What They Don’t Tell an Oleh: ‘Renewing Your Car Tags’

As a new oleh, the most challenging thing I find is the different set of assumptions. Lots of everyday things are analogous, but just different. It’s not that “we did it better in America” – although, sometimes we did. It’s that I find myself trying to prove I’m not stupid because I thought it might be different. I intend to post some “how-to’s” here, for the benefit of the next oleh; this being the first in that series.

This difference of assumptions became very relevant the other day when I had to “renew my car registration”, or “renew my tags”. These are the expressions I would use in the States, but a lot of people criticize me for using it here. The pieces “registration”, the license “Rishayon Rechev” and “The Test” are separate. The car must be registered, but you need an annual test to allow you to drive it and The Test is what makes the vehicle license valid. Whatever the semantics, what I needed to do was “make the car I bought used legal to drive”.

1) A form came in the mail with the words rishayon rechev (רישיון רכב) at the top, which is the license, but is not valid when you get it. This comes about a month before you the previous “license” expires.

2) The form says to go to mot.gov.il to pay. The English link is here: https://ecom.gov.il/voucherspa/input/260?language=en Mine was about 1300 NIS.

3) You have to take the form to a test place. The Hebrew is טסט, pronounced “test”. Note that this is not the normal word for “a test”. This is The Great And Awesome Test. Google for a location near you. They do an “emission’s test plus”.

4) You present them the form and proof of insurance (NOT proof that you paid) at the testing place office, with another payment (NOT the online one). I paid 96 NIS for this part.

5) You get your car in line. They’ll direct you through the test. It’s much like a drive-through car wash. This is the hard part, because even if they try to throw English words out at you, they’re probably wrong. The guy yelled at me to “highlight”, which meant turn on the high beams.

6) After everything, you need to take the form back to the office to get your sticker. This is the part I missed, because of different expectations. In the US, they mail you the sticker that makes the car legal. Here, they give it to you on the spot. No one told me what to do. They just give you that look, like “I’m done with you.” So I left. I’m not saying Israel should change the system, but we olim have to have someone tell us what the system is.

7) I had to come back another day. Someone had forgotten to sign something, so I had to take care of that first. In the end, I gave the office the completed form; they did some stamping; and gave me a sticker which goes in the windshield. They give you back the completed and stamped rishayon form, which you need to keep in the car. THIS IS WHEN YOU ARE REALLY DONE.

8) Go home and throw a seudat hoda’ah (feast) for family and friends to thank G-d for surviving it and wait until next year — like the High Priest after Yom Kippur.

I found documentation at NBN and the Transportation Ministry, but I did not find that they said to do what I’ve documented. You can get a mechanic or someone else to do this for you, but you shouldn’t have to.

I went to a place in Mishor Adumim, but I don’t know that anywhere else is better. The place is very loud. The workers are grumpy and the woman giving me instructions is sitting behind a bullet-proof window, so it’s REALLY hard to hear, even the Hebrew.

About the Author
Reuven (sometimes Bobby) came from a mixed Jewish-Christian background. He became ba'al teshuva (Jewishly observant) in his 20s with the intention of making aliyah, which didn't happen until his 40s. His daughter, Shani, also blogs and serves in the IDF as a medic. She was a lone soldier until her parents made aliyah in 2017.
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