Returning Residents
General Note:  Different government ministries have different definitions of "Returning Resident" (Toshav Chozer).  Please pay special attention to the way these definitions affect your rights and residency.
 
Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (Misrad HaKlitah)
A Returning Resident is defined by Misrad HaKlitah as an Israeli citizen over the age of 17 who has spent a minimum of 2 years living outside of Israel and who has not visited Israel for more than 120 days in either 12 month period of the last 2 years before his return to Israel. In order to be eligible for business guidance and business loans, a Returning Resident has to have been overseas for at least 3 years. Misrad HaKlitah makes the final decision in each case on an individualized basis.
 
While abroad, one may register as a Returning Resident by filling out a form on the Misrad HaKlitah website: http://147.237.72.234/Returning/Forms/demographic.aspx.  For employment guidance, fill out an additional form on the Misrad HaKlitah website and attach a resume.   
 
A Returning Resident must have a valid Israeli passport to enter Israel. To renew your Israeli passport while still abroad, contact the Israeli Consulate nearest you.
 
Once the Returning Resident has returned to Israel, to qualify for rights he must update his identity card (teudat zehut) at the local Ministry of Interior office (Misrad HaPnim) and then go to the local Misrad HaKlitah office.  Final determination of the returning resident status is made by Misrad HaKlitah.  It is advisable to save old passports from the year you left until your return, to help determine one's eligibility for rights. Misrad HaKlitah issues a Returning Resident card to those who receive Returning Resident status.
 
A former immigrant (oleh) who has spent at least 10 years in Israel prior to leaving the country will be recognized as a Returning Resident.  If the oleh spent less than 10 years in Israel his status will be oleh gorer zakaut, an oleh with some rights remaining. 
 
In order to receive assistance from the Center for Absorption of Scientists in the local Misrad HaKlitah office, Returning Resident Scientists and Researchers must have been overseas for at least 5 years, and may then turn to the Center for Absorption of Scientists for assistance with work-related matters: mkbemada@netvision.net.il.
 
Customs (Meches)
If Misrad HaKlitah recognizes you as a Returning Resident so will Customs. Returning Residents open a file at the nearest regional customs office before being able to utilize customs rights. Bring your Israeli passport, teudat zehut, foreign passports (if any) and a rental or sales contract to the Customs office. The customs rights are valid for 9 months. All Returning Residents may bring in tax free (without customs, sales tax and VAT) personal items and gifts up to $200 in hand luggage and tools up to $1,000. Returning Residents pay the 1.02% Port Tax.
 
Returning Residents who have been out of the country for more than 2 years may import tax free the same items as a new immigrant in up to 2 shipments, not including a car. Alternately these items may be purchased in Israel but must be Israeli made.
 
Returning Residents who have previously made aliyah will be able to import those items they did not import as olim and items they imported but kept for 6 years while living in Israel.
 
Returning Residents may convert their license on condition that the foreign license was issued at least six months prior to their return. They must convert their license within one year of their return.
 
A Returning Student is defined by Customs as an Israeli resident who is returning permanently to Israel after living abroad for at least 18 months while being a registered student at an institution of higher learning recognized in Israel and completing an academic degree at said institution. A returning student must return to Israel within 6 months from the date of completion or award of the academic degree. A Returning Student receives the same Customs rights as a Returning Resident.  The status of Returning Student does not exist in Misrad HaKlitah.
Email: meches@mof.gov.il for inquiries.
 
National Insurance Institute (NII) (Bituach Leumi)
Bituach Leumi considers a Returning Resident to be someone who has been abroad for more than 5 years and has continued to pay his health tax (mas briut) or someone who has been abroad for 2 years or more and has not paid his mas briut.  Time spent in Israel, under 6 months in a calendar year, is not counted towards residency.  Those who continue paying mas briut and return within 5 years will maintain their residency.
 
A person's residency in Israel is cancelled when they have been abroad for more than 5 years whether they have paid in or not.  If they have been paying in, Bituach Leumi may reimburse the money when it revokes the person’s residency.
 
Every returning Israeli who has not paid mas briut to Bituach Leumi during their stay abroad must fill out a form of residency (toshavut) at the local Bituach Leumi office upon their return.
 
If a Returning Resident pays a reinstatement fee of approximately 10,500 NIS whether before or upon his return to Israel, medical coverage will go into effect almost immediately.
 
If the Returning Resident opts to not pay the reinstatement fee but to wait for health coverage, in addition to any private health insurance he pays for independently, he must also pay the monthly mas bruit payments to Bituach Leumi (usually once the waiting period is over).  The only exception is if the Returning Resident is a woman who is married to a new oleh.  The Returning Resident must stay in Israel during the waiting period; leaving the country will most probably jeopardize his access to Israeli health care once the waiting period is up.  Returning Residents who work will have their mas briut deducted from their salary.  The waiting period is one month for every year spent out of the country, up to a maximum waiting period of 6 months.
 
We recommend that every Returning Resident have private health insurance in case there is a waiting period before being accepted into a health fund.  If the Returning Resident is a senior, coverage may be expensive and difficult to find.
 
Returning Residents of retirement age (according to Bituach Leumi) who have already accumulated 144 months of insurance contributions (dmei briut) will be eligible for a government pension (Kitzvat Zikna).  If they have paid in for at least 5 years they may be eligible to receive Kitzvat Zikna as well.  Each case is evaluated by Bituach Leumi on an individual basis and therefore all Senior Returning Residents should apply. 
 
The following information was obtained by Bituach Leumi and is generally accurate.  However, Bituach Leumi decides each case on an individual basis.  For further details, see www.btl.gov.il.
 
A Returning Resident is entitled to:
  • A one-way discounted ticket purchased directly from El Al, for those whose Returning Resident status is confirmed by a consulate while still outside of Israel.  Passengers 2 years old and over are entitled to an extra suitcase.
  • 3 months of income support (havtachat hachnasa) – received via Misrad HaKlitah for a couple who both sign up at the employment office (sherut ta'asuka) at the beginning of each month.  If one member of the couple is working, they are not eligible, unless the wage earner's salary is very low.
  • Retraining courses (depending on available budget) through the Ministry of Labor in cooperation with Misrad HaKlitah. May be eligible for living (dmei kiyum), travel or tuition allowance.  Must begin within 2nd year after return – this assistance is given for up to 1 year.
  • Living and travel expenses during professional retraining courses (doctors and dentists only).
  • Financial assistance with fees for licensing exams in relevant professions, up to NIS 700.
  • Employment Guidance
  • Business Development Centers – personal small business counseling and workshops
  • Business Loans – require guarantors.
  • Discount for municipal day care.  Apply through the local welfare office.  Check with the local municipality for the nearest office.
  • Returning Residents who are artists may apply to Misrad HaKlitah for financial assistance in the framework of the assistance to immigrant artists.
  • Returning Residents who lived overseas for a minimum of 10 years are eligible for an exemption from income tax on overseas income for a period of 10 years. 
Important to know
  • A parent returning with one or more children whose spouse is still abroad must have an official letter of agreement from the spouse notarized or witnessed at an Israeli Consulate, giving consent that the children may return to Israel.  This is necessary in order to be eligible for financial assistance.
  • Children of Israeli citizens born abroad and moving to Israel must have their own Israeli passports, even if they also have a U.S. passport.
  • Shlichim cannot be Returning Residents.
Update March 2015
 
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