Will Visit Each Other Without Visas
Russian international travel passport. Russians have two passports, one for internal use and one for international travel.
Starting at 1 a.m. on September 20, 2008, Russian tourists can visit Israel without visas. All they need to have is a foreign travel passport valid for at least six months on the date of entry. (Russians have two passports -- one for domestic use and one for travelling abroad). Russian visitors have to be ready to present booked return flights, hotel reservations or letters of invitation from relatives, and funds availability for the period of their stay. The entry to the country is free, and maximum visa-free stay cannot exceed 90 days at a time.
The agreement between Russia and Israel is mutual and was signed on March 20, however, it took half a year to figure out the legal nuances. The law is the result of close ties between the two nations. Many families have relatives in both countries, the result of the mass immigration from the Soviet Union to Israel in the 1970s and 1990s. Sixteen percent of Israelis are fluent in the Russian language, and Israeli government and businesses often provide information in Russian. The Russian language is semi-official in Israel and featured on roadway signs in some areas of the country.
Aside from the family factor, Israel is a very popular tourist destination among Russians for its history, culture, hospitality towards Russians, and warm beaches. Russians, having experienced the tragic terror attacks that occurred in Russia during the years of war in Chechnya, aren't easily scared by the terrorist threats in Israel. In 2007, 193,000 Russian tourists visited Israel. Israel will spend $3 million in Russia on an advertisement campaign portraying the country as a sunny beach destination. The amount of Russian tourists visiting Israel is expected to grow to 300,000 in 2008.
Israelis have been used to an entry to many Western countries without a visa requirement and only 12,700 Israeli tourists visited Russia in the last six months. The cultural interest is mutual and travel agents expect the number of Israeli tourists to Russia to grow, "probably, not in winter months though," jokingly added Netta Peleg-Briskin, head of the CIS and Baltic Department of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, in her conversation with Russian news agencies.