Israel Drops Testing Requirement for Travelers

The Middle Eastern country is the latest to lift certain pandemic travel restrictions, including predeparture and postarrival COVID testing.

Israel Drops Testing Requirement for Travelers

It’s now easier to visit the Dead Sea in Israel.

Photo by Olesya Baron/Shutterstock

For those dreaming of floating in the Dead Sea, touring the Old City of Jerusalem, and marveling at the architecture of Tel Aviv, it just got easier to fulfill that dream.

Effective May 21, those traveling to Israel will no longer need to provide a negative COVID test, regardless of their vaccination status, nor will they be required to take a PCR test on arrival.

Travelers will still be asked to fill out an entry statement form before they board their flight or cruise to Israel or before crossing at a land border. Israel’s mask mandate for international and domestic flights will also remain in effect until further notice.

Since January 9 (and until 12:01 a.m. on May 21), travelers have needed to come with proof of a negative COVID PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test within 24 hours of their flight. Upon arrival, it was mandatory to take another PCR test at their point of entry. Those arriving into Israel were then required to isolate for 24 hours or until they received their on-arrival test result, whichever came first. Unvaccinated travelers have only been able to enter the country since March 1, 2022.

Israel was closed to tourism from the onset of the pandemic until May 21, 2021. At that point, the country allowed only those on select, small group tours to enter as part of a pilot reopening program. On November 1, the country allowed fully vaccinated tourists in with additional measures. Less than a month later, due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, borders were again closed and remained shut until January 9.

While it will now be easier to visit Israel, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still lists the country as a “Level 3” destination, meaning there are high levels of coronavirus transmission. The CDC continues to recommend that travelers be up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. And because cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again in the United States, the CDC also recently announced that vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers should test, using either a PCR or antigen test, before travel.

Additionally, all international passengers age two and older flying into the U.S. (including returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test procured within one day before boarding their flight to the United States.

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Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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