How to get Israeli citizenship

Gabriela Peratello
26.08.21
5 minute read

Wondering about how to apply for Israeli citizenship? This guide is for you. We’ll cover all you need to know about Israeli citizenship requirements and processes, and who may be eligible for Israeli dual citizenship.

📑 Table of Contents

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Who’s eligible for Israeli citizenship?

There are several different routes to becoming a citizen of Israel. We’ll run through these alternatives in more detail in just a moment. Here are the key options for acquisition of Israeli citizenship¹:

1. You may be an Israeli citizen by birth
2. You may be an Israeli citizen under the Law of Return
3. You may be an Israeli citizen by residence
4. You may be an Israeli citizen by naturalization

Citizenship through residence

Provisions exist for people who were residents of British Mandatory Palestine prior to the establishment of the Israeli state to apply for Israeli citizenship through residence.

Citizenship through birth/adoption

Anyone born to at least one Israeli parent is considered Israeli by birth. You can also become Israeli by birth if you were born in Israel, have no other citizenship, and have lived in the country for 5 years prior to applying. You must apply between the ages of 18 and 25.

If an Israeli legally adopts a child outside of Israel, the child is eligible to become a citizen of Israel based on their adoption⁶.

Citizenship through The Law of Return

Under the law of return, anyone who is Jewish by birth or who has converted to Judaism and is not a member of another religion will be granted Israeli citizenship. The only exceptions to this are if someone is banned due to security and public safety concerns.

You can apply to receive the right to become Israeli through the Population and Immigration Authority office². Before you apply you’re advised to check with an immigration lawyer to make sure that acquiring Israeli citizenship won’t have any adverse effect on your original nationality. All the paperwork is provided in Hebrew, so you’re also advised to find a translator if you’re still learning the language.

Citizenship through marriage

In 1970, Israel extended the Law of Return to apply to the spouses, children and grandchildren of Jewish people — regardless of religion. That means that non-Jewish family members, including the spouses of children and grandchildren of Jewish people are also entitled to settle in Israel and become citizens there³.

Citizenship through naturalization

You can become an Israeli citizen if you have lived in Israel for at least 3 of the 5 years prior to submitting your application, and intend to settle permanently in Israel. You will usually be required to rescind your original nationality.

dome-of-the-rock-jerusalem

How to apply for a Israeli citizenship

How you apply for Israeli citizenship will depend on your circumstances. The application process depends on which eligibility route you’re applying under, and whether you’re in Israel or outside the country. Let’s look at some details.

Required documents for naturalization

When you apply for naturalization as a citizen of Israel you’ll have to demonstrate both that you have been resident for the required amount of time, and that Israel has been the center of your life for that period. This means you’ll need to pull together details and documents which prove you spend your time in Israel and have the intention of remaining indefinitely.

Here’s the full suite of documents you need to prepare⁴:

  • Your valid ID card
  • Your passport
  • Documentary evidence that Israel has been the center of your life for the last 3 years
  • Your completed naturalization statement
  • Your completed statement of additional citizenship

Requirements for non-Jews

People who are not Jewish are still able to become Israeli citizens by a number of routes. One available option is to become Israeli under the Law of Return if you’re a family member of someone recognized as Jewish who entered Israel prior to 1970 and became a permanent resident. Get the full details of how to get Israeli citizenship as a non-Jew, from your local Israeli embassy or consulate.

Citizenship application steps

Apply for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return at your local Population and Immigration Authority office, or if you are not in Israel, through your local Israeli consular mission. You can also apply to naturalize as an Israeli citizen from within Israel⁵.

🎯 Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Complete the application for Israeli citizenship which applies to your eligibility route
2. Collect the documents needed based on your application type
3. Apply via the Population and Immigration Authority nearest to you

Note: if you’re applying for citizenship for a baby born outside of Israel, you must also visit your local consulate to confirm the identity of the child and be issued a passport⁶ ⁷. Depending on the situation you might need to provide a DNA test to demonstrate the child’s parent is an Israeli citizen.

What happens if your citizenship is denied?

If your application for Israeli citizenship is denied you’ll be notified of the reason your application was rejected and your options to submit additional supporting evidence, reapply, or appeal.

Does Israel accept dual citizenship?

You may be able to hold Israeli dual citizenship, but this depends on the eligibility route you follow. Usually, citizens who naturalize as Israeli must rescind their original nationality at the time they become Israeli nationals. People who gain their Israeli nationality through other routes are usually able to hold dual citizenship.

Don’t forget that dual citizenship isn’t accepted by all countries. That means that being able to take up Israeli dual citizenship also depends on your original nationality. If you’re a US citizen, dual citizenship is allowed under most circumstances provided you continue to comply with fixed conditions such as filing and paying your US taxes.


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Alternatives to becoming a Israeli citizen

Becoming an Israeli citizen isn’t the only way to live, work or study in Israel. You can also choose to apply for a visa based on your planned activities and how long you intend to spend in Israel. You’ll need to apply for your visa via your local Israeli embassy or consulate — in the US there are 8 consular offices as well as the main embassy in Washington DC⁸. Application for visas and other permits are all managed through online forms which you’ll find on the website of the relevant consulate.

If you’re in Israel already you can apply to change or extend your visa status or residency via the Population and Immigration Authority Office. Full details are available online, including a list of the documents and supporting evidence you’ll need to provide along with your application.


If you’re interested in exploring your connections to Israel, you’ll need to research your eligibility for Israeli visas, residence permits or citizenship. US citizens are usually able to enter Israel without a visa and stay for up to 3 months — but if you plan to work or study while you’re there, you’ll likely need a permit to cover your activities. Use this guide as a starting point to understand your options and get all your paperwork prepared to apply for dual citizenship with Israel, get your work permit or secure a long term residence pass.


Sources:

  1. MFA - Acquisition of Israeli nationality
  2. Israel Government - Law of return
  3. Jewish Agency - First steps
  4. Israel Government - Request for citizenship of a permanent resident
  5. Israel Government - Israeli citizenship
  6. MFA - Consular services FAQ
  7. Embassies of Israel - Registration of Israeli citizens abroad
  8. Embassies of Israel - US missions

Sources checked on 08.25.2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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