Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm going to Israel this month and South Africa next month. I've heard from a few people that both Israeli stamps and South African stamps in your passport make it very difficult when traveling to Arab countries. Does anyone know if this is true? Is there any way to ask them NOT to stamp your passport? Is THAT a cause for being hassled?


If you tell them that you plan to travel to arab countries, they will give you a paper visa and not a stamp. they also know that you won't be able to get into a few countries with that stamp.

Well, I don't know about SA, but Israel is definitely trouble.

The best thing to do is to get a 'spare' passport. Most governments will give these to you if you ask nicely, explain the circumstances and promise to give the spare passport back (note: it's very important that you give it back. It might seem like it would be handy to have a passport at home and a passport in the office, but you really don't want to be caught doing that. Try not to cross borders with two passports in your possession either).

Hmm... the thing is, I don't need a Visa to go to Israel so I don't have a visa for them to stamp...

I got the 'paper visa' thing on my one and only visit to Israel. They stamped it, and put it between the cover and the back page of my passport. The ink transferred to my passport, and the impression left was reasonably recognisable. At least once an immigration officer remarked on it, entering the US I think. I entered Malaysia on that passport several times, but I wouldn't have liked to have had to try it at the Syrian border.

Well, I didn't have a visa either. They just give you this piece of card and stamp it and put it in your passport. They take it out when you leave.

SA will give you not trouble whatsoever. In Israel a spare passport is indeed the trick if you intend to visit Arab countries afterwards.

as far as i'm aware, there are plenty of flights going to Arab countries from here in South Africa especially during pilgrimage time. I've never heard of a South African stamp or even a SA Passport being a problem.

(just don't forget your swimming trunks, and a hat - it's getting hot down here!!)


You'll be turned away at border control in just about any Middle Eastern country with an Israeli stamp.


Its not "any middle eastern country," its those that continue to claim that Israel has no right to exist. You can go to Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and others without problem. The Israelis will happily stamp an inserted bit of paper that gets removed when you leave--no need to get an extra passport, just be sure to mention it before you hand over your passport. If you don't do this, your government may or may not issue you a new passport when you want to visit one of those arab countries which doesn't recognize Israel. The US requires you to call a phone #: to find out what to do.

Of course, you could ask yourself the question "Do I really want to travel to a country that will deny me entrance simply because of a stamp in my passport?"

Of course, I think the US still denies people with Cuba visa stamp, and I just read that Phillipino passports are void in Iraq now. You need a special map just to keep all this stuff straight...

The US government is surprisingly cooperative about issuing second passports to solve this problem. My wife has multiple Israeli stamps in her passport and we were concerned (probably unduly) about her being hassled when entering Jordan. She was able to get a second passport - valid only for six months - to use for entering Jordan with zero hassle and about two weeks lead time. Would be interesting to see whether Japan has a similar policy in place.

I have passed through Israeli boarder control 4 times in my life and I can tell you that they are usually cool just as Michael said. I then traveled to Egypt, and they actually gave me the paper slip. It was on a scuba trip. It is sad that we need to keep a democracy's stamp off of our passport in order to enter 3rd world dictatorships. One would think it would work the other way around.

All the above advice is good. I have travelled extensively in Arab countries and it is as you are told, the only exceptions being Jordan and Egypt, both of which have peace agreements with Israel. All other arab countries, especially gulf countries, will not let you in if you have an israeli visa or stamp or any evidence of one, that means that a second short validity passport may also not work either.

I have 3 passports (nationalities) and that solves the problem for me rather easily. I travel to arab countries on the Swiss passport.

If you have both American and Japanese passports consider using the American passport for Israel (I don't know about SA) and keep your Japanese passport for the Arab countries. Even if you do not need a visa prior to entering Israel, if nothing has changed, they will still want to stamp your passport or something when you enter the country. Your foreign ministry ought to have reliable information on all of this.

Dual nationality Japanese-American, can't be done. Japanese law forbids it, I fear.

