Navigating bureaucracy: How to obtain a building permit in Israel


Israeli bureaucracy is notorious for causing delays in the issuance of construction permits, particularly in the real estate and urban renewal sectors. This frustration leads developers and contractors on a complex journey to obtain the necessary permits.

Despite attempts to address these bureaucratic barriers and increase the housing supply, little has changed. Even recent government measures, such as unifying planning and licensing processes, have not resulted in the desired improvements. 

So, what obstacles must one overcome to obtain a building permit in Israel? Yigal Chodner, CEO of Natibi HaKama (Paths to Setting Up), a company specializing in managing licensing and statutory procedures, sheds light on the matter. 

The dragons that have to be passed on the way to the permit

The building permit process in Israel operates within a rigid regulatory framework involving several government ministries, local municipalities, and planning committees. The coordination between these governmental bodies often leads to delays and inefficiencies.

While efforts have been made in recent years to streamline and simplify the process, the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and contractors persist. 

Why is it so complicated??

One of the main reasons for the lengthy permit application process is its inherent complexity. Developers and contractors are required to submit extensive documentation, including architectural plans, environmental assessments, and engineering reports. 

Gathering and preparing these documents, as well as coordinating with various authorities, can be challenging. Furthermore, stringent regulations aimed at ensuring safety and environmental compliance often result in extensive reviews of applications. This thorough evaluation process, though necessary, significantly contributes to the time it takes to obtain a permit. 

Insufficient resources and personnel within the government bodies responsible for issuing approvals and permits further slow down the inspection process and cause additional delays. Additionally, the lack of effective interdepartmental coordination among the parties involved exacerbates the problem. As a result, entrepreneurs find themselves trapped in an endless cycle of submitting documents, responding to requests for more information, and waiting for years for final approval.

Our destiny lies within our grasp: how can we simplify the procedure?

Undoubtedly, the process of obtaining a permit can appear overwhelming. This is precisely why numerous entrepreneurs find themselves frustrated with authorities even before initiating the permit application, negatively impacting the permit issuance process from the outset.

It appears that, on a broader scale, the licensing issue is often perceived by many entrepreneurs and contractors as a hindrance imposed by authorities. In reality, a streamlined and transparent approach with licensing bodies enhances the likelihood of obtaining the permit expeditiously. Licensing should not be seen as a tool against entrepreneurs but rather as a facilitator in their favor.

Efficient licensing management offers distinct advantages:

• Time savings: Collaboration with the system, rather than resistance, leads to more effective work.

• Procedure control: Full transparency allows monitoring of who is doing what and when, fostering a more responsive and efficient authority, thereby streamlining the procedure in a more organized and expedited manner.

• Provides protection: Operating in an organized and qualified manner ensures comprehensive documentation, serving as an insurance certificate against legal exposure—a crucial aspect in entrepreneurship.

Moreover, as the construction industry in Israel continues to evolve, the recognition of the necessity for a more efficient system grows. Through collaborative efforts, entrepreneurs, contractors, and officials can contribute to enhancing the approval process, fostering growth, innovation, and overall prosperity in the industry.

“In light of my years of experience and collaboration with authorities, I emphasize that the one who takes the initiative holds the power to make a significant impact,” Yigal asserts. “This is particularly true in Israel, where possibilities abound.”

“Bureaucracy should not be viewed as an adversary. By engaging with it in the right way, we can more effectively and swiftly reach our business objectives,” he advises.

“The most effective advice I can provide to entrepreneurs and contractors apprehensive about the permit issuance process is to embrace a distinct approach with the authorities—one characterized by transparency, clarity, and professionalism.”