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Guide for Getting a Returning Resident Certificate

For the benefit of web surfers, we prepared a detailed easy guide about a returning resident’s entitlements and how to apply for them.
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.
Important! The entitlement period for a returning resident is calculated from the day that you officially returned to Israel.
In order to get the benefits, you have to obtain a "returning resident certificate" from an Absorption Ministry office near your home in Israel, by sending a form on-line or by fax, as will be explained below.

Who is defined as a “returning resident” who is eligible for benefits?
•  A returning resident - is an Israeli citizen who once lived in Israel, who is 17 and older (or 18 and older to get customs benefits), and who lived abroad for at least two years or more and then returned to He didn’t visit Israel either cumulatively or continuously more than four months of each year he was abroad during the last two 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.
The period of his IDF service (regular or reserve duty) will not be affected by his entitlement period or the time he visited Israel.

•  A returning resident scientist - will be entitled to additional benefits from the Science Absorption Center only after he spent at least five years abroad, provided he didn’t visit Israel more than four months a year during the years he was abroad.

•  A returning resident who is a business entrepreneur - shall be entitled to additional benefits only after a stay of at least three years abroad, provided that he has not visited Israel for more than four months a year during the years he was abroad.
Please note: Other returning citizens, such as an immigrant citizen or a returning minor, are different from a returning resident and their status is akin to that of an immigrant. They are entitled to more benefits than a returning resident and their legal status is akin to an immigrant. To see their definition in law and what entitlements apply to them, click here for the Guide to an Immigrant. 
Things that void eligibility for "returning resident" status:
 He received assistance as a “returning resident” less than ten years ago, or if ten years passed, and he lived at least six years abroad. However, in the event that he didn’t exercise his entitlements as a returning resident when he previously possessed a returning resident certificate, he is eligible to get assistance if he lived abroad for a period of two years before he returned to Israel.
 He received any assistance as an immigrant in the two years before his permanent move to Israel. (It will be given only according to his remaining immigrant entitlement.)
  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. However, if five years have passed from the end of their service until they returned to Israel, they are entitled to the assistance. 
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.  The right to bring along additional cargo for free and discounts on El Al flights (not including UP flights) when bringing a personal shipment. In addition, one may bring three suitcases weighing up to 23 kg each one, free of charge, and the 4th and 5th suitcase at a reduced rate. The benefit will only be given if El Al submits the application directly (and not a travel agent), and only after the travelers age two years and up have received “returning resident” status.
2.  Employment: 
                                •  Guaranteed Income support for those seeking employment who reported to the employment bureau for up to three months from when they returned to Israel. For a married couple — on condition that both spouses are unemployed. The size of the grant is determined according to the size of their family and changes from time to time.
•   Income supplement — if the working spouse’s wage is lower than the minimum wage, he can check with Bituach Leumi whether he is eligible for an income supplement.
•   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 for examination fees — Participation in examination fees to receive a license to work in his profession in Israel (he will have to pay part).
•  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. They are eligible for assistance both while still abroad and after their return to Israel (only if they stay three years or more). It will be provided for up to two years from the date of their return to Israel, if they are 24 until 60 years old. 
• 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.
Remember! 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"? 
  If you are abroad — fill out the Returning Resident registration form (up to half a year before you return to Israel or up to a year if you are a scientist) in one of the following ways:
To fill out the form online at the Immigration and Absorption Ministry web site, click here.
You can receive a form in our office or download it here, and then send the filled out form by fax to the Immigration and Absorption Ministry 972-72-3229697 or by mail to: Immigration and Absorption Ministry Information Center, 2 Kaplan Street, Jerusalem, Israel.
An answer will be usually be sent within 2-3 weeks whether they will in principle recognize your status as a returning resident. The processing and final certification will be done by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry’s office in Israel near where you live. This document will allow you to continue the absorption process in Israel.

•  If you are in Israel — go to the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption Documentation and Eligibility Counseling department near where you live not later than 7 months from the date you returned to Israel, in order to check your eligibility and get a returning resident certificate. Click here to make an appointment with the Ministry.
In addition, please contact the Telephone Information Center at +972-3-9733333 for inquiries or to set up an appointment for a meeting with an expert on documentation and eligibility near where you live in Israel. You will be asked to leave details and the topic you want to discuss and a representative will return a call within 48 hours.
The head of the family should include all children up to the age of 18 in his form. A 17-year-old child who arrives without his parents or a child over the age of 18 who arrives with his parents must fill out a separate form.
A couple who are returning residents both have to be present during the meeting in the Immigrant and Absorption Ministry.In order to receive government support for children, a parent who is separate, divorced or returned earlier than his/her spouse to Israel with the children, must show a notarized affidavit or an affidavit signed before an Israeli consul showing that the other parent who remained abroad allows him/her to have custody of the children in Israel.

Important! If the applicant also needs employment assistance, he may also fill out the Employment Assistance Form and attach his CV at the same time. If you didn’t complete a form for employment assistance when registering for your returning residence status, you can register for employment assistance at a later date.
What a returning resident should do to receive the maximum benefits upon arriving in Israel:
•  Get an identity card - For the meeting with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, you have to bring an updated identity card (from the Population Registry) and the passports of all accompanying family members.
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.
• Bank Account - It is recommended that you bring certification that you opened an Israeli bank account signed by the bank to the meeting at the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption so the assistance money you are entitled to from the Ministry can be transferred to your bank account. 
You can get a sample form of a bank certification for opening a bank account in our office or download it here.
Remember ! Assistance for a couple will only be transferred to their joint account registered on both their names.
Note! 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.
•  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) 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). Giving 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 spending between two to five years abroad, should contact the branch of Bituach Leumi near his home to arrange his premiums. For the Guide to Bituach Leumi for a Returning Resident, click here.
The time period returning residents are eligible for assistance:

The beginning of one’s eligibility begins on the date he 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.

Important! The period of his IDF service (regular or reserve duty) will not be affected by his entitlement period.

Contact information :

Ministry of Immigrant Absorption
Telephone Information Center: +972-3-9733333.
Sunday to Thursday, between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm.
For the branch nearest to where you live, click here:
If you have difficulty filling out the online form, you can print out the enclosed application form, fill it out by hand, and send it to the Immigration and Absorption Ministry in one of the following ways:
To fax number: 972-72-322-9697
To the postal address: Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, Information Center, 2 Kaplan St., Jerusalem, Israel.

Please note: Handwritten forms will take longer to process than usual.

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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