Money, Shopping and VAT Refunds

Israeli Currency 

The State of Israel’s currency is the New Israel Shekel (NIS) or shekel for short (pluralized as Shkalim in Hebrew or shekels in English). There are 100 Agorot (agora in singular) in each Shekel. Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200. Coins are in denominations of 10,  5,  1 and 50 agorot, and 10 Agorot.

Changing Money

Machne Yehuda Market

Unlimited sums of local and foreign money may be brought into Israel as cash, travelers’ checks, credit cards or State of Israel bonds. Foreign currency of all kinds may be exchanged at the airport, banks, post offices, most hotels or licensed exchange agencies in large cities. A passport is required when exchanging travelers’ checks. The rates vary from place to place, and banks charge a commission. A good alternative is the post office where they do not charge any commissions, and the rate are usually good. It is recommended, though not obligatory, to carry a small amount of US dollars, since certain tourist sites, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem, take payment in dollars. 

Shopping 

All of the old towns in Israel have bazaars but the ultimate is to be found in the Old City of Jerusalem. Favorite times to purchase include leather goods, pottery, crafts, olive-wood carvings and hand blown glass. In the open markets you may bargain. 

Purchases, Payments and VAT Refund 

Major credit cards – American Express, Diners, Visa, Mastercard/Access/Eurocard are widely accepted in Israeli restaurants, stores, hotels, museums, etc. 

Some purchases can be made in Israeli Shekels, U.S. dollars or Euros. Nevertheless, store owners and service providers are not required to accept foreign currency and are permitted to give change in shekels even if payment was made in foreign currency. 

Tourists who have purchased items with a value exceeding $100 (including VAT) in stores that are registered with the Ministry of Tourism or in stores participating in the VAT-refund plan are entitled to a refund of VAT when they leave the country. Stores that offer VAT refund service have a special sign. 
To receive VAT refund, ensure that you get a receipt. The receipt and purchases must be put into a sealed bag. If the amount to be reimbursed exceeds $1,000, it will be sent after the invoice is verified with the tax authorities. 
Tourists must then go to the “Change Place” at Ben Gurion airport or other exit port. If you wish to send the items that you purchased with your luggage, you must declare the purchase at the security check, and present your passport, flight ticket, purchases and receipts at the counter. The attendant will open the bag, examine the contents, sign the receipt, and refund the VAT in any currency minus a commission. The VAT refund can also be sent to your address abroad for an additional charge. 
There is no VAT refund for the following items: food, drinks, tobacco products, electrical appliances, cameras, film or other photography equipment. 
Additional information about VAT refunds is available at +972-3-975-4020.

 

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