As far as world borders goes, crossing this one was less hassle than you could imagine. We headed across the border from Sheik Hussein Bridge in Jordan into the Israeli side to the border point near Beit She’an. In essence the border itself is just a bridge (the one photographed). However there’s a bit of organising to get it all sorted. This easy to follow and up to date guide (September 2013) should make things simple and efficient for you. Not only will I describe how to get from Jordan to Israel overland on the Sheik Hussein bridge, but I also tackled and succeeded in that travel worry some people have – the Israeli stamp. This detailed post explains how to avoid ANY Jordan or Israel stamps in your passport…
First of all, let’s assume you’ve arrived at the city of Irbid in Jordan. This is a northern city with a population of just under a million people. This is the city where most travellers heading to Israel via the northern border crossing in Jordan will end up. Irbid has a few bus stations and you can get buses between them for 25 Jordanian cents. We got a bus from the South Station in Irbid (having arrived there on another bus from Amman) to the West Station in Irbid.
Ask around and the locals at the bus stations will help you out. You can also tell them you’re heading to Sheik Hussein Bridge, the border to Israel and they’ll all know what bus to take. The buses are mostly minibuses and payment is taken on board in cash. There is no storage on these buses for your backpack, put them in the aisles or take the front seat and set them in front of you. This bus to Irbid West should cost just 25 cents as mentioned.
Getting from Irbid West Bus Station to the Border
Again this is a simple bus journey. The people working at Irbid West Bus Station will be able to point you in the direction of the bus to the border. It’s a blue and white minibus and leaves when it’s full. It costs 1 Jordanian Dinar (1JD).
There aren’t really strict timetables on any of the buses mentioned in this post by the way – just turn up and you’ll be fine. No tickets, nothing booked in advance and no problems. The bus will take around 45 minutes. You pass by some great terrain and landscapes.
There are unlikely to be any other backpackers on your minibus, nor any other people heading to the border. Make sure you tell the driver you’re heading to the border. He will probably guess this if you’re backpacking it anyway! The driver will tell you to get out on a corner by the roadside. It’s everything you’d expect as a backpacker in the Middle East. From here it’s a 200 metre walk to the first border point.
Leaving the Jordan Side of the Border
After getting off the bus, walk down the 200 metres to the checkpoint and on the right hand side guys will usher you into taxis. At first we ignored them, gathering we could save money and it would be free to walk across the border on foot.
However the police at the checkpoint told us we could not cross the border by foot, so unless you’re really lucky, or things change, you’ll need to hop in a taxi down to the Jordan Immigration point!!
We paid 3 Jordanian Dinars between 2 for the taxi, so 1.5 JD each. If you share with 4 this will be cheaper. You can try bargaining but to be honest, it’s your only choice, you can’t walk and these taxi guys are the monopoly. Once inside the taxi, you’ll have your passport checked by the police at the first and second checkpoints.
They just look at you and your passport and let you go through. At the third checkpoint, you need to get out of the taxi with your bags. The bags are scanned and checked. All routine and basic. You get back in the taxi and head to the immigration office.
The immigration office is at the end of an area with a shop, a bus ticket office and a duty free shop. As you have passed the bag search, you can buy anything you want here to take across the border as long as you stick to the Israeli import laws. First things first though – head to the immigration office, fill in your exit form and get your stamp to leave the country. But make sure you don’t get the stamp inside your passport.
Jordan Exit Stamp – Separate Page ** IMPORTANT **
Since you’re leaving Jordan at an exit point which means you can only be heading to Israel, you should ask for your Jordan exit stamp on a separate page, and not placed in your passport.
This will makes things a lot easier for you on your future travels. You probably won’t get into countries like Iran, Libya, Iraq etc. if you have a Jordan exit stamp that proves you went to Israel next. So just don’t get the stamp in the passport. The guards are used to this and will issue with a separate piece of paper. Then buy a ticket for the “bus to Israel” which is exactly what it is. You have your stamp – you have left Jordan to all intents and purposes.
Bus from Jordan to Israel
After immigration, buy a ticket for the border bus to Israel. This costs 1.6 Jordan Dinars.
In a matter of minutes you’ll arrive at the Jordan Bridge. This is also known as the Sheik Hussein Bridge and it links Jordan to Israel. It’s a very small bridge.
You might have your passport checked again by a Jordanian Police Officer who gets on the buss. In the distance you can see the Israeli flag flying, you cross the bridge and you are now in Israel. This is obvious due to the “Welcome to Israel” sign.
Arrival in Israel at the Jordan Bridge
Before you get to filling in your forms, you will be asked questions like where you are staying, where you have been recently, how long you will stay etc. Then your bags will be checked and searched if need be. They opened our bags to check inside them, which was a pain as we had packed our stuff neatly.
Then you fill in your entry forms and head to the immigration desk. There is no visa and no payment required for citizens of most countries. I was fine travelling on a UK and an Irish passport. No charge and a stamp will be valid for 3 months. They may ask you a few questions like “have you ever been to Libya/Syria?” etc. So it’s probably best to do Israel first before you head to those countries just in case they don’t let you in.
Israel Entrance Stamp – Separate Page
As with the Jordan exit stamp you’ll want the Israeli entrance stamp on a separate page, to prove you never actually went there. Again, the Israeli authorities are well aware of this and as a result will happily stamp on another page for you. Just make sure you keep the piece of paper they give you – you’ll need it to exit the country – where you will also probably want to exit without an actual stamp on your passport. They put the stamp on a separate and now you are in Israel!!
Onward travel in Israel from the border
We were getting picked up at the border by a friend so we didn’t have to worry about the onward connection. Most travellers will get a taxi (share one) to the nearest town which is Beit She’an, and from there you can get buses to other bigger towns and cities, or indeed you can stay in Beit She’an. You can get money changed at the border by the way. All in all this is a fairly smooth border crossing. Yes, not much hassle at all – just make sure you’re ready to avoid the stamps inside the passports!
My cool videos of the border crossing on how to get from Jordan to Israel at the Sheik Hussein Bridge:
At Irbid West in Jordan:
The bus from Irbid South to Irbid West:
Changing buses at Irbid West:
Bus from Irbid to Sheik Hussein Bridge Part 1:
Bus from Irbid to Sheik Hussein Bridge Part 2:
Walking from the bus to the entrance to the taxi point before Sheik Hussein Bridge:
In the taxi to the immigration office at Sheik Hussein, Jordan:
Waiting at the Immigration Office in Jordan before crossing into Israel at Sheik Hussein Bridge:
Got my border stamp on the separate page and waiting for the bus to Israel:
On the bus to Israel crossing the Sheik Hussein/Jordan River Bridge: