If you have decided to visit Iran, congratulations on a very wise choice. You are going to have an amazing time !! But before booking your trip to Iran, it is important to understand the visa requirements associated to your citizenship. I have listed below the details I gathered online, and from my personal experience, on how to get a tourist visa in Iran. In an ever changing political contact, the below informations are valid at the time of writing, April 2018.
These requirements might quickly evolve, so please do not take my word for granted and double check with your local Iranian consulate / embassy to be safe.
CAN YOU GET A VISA FOR IRAN ?
Depending on your nationality, there are 4 possible scenarios for tourist visas.
Visa on arrival
A majority of countries is now eligible to visa on arrival. Visa on arrival is only granted in some of the main international Iranian airports, and is not applicable to any land border. Although it is doable to get a visa on arrival, I would always recommend to get a visa prior, to avoid unnecessary stress, chaos and delay at the customs (especially in the very busy Teheran’s airport)
Eligible airports for visa on arrival :
Ahwaz (AWZ)Bandar Abbas (BND),Esfahan (IFN)Gheshm Island (GSM)Kish Island (KIH),Mashhad (MHD)Shiraz (SYZ)Tabriz (TBZ)Tehran Imam Khomeini (IKA)
Visa prior to arrival
Citizens from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, USA and UK are not eligible to visa on arrival and therefore should have a valid visa before before getting to Iran. From what I understand US / UK and Canadian citizens also need to be accompanied by an authorised tour guide during the duration on their stay in Iran.
Journalists can’t get a visa on arrival either.
No visa required
Based on mutual agreement, citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Venezuela, Egypt and Malaysia do not require a visa to enter Iran, and will be automatically be allowed to stay between 15 and 90 days in Iran.
No entry possible
Currently, Israeli and Yemeni citizens are not allowed entry to Iran. You will also be refused entry to the country if you have any proof of traveling through Israel (not sure if there is a timeline on that).
HOW TO OBTAIN A TOURIST VISA FOR IRAN ?
Visa on arrival / online
To obtain a tourist visa on arrival in Iran, the following documents will be necessary :
- An online visa application printed copy. It can be processed on http://e_visa.mfa.ir/en/
- A passport valid for at least 6 months after your stay in Iran.An ID picture. Usually you don’t have to wear a headscarf on the picture but you should double check with your local consulate.A travel assistance / insurance. Its validity in Iran needs to be clearly stated. A hotel reservation, preferably for the entire length of your stay.A return flight ticket.
Visa prior to arrival
I can only tell you my experience as a Frenchie, and it goes as follow :
As a French living in Dubai, the process was really quick and simple. I went to the Iranian Consulate of Dubai early morning (8 am – 12pm), handed over a standard form, a picture, a photocopy of my passport, residency visa, and visa fee. For a French passport, the fee is 250 AED (ie. 70 USD / 55 EUR) to pay cash only. I also had to buy the travel insurance on the spot, regardless of the personal one I had, for 80 AED (ie. 22 USD / 18 EUR). The next morning I picked up my passport. For an additional fee, you can get a visa issued on the same day. Unlike what I have read before, you don’t need to wear a headscarf in your visa picture, however in Dubai you need to wear a headscarf inside the consulate, and I would suggest to dress modestly. Although, you have to leave your mobile phone at the door, so make sure to have all needed information printed / written down.
In France, the process requires more anticipation. Start by filling up the online application (http://e_visa.mfa.ir/en/) and upload a passport copy and an ID picture. You then receive an appointment to the Paris embassy, at a date and time that you can’t decide on. During your appointment at the embassy, a copy of your fingerprints will be taken, and you will have to submit a copy of your travel insurance, pay the visa fee and leave your passport. If you can’t pick up your passport when it is ready, you can leave a stamped envelopes, and the embassy will mail your passport back to you. Even on weekdays, the embassy can be very crowded so be prepared to wait. Overall, it takes around 3 weeks, between the online application and the reception of the visa.
REMEMBER WHEN APPLYING FOR A VISA
Below are a few recommendation gathered from the Lonely Planet that I find relevant :
- Email address : Opt for something generic and avoid .gov accounts for example.
- Itinerary : If you want a 30 day visa, write a 30 day itinerary, as you will be granted a visa for exactly the duration of your stay. Keep controversial places such as Bushehr, Natanz (both known nuclear power plants location) and the border regions off your declared agenda.
- Occupation : If you need to declare your occupation, avoid obvious controversial answers such as journalist, military, even blogger.
- Purpose of your visit : The easiest is to write tourism and again, avoid anything that could be controversial.
Voila, I hope the visa process is a bit clearer for you now, and that you can now Strat planning your trip to Iran. If you decide to visit Esfahan, I gathered some useful informations in two articles : part 1 here and part 2 here . If you want to visit Kashan (and you should !), check out this article.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any question, or if anything stated here seems wrong or outdated. I will make sure to update this article accordingly.
A très vite,