I am forced to skip Lebanon and Iran because of the Israeli passport stamp problem

No more Israeli passport stamp: that’s what welcomed me when I arrived Ben Gurion Airport 2 weeks ago. I told the Immigration officer three times, “please don’t stamp my passport.” He then gave me the why-don’t-you-want-an-Israeli-stamp remark at the same time explained that the rules have changed: Israel stopped stamping passports in 2013.

They are aware of the situation and they don’t want this to be the reason to shrink the booming tourism of the country. This is really very kind (and smart) of them, to be honest.

However, in the Wadi Araba Crossing (Israel-Jordan border in the south), it was a different story. Well, land border crossings always are. The moment I heard the thump sound of the stamp, I knew I was doomed. I was so confident they would not stamp on my passport because that’s the new rule apparently, but they did. And believe me it was a minute in my life that changed everything. I kept blaming myself for not saying anything, for being overconfident.

What made me more pissed is that I was given an exit card (proof that I exited Israel) and an exit tax card with an exit stamp. I have both these papers and on top of that, I have the stamp on my passport. Why do I need 3 proofs that I exited the country?! Why can’t it just be one?

Okay, you might get confused. What’s the problem if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport?

Let’s do a little history here. The Israeli stamp problem applies mostly in the Middle East. I will explain it the way I know how but feel free to add what you know on the comment box. Remember, this is a blog, not Wikipedia. It’s history that is making the world hate Israel. Simply put:ย when the Jews made the state of Israel, they took over the homeland of the Palestinian Arabs without consent and mostly by force. Hence, the Palestine-Israel conflict. Along the way, countries like Syria, Lebanon and Iran were involved. You can read more about the conflict’s history here. The conflict is not the point of this post but it affects the situation I am in now.

It was a bit confusing at first. Culturally and touristically speaking, I find Israel to be the most humane and free countries in the world. Oh well, history.

1403856775!!-!!lebanon_h1Photo: TraveloLebanon

The main reason of me doing a Middle Eastern trip is Lebanon and Iran. Aside from Pakistan, I am really intrigued with these two countries — I need to know. And when I like something, I really like it — I have to be next to it. It’s popular to everyone who’ve traveled the Middle East that if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport, there is no way for you to visit Lebanon, Iran and the UAE. These are the hardcore countries who take this seriously.

I didn’t want to give up and one thought kept coming in while I was thinking on how I will be able to visit the countries I am longing to see:

Maybe, just maybe, the Israeli passport stamp is a myth?

I have posted in many online forums in the Internet: “Can I enter Lebanon or Iran if I have the Israeli passport stamp?” The answers are all the same: “No.” Added with aย bit of their own opinions about the conflict, of course. However, no one has really given me the answer I wanted. Is there anyone out there who have actually tried it? Was everyone saying no because that’s what they read in the Internet? I didn’t get any answer. I didn’t find a person who has actually tried to get in these countries with the Israeli passport stamp.

I did what I knew best: contact the country itself. As a journalist, I have developed contacts with Tourism Boards all over the world. I e-mailed Lebanon. No reply. Luckily, I met a Lebanese girl while I was in Petra who said entering Lebanon with the Israeli stamp is a ‘federal crime.’ I can get imprisoned. “They will give you a very hard time. Don’t do it. You can lose your job.” she said.

Okay, option number 2: go to the nearest Philippine Embassy and say I lost my passport.

Renewing a passport abroad usually takes 30 days. In my current situation, I can only apply for the new passport in Israel because that’s where I can stay visa-free for 90 days. The rest, I have to apply a visa to. I didn’t want to do it in Jordan. It was expensive. I don’t want to stay in Egypt for 30 days, either. I’m not feeling it yet.

My good friend Chummy, a Filipino living in Israel for 5 months now contacted the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv for me. Yeah, sure, I can renew my passport. But I have to wait 60 days. Additionally, the data page of my passport will say it was issued in Tel Aviv. Not the Philippines. So, you know, double whammy. It’s not possible.

Okay, I can do it in Egypt, I guess. I contacted them and they said if I renew my passport in Egypt and go to Lebanon with zero stamps, they will still question me. Apparently, a lot of people entered Lebanon from Egypt with zero stamps so it has been kind of sketchy.

I did more research and found out that…

Even if Israel did not stamp my passport in the Israel-Jordan border, every Immigration in the world will still know I entered Jordan through Israel (Wadi Araba Crossing). Why? All borders have names depending on the area and it will reflect on the entry stamp. Entering Egypt from Israel is also the most feasible route for me at the moment. As Israel doesn’t have any foreign relations with Lebanon, there is no way I can fly directly. I have to stop in Europe at one point and I don’t want that. So, if I enter Egypt from Israel, the entry stamp in Egypt will still say “Taba Crossing.” There isn’t any other Taba Crossing in the world but the one in the Israel-Egypt border.

