Media Centre

Israel’s Passport Law – Proposal for Reinstating Residency Requirement for Obtaining a Passport

2 December 2020

Dear Clients and Colleagues,

We would like to inform you that, late last month, Israel’s Interior Ministry submitted proposed legislation for public comment, which would deny an Israeli passport to a new citizen who does not settle in Israel.

Prior to Amendment No. 9 to the Passport Law – 1952 (“Amendment No. 9”), if an individual obtained Israeli citizenship but did not meet a minimum in-country residency requirement following naturalization, the Interior Ministry could decline to grant that individual an Israeli passport and, instead, could issue a travel document. The Knesset changed that law in 2017 through Amendment No. 9, removing the residency requirement from new immigrants under the Law of Return and allowing even non-resident new citizens to obtain Israeli passports.

The newly-proposed legislation seeks to reverse the 2017 change and to reinstate the aforementioned residency requirement for obtaining an Israeli passport. In explaining the rationale for this proposed reversal, the Interior Ministry argues that individuals can misuse Israel’s Law of Return for the sole purpose of obtaining an Israeli passport and that, according to homeland security officials, the ability to obtain an Israeli passport with only minimal formal ties to the country could pose a security threat.
The Interior Ministry is receiving comments on this proposal through the end of the day on 15 December 2020.

If you have any questions about the implications of the proposed legislation or would like information on submitting comments, please feel free to contact us.

Herzog Fox & Neeman

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