Iran is an incredible country to travel to. Having been off the tourist radar for a long time, the country is yet to be discovered by many people. A long, exhaustive and difficult visa process has been one of the reasons why tourist refrained from visiting. But with new visa rules and regulations, those times are over for most travelers. In fact, with the introduction of E-visa’s and visa’s on arrival, it has never been easier to obtain a tourist visa for Iran! Are you planning to visit Iran? Search no longer; this complete visa guide, informs you about everything you need to know to get a tourist visa for Iran in 2018.
Travelers and visitors who come to Iran for sightseeing and tourism need to enter the country on a tourist visa. To make things convenient, the Islamic Republic of Iran has designed three ways to apply for this visa. Each of them has specific terms and conditions, allowing you more or less flexibility in the process. As a result, all travelers to Iran –thirteen nationalities excluded- can simply apply for their visa in the way that fits their preferences and travel style. To find out which way works best in your situation, read the detailed description of each of them below.
Are you visiting Iran, but not for tourist purposes, be sure to check this page for a list of other visas for Iran.
The first option is the traditional way of arranging your visa before arrival. Besides reducing waiting time at the airport and leaving home with a secure feeling, this option is the only one for people entering overland and for nationals from Canada, USA, UK, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Nepal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Yemen, and Colombia.
* Due to political issues Canadian, United Kingdom, and American passport holders require extra preparation to be granted a visa. Scroll down to read all about the extra requirement and visa process for nationals of these countries.
Before you can make an appointment with the Iranian Embassy in your country you need to have an authorization code. Obtain one through an authorized Iranian travel agency, or apply for a code through the online E-visa application form by doing so it’s important to select the Iranian Embassy in your country as the place of issue and to wait for the confirmation email before you make an appointment. Continue to the appointment and bring;
The officer will ask you some questions and also ask you to pay the visa fee. After that, they’ll take a couple of days to issue your visa. And finally, you’re ready to set off!
Enter Iran within three months from the date of issue and stay up to the numbert of days granted. Generally, the Embassy issues single entries for stays up to 30, 60 or 90 days.
As embassies and consulates have different regulations per country, be sure to check the local websites about appointment schedules, payment methods, waiting time and passport collection options. In addition, embassies might ask you to bring additional information upon request.
Secondly, you can apply online for a E-visa, and select one of the international airports in Iran as the place of issue. This is probably the most convenient option as it prevents the hassle of visiting the Embassy and reduces the long waiting time seen by a visas on arrival. Different from getting the visa at the embassy, all nationals except those from Canada, USA, UK, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Yemen, Jordan and Colombia can apply for an E-visa with airport pick-up on arrival.
Fill in the E-visa application form and select your airport of arrival as the place of issue. Submit this form at least two days prior to your travel. Fly to Iran and bring;
The officer might ask you some simple questions but will soon give you a receipt to pay for the visa in euro’s at the bank next door. After payment, the bank will give you another receipt. Give this back to the officer and wait as he issues your visa. You can then continue to the immigration point to enter the country.
While the E-visa application form does allow travelers to apply for a 60 or 90 day stay, almost all E-visa’s on arrival are issued for 30 days only. Yet there has been at least one report of a traveler who requested a 90 day stay and got it issued.
Note; there have been several reports of people who said the E-visa application form didn’t work. It seems like G-mail cannot receive the confirmation letter, so be sure to add another email address to avoid problems. In case you do experience any issues be sure to contact the Iranian Embassy in your country or consider the visa on arrival instead.
Thirdly the visa on arrival is an option for tourist visiting Iran. Unlike the E-visa, you don’t need any registration before you show up at the airport. Likewise, all nationals except those coming from Canada, USA, UK, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Yemen, Jordan and Colombia can apply for this type of tourist visa.
Simply show up at the airport with;
The officer might ask you some questions about your purpose of visit before instructing you to pay your visa in euro’s at the bank next door. After payment; return the receipt back to the officer and wait while he issues your visa. Expect this to take up to 3 hours. You can then continue to the immigration point and enter the country.
Visa’s on arrival are issued for 30 days.
The Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands reported that just showing up with your passport should be sufficient to obtain a visa on arrival. But reports from travelers say it’s wise to bring at least the above information to be secure about the approval.
All international airports in Iran offer visa on arrival for tourist. A list of airports;
Citizens from the following eleven countries can visit Iran visa free;
The Islamic Republic of Iran prohibits travelers with a UK, Canadian or American passport to travel independently to Iran. This means that in order to enter Iran you should either be part of an organised group and be accompanied by a licensed Iranian tour guide for the duration of your trip. Or have a sponsor who provides you a visa authorization code and who accepts legal responsibility for you during your time in Iran.
As most travelers don’t have access to a sponsor, they apply for a tour through an agency instead. The agency will work together with you to make a good travel itinerary and send an official invitation letter to the ministry of foreign affairs Iran. Once you get that invitation letter you can proceed and schedule an appointment at the Iranian embassy in your country of residence. Because the US and Canada don’t have an Iranian Embassy you can apply for an Iranian visa at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington DC.
UK, Canadian and US passport holders should arrange their trip to Iran well in advance. Reason for this is a long and unpredictable visa process. Even with an invitation letter, the Islamic Republic of Iran might refuse your application due to your educational background or work experience. Also, as requirements keep changing, always inform yourself about the current situation by contacting the embassy. And by working together with your tour operator.
If you want to enter Iran with your own car you need to obtain a Carnet de Passage and you should apply for a visa grand notice (Iran authorization code) via a travel agency before your trip. For stays longer than 10 days, you should also obtain a Temporary Registration Plate at the border. Travelers with their own vehicle can stay up to three months in Iran.
Tourist visas for Iran are usually issued for 30 days only. But that doesn’t mean your trip needs to end just there. Immigration and Passport Police offices in almost every large city generally extend tourist visa’s twice for a period of 30 days. As a result, you can travel around Iran for up to 90 days in one visit!
Good news! Since 2018 it is possible to get your Iranian visa stamped on a separate piece of paper. This is particularly useful for travelers who plan to visit America after traveling to Iran. Just ask for it at the counter at the airport
The Islamic Republic of Iran requires all travelers to have a valid travel insurance upon entrance. An English statement specifically mentioning ‘Iran’ is needed to get your insurance approved. However, if you don’t have one or the officer rejects yours for some reason, you can easily buy a travel insurance on arrival.
Iran requires all visitors to comply with the Islamic dress code; for males trousers and a t-shirt are sufficient. Ladies need to cover their hair with a scarf (Hijab) and in addition wear sleeves up to minimum the elbows, long trousers and a cardigan that covers the buttocks. Failing the Islamic dress code at the airport might result in denied access to the country.
Due to sanctions, international bank card and credit cards are NOT accepted in Iran. Therefore it’s important to bring enough cash for your journey. The moment you arrive at the airport you’ll need to pay for your visa and insurance in euro’s. Depending on your nationality the fees vary between 40 and 150 euro. If you don’t like the idea of walking around with much cash in your pockets be sure to check out the Iranian debit-card services, such as the MahCard. They can be a delight for your pockets.
Kish and Qeshm Island, located in the South of Iran, offer all travelers who are eligible for a visa on arrival, to spend 14 days at each Island visa-free.
How did you arrange your visa for Iran? Was it easy, or did you come across any complications? Share your experiences through the comment section below. And help other travelers understand the tourist visa process.