I traveled from Jordan to Israel and the immigration guard actually informed me that having an Israeli stamp would cause problems in some other countries and they usually stamp a separate slip of paper instead of your passport.

I was unaware until that point but it certainly seems that if you are not offered the option that asking will not offend (dont quote me of course).

I know quite a few people that travel back and forth between South Africa and the middle east, with no problems whatsoever. Perhaps it could have been a problem a decade or so, considering the political climate, but that's still quite a stretch of the imagination.

Note that when you cross the border over land from Israel to Egypt (and, I presume, Jordan), the stamp in your passport will say which border-crossing station you came through. If you show the Saudi customs agent a passport with no Israeli stamp, but with an Egyptian stamp that clearly shows you entered Egypt via Israel, they probably won't be too happy.

I know lots of scandinavian journalists working in the middle east keeps two passports, one for traveling to Israel, and one for traveling to "enemy" countries. To do this, they have to "lose" their first passport, and then apply for a new.

And important: Remember to pick up the right one when coming to different checkpoints and border controls...


South Africa, to reinforce the previous posts, has very good diplomatic relations across the board globally.

A representative sample of foreign missions in SA demonstrates this:
Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Iran, USA, Cuba etc etc.

To get informed about South Africa, visit

Enjoy the visit!

I think most of what i was going to say has been covered already. Best bet is renew your passport after visiting Israel.

As for SA well there shouldn;t be any problem there. here in the UAE we have loads of South Africans working and visiting and i'm sure that goes for the vast majority of Arab Countries.

Just out of interest, which Arab countries where you thinking of visiting? Dubai is definatley a great place to visit there is ALOT going on there right now.

My advice sgive israel a wide berth and stay at home otherwise you could end up as sushi if you get in the way of a suicide bomber.

I would rather go through the process of obtaining a visa to enter arab countries on my south african passport than use my EU passport, i have dual nationality, and i find it quite funny that a south african entry permit(stamp) would cause any problems travelling to arab countries... this is rediculous. Besides in a hostage situation i would rather be 'from an african country' than a westerner.... so fear the south african permit not, our diplomatic relations in the arab world are good.

Hi there
I am a Brit with an Israeli stamp in my passport, I an thinking of travelling to Sri Lanka with a 7 hour stop in Dubai. Do I need a new passport? My parents are Jewish, tho I promise I'm not a spy or a terrorist. Would I get hassle at passport control in Dubai?

Get a second US passport for the Israeli and SA stamps. The US Passport Agency will issue a second one if you tell them why. Do not carry the "second" passport (with Israeli stamps) on you when crossing an Islamic border.


Tensions at an all-time high. Get a second passport if your country will issue one. Although the Sri Lankan government may or may not check for an Israeli stamp, someone on the street may not be as forgiving. People are being stopped on the street by civilians and being required to identify nationality (which may include showing a passport). I'd hate to be the unfortunate Jewish guy with and Israeli stamp on my passport if that happens.

iam a nigerian and i want to go to kuwait to work is it posible for me to get kuwait visa .if possble how and what are the requirement?

about south africa...that's a holdover from the apartheid days when, to protest the official racist policies of the SA gov't, most of the developing world chose to bar entry to passport holders with SA stamps out of solidarity. In fact, this was true not just for the Arab World and most of Black Africa, but most of Asia and the former Soviet bloc as well. In fact SA pasports were not accepted in most of the former Soviet bloc for example...
Obviously, this has all changed completely, that was the case until about 15 years ago. You should have no problems at all now with SA.

I find it completely rediculous that anyone is capable of receiving information from whatever source that South African stamps will create problems in Arab countries. May I remind everyone that South Africa has a relatively large Muslim population and that South Africans are found in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in large numbers. Gulf Air just recently introduced flights to Johannesburg from Ireland via Bahrain because they noticed the success of Qatar Airways and Emirates who have regular flights to and from South Africa. Im particularly curious who would make such a foolish comment to a naive tourist!!!

I am a Israeli with French passport with City of birth
Jerusalem with no Israeli stamp on my French passport.
Do I have a problem in going to Malaysia ?

