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Guide for Getting a Returning Resident Certificate

In order to encourage those who left Israel for abroad (yordim) who want to return to Israel despite the improved economic conditions that they have overseas, the State of Israel offers them tax breaks, various exemptions and economic benefits to facilitate their return.

The entitlement period for a returning resident begins from the day that he officially returns to Israel.

In order to get most of the benefits, you are required to obtain a "returning resident certificate."

Who is defined as a “returning resident”?

A returning resident is an Israeli citizen who once lived in Israel, who is over the age of 17 (or 18+ to get customs benefits), who moved abroad for at least two years or more and then returned to Israel (except for a scientist, who had to live 5 years abroad, or a business entrepreneur, who has to live 3 years abroad). He didn’t visit in Israel either cumulatively or continuously more than four months each year in each of the last two years (a scientist, five years, or a business entrepreneur, three years) before he returned to Israel.

A visit which begins in one year and runs continuously into the next year, is considered as one visit, and he may visit again for another 4 months that year.

Please note: Returning citizens, such as an immigrant citizen or a returning minor, have a different status than a returning resident. They are entitled to more benefits than a returning resident and their legal status is akin to an immigrant. To see the Guide to an Immigrant, click here.

An immigrant citizen - who is 17 and older who was born abroad to an Israeli parent and would have had the right to immigrate under the Law of Return if he wouldn’t have been an Israeli citizen — if he came to settle in Israel and never had lived in Israel from his birth and had not visited more than 4 months every year, he has the same status as an immigrant. To see the Guide to an Immigrant, click here.

A returning minor - A minor who left Israel with his parents (or with the parent who had custodial rights) before he turned 14, and his age when he received his status is 17 or older, and he lived with them at least 4 consecutive years before his official return to Israel, and he is not a son of an Israeli emissary — his legal status is the same as an immigrant on condition that if he hadn’t been an Israeli citizen, he would have had the right to immigrate under the Law of Return. See the Guide to an Immigrant. Click here.

Things that void eligibility to get a "returning resident" certificate

•  If the Israeli citizen is 17 or younger. (His legal status is that of an immigrant.)

•  A person who previously received assistance as a returning resident and returned again to Israel will be eligible to get assistance again only if he qualifies as a returning resident again (not including aid for a scientist or getting loans), providing that 10 years have passed since he last received assistance and he returned only after living abroad for at least six years.

In the event that he didn’t exercise his entitlements as a returning resident before when he had the returning resident certificate, he is eligible to get assistance if he lived abroad for a period of two years before he returned to Israel.

•  A returning resident who was previously an immigrant and is still in the period of eligibility to receive assistance as an immigrant.

•  If he, his spouse, and parents lived abroad as an emissary for Israel on behalf of the State of Israel or local municipalities (including government companies), WZO, the Jewish Agency, the Israel National Fund, Keren Hayesod, UIA, or Israeli Bonds (unless five years have passed from the end of their service).

•  If he visited more than four months of the year (120 days) continuously or cumulatively in Israel during each of the last two years he was absent before returning to Israel (for a businessman, 3 years, for a scientist, 5 years).

•  He was born abroad to an Israeli parent and never lived in Israel since his birth (he is instead an immigrant citizen with the same status as an immigrant).

What rights does a "returning resident" have?

One who is issued a returning resident certificate by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, can get a range of benefits from three main entities: The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Customs Authorities, and Income Tax.

These are the benefits:

1.  Discounts on El Al flights and the right to bring along excess cargo when bringing a personal shipment. In addition, one may bring three suitcases weighing up to 23 kg each one, free of charge. (The benefit is given for each passenger from age two and up). The benefit will only be given if El Al submits the application directly (and not a travel agent), and only after the travelers from the age of two years and up have received “returning resident” status.

2.  Employment: 

•  Guaranteed Income support up to three months for a married couple if they are seeking employment and reported to the employment bureau, on condition that both spouses are unemployed.

•  Vocational counseling and assistance to find jobs (one must fill out the employment assistance registration form).

•  Retraining courses including vocational training (partly funded by the government and partly by oneself).

•  Assistance in promoting the placement of academics in government offices, public institutions and the private sector.

•  Employment placement assistance to non-academics will be provided for the private sector only for a period of up to six months.

•  Assistance to scientists through the Science Absorption Center (for those who have lived in Israel three years and up).

•  Assistance for returning resident entrepreneurs to establish a business in Israel or to move an existing overseas business to Israel.

The returning resident is eligible for assistance both while he is still abroad and after his return to Israel. (If he stays three years or more, it is provided for up to two years from the date of his return to Israel.)

• Assistance to artists who are recognized as artists by the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and who possess  professional certificates. They may be entitled to a one-time monetary grant, assistance in gaining exposure, specialized courses and financial support (up to two years from the date they returned).

•  Assistance for athletes (up to two years from the date they returned).

3.   Assistance to learn Hebrew (for returning residents age 16 and older and adults) after obtaining special permission.

