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In this question I learned that entering Kuwait with an Israeli stamp in your passport will be a problem. (Less surprising was that Iran doesn't like them either).

Later during my current trip I am hoping to visit Kuwait via Iran and I certainly intend to visit Israel at some point in the future.

Since these issues are often but not always reciprocal I would like to know if the Kuwait stamp will be a problem when visiting Israel or if they are less fussy than the reverse.

I'm expecting that the Iran stamp will definitely be a problem for an Israel visit but I'd be glad to be proven wrong.

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I have just flown to Israel and my security pre-screening didn't come through in time. I was asked about my trips to Egypt, Jordan, UAE and Morocco for about 25 Min and had my luggage opened tested for bomb residue and my laptop dissembled at Heathrow airport before boarding my El Al flight to Tel Aviv. Basically be prepared to sacrifice an extra couple of hours in and out if flying and just in if leaving by land. –  Stuart Feb 19 '12 at 12:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

In short: Come to the airport early, security checks will take longer.

You should expect a longer and more serious security check before your departure and after your landing, including questioning about your whereabouts and activities in Iran or Kuwait. If you just visited there, this should be it - your entrance is very highly unlikely to be refused.

Predictive Profiling 101: Why are you being checked?

Unlike some other Middle Eastern countries, Israel does not ban or punish tourists who have visited certain countries in the past. This is a security measure, based on Predictive Profiling often used by Israeli air transportation security. This means that the passenger's personal details are aggregated, and if they fit into a presumably dangerous profile, the passenger is thoroughly questioned prior to boarding. This method is based on hundreds of variables (age, nationality, purpose of travel, ...), it's arbitrary and unpredictable by nature, so nobody knows know if Iranian stamp will raise more questions than a Kuwait stamp.

Further notes

  • Don't lie or hide details. Lying will probably get you into longer questioning, and you're more likely to get banned.
  • Questions might get nosy and personal.
  • The terminals for Israeli (and US) flights are often remote and isolated, especially in European airports. Taking a special in-airport bus to an unmarked terminal is not unusual. Do really come early.
  • For further reading about the roots and disputes about Predictive Profiling, you can also read about Mike's Place and the Hindawi Affair, which are taught in security courses in Israel. This is not a political statement, just the viewpoint of the security official.
  • On a last personal note, I envy you a little! Iran is supposed to be a truly beautiful country, a mixture of Asian and Middle Eastern geography. I hope I can visit it as a tourist, one day soon.
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I assume the Kuwaiti visit will be less of an issue - do you know anything about that? –  hippietrail Sep 16 '11 at 12:40
    
Updated my answer according to your comment. Short answer: nobody knows, it's arbitrary. –  Adam Matan Sep 16 '11 at 15:10

I visited Israel in August 2012 after having been in Iran in January that year.

The first immigration person I got was not happy about the Iranian visa and stamp, and seemed incredulous that I would ever want to go there. He actually said "There is nothing worth seeing in Iran". He asked me a lot of pointed questions, and was slightly aggressive, then sent me to wait for secondary processing.

After a 30+ minute wait I was then shepherded into an office and grilled by a female IDF agent. They ask a lot of questions they don't even know the answers to, such as where you went to school and where your grandparents were born - the point is they are looking for 'tells', not that they are checking the answers themselves.

If your story checks out, and they don't think you are an activist (or terrorist!) it is highly likely that they will let you into the country. I was there for the wedding of a close friend, and they ended up calling him to verify that, and once they'd spoken that seemed to clinch it and they let me in.

The grilling was pretty full-on though - I was really freaking out, and tried to make the situation better with humor but they are too disciplined and have had their sense of humor trained out of them. At one point the girl (she was really only a girl, early 20s maybe) pointed down at my hands, which were shaking like I had Parkinsons and said, with deadpan face - "You are shaking. Why are you shaking? Are you nervous?"

To which I responded: "I guess I'm just intimidated by Israeli women". She didn't crack even a glimmer of a smile.

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I don't think any stamps will be an issue for the Israeli authorities. They might ask about it, but don't expect trouble if its obvious you were just visiting for holidays. It is obviously safest to check with your local Israeli embassy though.

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Do you know that Israel doesn't worry about such stamps or are you assuming they don't? –  hippietrail Aug 10 '11 at 11:43
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@hippietrail, I am pretty sure I had a Syrian and Lebanese visa in my passport when entering Israel. I didn't experience any difficulties. Obviously I can't guarantee anything. –  Grzenio Aug 10 '11 at 13:02
    
I think the check with the Israeli Embassy is probably the best advice you can have. –  Zachary K Feb 27 '12 at 7:35
    
I had Malaysian and Iranian visas/stamps and they asked about and were clearly displeased with both. –  imoatama Aug 11 at 2:40

Some countries (e.g. UK) will give you a second passport. This way you get all your stamps from one set of countries in one passport, and all your stamps from another set of countries in another.

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