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Welcome to Israel!

Aliya Shipping

Congratulations on your decision to come home to Israel! This exciting experience is well worth it. We hope this page will make your Aliya shipping experience as smooth as possible. This guide has been specifically written for Aliya Shipping.

1 – Aliya Shipping Rights and Import Duties

2 – Aliya Shipping Hebrew Terms Used

3 – Aliya Shipping Getting an Estimate

4 – Aliya Shipping Prepacking Preparations

5 – Aliya Shipping Customs Clearing Methods and Time Constraints

6 – Aliya Shipping Accepting Delivery & Post Delivery

7 – Aliya Shipping FAQ


Aliya Shipping Rights and Import Duties

What to bring

An Oleh can import 3 “Oleh” shipments of any size within 3 years of making Aliya. If a shipment is larger than a full container, it will count as 2 shipments unless both shipments come in on the same ship and are cleared through customs at the same time. What you bring with you on your Aliyah flight will not count as one of these three imports. Your shipments can come from any country, not only the country from which you are making Aliya.


Tax free items that may be imported:

Furniture, books, clothing, linens, kitchen utensils, pictures, decorations, media, and general “Personal Effects”.

One of each type of appliance or electronic equipment. (These are for household use, not office equipment such as a fax).

Carpeting up to 25% of the area of the Oleh’s home in Israel.

Olim can import Air Conditioners, Fans, and Heaters relative to the number of rooms in their new home in Israel.

Olim can buy an Israeli Made refrigerator or air conditioner in Israel VAT free. There is a process for doing this, so don’t walk into a store with your Teudat Oleh and expect to get a discount. You need to go to a participating store, get a pro-forma invoice, take that to Meches, get it stamped, and then return to the store.

Olim can either buy a car in Israel or import a car and only pay 72%-80% in Taxes (as opposed to 120% – 125% for citizens). If you want to use your rights when buying a used car, you must buy from someone who previously bought with Oleh rights (called passport-to-passport).

Importing a Car

In order to import a car (or motorcycle) you will need a clean title (no liens) on the vehicle and the title must be in the Oleh’s name. You will also need:

• Your Israeli Driver’s License,
• A letter from Ministry of Transport approving personal import for the specific vehicle,
• A letter from the vehicle’s authorized importer stating they are willing to supply parts for the vehicle (you are not required to order parts through them).
• Your driver’s license from overseas.

Notable Exceptions to Tax Free Imports:

All goods imported with rights must stay in your possession for six years from the date of import or depreciated taxes must be paid to Meches. (A car must stay in your possession for five years).

This review will help you decide what goods to buy for shipping on aliya:

There has been a lot of news, and in fact, many reductions in the Israeli Import tax structure. The government estimates several hundred million NIS to be saved as a result of these reductions.
But what does this mean to an individual considering doing Aliya Shipping?
Sadly, very little.

The reductions for general household goods were for a variety of items, and in the range of 1.5%-2%. While this will lower prices slightly in stores, it will be off-set by inflation or slightly higher profit margins for distributors and retailers. The difference is not enough to change the decision of importing a piece or buying it locally here in Israel, almost across the board.
High Quality wood or leather furniture makes a lot of sense to import, so if you’re thinking Broyhill or Stickley, Lane or Barcalounger, the answer is to import.

If you want a 30 inch wide (standard American size) freestanding range (GE JGBP), or a 30 inch built in oven (or larger), import.
If you want anything by Dacor, Viking, or Subzero, import.
For a TV of over 40 inches, import. (Sony, Toshiba, Pioneer, Panasonic)
Also, side-by-side refrigerators are still worth bringing in.
Lastly, the full-sized US washer and Dryer are worth importing, for higher end models.


Aliya Shipping
Hebrew Terms Used

When planning your aliya shipping, you should have a general knowledge of the international shipping industry.

This list of terms will help you understand the estimate you receive, as well as some common Hebrew terms regarding Aliya:




Americans and Canadians in Israel. A private organization which assist Olim in the pre- and post aliya process.


This refers to the pick-up and destination. There are limits on the allowed distance from the truck to the front door, and how many flights of steps are “free” before “long access” charges are applied.


A subcontractor working for another company. For example, Sonigo is based in Israel, however we have agents all over the world.


A solid wood box custom built to protect the contents (artwork, Plasma TV, Piano) during transit.

Customs Clearing

The process of submitting the paperwork to Meches, paying import duties, and receiving permission to remove the goods from the secure port facility or bonded warehouse.

Cyrus Foundation

A private organization which assists Olim with Aliya Shipping

Declaration for Customs

Your declaration to Customs stating the contents of your shipment and its depreciated value.

Declared Value

The value of the goods you are shipping, after depreciation, as reported to Meches.


The rental charge for sea containers, past what is included in the cost of sea freight (4 days are included).

Direct Service

When Aliya Shipment container travels on only one boat.


English Speaking Residents Association. A private organization which assist English Speakers in Israel.


Estimated time of arrival (When the boat arrives at destination).


Estimated time of departure (When the boat leaves the origin port).