4.  Assistance to lone soldiers (during their compulsory military service).

5.  Assistance for post-high school education for three years only for a “returning minor" (who left Israel before the age of 14 and returned to become a permanent resident at least by the age of 17, and who is not the child of an Israeli emissary) or a (foreign-born) "immigrant citizen."

6.  Customs breaks (VAT). For the guide to these benefits, click here.

7.  Income tax benefits. For the guide to these benefits, click here.

Approval of the assistance is conditional on the decision of the Israeli committee for returning residents, and every benefit will be considered on its own merits. Only after checking the applicant’s status and after he received "returning resident" status in Israel will he be eligible to get these benefits in Israel.

How does one get a "returning resident certificate"?

One should go to the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption near where you live not later than 7 months from the date you returned to Israel, in order to get a returning resident certificate. It is recommended to coordinate a meeting in advance with the Ministry.

This is the process :

1.  Get an identity card.

Towards the meeting with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, you have to get an updated identity card (from the Population Registry) and / or passport of accompanying family members. The couple have to arrive together. (Include a resume for those seeking employment assistance.)

If you don’t have an identity card, you have to go to the Ministry of the Interior to get one before going to your meeting with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption to be recognized as a “returning resident.”

You should make sure that you have a valid Israeli passport as well as Israeli passports for children born abroad.

2.  One must obtain recognition of one’s "returning resident" status and set up a meeting with an absorption counselor.

You must fill out the registration form to set up a meeting with an eligibility and documentation advisor. Be sure to clearly fill out the form and include your e-mail address. You can get a sample form in our office or download it here.

You can also send the form to the fax number: 972-3-973-2143 or by mail to the address of the Absorption Ministry Information Center, Ben Gurion Airport, POB 16, Israel.

You can fill out an application online at the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption web site. For the link, click here.

For inquiries or to set up an appointment with a documentation and eligibility counselor at the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption office nearest to you, you can call the telephone information center: +972-3-9733333 and a representative will contact you within 48 hours (please leave your details and why you’re calling).

In general, an answer will be sent to you within 2-3 weeks if they recognize in principle your status as a returning resident.

3. Bank Account — Open a bank account in one’s name, or the couple’s name.

It is recommended that you bring certification that you opened an Israeli bank account to the meeting at the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption so the assistance money you are entitled to can be transferred to your bank account.

You have to show confirmation signed by the bank that you opened an account.  You can get a bank authorization sample form in our office or download it here.

Assistance for a couple will only be transferred to their joint account.

Remember ! A returning resident is responsible for checking before his return that he does not have a "restricted account" and there are no liens on his bank account. Since the assistance provided by the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption (and other government agencies) is always transferred to the entitled person’s personal bank account. If he has a lien on his bank account, the lien will "swallow up" the financial assistance on behalf of the lien debt.

4. Health insurance premiums

One who was recognized by the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption as a returning resident (who spent more than five years abroad) or a returning minor or a citizen immigrant, should during his visit to the Ministry fill out a residency questionnaire (Bituach Leumi form 628), a Kupat Cholim registration form (Bituach Leumi form 666), and a Children’s Allowance claim form (for children up to 18). (Bituach Leumi form 5052).

Submitting these forms to the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption will save you the bother of having to contact Bituach Leumi.

One who returned to Israel after being two years until five years abroad, should contact the branch of Bituach Leumi near his home to arrange his membership. For the Guide to Bituach Leumi for a Returning Resident, click here.

5. Meeting — at the branch nearest to the returning resident’s home.

Once you have presented all the necessary certificates and forms, you will get a "returning resident certificate" from the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption. This certificate will allow you to get continued support during your absorption process in Israel.

How long are returning residents eligible for assistance?

The beginning of one’s eligibility begins on the date they entered Israel and lasts for different periods depending on the ministry. The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption’s assistance for a returning resident is up to 12 months from the date

of his return to Israel (for artists and entrepreneurs, 24 months).

Customs assistance and breaks for returning residents is up to 9 months after their return to Israel.

Tax assistance and breaks for a returning resident is up to 10 years from the date of their return to Israel.

Contact information :

Ministry of Immigrant Absorption

Telephone Information Center: +972-3-9733333.

Questions and Answers:
I was born to an Israeli parent abroad and first came to Israel after the age of 17. Would I be considered a returning resident
Yes, you are considered a returning resident and your status is similar to that of an immigrant, on condition you did not visit more than four months each year.
I left Israel for two years and again received returning resident status. Will I again be eligible for a returning resident’s benefits
If you did not utilize your rights in the past, you are entitled to them. But if you exercised your rights and then left Israel for six years and at least 10 years have passed since you utilized your benefits, you are again entitled to them.
Can a returning resident receive immigrant status from the Immigration and Absorption Ministry before getting an ID
No. You must first get an identity card from the Ministry of the Interior and then you can contact the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.
Does a returning resident have to undergo a waiting period to become a member of Bituach Leumi
Yes. See the Guide to Bituach Leumi for a Returning Resident.
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