Iran shares borders with Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan & Nakhchivan, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. For an exact location of these and all other border crossings on the Silk Road, see the border crossing map on the overview page.
Iran – Turkey border crossings
Gurbulak – Bazargan: Between Dogubayazit and Tabriz, this is the busiest border crossing. It’s open 24/7, and transport will be likewise available round-the-clock. You can take an international bus straight across the border from Tabriz or Dogubayazit, but this is not recommended, as you run the risk of serious delays if one of the passengers has issues at the border.
From Dogubayazit, minibuses drive to the border. Once past immigration, taxis and minibuses await to take you to Bazargan and onwards to Maku and Tabriz. Money exchangers are available on both sides with similarly bad rates.
Esendere – Sero: This border is not 24 hours, but it is open for international travelers. Buses go from Van to Urmia (Orumiyeh) (13 euro, 6h). Minibuses from Van go as far as Yüksekova near the border, from where you can grab a taxi to the border. Updates welcomed.
Kapikoy – Razi: 1,5 by car from Van, roads are not in mint condition on either side. Most who cross at Kapikoy are driving their own vehicle. Minibuses run from Van to Kapikoy and from Kapikoy to Razi or even Khoy. On the Iran side, minibuses leave routinely for Razi and places onward. The cost for each stretch should be ~$10. Opening hours: 8 – 6pm (Turkish time). Come on time.
Iran – Iraq border crossings
The security situation could be tricky here, so make sure you know what is happening on your intended itinerary.
Piranshahr – Haji Omran: Connecting Kurdish Iraq (Erbil) with Mahadar. There are probably buses between Arbil and Urmia (Orumiyeh). On the Iraqi side you can walk to the border from the town center. On the Iranian side, you can take a shared taxi to Piranshahr, from where there are lots of transport options.
Bashmakh – Penjwen: Connecting Suleymanih with Marivan. There could be buses between Sanandaj/Kermanshah and Sulaymaniyah via this crossing. Crossing with your own transport is now also worry-free (before carnets could not always be stamped).
Khosravi: Still closed to all travelers it seems, due to the conflict in Iraq.
Mehran: Definitely open for Iranians, but unsure about the status of this border for international travelers.
Chazzabeh – Salamcheh: Definitely open for Iranians, but unsure about the status of this border for international travelers.
Iran – Armenia border crossings
Nordooz – Agarak: A beautiful, little-used border crossing with mountains on the Armenian side and stark desert as soon as you cross into/leave Iran. Traffic is very light here. Buses drive Yerevan – Tabriz/Tehran and Yerevan – Meghri/Agarak early morning; from Kapan and Karajan finding transport could prove tricky/expensive. From Meghri you will have to hitch or take a taxi for the remaining 8km to the border. On the Iranian side, taxis await to take you to Agarak, and onwards to Julfa (3$), from where public transport is available.
Experiences point to an easy, quick border crossing. Updates can be posted here. There is a cafeteria as well as several exchange offices on the Iranian side.
Iran – Pakistan border crossings
Traveling in this area comes with some risks, as the area is known for sectarian violence. Tourists have been kidnapped and killed here in the recent past, on both sides of the border.
Mirjaveh – Taftan:
June 2016: We crossed the Iran Pakistan border the other day, starting from Zahedan in Iran. We don’t have our own transport, but for overlanders with their own transport the situation is basically the same as for us. The crossing takes 3 days: 1 day to get to the border, where you will sleep, and 2 days to get to Quetta.
The first night you will sleep at the Levies station at the border (free), the second night in a hotel in Dalbadin (1000 Rupees). Makes sure to bring plenty of water and other supplies for the trip. You will be spending most of your time in the back of a pickup truck in the blazing sun. Also bring some cookies for the Levies. You will most likely get a police escort starting in Zahedan, although we’ve heard reports about people not getting one.
If you have your own car, try going to the border from Bam. This way you might circumvent the police escort from Zahedan, which seemed useless and time consuming to us. There are two checkpoints between Bam and Zahedan, and two between Zahedan and the border.
Crossing the border itself is a piece of cake. It takes about half an hour, maybe a bit more with your own transport. You can change money at the border at crappy rates. They prefer dollar over toman. Make sure to bargain hard but be friendly. Don’t change more than $50, maybe a bit more if you need to refuel. According to the Levies officer foreigners pass this border about two times a week.
In Pakistan you will get an escort until you leave Balochistan province.The majority of the escort is done by the Levies, who patrol the tribal areas in Balochistan. All transport should be free. One of the Levies in Dalbadin might ask you for a “gift”. Just smile and refuse. The first part of the journey in Pakistan will take about 6-8 hours with 3 car changes and plenty of checkpoints.
