Immigration to Israel – Aliyah personal experience
Memo to a new immigrant on my experience
All materials are compiled from personal experience of recent repatriation to Israel and communication with a large number of similar sufferers of the local bureaucratic system. This is the most up-to-date and complete list of materials with the best tips and tricks we have learnt through experience. We hope that this article will help you to make friends with the Israeli bureaucracy and quickly process all the documents.
Before arriving in Israel
- join social networking groups in your city
- learn how to search for accommodation through social networks (short-term rentals are called “sablet”) – there are groups called “Haifa sablet”, “Tel Aviv rentals” etc. Long-term rentals are searched at yad2.co.il/ with browser translation
- look for accommodation on airbnb (you can try to negotiate with the host to pay cash)
- find the nearest place in your city to buy a ravkav transport card and get the rav-kav online and moovit app (more on rav-kav later).
At Ben-Gurion Airport
Once you arrive in Israel with a repatriate visa, you may be met at the exit of the plane (if you take an organised flight), or you may have to find the office of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration at the airport yourself. To find this office yourself, watch our vlog about how we flew to Israel ourselves without Sohnut.
The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration office at the airport will give you a SIM card, part of the repatriation basket, information materials, health insurance (you have to choose which one) and order a taxi to the place you say you want to go. You may also be given an old-style identity card (teudat zeut).
It is advisable to know in advance where you will be staying in Israel. It is important to take into account that you will be bureaucratically tied to this place through the propiska, which then will not be so easy to change. And many issues in Israel are solved at the place of residence (bank, health insurance, etc.). To change your residence address in the future, you will need a standard one-year lease or you can simply change your address once a year in your online account.
At the airport, you will be given a new repatriate’s identity card (called teudat ole – a blue book, shared by a family). Keep it for the whole period of validity, as it can be used to take advantage of the benefits of new repatriates. We were given contacts to call with any questions: *2994/03-9733333, www.klita.gov.il & gov.il/
Transport card rav-kav
All transport in Israel is paid for either through a rav-kav card or through your mobile phone (which requires a bank account). If you do not have a bank account, you will need to buy a rav-kav card and deposit money on it. This can be done at special kiosks (kaspomats).
Such kiosks are usually found in large shopping centres (here they are called Canyon) or at the central station of the city, there are also additional sales offices. Where to buy ravkav – it is better to ask locals in social networks and check on the website https://ravkavonline.co.il/ru/public-transport-in-israel
If you have an account, you can pay via your phone (there are many apps, same moovit, rav pass, etc) – people often scan the qr code at the entrance to pay. The app can also optimise your spending itself. You can even pay with your bank card itself, having attached it to the validator.
Four first steps
The old-style Teudat Zeut
To get an old-style Teudat Zeut – if you were not given one at the airport (internal passport, here called an ID card). To do this, you need to go to the nearest branch of the Ministry of Interior (misrAd apnim). At this step, you will be assigned a propiska address at the address where you live.
In theory, you can sign up through MyVisit (an app for queuing; a new GoVisit app is being developed), but in fact we were advised to just turn up early at 7:30am and join the live queue, show your new repatriate book and ask to be signed up on the spot. You need to bring all your documents, photos and what you were given at the airport.
We received our ID card in Rishon LeZion, which took a few weeks because we arrived on holidays. Usually it is much quicker. The old Teudat Zeut will need to be changed to a new biometric one, this will be described in the next step. This is what it was like to get an old-style Teudat Zeut in Israel + tips on how to behave at the Ministry of Interior (misrad apnim):
Open a bank account in Israel
Open a bank account – for a couple to make a joint account. Any bank is chosen, and you need to bring the paperwork from the airport there. Usually there is a Russian-speaking employee at the bank. But our branch didn’t have one, only an English-speaking employee, so we explained ourselves in English. In any case, all bank documents are in Hebrew and you will have to sign a huge pile of papers. If you don’t have someone with you who can tell you what’s what, here’s a quick trick — use Google Translator on your phone and translate the papers through the “photo translation” function.
