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Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

Atlanta, Georgia
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Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

I have a bit of a unique situation. I am an Israeli citizen, but I don't speak any Hebrew. I was born in Israel in 1974, but raised in Canada, so I hold Canadian and Israeli passports. I have visited Israel many times, lived and toured there for 6 months when I was 19. I have not been back since 2004.

In May of 2012 I will be taking my wife there for her first trip. I have always wanted to visit Petra and I was wondering if there are any issues with crossing the border into Jordan for Israeli citizens?

I will be using my Canadian passport, though it does list my country of birth as being Israel.

I always have issues with my citizenship when I travel to Israel, clearing customs is always a nightmare for me. I often have to get papers from the Israeli consulate, but even then I have to have my uncle who is an officer in the military meet me at customs to get me through quickly.

When I have crossed the Taba border to go to Dahab, again, I always have issues when I come back into Israel. I get back in, but it's never simple. Try explaining to Israeli customs officials why I am an Israeli, with a Canadian passport that can't speak Hebrew is never fun, and I won't even go into the military service thing....

So, is it even possible, and if so, is it worth the hassle going into Jordan and then coming back into Israel? Personally I can take it, I am used to it, and I have arguing with them down to a science, but I don't want to drag my wife into it, or have her worry. If it is going to be a big issue I'll just have to skip Petra.

Any advice would be great, thanks :)

Tel Aviv, Israel
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1. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

First of all, it is illegal for Israeli citizens to use a non-Israeli passport to enter or exit Israel. I am a dual citizen as well (US/Israel). As is required by Israeli law, I always enter Israel ONLY with the Israeli passport. When I exit Israel I do the same.

When arriving in another country, you can use either of your passports. Though I urge you to use your Israeli passport when entering Jordan. The two countries have a peace accord that allows Israelis to travel to Jordan freely.

I assume you will be using an Israeli tour operator in Eilat for your Petra package. If so, they'll have plenty of experience in organzing the visa to Jordan for both Israeli and non-Israeli citizens.

Israel
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2. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

It is perfectly legal for Israelis to visit Jordan and that will not cause you any problems.

As Dave noted, and both he and I know from first hand experience, as a dual national you MUST use an Israeli passport to enter and exit Israel. If you have not been doing that, that may be the cause of some of the problems you have had.

I know plenty of dual nationals who visit Jordan - they leave Israel using their Israeli passport, then enter Jordan with the other one (US, Canada, France, whatever) and reverse the procedure on the way back. The fact that you don't speak Hebrew is not the problem - the problem is that you have been using a Canadian passport when you should be using an Israeli one.

NYC/Israel
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3. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

You are correct in that your situation is unique. It probably applies to only a tiny percentage of travelers. Israeli boarder personnel are not fools. They are very aware that many Israelis left Israel as children and do not speak Hebrew. It is not clear if you use or not the Israeli passport you said you have when you enter Israel. If not, this is a huge problem. ( as already mentioned by Oreet and Dave)

You indicate you were last there in 2004. That means you were 30 years old. As you know Israeli men are all required to either enroll in the military or have an exemption. You apparently had neither. Living in Israel for 6 months when you were 19 and very eligible for the draft is also something that was most likely a huge red flag.

Dave and Oreet have responded to you. I am writing because I do not want anyone else reading this thread to be concerned and think anything here could be applied to them. ( unless they are in the same circumstance)

Tel Aviv, Israel
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4. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

I have a friend who made aliyah and became an Israeli citizen. His garin broke up and he eventually returned to live in the U.S. He subsequently traveled to Israel at least a half dozen times over the years, using his US passport to enter and leave.

A couple of years ago he was here on a visit and we rather spontaneously decided to go to Petra. At the border crossing in Eilat, he was told that though he could exit on his US passport, it was highly unlikely that he would be allowed to reenter Israel the next day . We were booked for a 2-day tour with Desert Ecotours (who had warned us this would probably happen). After a lot of explanations and pleading, the staff agreed to contact Jerusalem and request that special permission be given to my friend to re-enter on his US passport. We had to wait quite a while (we arrived at the border around 7 am but the ministry office in Jerusalem didn't open before 8 am). He was given permission and we had no trouble on the return to Israel. He was also instructed to get an Israeli passport immediately and to use it to leave the country and on subsequent visits here.

