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Guide for Tourists Importing or Purchasing Vehicle

For the benefit of web surfers, we prepared a detailed easy guide for a tourist importing a personal vehicle from abroad or purchasing a motor vehicle in Israel. He is exempt from paying taxes on condition he complies with the necessary conditions and has the necessary documents.


Definitions and concepts:
 
A motor vehicle — is a motorcycle or car whose weight does not exceed 3.5 ton.

Personal import — this means a private person who imports goods for his personal use and not for commerce or resale.


A tourist can import a vehicle under these conditions :
 
A tourist is exempt from paying taxes for three months beginning from his date of entry into Israel, provided the vehicle is for his personal and / or family use (but not for business). He may not allow anyone else to use the vehicle (even a tourist) until his period of eligibility ends, whether or not he receives remuneration for such use.
The import and vehicle documents must be listed only on the tourist’s name, i.e. on the name of the student tourist instead of on his wife’s name. Nevertheless, the spouse of the tourist may drive the vehicle without him.
Another person may drive the tourist’s vehicle, provided that the tourist or his/her spouse is in the car with him.
There is no limit to the age of the imported vehicle, as long as it is not registered in Israel.

Remember! If the period of eligibility ended and you didn’t remove your vehicle from Israel, your vehicle may be confiscated by Customs.


The period that one may retain a vehicle in Israel and the amount of the guarantee one has to pay depends on the kind of tourist as follows :
 
For a regular B / 2 visa tourist : Importing a vehicle from abroad — One who imports a vehicle must deposit a "financial guarantee" to secure the payment of taxes for a period of up to six months or until the date on which his entry visa expires (whichever comes first).
The customs officer may demand a bank guarantee to ensure that the import taxes be paid.
Purchasing a vehicle in Israel — One who purchases a vehicle must deposit a bank guarantee equal to the applicable taxes to ensure the payment of taxes for a period of six months, or until such time as his entry visa expires (whichever comes first).
 
Remember! At the end of 6 months from the date of the vehicle’s release (its import or purchase in Israel), you must remove the vehicle from Israel, or request an extension to keep it in Israel for a period of up to six additional months, subject to your entry visa’s validity.
If the extension is approved, you will be required to leave a bank guarantee equal to the amount of taxes until the end of the extension period.
 
For a tourist with a A / 2 Visa student visa - He has to provide a bank guarantee equaling 30% of the taxes due on the vehicle to ensure payment of taxes. In the event the vehicle was not removed at the “end of the period of studies" or the applicable taxes were not paid on it, this bank guarantee will be expropriated.
In certain cases, at the discretion of the customs officers, the tourist may be required to pay a bank guarantee equal to "all the taxes" applicable to the vehicle, to ensure payment of import duties.
 
For tourists with A / 3 cleric visa - The religious institution where they are serving must provide a financial guarantee, and the commitment to pay the taxes on it. In the event the vehicle was not removed at the “end of the period of service in the institution" or the applicable taxes were not paid on it, the guarantee will be expropriated.
 
For a tourist that is a journalist- His employer (if he is an Israeli employer) must provide a financial guarantee and a commitment to pay the applicable taxes on it. In the event the vehicle was not removed at the end of the “employment period" or the applicable taxes were not paid on it, the guarantee will be expropriated.
 
 
What is a bank guarantee?
 
You put a cash deposit in the bank in trust for those who request it, and in return, the bank issues you a document confirming that you deposited money as a guarantee for those who requested it, and the bank sends Customs their authorization that the guarantee deposit is being held in trust for them. This guarantee can be collected at any time if the agreement is breached.
Important! The guarantee required when importing a vehicle is to insure that its tax will be paid if the vehicle is not removed from Israel on time. It will be refunded after the vehicle is taken out of Israel at the mandated time and will only be expropriated if the vehicle is not removed from Israel on time.
 

Additional conditions regarding entitlement to import and / or purchase a vehicle in Israel
 
  If you want to leave the country within your period of eligibility without your vehicle and will return to Israel before the end of your vehicle’s tax exemption period, you can leave your car in Israel provided you notify the customs collector in your area in writing about the whereabouts of the vehicle while you are abroad.
 At the end of the period of eligibility, you are not permitted to transfer ownership of a vehicle from tourist to tourist, but must remove it from Israel immediately or pay the full amount of due taxes. 
 If you removed the vehicle from Israel during the period of eligibility and returned to Israel with the vehicle within the period of eligibility, your eligibility is not canceled.
However, if you removed the vehicle from Israel during the period of eligibility and returned to Israel after the period of eligibility, you will again be entitled to a tax exemption only if you spent at least three consecutive months abroad with the vehicle from the end of the previous period of eligibility.
•  If you utilized the period of eligibility, you can not utilize another period of eligibility (even on a different car), unless you left Israel for at least three consecutive months.
 If the vehicle was lost, stolen, burned during your days of entitlement, you have to pay all the applicable taxes, so you should take care to insure the vehicle’s full value, including all applicable taxes.
 A vehicle imported from abroad which is for the use of a person who is a permanent resident abroad, shall be exempt from Israeli license plates up to a year from the day that the vehicle entered Israel.
If the tourist left for a full year before the end of the vehicle’s year’s stay in Israel, he will retain his permanent resident abroad status, and will be exempted from getting an Israeli license plate again for another year.
 

