All nationalities traveling to Iran, except for some countries(USA *Canada *British *Colombia* Bangladesh* Afghanistan* Pakistan* Iraq *Jordan* Somali ) need to arrange a visa in advance or take a risk on getting a 15-day visa on arrival at an airport.
US, Canadian and British citizens need to pre-arrange a tour or private guide, or be sponsored by a friend or relative in Iran who will take legal responsibility for them.
***Israeli *** passport holders, and anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport, will not get a visa.
Iranian visa types
Iran has all the usual visa types – business, student, journalist, etc – but for travelers there are three:
This type of visa is issued for up to 30 days and extendable. It must be obtained before coming to Iran and is valid to enter for 90 days from the issue date. This is the safest option.
Tourist visa on arrival (VOA):
It is issued for 15 days on arrival at any international airport. Applicants must have an onward air ticket. This is convenient but relatively risky as you might be denied entry. In theory VOAs are available at international airports of IKA, Tabriz, Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad and Kermanshah to visitors. This type of visa is not available for US, Canada, Britain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia citizens. Extensions to such visas are also harder.
This type of visa is issued for 5-7 days. You must enter and exit via different countries, and have a visa or a ticket to an onward country. It can be obtained in one or two days and, critically, no authorization number is required. This type of visa is not available to USA *Canada *British *Colombia* Bangladesh* Afghanistan* Pakistan* Iraq *Jordan* Somali passport holders.
Other than visa restrictions for US, Canadian and British passport holders, these nationalities can’t travel solely or backpack in Iran and they must buy a pre-arranged guided tour.
Other than transit visas , all visa applicants must be ‘approved’ by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran. If you’re approved, the MFA sends an authorization number to the consulate or airport, which takes your application form, passport photos and fee and issues the visa. Fees vary depending on your country of origin.
How to apply for visa?
- Directly through Iranian Consulate: going directly through a consulate saves an agency fee but often takes longer and has a much greater chance of rejection. In rare cases this method can take just a few days. However there have been many cases where weeks after submission the consul has directed applicants to a visa agency to get the authorization number; i.e. start again.
- Through Travel Agency: visa agencies charge to get you an authorization number. You send the filled visa application form, your passport, photos, and proof of your travel insurance to the agency and they submit it to the MFA in Tehran. The MFA claims it takes between 7-10 working days to assess the application (unless you’re British, Canadian or American, when it’s slower, more costly and more arduous). There is no refund if your application fails; but take comfort that only about 2% are rejected.
Once the authorization number is received, the agency will forward it to you and your nominated Iranian embassy/consulate. (Note: Visas for Americans & Canadians can be issued at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC.) You then need to contact with the consulate to take your visa, and in most consulates the visa is issued on the spot.
The same procedure is done for VOA applied through a travel agency. After receiving the Ref No they will send it to the international airport mentioned by you. Once you arrive in the airport you will go to the visa section in the airport with the Ref No and will get your visa after paying the fee.
Documents required applying for visa:
- A scan of the first page of your passport (more than 6 months validity on arrival)
- Filled visa application form
- Your trip itinerary
- The exact details of your arrival and departure flights (in case of applying for VOA)
Don’t forget to bring the following documents when getting your visa at consulate or airport:
- 2-4 visa/passport size photos (not smaller than 1”x1.5” or 2.5cm x 3.8cm)
- MFA Authorization Number (sent by travel agency)
- Visa fee (this fee varies depending on your nationality)
- Some embassies ask for 1 or 2 photocopies of your passport photo page
***Iran visa rates are 60EUR for all nationalities***