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The Guide to Customs Fees and Exemptions when Receiving (Importing) a Package in Israel

For the benefit of visitors to the site, we prepared a detailed and clear guide concerning the subject of Customs fees and exemptions when receiving (importing) a package in Israel. The guide is divided into the following subjects:
   
             
 The method of calculating the tax brackets and the tax rate.
 How to pay the Custom taxes.
 Appealing, objecting to, or clarifying the amount of the tax charge.
• Objects whose import is subject to approval.
 Objects forbidden to be imported.
• Returning or replacing imported items.
• Objects returned to Israel after being repaired abroad:
 Tax benefits for a lone soldier / officer. 


Any person may import individual objects (even new ones) by delivery service to Israel in an amount reasonable for personal use on condition that the objects are not on the list of objects prohibited to be imported or which require import permits prior to their arrival in Israel as will be detailed below.
The sender must indicate the contents of the objects and the value of the objects on the shipping form and a purchase invoice must be attached to the imported objects. If there is a shipping fee invoice and insurance invoice, they must be included.

Important! The import laws also apply to a gift sent for free. (The value must be noted in the shipping form even if it is a gift.)

Any objects sent by mail to Israel may be opened by the Customs Department and inspected and evaluated without the recipient being present; the presence of the postal or the shipping company clerk is sufficient. The postal company is responsible for the complete state of the objects (except in the case that damage was intentionally caused by one of the Customs officials). Sometimes there may even be a delay in sending the package because the package is "awaiting a Customs inspection."
In the event that the objects are found to be inconsistent with the shippers’ declaration whether in the type of item or its value (even if the incorrect declaration was made without the recipient's knowledge), and if there is an unreasonable gap between the price stated in the shipping form and the standard price in Israel, the Customs officer may confiscate it or impose a fine which is double the tax fee, in addition to the existing import taxes, as a condition to receiving the objects.
The importer (the recipient) is entitled to appeal in writing to the Customs Department within 30 days from the date on which he was informed of the decision regarding the shipment that was confiscated or fined. (Concerning how to appeal, see below.)

Important! If the one making the order purchased the objects through the Internet, he is responsible for the contents of the declaration for the Customs. It is therefore recommended that he verify with the supplier of the objects that the declaration on the package matches the objects inside and the purchase transaction, including the objects’ price.


Definitions:

Personal import - Import of objects in reasonable quantities for personal use or to give as a gift.
Objects - assets and merchandise that can be transferred from place to place such as: furniture, books, devices, jewelry.
Import taxes - VAT, Customs duties and purchase tax imposed on objects.
VAT - Value added tax, which is a uniform 17% in Israel (as of today).
Customs - A tax levied on all merchandise leaving and entering the country. The Customs tax is not uniform and it is calculated according to the type of product as stipulated by law.
Purchase tax - varies between types of products and applies only to certain products as stipulated by the Minister of Finance.


Method of calculating tax brackets and tax rates:

When personally importing objects from abroad, there are different tax brackets depending upon the total cost of the objects (as detailed below), with each bracket calculated according to the type of object. For a list of tax rates according to the product personally imported, click here.

Important! If two or more packages are sent from the same supplier to the same customer within a 72 hour period, they will be considered as one shipment that was split into two, and the calculation of the import tax bracket will be determined according to the total value of all the objects together. Since it is not possible to know exactly when the packages will be sent and when and if they will be checked in Customs, it is recommended to split packages and send them to various recipients or spread out the orders.

Import of new objects:
   
                                     Value of up to $75 - A shipment of objects with a total value of $75, excluding shipping and insurance fees if such exist and are listed separately in the purchase invoice, are exempt from all import taxes. (The exemption in this bracket does not apply to tobacco products, alcohol and intoxicating beverages).
   
Important! The rate of tax calculation is determined according to the value of the objects excluding shipping and insurance fees only if these fees are listed separately.
   
                                                                                                        • Value from $75 to $500 - a shipment containing objects with a total value from $75 to $500 excluding shipping and insurance fees if such exist and are listed separately in the purchase invoice, are exempt from Customs duty but are subject to VAT and purchase tax payments if such exist on the imported objects, for instance, televisions and car parts. (The exemption in this bracket does not apply to tobacco products, alcohol and intoxicating beverages.) In this price range one finds products such as car parts which are subject to a uniform and comprehensive 47.8% tax rate, besides certain accessories that are subject to VAT only, such as car headlights, windscreen wipers and their parts, tires, child safety seats installed in a car and the seat base, air pillows, brake discs, brake drums, composite brake pads, ABS systems, reverse backup sensors, and tire valves.
   
Important! Although the tax rate bracket is determined according to the value of the objects without the shipping and insurance fees (if they are listed separately), the tax rate percentage will be calculated according to the total value of the objects including the price of shipping and insurance (if applicable).
   
