Israel's main imports are equipment and machinery (making 28% of total imports), diamonds (11%), oil and mineral fuels (9 % of total imports), transport equipment (7% of total imports), and consumer goods.
Although Israel is small in size as a nation, it has a high buying power. January 2022 saw new record highs of an import value of USD 8.5 billion. According to Trading Economics, the highest imports were fuels (46.7 %), raw materials (44.7%), and consumer goods (20.8%), respectively.
Over the years, Israel has witnessed a steady increase in its import trade. This influx can be attributed to Israel having a stable and robust economy regardless of its regional geopolitical challenges, Israel being the USA's second-largest trading partner, and its low/free import tariffs with many of its trading partners like the USA, China, the EU (Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy) and the UK.
So as an importer, trading in Israel is a lucrative business. But although this is so, you will have to follow all the Israeli import laws or regulations to operate a successful import business. For easy compliance, you will need the services of an Importer of Record.
This article will discuss the technicalities of importing goods and services into Israel and why you need and the services of an importer of record (IOR).
(What Certifications do you need to import products into Israel?)
These special import licenses and authorizations reduce risk, ensure safe use of the products and improve quality of life.
There are two main certifications you need to import goods into Israel:
The MoC Certification/Approval
The SII Certification
If you are Importing IT equipment and hardware to Israel, your products will have to meet market approval. And this requires you to get a specialized permit (the MoC certification) depending on the type of technology equipment you import.
The MoC certification is the regulatory approval of all products with built-in wireless technologies in Israel. It is issued by the Ministry of Communication (MoC), the regulatory body that authorizes the importation of communication or IT equipment into Israel. MoC also regulates the importation of fiber equipment, telecommunications, and 5G.
The MoC gives general approval for Wide Area Network (WAN) enabled items. For the case of WIFI items, you have to meet specific requirements and a special permit.
To get the MoC certification, you have to submit test reports created for a CE Marking. To complete the certification process, you have to have a local representative in Israel to represent you. (This is where the importer of record comes in)
Upon successful approval of your products, the manufacturer must label the products made for the Israeli market with the MoC approval label.
The MoC Wireless Type Approval
The MoC Radio Type Approval
The MoC Telecom Type Approval
Note: The MoC Certificate is only issued to an Israeli local representative or importer (for a foreign national to import goods into Israel, you will need the services of an IOR with a solid presence in the country)
IT equipment such as;
Radio terminal devices
Radio transmitter, contactless card readers, RFID equipment, and other products that use any RF transmitters
Mobile handsets (CDMA or GSM), wireless WLAN (LAN) equipment like all devices that use WIFI, Bluetooth, WiMAX, and Zigbee technologies.
The Standard Institution of Israel (SII) is Israel’s official body that prepares and publishes Israeli standards that ensure the safety and quality of all local and imported products. It tests the products and, upon approval, issues the Standards Mark, the Safety mark, and the Green Mark.
All consumer products
Fire extinguishing products
Individual protection means or equipment
Sanitary and hygiene products
Yes, you do.
The Import and Export Ordinance stipulates that all imported products to Israel require a license or authorization.
But the Free Import Order allows you to import items freely as long as they are not specified in Schedule 1 and 2 of the Order. Schedule 1 column A lists products that require an import license, and Schedule 2 lists the products that require import approval (meets the mandatory standard)
When importing goods to Israel, you will need the licenses below:
The Import license issued from the Ministry of Economy and Industry
The Certificate of product compliance from the SII (Standards Institution of Israel)
The MoC Type Approval certificate from the Ministry of Communication (for IT equipment)
The Kosher Certificates (for food and beverages) issued by the Chief Rabbinate
The Standard Institution of Israel (SII) is the only authority that develops and establishes standards for all products made, imported, and exported in Israel.
The SII (under the Ministry of Economy and Industry) has standards and requirements that a product must meet to enter the Israeli market. Your products have to undergo testing, conformity assessment, and product certification.
The SII requires that all IT and electrical items imported into Israel undergo compulsory safety testing. Once the imported products are found compliant with the SII standards, the importer gets Type Approval, including labeling and the SII Mark requirements.
After getting all these certifications, you can import products to Israel.
Israel requires all imported commercial products to complete a customs release process before entering the country's market. And for this to happen, you must submit all the necessary documents.
Below is a summary of the essential import documents
Commercial documents: Invoice, Packing List, and Freight invoice
Port document: Gate pass
Customs document: Importer declaration
Government documents: Licenses, Standards, Permits, and Certificates such as the SII and the MoC
Certificate of Origin or Preference Documents
Carriage documents: Freight bill, Air waybill, Bill of Lading or SWB
Note: It takes time and money to obtain all these documents. That is why it is best to partner with an IOR service conversant with a country's customs laws and policies. An importer of record will perform due diligence to fulfill all the importing country's requirements to obtain all the necessary certifications to complete the customs release process.
An Importer of Records is a local legal entity (person or company) who assumes responsibility for importing goods on behalf of a foreign manufacturer or seller into a given country. This IOR uses their business name as the consignee for export-import and shipping paperwork. The IOR also serves as a "proxy" for financial transactions and supporting foreign currency exchange.
Any local person or company operating legally in the importing country. A customs broker can also act as an importer of record. The trouble is that a customs broker is usually limited to simple shipments that don’t involve complex import licensing or certification procedures, financial protection, or long-lasting post-sales support.
Importing IT hardware, software, and security equipment differs from importing regular (commodity) goods. Every country has its own import regulations for different types of technology, which usually require compliance with special certifications and permits.
Israel is no different. You have to meet special requirements before importing IT equipment into the country.
All imported goods in Israel must comply with the two primary government authorizations and certifications for customs clearance; the MoC certification for IT equipment and the SII for other imports.
But as a manufacturer living out of Israel, it isn't easy to obtain these two certifications. The Israeli Ministry of Communications (MoC) only gives out certifications to local (Israeli) persons or entities. So, the only way you can get the MoC certification is by partnering with an Israeli national or an IOR service operating legally in Israel. The IOR helps you comply with the MoC and SII by obtaining the necessary documentation, thereby expediting the whole import process.
Note: You should have the MoC and SII certification before shipping your goods to Israel.
You need an IOR to expedite compliance with all import standards and regulations. In their role as your local representatives in Israel, the IOR carries out the following functions:
Researches your products/technology to understand what certification is required. An IOR ensures your product complies with Israel’s updated safety regulations and MoC Type Approval.
Tests your products when they are in the design or development stage to see if they comply with Israeli regulations.
Tests the finished products to ensure compliance with SII standards.
It helps you fill in and complete application forms and all necessary paperwork.
Undertakes the process of submitting your product and works with local organizations to test and certify your products.
Organizes any inspections of your factory required for the Israeli MoC Type Approval Certification.
Assists in renewing or maintaining certificates
Translates any user manuals if required
Takes care of the shipping and logistics of your IT equipment and products once clearance is complete. It properly packages and handles the delivery process up to the destination.
It is mandatory for all imports entering Israel to have a label showing the country of origin. The Country of Origin (COO) label should contain the information below:
Name and address of the manufacturer
Name and address of the Israeli importer
Contents, weight, and volume of the products
You will need a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or NON-DG (Non-Dangerous Goods) declaration letter from the shipper enclosed in the shipment.
The non-dangerous goods declaration assures the custom handlers that all the goods are safe to handle and not restricted to air transport.
The Israeli Customs requires a packing list for only multiple shipments. If your shipment has more than one package, you have to attach a packing list to identify all the items in every package.
But if the invoice contains this information, there is no need for the packing list.
(For more information about import documentation)
Shipments with samples should have a value of less than $50. Also, suppose the sample falls in a category of goods that needs special approval by the government authority. In that case, the sample can be released without government approval if it contains a maximum of 2 items.
The import duty you pay depends on Israel's mutual trade agreements with the country you are importing goods from. For example:
Most products imported from the USA and Europe are import tariff exempt except agricultural products. The removal of some import tariff barriers resulted from the trade agreements signed by Israel and the EU and the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) in 1975 and the USA in 1985.
Although Israel has removed most import tariff barriers from the USA and the EU, it has maintained its tariff and non-tariff barriers on all imported agricultural products.
Israel also has trade agreements concerning textiles, footwear, timber, and aluminum products with the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Since 1991, Israel adjusts its tariffs for other countries once a year to develop its national economy.
So, it is your duty to research and knows what import tariffs apply to you depending on the country of origin.
Value Added Tax applies to almost all imported goods and services. Only a select few items like fruits and vegetables qualify for VAT exemption. The average VAT rate is 17%
If you are not an Israeli national, this import process can get complex, challenging, and time-consuming. That is why partnering with an Importer of Record service like Blackthorne that has a strong presence in the country is the way to go.
The Importer of record will expedite regulatory compliance and help you obtain the necessary certificates, permits, and other documentation quickly. You will have the assurance that your goods will be handled appropriately and delivered in excellent condition in a timely and professional manner.