Guide for Returning Residents Who Want to Join or Cancel Bituach Leumi
For the benefit of web surfers, we prepared a detailed easy guide on how returning residents can join Bituach Leumi, the conditions to join or cancel it, and how to pay for it.
The law requires every resident of Israel aged 18 and over to be insured by Bituach Leumi (the National Insurance Institute) and pay Bituach Leumi premiums and Health Insurance premiums to Bituach Leumi.
A resident of Israel who is registered as a member of the Bituach Leumi must sign up with one of the Kupot Cholim (Israeli HMOs). He is entitled to receive the health services (the “health basket”) prescribed by law at that Kupat Cholim without additional payment.
The Bituach Leumi premiums are paid through payment vouchers which are issued at the end of the year and sent to each person’s mailbox. See the end of the Guide for how to pay them.
What is Bituach Leumi and Health Insurance?
Bituach Leumi — is a government program offering different levels of protection for the economic interests of Israeli citizens through various stipends and benefits such as hospitalization grants, birth stipends, maternity grants, children’s allowance, and stipends for the work disabled.
Health Insurance (whose cost is included in the Bituach Leumi premiums) — According to the National Health Insurance Law, all Israeli residents registered in Bituach Leumi automatically have health insurance. Every resident must be signed up in one of the Kupot Cholim. The insuree is entitled to join the Kupat Cholim that he prefers and that Kupat Cholim has to provide him with the basket of medical services specified by law.
Who is considered a returning resident by Bituach Leumi?
A returning resident — is an Israel resident who was abroad for two years in a row and was in arrears in paying his Bituach Leumi premiums for at least 12 months, or who moved abroad and ceased to be an Israeli resident before returning to Israel to live and in the interim lost his entitlement to health services in Israel. Bituach Leumi requires him to undergo a waiting period to be eligible for Bituach Leumi benefits.
Bituach Leumi generally continues to recognize a person as a resident of Israel for the first five years after he left the country on condition that he was not in arrears in his Bituach Leumi and health insurance premiums to Bituach Leumi for more than 12 months. This is why it is essential to keep up your Bituach Leumi payments when you are abroad. Otherwise, Bituach Leumi may deny your eligibility for medical services when you return to Israel.
Although Bituach Leumi generally recognizes the status of a person who pays his premiums up to five years from the date that he left, Bituach Leumi may reconsider the person’s status two years after he left the country. For example, in the event that the person tells Bituach Leumi that the center of his life has moved abroad, or when the Bituach Leumi has information that the person has ceased to be a resident of Israel.
Important! An Israeli citizen who left with his parents when he was a minor even though he returned to Israel when he was over 18, is considered a "returning minor" and is entitled to immediately receive medical coverage from Bituach Leumi without a waiting period. However, he will have to provide certification from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption that he is a “returning minor”. For the Guide to Get Returning Minor Certification, click here.
The conditions required by Bituach Leumi for a returning resident to again be considered a resident
Although every Israeli resident is entitled to the Bituach Leumi and Health Insurance basket, the National Insurance Law does not define who is an Israeli resident. The courts ruled that an Israeli resident is one for whom "the center of his life is in Israel." For a person to be considered a resident of Israel, he must meet the following conditions:
1. He must live in Israel for a waiting period (For how the waiting period is calculated, see below).
2. He must fulfill the "center of life" criteria. This means that he lives in Israel and perceives Israel as the center of his life. The more established and significant a person’s relationship to Israel is, the more likely he will be recognized as a resident of Israel.
Circumstances proving that one’s center of life is in Israel include: A person’s permanent place of residence is in Israel. His family’s permanent place of residence is in Israel. His children are studying in Israel. His main workplace is in Israel.
The documents a returning resident has to provide Bituach Leumi:
A person who Bituach Leumi ceased to view as an Israeli resident but who wishes to renew his status as an Israeli resident, should:
1. Fill out a residency determination questionnaire for a returning resident (BL/628). You can get a sample form in our office or download it here.
2. Attach copies of documents proving that he has concluded the center of his life abroad (for example: the sale of assets, termination of insurance, termination of employment, waiver of foreign citizenship, etc.).
3. Attach copies of documents proving that the center of his life has moved to Israel (for example: he has shipped belongings to Israel, a rental lease on an apartment, an employment contract, his children are registered in school, confirmation that he opened a bank account, etc.).
4. A returning resident who was recognized as an Israeli resident and has children under the age of 18 must also fill out a child allowance form (BL/5025). You can get a sample form in our office or download it here.
Bituach Leumi will examine the residency application based on the questionnaire and the submitted documents.
Please note! that if you are planning to return permanently to Israel, you can arrange your residency 30 days before returning to Israel by filling out an online form at the Bituach Leumi website. Click here for the link to the online form.
Important: Anyone who has been abroad for more than five years is entitled to a "shortened procedure" at the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption to reduce the bureaucracy. At the same time you can fill out an application to join the Kupat Cholim that you prefer. For the Guide for a Returning Resident, click here.
