Implications of the Transition to Biometric Documents for Foreign Citizens
Foreign citizens will now have a lengthy wait due to the new law requiring Israeli citizens to transition to biometric documents.
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As of June 1, every Israeli citizen who wishes to receive identity cards and travel documents, such as a passport or a transit certificate, will be issued a document only according to the new biometric documentation method. Old-type identification documents will continue to be valid and will not have to be replaced with new ones until their expiration date.
The new process requires more time than usual, both because of the special procedure and because of the need to check the biometric database. This is all the more true during the summer and vacation period when many Israeli citizens travel abroad and need passports.
The Population Authority therefore decided that for the purpose of issuing a biometric document, an appointment must be made in advance on the Authority's website or by telephone. Previously no appointment was required and anyone could just walk into the office to get a document.
Because of the considerable demand, it is no wonder that Israeli citizens who want to make an appointment to get a document are being given dates many months off.
The difficulty arising from the new arrangement is also felt by foreign citizens who request an appointment to get or renew a visa. They are also subject to lengthy delays during which their visa may expire and they may lose the benefits and entitlements to which they are entitled, such as discounts in property tax and water bills. They may be unable to renew their Israeli driver’s license which was based on their foreign driver’s license.
While an Israeli citizen may in the worst case obtain a non-biometric passport at the Ministry of the Interior's office in the airport without prior appointment, no other option exists for foreign citizens to get a visa to save them from losing their entitlements and benefits.