The second part of the journey will take about twelve hours with as many car changes. In Quetta you have one hotel option, the Bloom Star Hotel. A night there is 2,500 Rupees. You are only allowed to leave the hotel under police supervision and the police will come only once a day. You need an NOC to leave Quetta. Make sure to arrive before Thursday since the office that issues the NOC is closed in the weekend and closes early on Friday.
We recommend crossing the border either on a Monday or a Friday. Pakistan’s weekend is Saturday and Sunday, unlike Iran’s. The NOC is free. It can take between half an hour and three hours to get it. Technically you are not allowed to leave the day you get your NOC, but we’ve heard reports of people that could. Make sure to get your train ticket right after you get your NOC. The people of the hotel can give you more information. A police officer will be with you in any train you take until you’ve left Balochistan.
Any train you take will take 20+ hours. Stock up on water and supplies. Don’t use this crossing if you can avoid it. It takes a really long time (we left Zahedan on Monday morning and didn’t reach Karachi until Saturday morning), it’s extremely tiring and not particularly safe. NOT RECOMMENDED!
February 2016: European travelers cross into Pakistan from Iran almost on daily basis, some of them on their own cars. There have been no kidnapping incidents for almost 3 years now.
You will a get police escort in their own van for free right after crossing the border from Iran to Pakistan, though they might wait for some other travelers to Quetta together. It takes close to 10 hours to reach Quetta from Taftan, so it is better that you cross the border as soon as it opens because if you start late from Taftan, you might have to spend a night in a small town called Dalbandin.
You will have to get a NOC in Quetta to move further which can take up to 3 days if you reach Quetta at the weekend so it’s better that you enter Pakistan at the start of week so you can get your NOC as soon as possible.
They mostly take travelers to Bloomstar Hotel and don’t leave them with any other choice. It used to be $15 until two months back but recently people have been charged $25, but you can try to negotiate. During the escort and your stay in Quetta, police won’t allow you to go anywhere without them, in some cases not even to nearby shops.
After you get the NOC, best option is to take a train to wherever you want to go like Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad/Rawalpindi and you will get police escort in the train as well. Most travelers say they don’t feel unsafe, rather they feel overprotected with the escort.
Mand – Pishin: This border crossing is closed.
Iran – Azerbaijan border crossings
These border points have closed repeatedly in the past due to strained relations between the 2 nations. Things seem to be going fine at the moment, so we assume all of the below are open for international travelers.
Astara – Astara: Updates here. The name of the border towns, Astara, is the same in both countries. Good thing about this border is that you literally walk from one town into the other. No need to find transport to the border, just get a bus to Astara, and walk across to the other Astara.
Open from 10 to 18 with a lunch break from 12.30 to ? On the Iranian side, exchange offices offer better rates than the street dealers. An apartment can be gotten here for 10-15$.
It’s swift and smooth (10-15 minutes) when crossing from Iran into Azerbaijan, but an utter nightmare if you try to cross by foot from Azerbaijan to Iran.
Iran -> Azerbaijan
Takes less than 30 minutes to transit. A good thing about this border is that you literally walk from one town into the other. There is no no man’s land in between, so you don’t need to pay for a taxi to get to the border posts.
Azerbaijan -> Iran
Backpackers: Huge crowds gather here. If you come early in the morning, you have a chance of getting past in 4 hours, if not, plan 6 hours. Arriving at the border after 2 p.m. is pointless.
There are better ways to cross here though. You can pay 8-10 dollars for someone to drive you up to the road border crossing and skip the line.
The best option however, is to wait until say 17.30, when someone transporting clothes (a huge, legal business at this border) will drive you up to the border for free if you take a bag of clothes across the border.
All the Azeris in the line do it, and the border guards are so used to it that they completely ignore this, so honestly, no risks.
Cyclists: Take the M3 road instead of the pedestrian crossing or you will be stuck in the major line. On the Iranian side you have to take the pedestrian’s crossing.
Bilasuvar: Open for international travelers, and seems to be more busy than Astara, with many Azeris crossing over to Iran for medical treatment and supplies.
Nakhchivan border crossings
Jolfa – Julfa: Open for international travelers.
Poldasht – Shahtakhti: Border crossing with Iran. It’s a bilateral border according to an Azerbaijani immigration officer. Likely to operate 24/7.
