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Despite ongoing political tensions between the two countries, the UK and Israel remain robust trading partners, with bilateral trade in 2014 valued at approximately GBP £2.5 billion, and exports from Israel to the United Kingdom on the rise, as well. Currently, UK citizens who wish to transfer money from the UK to Israel are able to do so freely and without restrictions. Most Israeli banks accept international money transfers, and non-residents are free to open a bank account in Israel for their banking needs. Only a valid passport is required.
Citizens of the UK are able to enter Israel without a visa and typically may stay for up to 90 days without prior approval. All that is required for entry is a valid passport that is good for at least six months from the date of arrival in Israel. For longer stays or to acquire a work permit, the process can be lengthy and complicated, and it is recommended to plan ahead accordingly and allow sufficient time.
UK citizens who wish to obtain a residence visa are permitted to do so in only three situations: if they are of Jewish descent (A/1 visa), if they are in a relationship with an Israeli citizen (B/1 visa), or if the applicant has an employer who is acting as their sponsor (B/1 visa). The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website has the latest information on visas and work permits.
The Israeli real estate market is expensive, competitive, and can be a complicated process. Non-residents are advised to find a licensed real estate agent and/or real estate attorney to work with during the purchase process, as their guidance can help make a confusing process easier to navigate.
While researching properties and the Israeli real estate market, it’s probably a good idea to secure a letter of pre-approval from the bank to confirm available funds for the transaction. The letter is valid for three months, typically, and can be extended if needed. It attests to the purchaser’s ability to send money to pay for the transaction. Arranging for an international money transfer by researching foreign exchange currency brokers and payment options is a good idea. Before making an offer to purchase, it is typical to hire an engineer to inspect the property and all corresponding plans for any potential issues. Once the engineer has signed off on the property, it is customary to make an offer and then proceed with the rest of the purchase process.
British citizens living and working in Israel must file and pay taxes to the British government on their earned income. They may also be required to pay taxes on any income earned while in Israel, but because of the UK-Israel tax treaty, tax credits may be available to help ensure British citizens aren’t double taxed on their earned income while living in Israel.
UK students wishing to study at an Israeli college or university must apply directly to that school’s department for entry. For study programs that will last longer than three months, a student visa (the A2 visa) is required. Applicants can submit an application through the closest Israeli consulate at least three months before their intended arrival in Israel.
UK citizens are not permitted to vote in Israeli elections, but they may vote in UK parliament and European parliament elections. However, while living abroad British citizens may not vote in UK local or mayoral elections, or elections for the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish parliament, or Mayor of London elections.
All working Israelis pay into the country’s health insurance and social security programs. There are four major health maintenance organizations within the country, and all residents are required by law to join one. UK citizens who have Israeli residency and have paid into the system are eligible to receive healthcare services and benefits. Non-residents are entitled to only limited healthcare services and social security benefits, and it is strongly recommended that UK citizens who are non-residents but staying for an extended period of time in Israel for work or travel purchase private, supplemental insurance to cover them during their stay in Israel.
The United Kingdom and Israeli’s two-way trade of goods and services is on the rise despite ongoing political tensions between the two countries, due in large part to Israel’s continued military actions in the Palestinian Territories. In the first half of 2014, bilateral trade increased by 28% compared to the previous year, while exports from Israel into the UK have risen by almost 40% over the same 12-month period, according to the Israeli government’s Central Bureau of Statistics department. As of 2014, bilateral trade between the countries is at a record high of GBP £2.5 billion.
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