Banking and Taxation
Shekel- the Israeli Currency
The only currency accepted in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS), simply called “shekel.” 100 Agurot equal 1 shekel. Banknotes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200. The following coins are available: 10 agurot, 1/2 shekel (equals 50 agurot), 1, 2, 5 and 10 shekels.
Israel has a sophisticated banking system. The Bank of Israel is the government's central bank, and it issues currency and regulates banking policy.
There are more than twenty providers of private banking services. The larger ones are Bank Leumi, the Israel Discount Bank, Bank Hapoalim and Bank Mizrachi-Tphahot and they have branches almost in every city and also in universities campuses.
Large international banks, (Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and PNB-Paribas) also have establishments in Israel. Their branches are in large cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Additionally, many foreign banks partner with Israeli banks. In most cases, opening an Israeli account with these partner banks requires less paperwork than with a normal Israeli bank.
- Banks offer specialised bank accounts and services to foreign Israeli residents that are not Israeli citizens. These include (but are not limited to) mutual funds, trust funds and educational accounts. For these types of accounts, speak with your Israeli banker.
- Make a research market. Every bank has different programs and fees. If you will tell them that another bank gave you a discount, they will give you better program…
- There are bank fees for everything… but most of the banks have a student’s program free of charge (or almost). When you go to check a bank, take your Study validation and ask what you can receive.
- If you have a bank branch in your campus, check it first. Most of the time they have special program for students and researchers.
- The banks in Israel have excellent computer system. Most of your activities could be done from home in their website. They have English versions.
- If you need to go to the bank, check first their reception hours. They have inconvenient working hours.
- Just in case, save all your account statements.
- If you are not satisfied with a bank, banks allow you to transfer your accounts. Banks only charge minimal fees for theses transferrals, but you must change things such as chequebooks, credit cards and automated bill payments.
Israel has signed bilateral agreements with some European countries, permitting income tax exemptions.
Visiting researchers from these countries are exempt from income tax in Israel for a period of up to two years, the payment is made in their respective countries usually at the end of their visit.
Please consult your local authorities before departure for Israel.
Value Added Tax (VAT, in Hebrew - Ma'am)
A Value-added tax of 17% is charged on purchases and transactions, except for tourists' hotel bills and car rentals paid for in foreign currency. Keep the receipts and ask for a cash refund at the Airport.
Visitors should acquaint themselves with the latest customs regulations applicable regarding personal or household belongings (especially cars).
Please note that items such as video cameras, personal computers (PCs) and other electronic equipment are not exempt from Israeli customs duties. Such items must be declared to Customs upon arrival in Israel, and must be taken out with you when you leave. Certain visa categories may entitle you to exemptions or reductions in customs on imported items.
For more information on tax, customs & VAT, please check the Israel Tax Authority Guide of the Department of Customs and VAT at the Ministry of Finance.