What is the waiting period and how is it calculated?
Definitions and concepts
A year of absence — when one lives abroad for 183 days within a period of 12 months, even if the time abroad is not consecutive.
A waiting month — is a period of 25 consecutive days of living in Israel.
A returning resident who has returned to Israel and is now a permanent resident and wants to register again as a member of Bituach Leumi, must undergo a waiting period to get the benefits (unless he is exempt from the waiting time as specified below).
The Bituach Leumi waiting period can be redeemed by paying NIS 11,190 (as of 01.01.2017) in up to six equal payments. The payment will entitle you to receive immediate benefits from Bituach Leumi without any waiting period. During the waiting period you can also purchase private insurance from one of the Kupot Cholim or from medical insurance companies.
The calculation of the minimum waiting period for a returning resident is two consecutive months (50 days) and the maximum is six consecutive months (150 days). The calculation is as follows:
For the first year of your stay abroad (after Bituach Leumi canceled your residency), a minimum waiting time of two consecutive months (50 days) is required.
For each additional year of absence beginning with the third year, you will have to wait an additional waiting period of a month (25 days).
For six years of absence or more, the waiting time is six months (150 days).
Remember! Even those who choose to wait the waiting period must pay national insurance and health insurance premiums every month immediately upon their return to Israel.
Important! The 25 days of waiting for each year abroad must be continuous, so if a person left Israel before completing 25 consecutive days of living in Israel, they will not consider those days as part of the waiting period and he will have to start the waiting period from the beginning when he returns, according to a calculation of 25 consecutive days for each year of absence he lived abroad (up to 6 years).
Therefore, a person who is required to wait a 3 month waiting period and he stayed in Israel for 40 consecutive days and then went abroad, can only utilize 25 of those 40 days towards his waiting period and has completed only one month of the waiting period.
Calculating a waiting period when going abroad for work or a medical treatment
If a person had to travel abroad and stay there for work or to get a medical treatment in which case he can not wait 25 consecutive days or more, the National Health Insurance Law grants him the right to calculate his waiting period differently. In this case, his time abroad will be ignored in the calculation of his waiting period and they will only include the days he lived in Israel since his arrival.Nevertheless, the calculation of the waiting period (of the time that remains) will differ in that each month will have to be a full calendar month, i.e. 31, 30 and 28 days, depending on the number of days in the particular month, instead of 25 days per month as is the case with the usual waiting period.
For Bituach Leumi to calculate the waiting period differently for one who went abroad for work or to get medical treatment, he has to provide his branch of Bituach Leumi’s collection department with the following application form:
A salaried employee working for an Israeli employer - has to submit an “Application Form for a Salaried Employee” (BL/109) from his employer to calculate the waiting period. You can obtain a sample form in our office or download it here.
One who is self-employed - has to submit an “Application Form for a Self-employed” (BL /110) to calculate the waiting period and must declare his income as a self-employed (He is obligated to open a file in VAT and Income Tax and must show their record of his income.) You can obtain a sample form in our office or download it here.
One who is abroad for the purpose of medical treatments - has to submit an application form for calculating the waiting period differently due to medical treatments. He should attach certification showing that the main reason he is abroad is for medical treatment (BL /111). You can obtain a sample form in our office or download it here.
How to pay for the waiting period
Payment can be made in one of the following ways:
1. At the Bituach Leumi website by credit card. Click here for a link to the Bituach Leumi website.
2. By a bank check. Make sure that the exact amount of the special payment is recorded on each check, and that each person pays with a separate check. The check must be forwarded to Bituach Leumi or sent by mail to its Health Insurance department head office at 13 Weizman Blvd., Jerusalem, 9543707.
Important! You can pay the special payment from abroad even before you arrive in Israel so you will be eligible for medical services as soon as you arrive, provided that the special payment has been paid in full, you have proven that the center of your life is once again in Israel and you have been recognized as a resident of Israel.
The special payment will not be returned to the payee, whether he returned to live in Israel or not (except in exceptional cases). Therefore, before you pay the special payment, be sure that you meet the conditions under which you will be recognized as a returning resident.
Those who are exempt from a waiting period:
• A person who is an immigrant for the first time under the Law of Return, including a person who was recognized for the first time as an "immigrant citizen" by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
• Children up to age 18.
• A "returning minor" - a person who left Israel as a minor, even if he returned to Israel when he was over the age of 18. He must produce a permit from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption that he is a "returning minor". For how to get this certificate, see the Guide for Getting a Returning Minor Certificate.
• A soldier discharged from regular or compulsory service — within 24 months from the date of his discharge.
• An Israeli resident who was abroad and paid insurance premiums regularly and without arrears for a period exceeding 12 months.
• An A-1visa holder who was recognized as a new immigrant for the first time.