Fidi Faim

The most select group of international shipping companies. Companies must meet stringent requirements to be Fidi Faim and are regularly audited by Ernst and Young.

Force Majeur

Events that can’t be controlled, such as war, strike, natural disaster.

Full Pack

Professional packers pack everything. This is the standard in international shipping.


Less than Container Load (also Consolidation).


A generic term for an import, regardless of size.


A wooden box, roughly 200 cubic feet used for LCL (Consolidated) shipments to secure goods for travel, and to keep one persons goods separate from other cargo in the same container.

Loose Load

The practice of loading goods into the sea container without first loading them into lift-vans or palletizing the goods. Standard for FCL Loads.


Value Added Tax (VAT). Similar to sales tax, this is applied to most goods and services in Israel.

Sea Container

The big metal box that gets loaded onto the ship. All household goods are loaded into sea containers before being shipped.

Marine Insurance

Insurance covering your goods in Transit. This should include the period from packing to unloading, with allowances for storage.


Both the Customs Authority and term used for import duties of any kind Nefesh B’Nefesh – A private organization which assists Olim in pre- and post aliya processes.

Oleh Hadash

New Immigrant to Israel under the Law of Return.


Shrink Wrapping goods to a pallet. This is used for LCL (Consolidated) shipments to secure the goods for travel, and to keep one person’s goods separate from other cargo in the same container.

Partial Pack

Professional packers pack only breakables. This can sometimes (rarely) save some money, but there are insurance limitations.

Pre-move Survey

This free and vital service is when the shipping company sends a professional estimator to your home to check volume, access, and packing needs.

Shipper / Importer / Exporter

The person doing the Aliya Shipping.

Teudat Oleh

This document shows that you have made Aliya, and is required for clearing your goods as a tax-free Aliya Shipment.

Teudat Zahut

Israeli Identification card.

THC (Terminal Handling Charges)

Also Destination Port Fees. Fees paid to the port facilities for services rendered.

The Sochnut

The Jewish Agency. You must contact the Jewish Agency before making Aliya.


When your Aliya Shipment container travels on more than one boat.


The parent company of Mayflower and United Van Lines, with agents all over the globe


The size of your shipment. Aliya Shipping is primarily done by sea, and charges are based on volume.


Aliya Shipping
Getting an Estimate

You should start to plan your shipping for aliya 60-90 days in advance. Start by going through the house and determining what must go, what will not go, and what would be nice to go (not sure).

Shipping (even for Aliya) is expensive, so don’t send something just because you have it. Many people making Aliya move to smaller apartments here in Israel than back in your origin country, and many places here have limited storage space. Many Israeli apartments don’t even have closets, although in newer housing, closets are more common.

Once you have a rough idea of what is being shipped, contact us, and we will give a very rough estimate based on your description. This will give you an idea of how much items will cost to ship based on their volume. Obviously, if you can buy an item in Israel for less than it costs to ship, don’t ship it.

The next step is to ask us for a free visual survey. This is the only way to get an accurate estimate. Ultimately, you will pay for the volume of what you are shipping for aliya.
When comparing estimates, read the entire estimate. Note that many companies not based in Israel will not include Terminal Handling Charges (Destination Port Charges) in the “Door-to-door” total. “Door-to-port” or “Port-to-port” estimates almost never include them, even though you will need to pay these fees (even when shipping for aliya!)

If you are shipping an FCL (Full Container Load) you are only allowed 4 days free storage and demurrage (container rental charges) before expensive daily charges start to accrue. This means we must start the customs clearing process as soon as the ship arrives, and we must have your aliya Shipping documents before the ship arrives. You also must be able to accept delivery on one day’s notice (as we try to deliver the day following customs clearance). If this is not practical, let your Aliya Shipping Specialist know before pick-up. It may make sense to ship as an LCL (less than container load) if you need storage.

Sonigo International will do everything possible to be competitive for shipping your Aliya shipments!

Next, get references. Don’t just ask the company (although we can provide references on request), ask others that have shipped to Israel for Aliya. All of the above groups mentioned in “Aliya Shipping Terms” above are good sources of recommendations.


Aliya Shipping
Prepacking Preparations

Now that you’ve chosen your pick-up date, it’s time to get ready for the crew to show up. Please follow these simple steps:

Notify us of any items you will be buying that will be shipped directly to our warehouse, BEFORE the store sends them. This way we will know to add them to your Aliya Shipment.

If you choose to insure your goods while shipping for aliya, make the itemized insurance list in advance. It is easier to make this list while the goods are visible and unpacked.

If you are packing your own goods, make sure boxes are packed before the crew arrives. For owner packed goods, number each box and write the contents of each box on a numbered packing list.

Before the crew arrives, separate and mark (ie. with a big X on a sheet of paper) what is staying from what is being shipped. You will not have time, while our crew is there, to sort the items. Make it as clear as possible, for example “Everything in this room goes, everything in that room stays” or “Everything on this side of the big rope goes, everything on that side of the big rope stays”.

