A new regulation by the Transport Ministry eases the life of foreign journalists – license conversion becomes straight forward
At last, there is good news regarding the conversion of your foreign driver's license to an Israeli license, which must be done after your first year in the country (one year from the date of first entry).
According to the new procedure introduced by the Ministry of Transportation, foreign journalists who hold a valid B1 visa and a GPO card will be exempt from the road test (as well as the theory test) when converting their driver's license. The conversion process is now straightforward and conditioned only on an eye test and general medical examination. No fees will be charged for the conversion process; the Israeli license itself costs NIS 80 per year.
• The validity of the converted driver's license will always match the validity of your B1 visa; the minimum remaining period on your B1 visa required for the conversion is three months.
• The Israeli license will no longer be issued in paper form but as a regular plastic card bearing your photo. Therefore, once a year you will have to renew your B1 visa, GPO card and driver's license – all at the same time.
• Converting to Israeli license does not mean that you have to give up your foreign national license – it remains valid.
• Spouses of foreign journalists need to go through the regular conversion process, including the road test but not the theory test.
The conversion process is as follows:
1. Visit one of the 4 Ministry of Transportation district licensing offices:
Jerusalem: 17 Hatnufa Street
Center – currently located in Bnei Brak, 2 Halechi Street ("Design Center") and will move back to Holon (1 Halokhamim Street) next month.
Haifa: 2 Edison Street
Be'er Sheva: 5 Hamanof Street
Ask for an identity number (called an "89"number as it begins with these digits). In order to receive such a number, the applicant must present: A) a foreign license (if your license is not also in English, an international license is necessary), B) a passport with a valid B1 visa and C) a valid GPO card.
2. After receiving an identity number, visit one of the dozens of photo stations nationwide which have an arrangement with the Ministry of Transportation. Have your photo taken, free of charge, and receive a "green form" for driver's license – free of charge.
3. With your "green form" go to an optometrist and have your eyes checked; most of the photo stations are located inside optometrists shops so you could have both done at once (NIS 50 for the eye check). Lastly, have your doctor confirm your general medical status and sign the green form as well. This process need not be repeated upon renewing your license next year (the medical results are valid for 10 years).
4. Now that you have a "green form" with identity number, a photo and two signatures (doctor & optometrist), return to one of the four Ministry of Transportation district licensing offices to complete the license conversion process. A temporary paper license (valid for six months) will be issued on the spot.
5. The Israeli plastic driver's license will be sent to you by post, to the address you have given to the Ministry of Interior upon your B1 visa application. The plastic license should be received within a month – but meanwhile your paper license is valid. Congratulations!