• A person who lives in a country with which Bituach Leumi has signed a social security treaty and national insurance premiums were paid for him in that country, and he paid only health insurance premiums in Israel.
What should an Israeli citizen do who is abroad temporarily and found that his membership in Bituach Leumi was cancelled?
A person is still considered a resident of Israel even if he lives abroad, provided that his stay abroad is temporary (for example, for studies, a trip, temporary work, etc.) on condition that the center of his life is still Israel.
If your eligibility to Bituach Leumi is denied and you want to appeal it because your stay abroad is temporary, you will be asked to prove that your stay overseas is only temporary, and that the center of your life is still in Israel. You will have to fill out a questionnaire (BL/627) which determines the residency status of a person living abroad and attach proof of your claim. You can get a sample form in our office or download it here.
Permanently leaving Israel
Every Israeli resident, and every person defined as a resident by Bituach Leumi who is 18 years of age or older, must pay Bituach Leumi premiums and health insurance premiums at a fixed monthly payment to Bituach Leumi.
If you emigrated or returned abroad, it is recommended that you revoke your Israeli residency status in Bituach Leumi to avoid having to pay additional charges. You will then be defined by Bituach Leumi as a foreign resident and will not receive Israeli insurance coverage.
To cancel your residency and be exempt from Bituach Leumi payments, you have to fill out a form to establish your residency abroad (BL/627). You can get a sample form in our office or download it here.
You must also prove that the center of your life has moved abroad permanently with documents showing: proof of residence, studies, marriage, etc.. (During the period you are abroad, you can visit Israel for no more than 183 days a year.)
You can send your application by fax. It is recommended to attach a detailed personal letter and documents proving that you are not a resident of Israel.
To find the fax number connected to your area of residence, you must contact the Call Center for Israelis Abroad at 972-8-9369669. (The service is available from Sunday to Thursday from 8:00 to 15:00.) Ensure that the fax was received and they are dealing with your case.
Remember! If you are an Israeli citizen and you will be abroad for less than two years, it is preferable not to cancel your residency. If you find yourself needing medical services, you will be able to return to Israel and get treatment without having to undergo a waiting period.
Please note: You should check whether the country you emigrated to has a double taxation treaty with Bituach Leumi. If the treaty exists, you will not need to pay Bituach Leumi premiums but only health insurance premiums if you also wish to be insured in Israel.
How to pay your Bituach Leumi premiums
You can pay your Bituach Leumi premiums in one of the following ways:
1. Go to the post office nearest your home with the payment voucher sent to you. Payment may be made with cash only.
2. By telephone, with a service representative. Dial *6050 (Sunday - Thursday 8:00-17:00), then press 1 #, 1 #, then press your ID number and #, your 4-digit PIN code and # (optional), 1 # 2 #.
3. By a monthly direct debit from your bank account, after you completed and submitted the Bituach Leumi form and it was approved by the Bank. To download the form, click here.
Remember! You can not pay your monthly premium at the Bituach Leumi web site.
How to get a PIN number
In every telephone call to Bituach Leumi, you have to identify yourself with the ID number (teudat zehut) which you were given when your registration for Bituach Leumi was approved. In addition, you must also identify yourself with a 4-digit PIN code which can be obtained in one of the following ways:
1. Get it from the Bituach Leumi branch nearest you.
2. By telephone. Ask them to send your PIN by post to your home address. It may take a week to arrive.
To get a service representative, dial *6050 (Sunday - Thursday 8:00-17:00). Afterwards, click 1 #, 1 #, your identity card number and #, *, 1 #, 2 #. When the representative answers, give the name of the insured and his ID number which is listed on Bituach Leumi documents.
3. The Bituach Leumi web site. You can request that they send the secret PIN by post to your home address. (It may take a week to arrive.) For the link, click here. You will have to fill in your ID number and your full date of birth.
The Call Center for Israelis Abroad only: 972-8-9369669. The service is available on Sunday - Thursday from 8:00 to 15:00.
For inquiries on any Bituach Leumi subject, you can call from any phone: *6050. For personal inquiries, you have to identify yourself with a 4-digit PIN (which can be obtained at Bituach Leumi branches).
Questions and Answers:
I am an Israeli citizen who went abroad for a temporary period. What should I do so my residency won’t be canceled
You must fill out form 627 to declare that your departure is temporary.
Will a returning resident have to undergo a waiting period to receive his benefits after he registers again in Bituach Leumi
Yes. Refer to the Guide regarding how to calculate the waiting time.
I'm in the waiting period to get my rights from Bituach Leumi. How can I get health coverage during this period
During the waiting period, you can purchase private insurance in one of the Kupot Cholim or pay a redemption fee of 10,950 NIS and immediately receive benefits from Bituach Leumi.
What is the difference between Bituach Leumi’s insurance coverage and a Kupat Cholim
Bituach Leumi gives most insurance coverage that a person needs in the medical and economic sphere, as opposed to the Kupot Cholim that only gives medical coverage.