Travel between Israel and Jordan is fairly seamless for most travelers, starting with procuring your visas. You’ll need separate visas for entry into Israel and Jordan; while it’s possible to secure them from embassies in your home country ahead of time, the process can easily be completed upon arrival for residents of most western nations, including the United States.
Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv will supply you with a three-month visa at the beginning of your journey. For your Jordan tourist visa, you have a few options. The best and easiest way is to secure your visa at the border, but you can also get one at Queen Alia International Airport if you choose to fly into Amman or at the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv. For 40 Jordanian Dinar (JD) – about $56 USD – you’ll receive a single-entry visa, good for one month from the date of entry.
Both naions require your passport to be current, with at least 6 months until the listed expiration date. Double check the expiry against your travel window well ahead of time, so you have plenty of room to renew if necessary.
Crossing the Border
Because Israel and Jordan are both small countries with a reliable system of highways, overland travel between the two is a manageable and popular choice. Touring by car or bus also allows for endless opportunities to customize your journey with stops at landmarks and attractions along the way.
There are three main points of entry on the border, and the one you’ll take depends on where you’re headed in Jordan, and whether or not you’ve already been granted a visa. The Sheikh Hussein Bridge, also known as the Jordan River Crossing, is the northernmost point of entry in the country, convenient to the ancient city of Jerash and the country’s northern highlands. This is an official border where visas to Jordan are issued so if you don’t have a pre-arranged visa, this is the bridge for you! After completing immigration in Israel, you’ll be required to take a shuttle across the bridge to Jordan, which costs JOD 1.6JD / US$2.3 or 10 NIS (luggage is free). Though the 1KM ride itself only takes a few minutes, be prepared for long lines, especially in the high season.
Another busy river crossing connecting Israel and Jordan is the Allenby Bridge, popular for its central positioning near Amman and the Dead Sea. Like Sheikh Hussein, you’ll be required to take a shuttle across the river, so the same information about the need for being patient applies. The fees are slightly higher here: JOD 7.00 pp (approx $10) plus JOD 1.50 (approx $2). The most important thing to note about the Allenby Bridge is that Jordan tourist visas are not granted here; because it technically connects with the Palestinian controlled West Bank, it is not considered an official point of entry. If you plan to secure your visa at the border, enter Jordan at one of the other crossings – you can always use the Allenby Bridge on your way out! Only at Allenby bridge are you able to cross over to Jerusalem and return to Jordan on a single entry visa.
Wadi Araba is the third crossing and the furthest south, essentially connecting the Red Sea resort towns of Eilat on the Israel side with Aqaba in Jordan. For travelers interested in beelining to Petra or Wadi Rum, both are less than a two-hour drive away. A particular benefit of entering here is that you pay visa fees and taxes on your exit; and if you spend 3 nights or more you don’t pay any bridge fees (including visa, exit tax or service fees). This assumes you enter and depart via the same crossing.
Unlike the bridge crossings, Wadi Araba does not require a shuttle ride – you can walk the 500 meters from Israel to Jordan, and luggage carts are available at no extra charge.
Regardless of where you decide to enter Jordan, be prepared to have your bags opened and inspected by border security on either side. Also, note that Israel and Jordan both require you to pay an exit tax when you leave the country. Jordan requires a payment of JD 10 ($15 USD) regardless of where you cross, while Israel requires 179 Shekels ($50 USD) at the Allenby Bridge and 105 Shekels ($30 USD) at Sheikh Hussein and Wadi Araba.
If you’re pressed for time, you can use the VIP service at Allenby crossing or Sheikh Hussein bridge, which is an expedited service provided and run by the authorities. At Allenby, this costs $110 USD PP each way, while at Sheikh Hussein, it varies based on the number of travelers starting with $71 USD for 1 person each way
Another way to speed things up is to hop on a plane. Flights do run twice daily between Tel Aviv and Amman on Royal Jordanian, and less frequently on a few other carriers. Aqaba also has a small airport with daily flights between countries. The same rules will apply in terms of visa fees and baggage checks, which you’ll take care of during the customs process; exit fees are included in the price of most commercial flights.