Moving to Jerusalem could be an exciting experience, but before expats set off the journey they would need to be prepared. Thousands of international expats and tourist flock to this historic city every year. Many arrive on tourist or student visas before deciding to move to Jerusalem long-term.
Everyone seems to have a different opinion on Jerusalem, but it really is one of those places you have to see to believe. It is one of the oldest cities in the world (parts of the city date back to the fourth millennium BC) and probably the most historically and religiously significant.
The golden Dome of the Rock is an iconic sight, and due to its central location it can be seen from nearly everywhere in the city and its surrounding hills.
The population of the city is quite low at approximately 1,000,000, although population density is much higher in East Jerusalem than the rest of the city. Within this overall population, approximately 64% are Jewish, 32% Muslim, and 2% are Christian.
There are several different types of visa that expats need to consider before moving to Jerusalem. First and foremost, there is the ‘aliya’ visa, which gives any Jewish person the right to live and work in Israel under the Law of Return.
For non-Jewish expats, there are several different types of visa: the student visa; the clergy visa; a spousal visa; a visitor’s visa; and a work visa.
Israel has special visa exemption agreements with certain countries, allowing expats to stay in the country for 90 days without a visa of any kind.
After this period, a full work visa is required if you intend to stay in the country. Only expats with clean criminal records and a good medical history will be considered for a working visa by the Ministry of the Interior, and all applicants are required to take a series of blood tests to prove their good health.
For more information on visa types and regulations, please take a look at our Moving to Israel article.
There is no major airport in Jerusalem itself, other than a couple of small recreational and military bases (e.g. Kalandia Airport near the Palestine border).
Most visitors tend to arrive in Jerusalem via Tel Aviv’s busy Ben Gurion airport, which is approximately 50km north of Jerusalem. Outside the main terminal, there is a constant queue of buses and taxis waiting to bring people to other Israeli cities. If you choose to drive from the airport, Route 443 will take you straight there. Border control is tight around Israel, so it is advisable to travel into the country by airplane.
However, once you are in the country, it is easy to get around by car or by bus. Within Jerusalem itself, an efficient tram network is used by many commuters and residents.