Israel’s banking system is very different from ours, so before you go to open an account – watch this video, then you will not be surprised that a bank card will be sent to you separately by post in a week:
💡Lifehack: some banks ask for your TIN (e.g. Leumi) and some don’t ask for it.
The account has to be activated, sometimes you have to put a few shekels into the account. But our account was activated immediately at the bank branch. Please check this point on the spot. And also remember that new repatriates have a discount on bank transactions, i.e. you should not be charged a commission – check how it works in your bank. At Leumi we were automatically charged a fee, and then we went to the branch and were “handed” a handful of shekels back.
If you plan to rent a place for a year on a rental agreement, you will most likely need a cheque book, you can order it from the bank when you open an account. The bank card and cheque book arrive a week later by post. There may be a delay in delivery, so allow 3 weeks for the cards and cheque book to arrive (especially if it falls on a holiday).
Visit Aliyah (Klita) Ministry
Make an appointment with your personal supervisor at the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and arrange for an absorption basket (also called an absorption coordinator or counsellor, and the ministry itself is called MisrAd KlitA). The appointment is made by phone, which you will be given at the airport (the number is in your teudat olah).
Sign up for “basket” (financial support)
To certify educational documents
At the meeting you should bring your bank account number, all your documents, airport documents, education and employment documents and copies of them (to be certified free of charge to prove your education, degrees and work experience).
We managed to photocopy our education documents for free right in Klita, but this is not always the case. Sometimes you have to pay for the photocopies with coins, so bring some cash with you.
Visit the health insurance company
Receive a magnetic card from a member of the health insurance fund (14 days after arrival in Israel). Free basic health insurance for six months after repatriation. Just go to the nearest office of the health insurance company you chose at the airport. When we went to apply for the medical card, they offered various additional options, but until you figure it out, it’s okay to take nothing extra so they don’t charge you more money.
Once you have your first documents and go to the curator at the Ministry of Absorption – you will start to be transferred to the basket and you can generally take a bit of a break from the bureaucracy. But don’t relax, there are still a few things to do or add a reminder to your calendar so you don’t forget to do in the future.
Next steps in Israel
A to-do list in no particular order, as everyone will have their own priorities. Some of these things have deadlines, so it is better to go through the whole list and add to your personal calendar those things that are relevant to you.
Register on gov.il
This is the official website, where all the information is available to you. You can also register in the new immigrant’s personal account – there you will see a list of the current steps and you can contact your supervisor online. Most future questions can be solved online. But we still need to get new documents.
Make appointment in the Israeli Ministry of Interior
To obtain biometric documents – a new-type teudat zeut and a darqon (passport). It is convenient to do this at the same time by signing up at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (misrad apnim) via MyVisit. You can sign up at any MIA office in any city! Now they are developing a new GoVisit application, but the essence is the same. How to correctly and quickly sign up at the Ministry of Interior in Israel for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, we tell you in the video:
If you will be issuing both documents, select the “biometric document” service in the application:
Biometric Teudat Zeut
Darkon (international passport)
👉 The rules for issuing a darqon to new repatriates are being changed to issue such a passport to those who have lived in Israel for a year (check at the time of application)
Next, you need to pay the fee for the documents (you need a bank account!), it is convenient to do this online.
💡Lifehack: if you pay online, there is a discount during the winter period (from 1 November to the last day of February).
Details about biometric document processing:
It is more convenient to make two documents at once, so that you don’t have to travel all the time. But you should remember that in order to obtain a darcon immediately upon arrival, you will need to fill out a “waiver of refusal”.
Refusal to waive the waiver
There is such a thing that newly arrived repatriates have the right to renounce Israeli citizenship within 3 months. Therefore, in order to issue a darqon sooner than 3 months after repatriation, you need to waive your right to renounce your citizenship (this is a “waiver of renunciation”). We found this form (.pdf) on the internet and the MOI matched it.
Lesse passé (instead of darcon?)
The first darqon is for one year. Then, if you spend 75% of the time since repatriation in Israel, you are given a 5-year darqon. And then it can be changed to a 10-year one if you spend 75% of your time in Israel.
💡Lifehack: you can get a Lesse-Passe (Teudat Maavar) instead of a Darkon, it is given for 5 years. And the difference is essentially a visit to the UK.
Obtaining and activating biometric documents
After you have been photographed and biometrised at the Ministry of Interior, your application is accepted and you will be given a personal code and a memo. You have to wait another 10 days to get a new teudat zeut and a few weeks to get a darqon. The documents are delivered by post – they can just throw them in the letterbox or give them to someone who is at home. Although the idea is that you should receive the documents in person by personalised code, but in reality everything is much simpler.
As soon as you receive the envelopes with the passports, you will receive a text message saying that you need to activate them. You need to send a digit by number, thus confirming that it is you who has received the documents. All the details of document delivery and activation are in this video:
Assign a mobile phone number
Transfer your mobile phone number to yourself (within 3 months of repatriation) so that you still have the number of the SIM card you were given at the airport. A bank account number will be required, all can be arranged online. Details on how to do this:
Confirm (evaluate) a diploma in education
Confirmation of diplomas is done online – see https://students.education.gov.il/ – when you first visit your supervisor at the Ministry of Absorption, it is advisable to stamp the copies of your education documents immediately and clarify how you should proceed in order to confirm your education.
Algorithm of diploma confirmation: when you first go to the website, click on the online application page https://apps.education.gov.il/ChsNet/home/index and at the bottom of the page click on the left button (Sing up for the portal – enrollment).
These materials are on the official website ⤵️
Guidelines for registering on the website: https://meyda.education.gov.il/files/Mercaz_Meyda/regirus/pdf.pdf
How to apply for diploma recognition: https://meyda.education.gov.il/files/Mercaz_Meyda/degreerus/pdf.pdf
Confirm academic degree (Ph.D.)
In Israel, such a degree is considered a third degree and its confirmation is better to start with the confirmation of the primary diplomas of education (first – Bachelor’s or second – Master’s). In addition to the confirmed diploma, you need documents from the dissertation council.
List of additional documents to confirm the PhD degree (it is better to collect them in advance in the country where the defence took place, and take them with you to Israel):
- third degree (PhD diploma)
- academic transcript with courses and examinations – if available
- documents on passing the examinations of the candidate minimum – if available
- protocol of doctorate (PhD thesis) defence
- official document from the university indicating the names and positions of the members of the dissertation council (including third-party opponents)
- a certificate on the number of years of study for the degree, indicating exact dates
- third degree questionnaire and application form (link from the official website), certified by a lawyer
- Thesis (If the thesis is not written in English or Hebrew, an abstract or an abstract in English or Hebrew and a full English translation of the reference list certified by an Israeli notary public may be submitted. A full translation of some sections of the thesis may be requested).
📜 Full list of documents you need to attach to your online application for PhD confirmation:
Confirmation of the number of years of study
Proof of Master’s degree equivalence
Proof of Bachelor’s degree equivalence
Certificate of direct pathway to PhD degree
A transcript detailing courses and examinations
Third Degree Diploma
Bachelor’s and Master’s diplomas (if the first and second degrees were obtained abroad, all documents as above must be submitted for their evaluation). For holders of previous Israeli diplomas – only diplomas need to be submitted
Members of the defence committee An official document from the institution stating the names and roles of the members of the defence committee
Documents for the entrance examination
Full text of the doctoral thesis
Minutes of the defence of the doctoral thesis
Photo of the first page of the doctoral thesis
Photo of the first page of the doctoral thesis + bibliography + abstract
Template for downloading the PhD application form
Israeli bachelor’s degree
Israeli Master’s degree certificate
👩🎓If the documents are in order, an interview is scheduled with the expert council. This is a prerequisite for obtaining a degree certificate.
Integration in science for immigrant scientists
If you are a PhD candidate or a doctoral candidate, after your first visit to Klita and having your academic documents certified there (stamps on copies), you will be contacted by email by the science supervisors and invited to apply for the Integration Programme for Scientists (formerly the “Shapiro Fellowship”, but now the funding is different).
