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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 at 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: 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.

israeli passport stamp

Beirut, Lebanon: one of my dream cities!

The main reason of me doing a Middle Eastern trip in 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’s 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 that take this seriously.

I didn’t want to give up and one thought kept coming in while I was thinking about 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 on many online forums on the Internet: “Can I enter Lebanon or Iran if I have the Israeli passport stamp?” The answers are all the same: “No.” Added with a few 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 has actually tried it? Was everyone saying no because that’s what they read on 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 a new passport in Israel because that’s where I can stay visa-free for 90 days. For the rest, I have to apply for a visa. 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, a 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 on 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.
israeli passport stamp

Philippine passport holders can visit Iran visa-free for 14 days.

Did 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 fulfill 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 in 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 with all of you. 🙂

Jacob

Tuesday 20th of August 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.

Fernando Nunes

Tuesday 17th of October 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

amir

Wednesday 4th of October 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.

Alan Louganis

Wednesday 23rd of August 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

Geemiz Travel

Tuesday 29th of November 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. ?