Bituach Leumi (The National Insurance Institute of Israel) is the body responsible for the payment of various pensions and allowances to those who are insured and eligible under the National Insurance Law. It is the equivalent of Social Security in the United States or National Insurance in the United Kingdom. All Israeli residents aged 18 or older must, under law, be covered with Bituach Leumi and are therefore obligated to pay insurance contributions.
According to Bituach Leumi, eligibility for insurance is determined according to residency in Israel and not citizenship. The definition of residency is whether or not your life is centered in Israel. Among the criteria for determining this are:
- Your permanent place of residence (residing in Israel for over 183 days a year)
- Where your family is living
- Where your children are being educated
- Where is your primary place of work or learning
In the eyes of Bituach Leumi therefore, even if you are residing in Israel on a student visa and have not officially made Aliya, you can be considered a resident and be liable to pay insurance contributions.
You can continue to be considered an Israeli resident even if living abroad, on condition that the stay abroad is a temporary one (for example, for purposes of studies, a trip, a temporary job, etc.) and as long as the center of your life remains in Israel (see Travelling Abroad, below).
Bituach Leumi provides a wide range of services to every Israeli resident. Their aim is to provide weak population groups and families in temporary or long-term difficulties with a financial basis for subsistence, covering nearly every facet of life of an Israeli resident. Click on the benefits to learn about each one:
For more information click here.
National and Health Insurance Contributions
Bituach Leumi collects insurance contributions from all residents in accordance with their income and insurance status, and pays benefits to those entitled. Fines (and interest) are charged to those who do not pay on the date stipulated by law.
Bituach Leumi is also responsible for collecting health insurance contributions under the National Health Insurance Law. These contributions are then transferred to the various Kuppot Cholim (health funds). All insured persons must be registered with one of the country’s Kupot Cholim and may choose which Kupah to join. The Kupah must provide all insured persons with a standard health basket as specified by law. For more information click here.
The amount you pay for national and health insurance contributions is calculated in accordance with your level of income from work or from other sources. Your employment status is also taken into account, for example:
- Salaried employee
- Self-employed person
- A person who does not work
For information about rates and amounts click here.
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If you are an Israeli resident living abroad, you must continue to pay national and health insurance contributions. A delay in payments whilst abroad may rule out your eligibility to receive health services for several months. It is therefore important to continue paying insurance contributions even while you are living abroad.
The Bituach Leumi will generally continue to regard you as a resident of Israel for the first five years after you move abroad. After these five years, you will be requested to prove that your stay abroad is still temporary and that the center of your life is still in Israel. For this purpose, you must fill out a questionnaire and attach it to a letter detailing your claims.
The Bituach Leumi may examine your residency even if five years have not yet elapsed since you went abroad; for example, in cases in which you yourself contacts the Bituach Leumi and requests to prove that the center of your life has moved. For more information click here.
If you moved overseas and ceased to be an Israeli resident, but subsequently returned to live in Israel, you must notify the nearest branch of the Bituach Leumi of your return. You will be required to fill out a questionnaire (to fill out the form click here) and to attach documentation showing that you have terminated the center of life overseas (for example: sale of property or possessions, cancellation of insurance, termination of employment, relinquishment of foreign citizenship and so on).
You will also have to provide documentation showing that the center of your life has moved to Israel (for example: shipment of possessions to Israel, rental of an apartment, employment contract, registration of children in schools, and so on). The Bituach Leumi official will check and determine whether or not you should be recognized as an Israeli resident. For more information click here.
Once recognized as a returning resident, you will be eligible for Bituach Leumi benefits and will have to pay the relevant contributions. However, to receive medical services under the National Health Insurance Law, you will have to wait a period of 6 months. There is a possibility of redeeming the waiting period by paying the Bituach Leumi. For more information click here.
International Conventions on Social Security
The Bituach Leumi has signed international conventions to assure the protection of the social security rights of a person who moves from one country to another, and to avoid dual insurance payments by Israelis living and working abroad. For more information click here.
To call the Bituach Leumi main number, dial *6050 (for a Hebrew/English translation of the automated answering machine click here).