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Guide to making a bank transfer in Israeli shekel (ILS)

Israeli shekel (ILS) is the sole legal tender in Israel, a country in the Middle East. Shekel is far from a major currency. Still, it’s used widely in investments, commerce, and banking. As such, there can be plenty of different reasons to want a bank transfer made in ISL. To this end, there are several methods.

Why exactly you would use ISL is up to you, but there are thankfully many reliable ways to make a bank transfer in shekels without actually opening a bank account. You can open an account if you want, but it’s not something that happens overnight, obviously. There are easier ways, in short.

E-wallets and money systems

Money systems, also colloquially known as e-wallets, are simply solutions that enable a fast and cheap way to transfer money between accounts. With these apps, you can also commonly make bank transfers, although that requires some additional information and procedures.

Most top providers of this sort are available in Israel. Some, like PayPal, work with limitations. Others don’t operate in shekels. The ideal choice is a provider that works in Israel, supports the currency, and has low fees for transfer to Israel. You can still send money even if the platform doesn’t support shekels, but it can be more expensive.

There are several providers that come to mind:

  • Wise. Wise supports ILS and generally has low fees for bank transfers.
  • Revolut. Revolut supports shekels, and it’s even possible to issue a Revolut card in Israel.
  • PayPal. PayPal Israel has some limitations in terms of bank transactions, but it supports shekels and has extensive financial features.

There are also plenty of local e-wallets, such as Bit and Pepper. It’s hard to access them for non-Israeli residents, but they can still be used to a great extent if you want to send money fast in shekels. These apps, however, don’t have much edge in terms of bank transfers to Israeli banks over Wise or Revolut.

To make a bank transfer, you’ll typically need the recipient’s IBAN number and the BIC number of the destination bank. Additional fees are likely going to be charged by the bank because such transfers are regarded as international payments. The services, though, rarely charge more than 1% for Israeli transfers.

Crypto payments

Crypto is another good way to send money to an Israeli bank. Buying and selling cryptocurrencies is legal and popular in Israel, although there are extensive anti-laundering schemes in place. For this reason, not all exchanges and wallets are available in the country. Accordingly, you might need to go through additional effort to make a transfer.

Moreover, crypto income is taxable in Israel. There’s a 25% annual income tax on capital gains, which includes all financial assets (that means crypto, as well). At the moment, there are 7 ‘trusted’ exchanges in Israel, including Bit2C, Bits of Gold, Binance, OKX, Kraken, Coinmama, and Changelly.

To make a transfer, you’ll need to create an account with one of these exchanges. It means registration and verification, which can be lengthy, but often don’t exceed a few days of waiting. After that, it’s just a matter of buying crypto and selling it back for ISL. Then, you’ll just need to withdraw the money to the bank account.

The biggest positive of transferring money this way is that crypto is relatively less regulated compared to regular financial solutions. In Israel, they adhere to a slightly stricter code of conduct than usual, but virtual currencies are still a lot less regulated. It makes any bank transfers quick and easy.

Creating an israeli bank account

You can also create a non-resident bank account with several Israeli banks, such as the Bank of Jerusalem. It has multiple limitations, but it will allow you to make bank transfers in shekels even though you’re a foreigner and not even a resident. It’s suitable for people who expect to make regular payments in ISL in the future.

It still usually requires you to travel to Israel to finalize the creation of the account, but the exact requirements vary from bank to bank. You’ll just need to examine the specifics with each individual bank. Regardless of the bank, you’ll likely enjoy less freedom and opportunities than a regular resident bank owner. The holders of non-resident accounts can still make money transfers, which is what matters.

It’s not particularly easy to set up an account because the bank will still look into your financial background and current financial health. The decision also depends on your needs and goals. The most common and acceptable goal is doing business in Israel. Irregular personal payments aren’t really a priority for banks.

Regular bank transfer

SWIFT transfers are still a thing. You can send money to an Israeli bank fairly easily, provided your bank adheres to the SWIFT standard. You don’t need to convert your money to shekels in this instance; although you will incur an additional, often undetermined commission for an international transfer + ILS conversion.

A transfer such as this can take a long time, can be quite costly, and you can never truly tell how much money will arrive to the recipient. While it’s possible to determine the transaction fees on your end, you’ll also have to count the processing fees on the other end, as well as various extra fees.

It’s probably not an optimal method, but the costs and timeframes can change from country to country and from bank to bank. Depending on what provider you’re using, it may be easier for you to just make a SWIFT transfer rather than go to Wise or use crypto. However, it’s unlikely.

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