Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Import (a.k.a. online shopping) Regulations (Israel)

my latest package from purchases made abroad - tax free!

Maybe you've heard that now we (Israelis) can import items for personal use tax-free up to $500 (the previous limit was $325). This was done to encourage Israeli consumers to shop around and help "open" the marketplace in our small country.

This is good news, but I thought it would be helpful for everyone to know what to expect when you make purchases from abroad to be shipped here.

Here's the rundown (the full regulations can be found on the Israel tax authority's site)

Purchases up to $75 - no taxes

Purchases above $75 up to $500 - no customs taxes, but VAT and Purchase Tax may apply

Purchases over $500 - subject to all taxes  

Calcalist also points out that purchases of up to $75 will be subject to customs clearance fees if they arrive using an EMS service* (about 35 shekels), and if the value of the purchase is higher, the customs clearance fee can be higher as well.

Please be aware that the purchase price only (not purchase + shipping) will determine whether an item will be taxed. Once it is found to be taxable, however, applicable taxes will be calculated on the purchase price + the shipping price.

One more important point: If you order multiple orders from the same seller and they arrive within 72 hours of each other, customs will combine the orders and treat them as one purchase for tax purposes.

Some of these regulations are different from what we'd gotten used to, so please refer back to this guide if you are about to place an order and you're not sure what to expect from the tax-man.

If you're not sure where to start shopping online, I've compiled a list of websites that offer low cost shipping to Israel! Please be sure to check it out! Let's help open Israel's marketplace and bring down our cost of living without bringing down our standard of living!

Some of my favorite websites to shop from are: ~ iHerb ~ My Habit ~ AliExpress 

Be sure to check out the whole list

*Examples of EMS services - Express Mail, Fedex, UPS and other express delivery services. Sometimes DHL is EMS and sometimes it is not.


  1. The problem I have is that there is zero accessible information on what will get charged VAT/purchase tax or not. For example, a friend had a photo album shipped to him from the UK. He had to pay $200 due to VAT/purchase tax/customs taxes - over 4 times what the photo album cost. However, had he bought a book the same size and weight, there would be no additional costs. Where can we even check what will be and what will not be charged??

    1. Ronnie, I'm so sorry to hear about that. Do you know when this happened? I don't think there is any way to know with certainty in advance what the final taxes and fees will be (my guess is part of that $200 was customs clearance fees). But with the legal limits raised, there should be fewer of us getting hit with outrageous fees. I always recommend keeping your purchase below the taxable threshold of $75. Sometimes people will declare too high a value on a customs form or insurance form, causing problems. All customs declarations and insurance forms should reflect the actual purchase price of the item (or value, if it's a used item).

  2. Whoops! Didn't realize it was hyperlinked. The color contrast doesn't stand out to my tired old eyes....

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  4. Hi there thanks so much for this info. Wondering because I took advantage of the target freeship and made two orders (in one hour) totalling a little over $100. So does that mean they will charge me? I ordered four small storage bins, small toy bins, and a crib mattress. What should I expect? I appreciated the below excerpt specifically, but now I'm worried (thank you in advance!):

    One more important point: If you order multiple orders from the same seller and they arrive within 72 hours of each other, customs will combine the orders and treat them as one purchase for tax purposes.

    1. I expect your orders will arrive in multiple shipments over the course of a week or more, because that's how they send out international shipments at borderfree. Hopefully you'll be ok. If not, expect to pay about 17% in taxes. I think you still come out ahead.


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