Is it better to sell my stuff or pay to ship it to Israel?
Several times a week Nefesh B’Nefesh is asked about the cost benefit of shipping items to Israel – and the tough thing for us is that there is no one right answer. But over the years we’ve come up with some general rules and guidelines we think can help you as you pack up your house and prepare for your move.
Pro tip: DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY SHIP YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS OR PASSPORTS.
Shipping furniture from abroad only makes sense if you know where you are going to live and have already measured to make sure everything will fit. Otherwise, unless you are bringing something with sentimental value, you may be spending money to bring things you are going to immediately sell or put into storage.
Israeli homes tend to be smaller than houses abroad and are architecturally very different in terms of layout and use of space. The perfect couch from your den in Toronto may not find a great space in a Jerusalem apartment. Your Chicago bunkbeds may be perfect in Modi’in, but you need to remember that you are going to need to order new bedding from Amazon. Also think about the resell value of items like high rise beds and bookshelves – you may be able to recoup some money and defray costs of buying new ones in Israel. Remember that you are paying by cubic meter and you are being charged for the empty space under tables, desks, or on bookshelves. One person bought a new IKEA bookshelf (still in the box) and only put it together in Beit Shemesh – that small box didn’t take up so much room.
Bring the sentimental stuff – the end table you got from your grandmother you can’t bear to part with – and think long and hard about everything else.
Your small electronics (laptop, iPad, phone) will work in Israel and tend to be more expensive to buy here as well. A simple adapter will allow you to charge your devices in a regular wall plug and even getting your devices repaired is a possibility.
You may want to consider getting a dual-SIM phone or learn to port your US number if you want to keep an American phone number as well as adding an Israeli line.
You want to bring your television to Israel? You could – it should work with the correct converter. Check prices before you buy a TV at the 220 store and ship it over, it may pay to buy in Israel.
Many years ago, major discounts on appliances were a much talked about Aliyah benefit offered by the government to new Olim. The catch was that the appliances needed to be Israeli made. Well, the long and the short of it is that there may be one air conditioner unit that meets the criteria, but it isn’t the benefit it once was.
The Aliyah benefit that is still relevant is bringing in appliances from outside of Israel for three years, tax-free. Olim are granted the right to bring in one of each major appliance to Israel tax-free, and additional appliances can be shipped but will be taxed.
The question here is, does it make sense to buy them in the US and ship them to Israel? If you know how much space you’ll have in your new home and can get the appliances from a 220v shop, maybe yes, but we’d recommend comparing prices online before you do (zap.co.il is a great place to start). Israeli stores offer more competitive prices than a decade ago and you can get a new appliance under warranty in Israel.
The Kitchen Aid you got for your wedding and use all the time (the one that looks beautiful on your counter and also has sentimental value) should be a real consideration. On one hand, you will need more than a simple adapter to get it to work in Israel – you’ll need a full power converter. On the other hand, the exact same appliance is significantly more expensive to buy in Israel.
And your grill? Just don’t bother. Used grills are an absolute no and new grills can be imported, but it will cost a significant amount above the cost of the grill itself to bring it to Israel. Israelis love grilling and BBQs, you can feel confident that you’ll be able to find a grill that works for you and your family here.
Art, books, games and toys – the smaller items in your apartment in your home are your totally your decision. We have found that most Olim will purge or downsize some items but bring items that have high usage or emotional value. You are paying per cubic meter, not by weight, so you can get an estimate on how much an extra box will be. The same is true for dishes (whether your daily stuff or Passover set), you need to make a decision about the value it has versus donating or reselling in North America and getting new stuff in Israel. Bicycles? Skateboards? Rollerblades? You should always ask your shipper about what are the additional costs to add space so that you can weigh out your options.
CUSTOMS & TAXES
New Olim are granted three tax-free shipments in their first three years of Aliyah. Olim still need to pay all the other shipping costs: marine insurance, port fees, shipping and packing fees.
The customs authority exempts Olim from paying customs tax and VAT on specific and eligible household items and electrical appliances, but it is important to do thorough research before sending the shipment to avoid unpleasant surprises on arrival to Israel.
And, of course, some Olim with prior Israeli statuses may need to supply additional documentation to confirm their eligibility for this benefit.
CLICK HERE for the new NBN shipping guide!
Carry them with you on your flight as you will need them when you land at the airport and get processed. Do not ship them or put them in your checked bags. From experience, this can be a very uncomfortable first bump when you arrive in Israel.