                                                                    Value from $501 to $1000 - A shipment containing objects with a total value of $501 to $1000 including shipping and insurance fees if there are such, and even if they are listed separately in the purchase invoice — is subject to VAT, Customs and purchase tax if the imported objects are subject to the Customs Tariff Order. Note that for most objects, the tax imposed is only 17% and sometimes the total tax collected is between 24% and 47.8%.

• Value of over $1000 - A shipment containing objects whose total value is over $1000 or contains tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol, and intoxicating beverages, including shipping and insurance fees if applicable, and even if they are listed separately in the purchase invoice, will be considered a commercial import and will be subject to VAT, Customs, and purchase tax (if applicable), just as any importer that imports a "commercial import" would pay. It should be noted that a significant portion of products are charged only 17%, but some products are charged more.
   
Import of used objects:

Items sent as gifts which the recipient didn’t pay for or used items are taxed in accordance with the value of the shipment and at the price it was declared or indicated in the invoice plus the costs of shipping and insurance if applicable. Customs may check the declared value and in certain cases, disqualify the declared value. In assessing used objects, the Customs officer may deduct depreciation commensurate to the use made of the objects. 



How taxes are paid:

•  Packages sent by regular mail - are delivered to the post office near the recipient's residence based on the address listed on the package, together with a payment order for the total taxes (if applicable). When one goes to pick up the package, one pays the taxes at the post office. If one wants to pay at the Israel Post website, click here.
•  Packages sent by express mail (EMS) or courier companies - are released from Customs by a Customs agent of the Israel Postal Company or by the Customs agent of the courier company through which the package was sent, and they pay the taxes for the recipient (the importer). Then when delivering the package at the customer's home, they collect the taxes from the customer.

Important! In exceptional cases the recipient will have to arrive at the Customs bureau and release the objects himself. Sometimes the recipient is required to come to fill out the details of the imported objects.


Appealing, objecting to, or clarifying the amount of the tax charge:

•  For objects sent by Israel Post — if the recipient wants to appeal the amount of taxes he was charged, he can do so on a form and submit it at the post office where the package is held or send it to the Israeli Post Package Customs Unit indicating the details of the package. For an appeal form, click here.
•  For objects sent by other companies —  one can be submit an appeal only after the one who ordered the package paid the taxes to the shipping company and presented a payment invoice. The appellant should send a request for clarification in writing by fax (not by telephone) to: 03-9751183 to the Settlement Division (Claims, Deposits and Deficits) at the Customs office in Ben Gurion Airport. He should call up 03-9751172 / 71 to make sure they received the fax.

Important! Unrelated to the Customs Bureau, a shipping company may charge a commission for every appeal, objection, or clarification in addition to the cost of shipping and insurance. Ask the company directly for their commissions rates.


Objects whose import is subject to approval:

There are items that may only be imported subject to compliance with the criteria determined by the competent authorities, such as:
 
              • Gas grill - with the approval of the Standards Institute.
• Mobile phone (when importing four or more devices) - with the approval of the Ministry of Communications.
• Motorized scooter - approved by the Ministry of Transport.
• Meat, dairy, and fresh fish products - with the approval of the Ministry of Health.
• Fruits, vegetables, and plants - with the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture.
• Medications - approved by the Ministry of Health.
• Raw materials - with the approval of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
   

To clarify which criteria is applicable to you, contact the relevant competent authority.

The Products   The Competent Authority Address  Telephone  Fax 
 Communications products, 
baby monitors, smart phones 
(when importing four or more devices), 
remote controls, etc.

 Ministry of Communications

 Migdal Shalom, 9th Floor, 9 Ahad Ha'am St., Tel Aviv

 03-5198282 03-5198113

 03-5198103
 Fruits, vegetables, plants and seeds, etc.  Ministry of Agriculture, Plant Protection Services  Beit Dagan, Office reception hours: Wednesday 08:30-15:00  03-9681587  03-9681599
 Motorized scooter and vehicle spare parts  Ministry of Transport  5 Bank of Israel St., Generi Building, POB 867, Jerusalem 91008  03-5657117  03-5618260
 Food products, medications and nutrition supplements  Ministry of Health, Food Service  12 Ha'arba'a Street, Tel Aviv 64739  08-6241010  02-5655972
A gas-powered grill Standards Institute  42 Hayim Levanon Street, Tel-Aviv 69987  03-6465164
 
 
 
 
Objects forbidden to be imported:

These objects may not be imported into Israel. For example:
   
                
 A knife, other than a pocket knife and a knife intended for use in your profession, or for household purposes, or for any other kosher purpose.
 Laser speedometer jammer.
• Weapons that resemble pens, guns, are gas-fired, etc.
 A tear gas canister in the shape of a gun.
• Forbidden gambling / lottery games.
 Explosives and flammable materials, and similar dangerous objects.
• Living organisms such as: Viper snakes.
 Tools of a kind used for the preparation or consumption of a dangerous drug.
• Pornographic or obscene products.
• Forged and imitation coins and documents.
 Dangerous toys.
 Objects that can incite violence, terrorism, or racism.
 Objects that demonstrate identification with, or sympathy for, a terrorist organization.
 Wine or an alcoholic beverage that does not meet the permitted alcohol level.
• Tobacco products whose packaging contains advertising prohibited by law. 