Tips (I wish I could’ve done)

  • If you are doing a Middle Eastern trip, make Israel your last country. The reason why Israel is the first country I went to is because of my friend’s wedding and the Press Trip with Vibe Israel.
  • Fact: You can enter Israel even if you have stamps from Lebanon, Iran, Dubai or all of the Middle East. There is always a massive interview but it’s no big deal. Just answer the questions and you will be fine. I came from Dubai when I entered Israel, hence the long interview.
  • Israel is bordering Egypt and Jordan. If you don’t have control over your route, ask to be stamped in a separate paper in Israel, Jordan and Egypt. This way, you will not have proof that you entered these 2 countries from Israel.

iran-visa-shiraz-faars-nasir-molk-8Did you know? One of my obsessions and greatest dreams is to be fluent in Farsi. Photo: Iran Travel Center

I am quite sad that I don’t get fulfil the dream of visiting Lebanon and Iran. I really really really want to see these two countries. I want to write good things about them but I guess, now is not the time for me to visit. I also thought about this: something good is about to come. Maybe the Universe is directing me to a different direction. This is what I want to believe in every time I feel sad about the situation.

But it doesn’t stop me from having a big heart for everyone, for anyone. I may have always been the guinea pig for these types of travels but I will keep on sharing my experiences to all of you. ๐Ÿ™‚


What are your experiences about the Israeli passport stamp? I’d like to hear your thoughts! Leave it on the comment box below!

@PSIMONMYWAY

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isnโ€™t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha is an ambassador of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls' education and empowerment. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

Comments

  • Kai
    August 28, 2016

    Just wanted to share something I learned: When i went to world youth day in Poland I met Israelis and Lebanese people. We were instructed not to post pictures online of them in the same photo because they could be persecuted and be stripped of their citizenship. ๐Ÿ™

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  • August 30, 2016

    Although I personally don’t see myself going to the Middle East anytime soon, this just sucks! Maybe someday when you finally renew your passport and get a couple of new stamps, you can try again?

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  • August 30, 2016

    I’d love to visit Israel but as we were intending to visit Syria we made a conscious decision to give the country a miss when we were last in the region. Though we had heard Israeli officials might stamp a piece of paper I could see no reason why they would in Egypt or Jordan when we crossed their borders. I can only see this working if flying in and out of the country.

    With protests soon to begin in Syria we were politely refused entry there anyway and flew instead to Lebanon, where immigration made a point of doing a thorough search of our passports for Israeli stamps. Still to visit Iran so I guess we’ll just have to save Israel for last.

    Though I can’t remember the context I read a tip recently that suggested damaging your passport might be better than losing it as it will be replaced much quicker. I’m pretty sure the passport under discussion was American, though I’m not sure if they were abroad or in the States. With such scant details I would certainly suggest you do a bit more research before drop kicking your passport into traffic.

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  • August 31, 2016

    It was during my press trip in Jordan (last year) that I heard about the passport stamp thingie. It’s good you didn’t push through with your trip to Lebanon if it could mean your freedom! Mygosh. I don’t know where you’re going now (instead of Iran and Lebanon) but best of luck!

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  • September 2, 2016

    Hi, Trisha. Seems like entering Lebanon and Iran is not yet for you this time. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit your favorite countries next time. Just keep on going. I’m sorry about what happen to you in Israel. A little bit traumatic, but I hope it’s not your nightmare. Reading your experience is worth reading for. I’ll make Israel my last country to visit too. Thanks for the advice.

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  • September 10, 2016

    Hi, Trisha!

    Sad to say that we need to experience those barriers, ut you know what My trip in Pakistan was different. A lot of differences with Jordan, Egypt, and Israel. Pakistan is an Islamic country that prohibits their citizen to visit Israel. It has even a warning on their passport written that “Not allowed to travel to Israel”. I agree with you, I skipped Israel because I am currently based in Saudi Arabia, traveling Pakistan for a media conference, lived in Northern areas in Pakistan. Asalamu Alaykum!

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  • October 8, 2016

    Hi Trisha,
    I actually didn’t even realize this issue existed. I wonder how international business travelers handle this if they’ve been to Israel and, say, need to go to Dubai. I do agree, though, when something isn’t meant to be, there’s no sense in forcing it. Here’s to hoping the Universe has something really great in store! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • October 8, 2016

    So frustrating ๐Ÿ™ So sorry to hear you didn’t get to make it to your dream countries this time around.

