The Big Felafel

How to convert your American driver’s license in Israel

A bunch of people have recently asked me how to get a license in Israel if they already have one from America. It’s hard to answer that question because as soon as you’ve finished the ridiculous process you want to forget it immediately. However, I looked through my emails and found that I had written about my experience. Following the email are steps to converting your license.

(August 8, 2006) Now for the big news, I am getting…. my license! well, not yet – i still have to take my driving lesson and test, but if I told you all the steps I’ve already completed, you would think I already got it. I won’t mention that first you have to go to a special photography store to get a special document, then you have to go to a special eyeplace and a special eyetest where they smush your forehead into a machine and call you a wussy when you complain.

Then off to your doctor to get a stamp after you perform a litany of stupid tasks – you can try this one at home: move your finger from your nose to someone else’s finger, and back and forth, now faster until you feel utterly stupid. Will i have to do this while driving? If so, I’m gonna need more practice. Oh, I wasn’t done.

Then, you have to take the special paper with the 2 doctor stamps and wait in line at what seems to be a hotspot for men whose head automatically looks every girl up and down back up again, and finally down again. Later you find out that that place is not just a haven of non-deodorized men, but actually serves as the licensing bureau. Well you think I’d be done at this point.

But alas, I actually must do some driving. so, i will find out a mafia man, or a driving instructor, although here they are one in the same, take a driving lesson with him, then if he’s kind and doesn’t want to charge me for more lessons, he will test me and then… i will have a license.

I guess this is not the right time to bring up the fact that im not sure why i’m getting a license in the first place. it just feels like something i should get done since you have to take 28 lessons (read: 2800NIS) if you convert your license after that magical 3rd year of Aliyah. I don’t ever ever ever want to drive here if i can avoid it because only here will cars honk their horns at your while the light is still red.

Steps to Getting/Converting your license in Israel: Think of it as an expensive scavenger hunt.

1. Go to the eyeglass store Moskovitz, in the Malha Mall, 2nd floor(?) and they will take your picture, give you an eyetest, and give you a green document. Pay them 40 shekels.

3. Go to your doctor with the document and have him/her sign it. This was free for me but a friend paid for it.

4. Go to Misrad HaRishui in Talpiot, licesning bureau, on top of the Police Station (Rehov Ta’asuka I believe) and bring your green document, teudat zehut, teudat oleh, american license. They will give you a ‘hafnaya’ (another document) to give to the driving instructor.

5. Call a driving instructor. I recommend the guy I used, Motti: 052 267-4932 who is nice and patient. Schedule a time to do 45 minutes of driving with Motti. He speaks Hebrew but there aren’t many words you need to know. Bring Motti the documents from the Misrad HaRishui and the green document. Pay Motti 100 shekels.

5. Motti will tell you when to meet him at the driving test in Talpiot. Pay 57 shekels at the post office + 300 shekels cash to Motti for the driving test. The post office is right next to the driving test in Talpiot. Motti will tell you the exact address and details.

6. Take your test. Motti will call you to tell you what the result is. When you pass, bring your Teudat Zehut, American license, Teudat Oleh, passport photo (?) to the licensing bureau above the police station in Talpiot. They will give you a paper/temporary license.

7. Go to the Post Office across the street at the Achim Yisrael mall in Talpiot, pay ~360 shekels so they can send you the real license.

7. They should send you the license within 2 months.

8. Mazal Tov.

*I can’t promise the information is still accurate since it has already been a year.