I recently travelled to Dubai with a SA stamp in my passport. No problems entering the country at all.

i didn't have any isreali stamps in my passport when I was traveling to yemen. but, i had drawn a large Star of David inside it. also, i forgot to take my yamakah off and put my dradel away when approaching the passport control officials. they looked at me, looked inside my passport, and looked back at me again. i said "I'm a citizen of Isreal." (daul citizenship). they said "No problem, as long as you don't have an Isreali passport stamp, you're welcome here." So I made it into the country. My dradel, however, didn't make it through customs...

Dr Nadav: Yes, you have a problem. You will probably get some trouble going through Malaysia with JERUSALEM as your place of birth, even if it is on a French passport. I have a friend who was born in USA, had made aliyah, and was transiting through Kaula Lumpur with her American passport. The only problem was that her American passport had been issued in JERUSALEM. So they hassled her about whether she was an Israeli citizen, telling her it was illegal for Israelis to be in Malaysia (apparently even just transiting through the airport!). She eventually got back on her flight, but you can imagine her fear when they said they would take her bags off the plane to check her luggage - which had an Israeli flag in it!

It's an unfortunate situation. I'm from Australia and the cheapest way to fly to Israel from here is often Austrian Airlines, through Kuala Lumpur. I'm not an Israeli citizen, but I do travel to Israel quite often. Anyway, as a Jew, I'm not so happy about traveling to a country where the president claims that "the Jews rule the world by proxy". Bon Voyage!

I also got my american passport in Jerusalem. How in the world could they tell that? My passport doesn't actually say Jerusalem anywhere, it says I got it from the national office.

With regard to Malaysia how difficult are they?
My wife and I are going to Jerusalem for the last week of Dec and then a few months later Malaysia.
Is it best to get a bit of paper stmaped or are Malaysia ok if it is just a stmap on a non Israeli passport?
We are British and Maltese

A friends of mine just went to Israel with Indonesian passport, and they didn't realized until they get back to the state, their passport got Israel Stamp. Anyone knows if they would have problem if they're going back to Indonesia, since Israel and Indonesia don't have diplomatic relationship.

Hey, I recently called the UAE embassy as I'll be stopping by Sharjah on an AirArabia flight overnight. I've got an Israeli stamp and the embassy said it was no problem for me to get in. He said the only important thing was where your passport was from (mine's USA) not what stamps you have. He specifically said it was OK that I had an Israeli stamp (as well as an Iraqi stamp, for further info).

Also, why would people wonder about a South African stamp being a problem? I mean, it's 2006, not 1978!


"Dr. Nadav @ October 30, 2005 4:15 PM

I am a Israeli with French passport with City of birth
Jerusalem with no Israeli stamp on my French passport.
Do I have a problem in going to Malaysia ?"

I travelled to malaysia with (several) israeli stamps in my british passport. The immigration official just looked at me, smiled, and stamped the malaysian entry stamp right next to the israeli ones...

"Mike @ June 14, 2006 11:41 AM

So they hassled her about whether she was an Israeli citizen, telling her it was illegal for Israelis to be in Malaysia (apparently even just transiting through the airport!)."

I think she was quite unlucky. And if the malaysian immigration officials are making problems for dual nationals with israeli nationality they should be much more specific in their guidance on visa issues:

(and I wonder how they'd treat the 1m or so muslim israeli arabs...)

American Passports normally say where they were issued, e.g. "Colorado Passport Center" or "U.S. Embassy, Athens". I can see Americans whose passport says "U.S. Consulate, Jerusalem" getting harassed, and I've actually seen passports of Americans residing in Israel that simply say "U.S. Department of State", so I wouldn't be surprised if they're issued that way to minimize problems. Since a dual US/Israeli national will always enter Israel on his/her Israeli passport (thereby having no Israeli stamps in the American passport, ever), the real challenge is hiding the Israeli passport if you get searched by Customs in Malaysia ;-)

Malaysia doesn't prohibit entry by people who've been to Israel, unlike some other countries. They only make it difficult for people who are actually Israeli nationals.