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  • October 8, 2016

    That is really sad. You are not free to travel wherever you want. To tell you the truth I haven’t heard of that before. I hope you can make it to Lebanon and Iran soon!

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  • Sue
    October 8, 2016

    So glad you did all the research and didn’t just go hoping it would work out. Sounds like it would have been a huge problem. Hopefully one day things will change or you’ll get a new passport and visit Lebanon and Iran.

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  • October 9, 2016

    So disappointing for you that now is not going to work out for your visit. I hope you make it to your dream destinations in the future either with a new passport or even better because they have been able to move past the history.

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  • October 9, 2016

    Sorry to hear that you won’t be able to visit Lebanon and Iran ๐Ÿ™ I’ve heard of the Israeli passport problem, though I too thought that they were always happy to stamp your exit card instead of branding your passport. I hope you have the chance to travel in the future once your passport is eventually renewed XX

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  • October 9, 2016

    Ohhh what an ordeal. How sad is it that we live in a world where passports and passport stamps hinder you from exploring and getting to know a place. However, everything happens for a reason. Look at you now with your new life in Tel Aviv <3 Great tips for those who want to do something similar.

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  • October 9, 2016

    Can you clarify if Jordan and Egypt will allow you to enter if you have a stamp from Israel? So, if you’re visiting Israel it sounds like you should avoid getting stamp in your passport, period. Or get a new passport!

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    • October 9, 2016

      Jordan and Egypy have diplomatic relations with Israel, Israelis can even travel there… So it shouldn’t even be an issue.
      I’ve been told that they are phasing out the stamps at land borders in Israel and going to the card system like at the airport.

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  • October 9, 2016

    You never know rules, regulations and relations in future may change for matter and then these stamps will not matter much. I do hope something works out for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • October 9, 2016

    I didn’t know this about the stamps so thanks for sharing. I have heard you cant visit the USA if you have stamps from certain countries but I don’t really know that much about it. It would however stop me visiting somewhere if I thought it would stop me going somewhere else in the future.

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  • October 9, 2016

    Oh my goodness, what a massive bummer. I’ve heard a lot about this issue of getting your passport stamped from Israel, but I didn’t know it could result in getting arrested in certain countries. I am glad you decided to play it safe and hopefully you get to go in the future!

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  • October 9, 2016

    When I was a kid I travelled regularly to the Middle East. We could request a second passport if we wanted to travel to Israel too. But that was 40 years ago now!

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  • October 10, 2016

    I work for a company that does business all throughout the Middle East. I have not personally gone, but I heard that it is possible to have two passports if you ask the right people. One for each set of stamps that you aren’t allowed to collect for the other set of countries.

    I think your article was very well written and extremely important to travelers who would otherwise assume they are safe given one set of rules that aren’t universally applied. Well done.

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  • October 10, 2016

    Wow that is so much just because they stamped the passport. I don’t understand either why you need 3 different proofs of you exiting the country, but that stinks. Great warning for anyone trying to cross the boarder in that region.

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  • October 10, 2016

    Urgh! What a nightmare! I’ve heard about getting the stamps on a separate piece of paper, but have never been in a situation where I have had to request it. It’s a shame you cant get to those destinations, but as you said maybe it’s just not your time. If it’s meant to be you will get there eventually!

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  • October 10, 2016

    So sorry to hear that a passport stamp kept you from fulfilling your travel dreams. I’m headed to Israel next spring but would love to visit Jordan and Egypt. If I do, I’ll be sure to see them first before Israel. Thanks for the help.

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  • October 10, 2016

    This is my dilemma. I really want to visit Israel but I only renewed my passport last year and I don’t want to have a stamp that could ruin future travel plans. I said to myself to wait for my passport to be close to running out before I go but that’s years away! Such a shame

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  • October 10, 2016

    Sorry to hear that happened to you! but thanks for turning this experience into a helpful one and also very important to know, I do hope you get to go to Lebanon and Iran eventually.

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  • October 10, 2016

    Thanks for sharing your misadventures and adventures. Really loved your stories. I am also Filipina and would love to meet you somewhere around the world! Happy travels!

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  • Mia
    October 10, 2016

    Wow, I’m sorry you have to skip Levanon and Iran, for now. Maybe it just isn’t the time for you to be there for one reason or another. I’m sure you’ll get there and you’ll enjoy your stay as much as you anticipate you will. Lebanon is one of my friend’s favorite countries so I’d love to check it out one day as well. I don’t know where you’re off to next but I’m sure it’ll be just as exciting as your previous travels!