If you would like to apply to be recognised as a scientist as a new repatriate, you can do so on the website: https://www.gov.il/ru/service/application_for_recognition_as_a_scientist
Once you have submitted all the necessary documents, the area supervisor for your topic will contact you and conduct an interview, help you optimise your CV and advise you where there are suitable vacancies for you. If everything goes well, you will be helped to find a job for your qualification and your employer will have co-financing for several years.
Obtain a local driving licence
Change your driving licence to a local one.
Confirmation of driving licence without examination is possible if the new repatriate has been in the country for no more than 5 years and his driving experience exceeds 5 years. The fee is 440 shekels. The procedure starts with filling in the form (in Fig. 1 – blue button “Submit Online”), if you don’t have any health problems, you should write so, if you do – you will need to attach a doctor’s certificate.
Then you will receive a text message to a local number saying that you can go to one of the special opticians to have your photo taken and your eyesight checked. You choose the nearest certified optician and go there with the phone number you were texted and your Teudat Zeut and Teudat Ole. At this optician they will take a photo for your licence and offer to check your eyesight (the price is 50-80 shekels). There you get your green form (Tofes Yarok), and it will probably be uploaded to an online system rather than handed to you.
Next comes a text message saying you can sign up at the Ministry of Transport for a replacement licence – conveniently done online at the website: white “Continue” button at the bottom of the page:
Then we have two options to choose from: 1) you can order a call – phone queue in the county where you are registered or 2) make an appointment directly with the MOT office (misrad arishui).
If you’re ordering a phone queue:
You will have to wait 1-2 weeks for a call. At the time for which you have been booked – keep your phone ready, but keep in mind that the actual call may be a couple of hours late. An employee of the Ministry of Transport calls and asks you to email her the documents: your original licence (scan of both sides), Teudat Zeut, Teudat Ole. They may also ask for a translation of your licence or a certificate of driving experience, if your new Russian licence has a clause 14, where the year of issue of the licence is simply written, but the word “experience” is not written.
If you come to the MOT office yourself:
We take all the same documents (teudat zeut, teudat ole, licence) with us. If everything is OK, you pay the fee and you will be issued a temporary licence on the spot, while a 10-year permanent licence (plastic card) will be mailed to your address of residence within a month. If you do not want to wait and receive your licence at your address of residence, you can pay for accelerated issuance and collect it yourself.
To collect your driving licence on your own:
There is an option to pick up your licence faster, so you don’t have to wait for delivery by post – you have to tell the officer! You can come and collect it yourself. There are two pick-up locations:
1) Ben-Gurion Airport
2) Kibbutz Bari in the south near Gaza (where the licence is printed).
💡To pick up your licence yourself, you need to pay the state fee at a government website or terminal (available at the Ministry of Transport or Superfarm). On the same day, pay for the service on the website of Kibbutz Bari ( https://fastdl.co.il ) – there you can choose where you want to pick up your licence (the cheapest option is from Kibbutz Bari; or at Ben Gurion Airport Terminal 3, which is more expensive). Once your licence is ready, you receive a text message and you can go to pick it up (the licence is stored for a fortnight).
More information on the Ministry of Transport hotline *5678 (then press 1, then press 4 to be answered by a Russian-speaking staff member).
Enrolment in ulpan (Hebrew courses)
Get a pass ticket to an ulpan – a language school (Hebrew language school). New repatriates are entitled to two free studies – one in a public and one in a private ulpan. You must be able to get an exemption from the governmant ulpan fees during the first 18 months after immigration and get privite ulpan cource during your first 10 years in Israel (check with your supervisor).
For young people under 27-35 years old (see age limits on the website), there is an opportunity for free education at a university in Israel – enrollment must be within the first 36 months after repatriation.
Visit the municipality of the city
In the municipality of your town (Iria):
Apply for arnona allowance
You can apply for an arnona allowance (a tax allowance for 1 year – 90 per cent discount for up to 100 m2 , which can be obtained from the municipality once you have a standard rental contract). If you do not use this discount immediately upon arrival, but temporarily rent a sublet or hotel, get letters from your landlord stating that you have actually lived there for the time being and have not used your arnona discount. You may be asked for such supporting documents in order to see that you have not yet realised your entitlement to the discount.
