As the entitlement to health services in accordance with the National Health Insurance Law is contingent on being an Israeli resident, it is important that the definition of “Israeli resident” be clear. While it still leaves room for interpretation, the following National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) definition, which is also used by the Ministry of Health, was adapted from the Bituach Leumi’s English website:
A person is considered an “Israeli resident” if the center of his life is in Israel, if he declared his intention to reside in Israel and if he gave this intention a concrete, external expression. One’s “center of life” is examined both objectively – checking the actual place of residence – and subjectively – according to one’s personal view of the place that is the center of one’s life.
A person can continue to be considered an Israeli resident even if he is living abroad, on condition that his stay abroad is a temporary one (for example, for purposes of studies, a trip, a temporary job, etc.) – as long as the center of his life remains in Israel.
The National Insurance Institute (NII) generally continues to regard persons as residents of Israel for the first five years after they go abroad. After five years abroad, persons are requested to prove that their stay abroad is still temporary and that the center of their lives is still in Israel. For this purpose, they must fill out a questionnaire for determining residency of persons living abroad, and attach it to their letter detailing their claims.
The NII may examine a person’s residency even if five years have not yet elapsed since he went abroad; for example, in cases in which the person himself contacts the NII and requests to prove that the center of his life has moved abroad.
An Israeli resident living abroad must continue to pay national and health insurance contributions to the NII, even during his stay abroad. A delay in payments of health insurance contributions during one’s stay abroad may rule out eligibility for health services for several months. It is therefore important to continue paying one’s insurance contributions.
What is the difference in rights between a permanent resident and a citizen. Thank you
Hi Judith, Permanent residents are entitled to all the same rights as citizens (including health insurance), and have the same obligations (taxes, army service, etc.), with a few important exceptions: permanent residents do not have the right to vote or run in Knesset elections, they are not entitled to an Israeli passport (even though they have a teudat zehut), and they will technically lose their permanent residency status if they leave the country for an extended period of time. These are generalities and if you have more case-specific questions, it is always recommended to discuss them with the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) directly.