very professional. Given the world we live in, I have to say that I am actually pleased that security is this careful. In my view, this was a good start to our trip, and we had an absolutely fabulous time discovering Israel.

Don't worry and enjoy! And just be a little patient. You'll be rewarded tenfold!

best, Tip

NYC/Israel
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6. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Tip--thanks for continuing to read the forum. Your voice of experience for this question is worth tenfold anything the rest of us have written.

Exeter, United...
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7. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

There is one common truth about going through any immigration check and that is not just about issues you may think you have with Israeli borders. It is the same question and answer which you would ask flying into John Lennon; Ringway; Heathrow or any airport?: Tell the truth! it is not difficult! It may delay your entry but it is the only way to do it ,and what I hope we expect from anyone arriving in our home country or the EU. Any hesitation about that says more about the pax than the border control.

If you tell the truth you have nothing to worry about.

Edited: 26 August 2012, 01:55
Liverpool, United...
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8. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Thanks to everyone for their responses.

It sounds like I might have a slightly longer trip through security. However, that's fine. My travel companion will just have to wait for me at bagge reclaim!

I don't have anything to hide and I'm happy to answer any questions if required. I also understand the security concerns behind the system.

I'm really looking forward to my first visit to Israel!

NYC/Israel
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9. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Please get back to us and share how it went.

Liverpool, United...
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10. Re: Entering Israel with Syrian stamp

Sure, will do.

I'm hoping that it will be relatively stress free - if only for my travel companion, who hasn't visited Syria and will likely proceed though security more quickly and have to wait for me at baggage reclaim! In hindsight, I could have applied for a new passport. However, that's an added expensive + paperwork, and my current passport has 5 years to run :)