To enrol children in school / kindergarten
You are a pensioner or have children under 18
If you are a pensioner or have children under the age of 18, you must go to the National Insurance Service (Bituach Leumi) to claim your allowance.
Buying a car
When you buy a car, go to the tax office (Beit Mehesh) to get a discount.
Do you want to set up a business
There is a business initiative support programme for those who want to set up their own business. You can get free consultations with an accountant, a loan on favourable terms and business consulting.
Year of adaptation (income tax)
Within 90 days after repatriation, you have the opportunity to apply for an “adjustment year” – an exemption from income tax (mas ahnas) for the first year of living in Israel. If you decide to stay, after one year you will pay income tax as usual. You can apply on the website of the Department of Business Initiative Support and Tax Policy.
After the end of the “basket”
At the end of your first six months in Israel, you should contact your counsellor (absorption counsellor) to find out your eligibility for benefits and to discuss the next steps – you can come in person for an appointment or apply online in your personal new immigrant account.
If you are already working and are not entitled to a subsistence allowance, it is worth registering on the Bituach Leumi website to keep track of your compulsory insurance contributions. For more information about mandatory insurance contributions and taxes for new repatriates, see the final chapter, “Within 10 Years of Repatriation”.
💡Lifehack: you can get a financial allowance after your basket ends, but you have to apply for it yourself!
Subsistence allowance (unemployment)
- subsistence allowance (also called unemployment allowance, in Hebrew avtahat ahnasa) – this allowance is paid to those who earn less than a certain amount or who do not work (currently it is NIS 2,100 for a husband/wife couple).
If you receive this allowance, you will pay Bituach Leumi from it for another 6 months (i.e. if the full allowance is 2300, then about 200 shekels goes to social insurance and you will receive 2100 on your card). Without the allowance, you will have to pay the compulsory contribution to Bituach Leumi yourself after the end of the basket.
So if you don’t work or your family income is below the set amount (currently 3,694 NIS for a family of two), see the current figures at the link (at the bottom of the website in the table “Income Levels Eligible for the above assistance”) – you are entitled to this benefit.
You can apply for the allowance with your supervisor at your place of residence in Klita (Ministry of Aliyah) or online in your personal immigration account. How to do it online is shown in the video (from 1:25 minutes):
Living allowance for ulpan students (dmei kiyum)
The accrual of these benefits comes after the end of the repatriation basket and is not transferred automatically, it must be requested from the Ministry of Aliyah (Klita). This can be done online in the personal cabinet of a new repatriate – make a request to the counsellor and you will receive a reply within 5 days.
Rental allowance from the Ministry of Construction (flat)
After 8 months from arrival in Israel, apply to the Ministry of Absorption for a subsidy from the Ministry of Construction to rent a house. You can do this with your personal supervisor in your place of residence or online in your personal immigration account.
All new repatriates are entitled to a payment from the Ministry of Construction for 5 years after repatriation. The amount depends on the composition of the family, now for two people it is 400 shek (from 8 to 12 months), 800 shek (2nd year), 600 shek (3rd year), 400 shek (4th year), 99 shek (5th year). For up-to-date figures – see the website.
Within 10 years of repatriation
Six months after repatriation (or 12 months if you were receiving a subsistence allowance) you enter a new stage of life as a repatriate, where you will have to learn how to keep up with your own insurance premiums, taxes, and you still have immigration privileges for 10 years from the date of Aliyah.
Repatriates have access to a NIS 7,000 voucher for retraining or refresher courses.
For 3.5 years, new repatriates can reduce their income tax with preferential tax units (nikudot zikuy)
Bituah Leumi (social security insurance)
After the end of the basket (and the subsistence allowance), you must register in the personal account of the National Insurance Institute and pay the contributions yourself, so that no debt accumulates (one of the repatriates accumulated a debt of 10,000 shekels). If after repatriation you leave for another country, it is important to “freeze” payments to Bitauch Leumi.