In a policy shift, Israel will begin granting foreign nationals with valid visas ordinary driver’s license cards with photos with an expiration date subject to the duration of the visa.
Last month, UTJ MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler, chairman of the Public Petitions Committee, demanded an end to what he referred to as humiliation and harassment that foreign citizens who are legally in Israel endure. Currently, foreign citizens can only get a paper license — which does not have a photo — with an expiration date of six months. Drivers were required to physically go to the DMV every six months to renew these paper licenses, pay an additional fee and pass vision tests again. Drivers were also viewed with suspicion by many police officers who never saw the strange license without a picture of the driver, and sometimes were held up for long periods of time until their licenses were verified.
The new licenses, which will begin to be distributed in two months, will also state that the owner must present his passport along with it, when required to do so by an authority of law.
Committee Chairman Rabbi Yisrael Eichler applauded the decision.
“This is great news for the thousands of people who have suffered due to temporary paper licenses. We expect the decision to be implemented immediately, including the necessary updates to the computer systems of the Ministry of Transportation (which have to be synchronized with the Interior Ministry’s visa database), immediately after Pesach. It’s ample time to go through the computer data and to issue passport holders driver’s licenses with a picture that is valid in accordance with the visa, in a dignified and effective manner,” Eichler said.