The conditions under which you may leave a vehicle in Israel after the permitted period:

*  You paid the full sum of applicable taxes
*  when you registered the vehicle in Israel
*  it was less than 48 months after the vehicle was manufactured
*  you affixed Israeli license plates to it were installed and 
*  you received a standard import permit from the Department of Standardization in the Ministry of Transportation. (Vehicles where the driver’s seat is on the right are not approved.)
 

The documents required for importing or purchasing a vehicle, or extending the period it can remain in Israel. Click here to print.
 
If you want to import or purchase a vehicle in Israel without paying taxes, or extend the period you can leave the vehicle in Israel beyond the permitted time, you should contact the Customs Dept. and show them the following documents:
•  A valid passport and visa. 
•  A valid foreign driver's license in the name of the tourist or his spouse which is valid in Israel for the imported vehicle. If you lived in Israel more than a year, you have to show your Israeli driver’s license. To convert a foreign license, see the Guide to Converting a Driver’s License. 
•  A bank guarantee if required.
•  A valid motor insurance certificate.
•  License plates for the imported vehicle (from the country of origin). 
•  A tourist student — confirmation of his studies from the educational institution. 
•  A tourist cleric — confirmation of his position from the religious institution and a commitment that all conditions will be kept.
•  A tourist reporter — confirmation of his position by his employer and a commitment that all conditions will be kept and the presentation of a valid certificate from the Government Press Office.
•  Detailed explanation in the case of a request to extend the period.
•  Fill out a Personal vehicle importer statement form (Form 21). You can get a sample form in our office or download it here.
 

For information:

For information in Israel, go to the Customs office nearest where you live.
When abroad, you can write to these Customs offices:
If you are in the U.S. — the Haifa Custom office.
If you are in Europe — the Ashdod Customs office.
If you are in other countries — the Central Customs office.
You can also send an email to: yishi@customs.mof.gov.il.


Contact information

Below is a list of Customs branches :
Jerusalem Customs branch — 66 Kanfei Nesharim, Jerusalem. 02-6545555.
Center Customs branch — 3A Israel Galili, Rishon Lezion. 03-9421666.
Haifa Customs branch — Port Gate 3, Haifa. 04-8354811.
Ashdod Customs branch — 2 HaBanaim St., Forum Building, Ashdod. 08-8510610.
Ben Gurion Airport Customs branch — Ben Gurion Airport, Lod. 03-9751111.
Eilat Customs branch — Eilat port, Eilat. 08-6383888.

Questions and Answers:
How long can I utilize my rights for customs benefits
Answer:
Up to three months from the date of entry into Israel.
Can someone else drive a tourist’s car
Answer:
Someone else is allowed to drive the tourist’s car, provided the tourist and his wife are with him in the car.
Does a student tourist have to leave a guarantee
Answer:
One has to leave a financial guarantee and in addition may be required to leave a bank guarantee.
If I want to leave Israel within the period of my eligibility, and will return to Israel before the end of the vehicle’s exemption period, can I leave the car in Israel
Answer:
You must notify in writing to the customs officer in your area on the whereabouts of your vehicle while you are abroad.
At the end of the eligibility period, may one tourist transfer the ownership of his vehicle to another tourist
Answer:
No, you have to remove it immediately from Israel or pay full taxes.
I removed the vehicle from Israel during my eligibility period and returned to Israel with the vehicle within my eligibility period. Will I lose my eligibility
Answer:
No.
I removed the vehicle from Israel during my eligibility period and returned to Israel after my eligibility period ended. Can I again bring a car exempt from taxes
Answer:
Yes, you are again entitled to a tax exemption provided that the vehicle was abroad with you for at least three consecutive months from the end of your previous eligibility period.
My vehicle was lost, stolen, set on fire during my eligibility period. Do I have to pay any of the applicable taxes
Answer:
Yes, so you should take care to insure the full value of the vehicle, including all the applicable taxes.
Does the vehicle have to be for personal use only
Answer:
Yes, you may not let the vehicle be used by someone else before the end of the eligibility period, whether with or without remuneration.
Is my vehicle exempt from Israeli license plates
Answer:
One is exempt from getting Israeli license plates for one year from the day the vehicle entered Israel.
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