Iran – Turkmenistan border crossings
Sarakhs – Saraghs: Mashad to Sarakhs is about 3 hours by road or train. Taxi driver Rafi Khankhajeh comes recommended (0098 (0) 937 213 76 69 or 933 434 74 88). Opening hours of the border are 8am to 5pm. No transport goes right across the border, so once through the immigration on the Iranian side get a shuttle (about IR4000) to the Turkmen Immigration post. From there, once immigration formalities are complete, buses and shared taxis (max. 15$) run occasionally to Mary (2 to 4 hours). Transport links are random though, and definitely slow later in the afternoon, so come early.
Gaudan – Bajgiran: Has reopened after closing in summer 2016. Post and read updates here. Open 8am-4pm (7.30 – 15.30 Iranian time). Slow: count 1-3 hours to clear the border.
Iran -> TM: By public transport it’s 1,5 hour from Quchan to Bajgiran (every 2h from 6.30am, 8$). From Bajgiran to the border it’s only about a kilometer up the hill and you can walk this. On the Turkmen side, it’s 3$ to go from the border to Ashgabat by taxi, or 1$e for a bus to the suburbs of Ashgabat. From there you can get a taxi.
TM -> Iran: Take a taxi from Ashgabat to the border. Once cleared, take a transport from the border to Bajgiran village (2$). From there, there may or may not be a bus to Mashad (20$, 4h, confirmation needed). Most people seem to get shared taxis to Quchan, from where there is a bus to Mashhad.
Lotfabad – Artyk: This border was previously only used by travelers with their own transport, but with the current closure of Gaudan-Bajgiran, those on public transport need to come here too. In this case:
From “Iran khodro taxi stoyanka”, a shared taxi to the Artyk border costs 15 manat. Crossing the border involves hopping on a mandatory bus shuttle, 3 manat.
A share taxi from the border/Loftabad to the nearest town of Dargaz should cost 80,000 rial. From Dargaz, there are direct buses to Mashhad taking around 4 hours and costing 120,000 rial.
With your own transport this border becomes somewhat more convenient. Report from July 2016: Iran Police and Border Customs Office don´t stamp Carnet de Passage – it took us 2 hours to get a stamp – we recommend a Persian translation for every word. The last building at the border can stamp your Carnet de Passage, wait there until they give you a stamp.
At the Turkmenistan border, they ask us for Carnet de Passage (but we didn´t unterstand Russian, so they said “no problem” – we could enter without Carnet). We had to pay Registration and for the car Registration = 24$ (you can pay also in Manat)/ than we had to pay for insurance = 45$, desinfection (we didn´t had) = 3$, Entry entrance passage = 25$, fuel price Diesel = 29$, processing entry = 5$, Bank Service = 7 Manat. Car inspection was very exact (no problem with food, medicine).
It took us 3 hours to enter Turkmenistan. We can only drive the main route, at first they didn´s allowed us to go to Ashgabat, but we told them we have to fix our car (car repair) and so we can go to Asghabat-Mary-Farab.
Gudurolum: If you are planning to visit the mausoleum of Gonbad-I Qubus, this is convenient. You will most likely need a 4×4. No public transport as far as we know.
Summer 2013: Uncomplicated, but only one problem: if entering from Turkmenistan the Iranian authorities request you to get a vaccination against polio at the border. no matter if you can proof that you are vaccinated. We managed finally to get the vaccination waved, but it cost us about an hour of discussions (and the guys spoke farsi only).
Iran – Afghanistan border crossings
Islam Qala – Taybad: Main Iran – Afghanistan crossing between Mashad and Herat. The security situation in Afghanistan is of course subject to change, but the border crossing is definitely open for foreigners, operating during daylight hours only. It’s busy. The Mashad – Herat road is in good condition. Shared taxis are the quickest way to get to/from the border to Mashad on the Iranian side (4 hours), with a possible stop-over needed in Torbat-e-Jam. On the Afghani side, it’s about 2 hours driving from the border to Herat, with lots of shared taxis and minibuses willing to take you there. Latest we heard, a shared taxi from Herat to Mashad cost 30$ (2010).
Alternatively, there are also buses from Mashad to Taybad, and even to Herat, but not much cheaper than the shared taxis, and definitely slower at the border than walking across and taking another transport. If you would like to take the bus in Mashad, or in the other direction from Herat, get there early in the morning and wait for the bus to fill up, since there is no way of knowing when it will leave.
Milak – Zaranj: This is officially a multilateral border crossing open to foreigners. The reality is that it is a dirt track rather than a road, and the dangerous situation in Afghanistan makes that there have been no reports of any foreigner crossing this road and having lived to tell the story.