Getting an Israeli driver's licence

Updated 2014-01-20 07:16

This is only applicable to foreigners living in Israel who want to get a driver’s licence.  If you are in Israel on a temporary tourist visa then you should get an international driver’s licence in your home country.  People from several European countries or pretty much anywhere Britain used to control do not need an international licence.  Anybody in Israel for more than one year must have an Israeli licence to drive.  This date is based on initial arrival.  Leaving and coming back in will fool nobody.  Foreign licences can be converted up to 3 years after arrival in Israel.  Olim can go to any driver’s licence fair and skip many of these steps.

Driving without a licence is very illegal and will incur a fine, possible jail time, invalidation of insurance, and possible loss of vehicle.

Take your teudat zehut (ID card) and corrective lenses (if necessary) to an authorised optician to get an eye exam. Misrad harishui (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) can provide a list of authorised opticians or you can phone Marmanet at 1-599-502-030 or Femi at 03-5688-140. The misrad harishui information phone number is 1-222-5678.

The optician will give you a tofes yarok (literally a green form). Take it to any bituach le'umi doctor. The doctor will give you a basic exam and sign your tofes yarok. This should cost about 50 ILS.

Take your teudat zehut, tofes yarok, passport and foreign driver's licence (if you have one) to your local misrad harishui. Offices are in Be'er Sheva, Eilat, Haifa, Holon, Jerusalem. They will issue the hafnaya. This is a form for the driving instructor.

Take the hafnaya and your teudat zehut to any authorised driving instructor. Misrad harishui has a list. There is likely one very near the misrad harishui office. They are also easily found in business directories and online. At least one driving lesson is mandatory followed by a mivchan shlita (driving test). The instructor will give you the agrat mivchan (basically a bill for the test) and schedule the mivchan shlita. It should cost no more than 100 ILS, including one lesson and use of car. Most instructors will charge less if you bring your own car.

You may have to take more than one lesson if you do not already know how to drive or your country's rules are very different from Israel's. For example, people from China often have to take multiple lessons and generally do not pass the mivchan shlita straight away. This is not an endorsement of any stereotype of Chinese drivers but an acknowledgement that the rules of driving in Israel and China are as different as night and day. If you do not have a foreign licence then you will have to take at least 28 lessons and pass a written test before you can take the driving test.

Take the agrat mivchan and your teudat zehut to your local post office and pay for the test.

Take the receipt from the post office, your teudat zehut, passport, foreign licence back to misrad harishui at your scheduled time and take the test. It is a very easy common sense test. Assuming you know how to drive. And have common sense. Misrad harishui will issue a rather sad looking temporary licence. Assuming you passed the test. The temporary licence must always be accompanied by your teudat zehut. It is illegal to drive with one and not the other.

Something to remember: If you take the test on an automatic transmission then you will only be able to legally drive an automatic transmission. It is far better to test on a manual transmission. Upgrading from automatic to manual at a later date requires an additional test.

You have two chances to pass the test. If you fail a second time then you will have to take the written test followed by the driving test yet again. If you fail it again then you will have to take the 28 driving lessons. Or more.

Take your temporary licence and teudat zehut back to the post office and pay about 400 ILS (as of 2013). They will mail your permanent licence within 6 to 8 weeks. The permanent licence does not require use of teudat zehut. It expires every 10 years until age 65. After 65 it expires every 2 years. If you failed the test multiple times you may get a 2 year licence. Renewing a licence is a simple process of paying at the post office or certain banks and getting the new licence mailed to you.

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