There are two stamps most people want to avoid, the dreaded deportation stamp and an Israeli immigration stamp. While no way near as bad as a deportation stamp, an Israeli immigration stamp can cause you problems entering other countries. However, if you are planning to visit Israel or the Palestinian Territories, one thing that you can be sure of is that you will pass through an Israeli immigration checkpoint. So here’s my simple guide to avoid getting an Israeli stamp in your passport.
Option 1: Get A Second Passport
This might seem like a stupid way to start a talk on this subject as I specifically said I’d tell you how to avoid getting an Israeli stamp in your passport, but let me explain: it is not only Israel that realises that its immigration stamp can cause travellers problems, your government is also well aware of this fact. The Foreign Office for example is willing to issue a second passport for British citizens travelling through the Middle East for this specific reason.
I specifically started with this option because it is at the discretion of the Israeli immigration officer to decide whether to stamp your passport or not. So for whatever reason, whether he or she has just had a terrible day at work, a fight at home or official procedure, they could choose to reject your request and give your passport a stamp.
Option 2: Form 17L
Form 17L is the specific form that you need to ask for if you don’t want to get an Israeli immigration stamp in your passport. When you arrive at the immigration counter ask for this form. Fill in all of the data and then hand it in to the immigration officer. They will want to know why you don’t want to have a stamp in your passport. Remember it is at the discretion of the immigrations officer to decide if they will let you enter without a stamp in your passport and they will ask you questions; so be nice, courteous and ready to explain yourself.
If you’re planning to travel to the Palestinian territories then you will probably be asked to wait a while before a stamp is issued. The interview process will also be more thorough than the questions you would get if you were just planning on visiting Israel. Be prepared for this and have as much data to hand to help your case (booking information for hostels, people you plan to meet, etc.). All of this information will benefit your request to avoid an Israeli immigration stamp.
Countries Where an Israeli Stamp Can Cause You Problems
You will have problems if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport in these countries:
Iran, Sudan and Lebanon
You might have problems in these countries:
UAE, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia
Syria is also on this list, but as the country is in the midst of a civil war I think an Israeli stamp in your passport will be the least of your worries.