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  • October 10, 2016

    This is really helpful information. I’m going to both Israel and Jordan in the spring and I wasn’t really aware of this rule, so now I know what I need to do. I’m really sorry that that passport stamp ruined your chance to get in.

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  • November 29, 2016

    My mom is currently on a Holy land tour and they will be visintg Jordan, Israel and Egypt since there connecting flight is in Dubai included in the tour is anither day or two in the UAE. Maybe its a different story when you are in a package tour or by yourself traveling. Anyhow thank you for this great information and looking forward to you in your dream middle east destination. ?

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  • Alan Louganis
    August 23, 2017

    Hey Trish,
    I found your site by googling trying to figure out my travel plans. I just found a great airfare from LAX (Los Angeles) to both beirut and Tel Aviv. I am Jewish by birth and would love to see Israel. I want to built my own travel blog and travel website, I have been traveling all over the globe and since I have traveled a lot on Emirates/Qatar & Etihad, I have lots of stamps from UAE & Qatar. Also my ex partner is from Morocco and have been there millions of times as I love Morocco and there is so much to see there like my favorite places such as Chefchaouen and Essouirra. I really want to visit Beirut because I am crazy about Ellissa and I want to see her in concert. However I have been reading that I will be questioned and detained if I go to Israel, that is why I skipped Israel this summer during the Gay pride which apparently was a very festive event. However I am trying to decide to see if I can fly from LAX to Beirut and then make it to Tel Aviv and then still go to Dubai for new year’s eve and then on to Palawan in the Phillippines. What do you think? Can you please give me some insight what to do? Can I enter Tel Aviv after I have been to Lebanon? How would I fly from Lebanon to Tel Aviv? You can look me up on Facebook, Alan Louganis and email me to AlanLouganis@yahoo.com please!
    I have read terrible stories that people get detained for hours and the authorities in Ben Gurion pt them in a tiny room and interrogate them and even strip them naked and take their computers away and personal electronics and then mail it to them months later. What would I do without my computer for rest of my trip if that happened to me? Plus, I hate getting stressed out at airports. Once a Swiss Air check-in person put me under so much stress, stole my money from my passport folder, I boarded the flight, I was not feeling well and I ended up having heart attack on a Swiss Air flight from Copenhagen to Zurich and we had to emergency land in Germany. I do not want to go through any sort of stress in Israel. Should I skip going to Israel? Or should I fly to Tel Aviv and continue to Dubai for New Year’s eve and forget about Lebanon? Thanks, Alan

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  • October 4, 2017

    before come Iran if you have been to Israel (occupied Palestine ) change your passport . then you can enjoy the beauty of Persia. and Dont forget visit Alamut valley.

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  • Fernando Nunes
    October 17, 2017

    Hello I would like to clarify a thing
    I did enter Iran in 2016 with a Israeli Stamp. Have both in my current passport. I went directly to Iran Embassy in my country ( Portugal) and asked that same question and they replied with :” If your visit to Israel was over a year ago there are no problem!”. And indeed I had 0 problems at costumers and borders. Lebanon is another question and you really can’t go.
    Safe Trips

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  • Jacob
    August 20, 2019

    Trisha so SORRY you had this problem. I know what you mean. I am dying to see Iran & Lebanon, too! // Am glad you recognize Israel for what it is, now.

    But, I must, quickly, add that all the countries in MENA and beyond were created by the Mandate System. Israel is not different other than in it it mentioned it was to be “reconstituted” aka liberated, reborn etc…

    It was Arabs, Egyptians, Turks, Syrians, Indians N African & European Muslims who moved to become settlers in Israel without the Jewish People’s permission. It is the only Jewish Homeland while there are 22 Arab states and 56 or 57 Muslim states.

    Fun fact: It was named Mandatory Palestine ( in Hebrew on the document it was called Land of Israel) until it maturity, independence. The reason why the name Palestine was used was bc back then it meant something Jewish thanks to Hadrian’s Curse. You see then “Palestinians” were Jews.

    It wasn’t until 1964 that as a tool of the Cold War that Soviet KGB consulted with the Fata7 terror org and rebranded it the PLO.

    They could do this bc in the 1950s post 1948 Palestine for Israel & Palestinians for Jews fell into disuse since the Jewish government renamed it in English as Israel and Israelis ( Israelites).

    I hope I haven’t bored you and that I have piqued your interest in researching, learning more and have somehow enriched your knowledge.

    Be well. & look for Lebanon-Israel Peace Project on FB.

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