Tips for opening a bank account in Israel.
The process of opening a bank account in Israel starts immediately upon your arrival in Israel at Ben Gurion Airport. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (Misrad Haklita) will issue you with your identity document called a Teudat Zehut as well as an oleh document called a Teudat Oleh. You will also be given a document called “Note of Future Bank Account”.
In order to receive your Oleh Benefits, you will need to open a bank account at one of Israel's commercial banks within the first few days of your arrival in Israel. Here is a list of local commercial banks approved by The Bank of Israel (BOI).
- Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd
- Arab Israel Bank Ltd
- Bank Hapoalim B.M
- Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M
- Bank Massad Ltd
- Bank of Jerusalem Ltd
- Bank Otsar Ha-hayal Ltd
- Bank Yahav for Government Employees Ltd
- Dexia Israel Bank Ltd
- Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd
- Poaley Agudat Israel Bank Ltd
- The First International Bank of Israel Ltd
- UBank Ltd
- Union Bank of Israel Ltd
On the day
Make sure you have a few hours on hand for opening your bank account. Have patience (Hebrew: Savlanut), the process can be time consuming as there are many forms to be filled out and explanations to be given.
You will need to present yourself at the bank of your choice with the documents given to you at Ben Gurion Airport: Teudat Zehut, Teudat Oleh and “Note of Future Bank Account”. You will also need some cash or cheques to deposit into your account in order to activae the account. Shekels, dollars, pounds and euros will do but South African rands will not!
Misrad Haklitah (The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption) will only transfer oleh benefits into a bank account that has been activated.
Once you have opened and activated your bank account, the bank clerk will give you your bank account details. Your bank account is made up of 3 sets of digits
1. Every bank in Israel is given a code number for example Bank Leumi is code 10 and Bank Hapoalim is code 12 (see the table below)
2. Each branch of each bank also has a branch code number, for example; the branch code of Bank Hapoalim in Central Carmel is 701.
3.Then of course, there is your personal bank account number (usually 6 digits)
Your full bank account number will look like this xx-xxx-xxxxxx or as per our example 12-701-12345
You will want and need a credit card; Mastercard and Visa are the most popular. While at the bank, you will fill in an application for a credit card and you will be required to set a credit limit. The credit limit is usually set at around the equivalent of one monthly wage but this can be negotiated.
Some tips for choosing a bank in Israel
Choosing a bank can be a little more complicated than you think. As you will be making a fair number visits to the bank and many transactions during the first few months, try to choose a branch that is closest to you. Most bank clerks speak some English but be prepared. It is quite likely that you will not receive the same level of service you have been used to in the old country.
Try to get recommendations from family and friends before you arrive in Israel. Foreign currency transactions are often only done at bigger, central branches.
Changing from one bank to another can be a complicated process so before you choose banks, get advice.
Joint or separate bank accounts
It is very common for a husband and wife in Israel to hold a joint checking account. If you are a small business owner or independent worker (Hebrew: Atzmai) then you might want to keep your business affiairs in a separate bank account.
If you are opening a joint bank account, then both of you must be present at the bank.
Certain allowances from Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) are paid into the mother's account; maternity leave and the monthly child allowance are two examples.
Foreign currency account
If you wish to keep money in foreign currency, the bank can arrange for a foreign currency account associated with your current account. Note that there is a certain minimum foreign currency balance required in order to accrue interest.
|Bank Name||Bank No.||Telephone||Bank Website|
|Mizrahi Tefahot Bank||20||03-7559000||www.mizrahi-tefahot.co.il|
|Mercantile Discount Bank||17||076-8044530||www.mercantile.co.il|
|Bank of Jerusalem||54||076-8096001||www.bankjerusalem.co.i|
|Otzer HaChayal Bank||14||03-7556000||www.online.bankotsar.co.il|
|Bank of Israel||99||02-6552211||www.boi.org.il|
Once you get the hang of it, digital banking is the way to go. Access your account, perform transactions, request loans, order check books etc. can all be done online via the bank's website or their smartphone app without having to stand in line or get frustrated by limited banking hours.
Bank fees and bank charges
Current account fees are just one of the bank charges you will have to deal with. There are ATM fees, foreign currency transaction fees, interest of loans and tons of other fees and comissions you are probably not even aware of. Choosing a bank with the lowest fees and best conditions makes financial sense.
Pepper Bank is Bank Leumi's digital bank. Managed entirely from your mobile phone, you can manage your account, loans, savings, money transfers, investments etc. – all from your mobile. You can even open your account from your mobile in just a few minutes.
Pepper offers you 13 free bank transactions.
Pepper Pay is the Pepper payment app, part of Bank Leumi. Anyone (not only Bank Leumi clients) can use the app as long as you have a credit card and a bank account in Israel. Download Pepper Pay from your app store. There is a quick and easy sign up process.
Bank Hapoalim's digital services has a relatively limited range of operations but there are a small selection of transactions that are exempt of commissions and bank charges.
Heshbon Yarok (Green Account)
Heshbon Yarok the digital banking platform of Bank Otsar HaChayal offers you a minimum commission free, Israeli shekel, current checking account
No SMS fees
Heshbon Yarok offers a 50% discount when ordering a check book and a reduced commission of 0.35% on the purchase/sale of Israeli securities (subject to a minimum)