Returning or replacing imported items:

If a person imports objects and pays all the taxes due on them, and then discovers a defect in the objects that existed prior to importation or finds that the delivered item didn’t match the order, he may return the objects to the supplier and after the return, request a refund of taxes from the Israeli Post Package Customs Unit near his home. If the package arrived through an international shipping company, he should submit his application to the Settlement Division (Claims, Deposits and Deficits) at the Customs office in Ben Gurion Airport, Tel-Aviv 972-3-9751170, Fax: 972-3-9751183. The tax refund is subject to compliance with the following conditions:
   
                 He proved that the objects were not used except for the use through which he discovered the objects’ defect or unsuitability.
• He sent the objects back no later than 6 months after they were imported, and he proved that he exported them.
 He proved that the imported objects were the same as those exported.

Important! If the value of the objects is greater than $200, an "export registration" must be produced when exporting the objects at a Customs post office unit or through a Customs agent, declaring that it is a returned import. In addition, one must fill in Customs form 87 and complete the procedures set forth in the form. If no such export registration is produced, and Customs form 87 is not submitted as required, one will not receive a refund of one’s taxes.


Objects returned to Israel after being repaired abroad:

Objects for which all taxes were paid when they were imported and afterwards were exported for repairs within the supplier’s warranty period:

  If no fee is paid for the repair - they are exempt from import tax.
• If a fee is paid for the repair carried out abroad - import taxes will apply for the cost of the repair only.
• If the old objects were exchanged for new objects - the full import taxes for the new objects will apply, even if the replacement was done as part of the warranty.

Objects valued at more than $200 - before exporting the objects, one must fill out an export registration (Custom form 9) at the Israeli Post Package Customs Unit and have it signed by a Customs official. The form must be presented to the Customs official when the objects are returned to Israel.
Objects worth up to $200 - when returning the objects to Israel, documents in place of the export registration must be presented, such as: correspondence with the supplier, purchase invoice, import permit, etc.

Important! If the objects are returned to Israel without any change and / or repair and / or any process occurring abroad, they will be exempt from import taxes, provided they meet the conditions specified above.


Tax benefits for a lone soldier / officer:

According to an arrangement with the Ministry of Defense, a soldier / officer who is recognized as a lone soldier in the compulsory military service is entitled to a tax discount on one package annually which was sent to him from abroad and intended for his own use. The discount is equal to $30 of the total taxes that would apply to the package. In order to get this benefit, the soldier must contact the Terms of Service (Personnel Division) staff of his unit to get the "Discount from paying taxes - release of a package to the lone population in the IDF” form (hereon referred to as the “referral form”), and have it signed by a military officer in the Terms of Service (Personnel Division) staff.
To obtain the tax reduction before tax payment is due, contact the Israeli Post Customs Unit (Eilat, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as the case may be) with an appeal form (of the Israeli Post), the number of the package, a copy of one’s enlistment document, and the referral form. For the form, click here. Based on the examination and benefit confirmation by a Customs officer, an updated reduced charge form will be sent to the relevant post office with a copy to the soldier. After deducting the tax benefit, the package will be released subject to payment of the balance of taxes to the post office, if any remain.
If the soldier already received the package and paid the full amount of taxes, he can receive his benefit retroactively. He should submit a request to the relevant Customs unit along with the documents, a photocopy of the applicant’s enlistment document, the referral form and the package number, along with a photocopy of a receipt for the payment and a photocopy of a check or another document attesting to the soldier’s bank account number. The tax refund will be paid directly to the bank account appearing in the documents provided by the soldier.


Contact numbers for Customs Bureaus:

Tel Aviv: 137 Derech Hagana, Yad Eliahu, Tel Aviv 
Telephone: 03-9421730. Fax: 03-9421733
Jerusalem: Shatner Center, Givat Shaul B, Jerusalem 91999 
Tel: 02-6526193. Fax: 02-6511589
Haifa: 19 Pal-Yam Blvd., Shikmona, POB 245, Haifa 31999 
Tel: 04-8664130. Fax: 02-6669803
Eilat: Central Post Office, Red Canyon, Eilat 83100 
Tel: 08-6326476. Fax: 08-8669702
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