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Business Travel

Business Customs

Israel’s business environment has no particular business protocols; it mainly follows western US style conventions, which makes most U.S. businesspeople feel very comfortable in doing business in Israel.

American business travelers will find the dress code in both the public and private sectors to be much less formal than in the U.S. “Business Suit” maybe appropriate in meetings with high level executives and government officials.

Appointments can be made on fairly short notice; however, reconfirming appointments is advised, given that most Israelis tend to have busy schedules. Israelis arrive well prepared for meetings and are very direct. It’s desired to provide your hosts with an agenda outlining your objectives in advance. Exchange of business cards is common, although some may be less alert by this practice. Therefore, provide your business card early on and politely request one in return, if not offered.

In terms of language, English is widely spoken in the business community and in government offices, but knowing and using a few Hebrew words, especially introductory phrases and greetings, can be useful.

Travel Advisory

U.S. travelers can refer to State’s International Travel Information for the most up-to-date information on Travel Warnings and Visa Requirements for Israel.

Visa Requirements

A visa is not required for Americans traveling for tourism or short-term business projects. Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel up to three months from the date of their arrival, in accordance with the conditions of the visa issued to them upon their entrance to Israel.

Visitors intending to work in Israel must submit a request to the Ministry of the Interior for a special visa. For more information please visit: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/Consular_affairs/Visas.htm#A/4

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/

US Embassy Israel, Consular section: http://israel.usembassy.gov/consular/niv/nonimmigrant.html

Telecommunications

Israel has a very competitive and dynamic telecommunications market with one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world and one of the highest household broadband penetration rates as well. 

In recent years Israelis were ranked the second most active Internet users in the world, after Canada, according to a comScore survey of Internet usage. There are seven main internet service providers, Bezeq international, NetVision, 013 Barak, 012 smile, Triple Cloud, Xphone 018, and Internet Rimon, all whom offer broadband Wireless Internet service to their clients.

Israel's competitive mobile communications market is served by four mobile network operators, Cellcom, Pelephone, Partner and MIRS. Competition has led the mobile network operators to engage in a round of merger and acquisition activity with fixed line players to offer integrated services. Competition further intensified following the granting of an Israeli MNO (mobile network operator) license to Golan Telecom, in June 2011 followed by MVNO (mobile virtual network operator or ‘wireless resale’) licenses to Rami Levi Cellular and YouPhone.

It is estimated that Israel has one of the highest levels in the world of people who own and operate a cell phone on a daily basis. Cell phones for visitors are available for rental at Ben Gurion Airport or through hotels.

Transportation

Israel has an extensive road network that connects the entire country and has advanced inland and international transport facilities. Rental cars, taxis and limousines with driver are readily available for U.S. Visitors. U.S. drivers may rent cars with a valid U.S. or international driver’s license.

One of the most notable advances in transport in Israel in recent years has been the modernization of the train system. Commuter trains run from Tel Aviv to most of the large cities from Nahariya in the north to Dimona in the south, including Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport. Extensive freight services are available and most often used between Haifa, the port in the north, and Ashdod, Israel’s primary port in the south.

Ben Gurion International Airport offers connections to major international destinations. Ben Gurion is the country’s center of air passenger and cargo operations. Several companies still provide internal flights between Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat from Sde Dov city airport.

There is no public transportation on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown).

Ben Gurion International Airport: www.iaa.gov.il
Israel Railways: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/Pages/HomePage.aspx

Language

Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel. English is the third and principal international language, and Russian is also prevalent. Many signs in public places are in all three languages. Most Israelis are multilingual.

Health

Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. Service may be somewhat limited on Fridays and Saturdays (the Israeli ‘weekend’) so special attention should be paid to making arrangements in advance. if possible, for service on these days. Travelers can find information written in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the "Jerusalem Post" newspaper.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven useful. The international traveler's website for the Center for Disease Control can be accessed at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Local Time: UTC + 2 hours (7-6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST), and observes daylight savings.)

Business Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 8:00a.m – 5:00 p.m. for most businesses and government offices. Occasionally, business people will be willing to hold meetings on Friday mornings.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday and closed on U.S. holidays and Israeli holidays.

2013 Israeli Holidays: All businesses in Israel are closed

Passover (1st Day)* Tuesday March 26

Passover (Last Day)* Monday April 1

Israeli Independence Day Tuesday April 16

Shavuot (Pentecost) Wednesday May15

Rosh Hashanah (Day 1) Thursday September 5

Rosh Hashanah (Day 2) Friday September 6

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Saturday September 14

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)* Thursday September 19

Simhat Torah (Rejoicing of the law)* Thursday September 26

*Note: Some businesses and all government offices are closed during the week of Passover (March 26 - April 1) and Sukkot (September 14 -26).

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

The ATA Carnet is accepted by Israel. For more information please visit: http://export.gov/logistics/eg_main_018129.asp

It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Israel in Washington or one of Israel's consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding customs requirements.

For general customs regulations please see our information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html or http://ozar.mof.gov.il/customs/eng/mainpage.htm

Web Resources

U.S. Travelers: Online Internet Registration for U.S. citizens

Travel warnings: State - International Travel