Our overall impression was that the authorities at the Eilat border crossing were much stricter both with passports and with security checks than anything either of us had encountered in multiple trips through Ben-Gurion.

If you have an Israeli passport, why aren't you using it when you come here? Had my friend had an Israeli passport there would not have been any fuss. He simply never needed it, so after it expired, he didn't spend the money to renew it.

Edited: 05 December 2011, 22:48
Israel
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5. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

Just use the Israeli passport, why the question. There may be employees at the crossing that will make your crossing difficult no matter what passport you hold. If you are attuned to this possiblity go to Jordan, enjoy and return with your Israeli passport. You are past enlistment age and shouldn't have a problem with this.

Chana

Israel

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

Wow, thanks for all the good advice. I didn't want to make my post terribly longer than it was, so I had to omit some details.

On my last visit to Israel in 2004, when I was 30 years old, it was because my grandmother had died, so I did not have the time to renew my expired Israeli passport, and I had entered on my Canadian before. I had a copy of the death certificate faxed to me so that I could present it at customs and explain my situation. I had my expired Israeli passport with me. With no Uncle to meet me this time at the airport I was taken aside as usual and questioned, but thankfully out of respect for the dead and the fact that I had to rush over to make a funeral in 24 hours they let me go without much fuss.

When I was 19 (1994) and spent 6 months in Israel, I had arranged through the consulate permission to be in the country. I moved to Canada when I was only a year old, so the case for me and the army was really a non-issue, since I had done all of my schooling in Canada. I just had to get papers that said so. Even then, armed with a pile of papers (All of them in Hebrew which I couldn't read of course) I was questioned at customs until my Uncle came into the room and got me out of there. On that trip I went to Dahab but when I came back through the Taba border I decided to come in using my Canadian passport and it was much easier. Maybe they didn't notice that I didn't have any Israeli stamps in it, or that it said I was from Israel, but it was easy. Looking back I think I was just lucky.

After that trip and years later when I finished university, I went back several times, and I used my Canadian passport, but I always had the expired Israeli one with me. I always go to the consulate in person before each trip and discuss my situation, so perhaps it is put into the system that I am coming. I did not know that it was illegal to enter on another passport, and I can't believe that they wouldn't have told me so, but I have entered Israel (if you include Taba) 4 times now on my Canadian passport.

Since Jordan is another country entirely, I wasn't sure on the procedures for that border crossing and Israelis. I travel to Israel a lot less now, there are other places in the world to visit, but I have wanted to show my wife where I am from and for her to finally meet the family that I have there. I do not have much of a desire to pay for a new passport that will probably expire before I ever use it again after this trip, but now I'm thinking that I probably should and save myself the trouble. Personally I can deal with customs at Ben Guiron, but I don't want to be stuck at the Eilat border while they try to figure out my situation, and I'm sure that will really freak my wife out.

Thanks again for all of the good advice :)

Man I hate going to the consulate. On my last visit they asked me where I lived, I said Mississauga and the guy goes "What?! but no Jews live there!"

All I could think of to reply back was "...what's your point?" He didn't find that amusing.

Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

Oh and I plan on using the Desert Eco Tours that was mentioned in this thread. Everyone here seems to love them and they get nothing but good reviews, so I'm sold :)

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

I contacted the consulate, looks like a new israeli passport is in my future. At least this one will be good for 10 years. The one I had when I was 19, I got when I was 17, so it was only valid for 5 years.

Thanks again for all the advice :)

Ottawa, Canada
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9. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

I am also a dual citizen (not of Israel though).

When entering the country of which you are a citizen, most countries will require that you use the passport of that country.

This, by the way is also the law for dual citizens traveling to the United States. Many of my friends have dual American/Canadian citizenship. When going to the States, they need to enter using the US passport and return to Canada using their Canadian passport (or they have to have other proof of citizenship). When traveling to the UK, I need to enter on my UK passport and I reenter Canada on my Canadian passport.

Passport rules are changing and dual citizens need to make sure they stay up to date.

Good thing that you will be getting the Israeli passport. That should eliminate the issues you have faced in the past and make it much easier.

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Israeli citizen going to visit Petra..issues?

Yes, it is a real pain, but necessary. I am on the way to getting my US citizenship as well, so I will hold 3 passports eventually. My wife holds US and Canadian passports. She always has to carry both when we cross the border.