Iran is such a large and diverse country that many people visiting soon realize that two weeks or a month is not enough to see all its beauty. Many visitors keep coming back to explore other parts of the county while others try to extend their journey as long as possible. Those who have enough time and budget to keep exploring and to make the most out of their Iran trip on one single visa, keep reading. This post is all about visa extension in Iran.
Visitors to Iran with the purpose of sightseeing or traveling need to have a tourist visa before entering the country. In general tourist visas are issued for 30 days. But that doesn’t mean you need to finish your Iran trip within that time. Tourist visas can be extended for a maximum up to 90 days.
If you apply for visa through the embassy or E-visa application you’ll be quite certain to receive maximum extension. When you enter Iran with visa on arrival there is a chance that you will only be granted 60 days in total.
Read everything you need to know about getting a tourist visa in this complete ‘Iran Visa’ blogpost.
Contrary to what might seem comfortable, the best time to extend your tourist visa is just before it expires. Reason for this is that officers often issue the visa from the day you applied for extension.
To give you an example; let’s say your visa is still valid for 10 days when you apply for the extension. The officer grants you 30 days effective from the application date. In this case your extension overlaps the original visa with 10 days, allowing you to stay only 20 days longer from the original date.
To make the most out of your Iran journey it’s best to apply for extension only 1-3 days before the visa expires. Don’t worry about uncomfortable questions about your last minute visit. As long as your visa is valid the officers don’t bother.
Tourist visas can be extended at the ‘Alien and foreign immigrant offices’ in almost every major city and even on some of the islands. Depending on the officer and the location the process can be either smooth or on the difficult side. In major tourist cities such as Yazd, Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan it’s generally easier as immigration officers are familiar with the extension process. That being said it can still can still be time consuming and depending on the officer, exhausting and challenging.
Luckily for many travelers I’ve heard lots of good stories about visa extension in most large cities, so just stick to that plan and you’re sure to be fine one way or another.
In Shiraz for instance I applied for my first extension. Most officers were super kind and welcoming, offering me biscuits and tea and chatting while waiting, but the head-officer only granted me 14 days. ‘extend again in another city’ he told me with a straight face. And that’s exactly what I did.
At the island of Quesm I was send from location to location as nobody spoke English and ended up in a tourist company who helped me file the application for me. It took a week –spend hopping around the islands- but in the end a 30 day visa was granted. Eager to stay the maximum days I later applied for another 14 day extension in Zanjan with help from an Iranian friend. Without any problem the officer gave me the last extension.
Go to any Alien and Foreign Immigrant Office and ask for a visa extension. People will guide you to the right person. Get all your documents ready and fill in the paperwork. Collect a receipt and pay at the nearest Melli bank. Return to the immigration office with your receipt. Hand in your passport and wait for your stamp. The whole process is likely to take 2-5 hours depending on the location and officer.
– A hand written application form (handed to you by the officer)
– Two passport photos (ladies need to have their hair covered)
– The Melli bank payment slip
– A valid passport
– Photocopy of the ID page of your passport
– Photocopy of your valid Iran visa (and previous extensions if any)
– A photocopy of your fellow travelers ID (when traveling together)
In September 2018 the price of visa extension is 37,000 Toman. This is including a small administrative fee.
1. Be sure to visit early in the morning to have your visa process guaranteed before the office closes.
2. Personal approach works best; smile a bit, be friendly, speak your best Farsi. Say how beautiful the country is or talk about football. The officer might just smoothen your process if you make his day.
3. Only a few places offer in-house photo service. And places that do often have long waiting lines. Be sure to have your photos and documents ready to speed up the process.
4. Don’t be surprised if you have to make payment at one or two different banks outside the office. Only a few locations have payment facilities inside the building. Most offices require you to pay for the extension only at the Melli bank. But some offices (for instance in Zanjan and Busher) require you to pay the additional administration fee at the Ghavamin bank. This can be time consuming and exhausting hence tip one.
5. Be sure to have a hotel reservation and contact details ready as you will be asked for an address and telephone number in Iran.
6. In any situation it could be helpful to bring an Iranian friend to help out in the process or to make a friend at the office while you’re at it.
7. For the ladies; at immigration they really fancy Islamic customs. Be sure to comply with the Islamic dress code in order to go unnoticed. Some immigration offices are very strict about woman showing their hair. Some offices use a pin to close ladies manteau and others require you to put on a kind of batman look-a-like chador. Although extremely uncomfortable it’s best to just go along with it and see it as part of the experience.
Click on the links below to see the locations of some visa extension offices (opens in google maps)
Did you extend your visa when you were traveling in Iran? Please share your experiences though the comment section. It will be of great inspiration for other travelers who like to extend their visa!