Keep the entire day available. Even if you are only shipping a small amount of goods, it makes sense to be ready early. This is a good day to send pets and small children to a neighbor’s house. Have plenty of cold water and a bathroom available for the packing crew.

Before the packers leave, take a look around to make sure they packed everything they were supposed to, and nothing they were not supposed to. Once the crew has left, they can only come back for a fee.

Tips are never expected, always appreciated. As a rough guideline, figure 100-120 NIS per man (or the local currency equivalent). In New York City, tips are $6-$8 per man per hour.

If you have any questions or problems during pick-up, call your Sonigo Aliya Shipping Specialist while the crew is there. If it is after office hours, call our direct cell phone, and we will promptly call you back to save the phone charges.


Aliya Shipping Customs Clearing Methods
and Time Constraints

Procedures in Israel

In order to clear your shipment through customs, bring the following pages/documents (for husband and wife both). This meeting will take about 30 minutes. Only one spouse must come, and this must be done in person:


1. Foreign Passport (with the Aliya Visa)

2. Teudat Zahoot (Identity Card)

3. Teudat Oleh (New Immigrant booklet)

4. Israeli Passport (if you have one)

5. Proof of residency in Israel (Lease, Purchase Contract, or Arnona Bill)

6. Receipts for new electronics, appliances, or furniture in the shipment.

Note – If you are coming on a Nefesh B’Nefesh Flight, or a Red Carpet Flight, look for us at the Teudat Zahoot Distribution – we are almost always at these events.

Time for Release and Clearing

Exclusive containers (FCL) take 3-7 days to clear customs and deliver, once we have all of the paperwork and the shipment has arrived.
Note that free storage for FCL is for 4 days, including the day of discharge and the day the container is removed from the port (delivery).
Consolidated Container Shipments (LCL) take 1-2 weeks to clear customs and deliver, once we have all of the paperwork and the shipment has arrived.
Free Storage on LCL is for 30 days.


Aliya Shipping Accepting Delivery

Once your Aliya shipping has cleared customs, we receive the “Gate Pass” allowing us to remove the shipment from the port. Unless you tell your Sonigo Aliya Shipping Specialist otherwise, we will want to deliver your goods as soon as possible.

Keep the day clear, even if you have a small shipment. Once again, this is a good day to send the kids/pets to a neighbor’s house. Goods will be delivered and unloaded into the rooms.

We suggest following these simple steps:

Notify us of any items you will be buying that will be shipped directly to our warehouse, BEFORE the store sends them. This way we will know to add them to your Aliya Shipment.

Have plenty of cold water and a bathroom available for the delivery crew.

Have one person stand by the back of the truck and “tick” off each number (on the box) as it comes off the truck.

Have one person at the house entrance (not blocking the way, of course) telling the crew in which room number each piece goes.

Note any visible damage on the delivery receipt.

If you have any questions or problems during delivery, call your Sonigo Aliya Shipping Specialist while the crew is there. If it is after office hours, call our direct cell phone, and we will promptly call you back to save the phone charges.

Aliya Shipping Post Delivery

Once the goods are delivered, you have 30 days to notify us of any damages (for UTS Full replacement insurance. If you chose another insurance option, please ask your Aliya Shipping Specialist for the terms).

Check all boxes and let us know if anything has been damaged. In the event more than one item was damaged, you may file only one claim for all items.


Aliya Shipping FAQ

Even if you don’t have your exact flying date, we can perform the visual estimate.

We can pick up and even ship your goods without a final destination. Obviously we can’t deliver the goods without a final destination. Please ask your Aliya Shipping specialist for more details.

UTS Insurance specifies goods be insured for “Replacement Value at Destination” so you should insure your goods for what it would cost to buy a new one here in Israel. If you have no idea of prices here in Israel, ask your Aliya Shipping Specialist for online stores, or general guidelines for price differences.

Our terms are pretty strict, however please let your Aliya Shipping Specialist know which organization is supplying the grant or loan. Chances are good we can work with them to help you with shipping for aliya. Ultimately, however, the final payment is due before delivery, so please make sure you have the ability to pay before you ship.

Additional Information

Packing Tips

Shipping Methods

"No Rights"

Certificate of origin / EUR1

Cargo insurance

Our affiliation with FIDI Faim, ensures that Sonigo enjoys an unwavering seal of quality reserved for the finest of shipping companies. This allows us to guarantee that your cargo is in the safest possible of hands.

Packing Specialists

Sonigo employs a team of trained and knowledgeable commercial packing specialists, who apply the same level of skill and sensitivity when packing standard office files and supplies, delicate hardware, heavy machinery, furniture or wine bottles

Storage Solution

Sonigo’s storage facilities cover 6,000 square meters (almost 65,000 square feet), and are located in central Israel in an area conveniently accessible to clients and near air and sea ports.

Shockproof packaging

We specialize in shockproof packaging, while often designing shock-absorbing double-wall crates and including reinforcements, coils and lining for delicate and irreplaceable items. When required, tilt and shock meters are also attached to ensure valuable commercial cargo enjoys maximum safety while in transit.

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