Tourist visas to Iran are getting easier and easier and Iran is making a lot of progress, hoping to host 20 million visitors in 2025 with easy visa procedures. Visa on arrival at the airport (and the Armenian border) is possible for many and now extended to 30 days, while more countries are getting the visa-free treatment.
Citizens of the following 9 countries can visit Iran without a visa (from Wikipedia, but don’t worry, it’s up to date):
According to some news reports, Iran lifted visa requirements for citizens of Egypt and Lebanon in July 2015. All tourists eligible for visa on arrival may stay on Kish Island for 14 days or less without obtaining any visa.
Diplomatic and official/service passports
Holders of passports issued by the following countries are allowed to enter Iran without a visa.
D — diplomatic passports
O — official passports
S — service passports
Iran visa validity: 3 months from the day you receive it. This means you have to enter the country within 3 months from receiving it. So, you can enter the day before the visa expires, and then still enjoy Iran for as long as your visa duration states (10 days, 30 days,…).
Iran visa duration: maximum 30 days (but you can extend easily).
Important! Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and travellers with any evidence of visiting Israel: not just Israeli entry stamps, but Egyptian/Jordanian neighbouring land borders with Israel. Get a second passport if needed.
New rule for people visiting the US visa-free: if you have visited Iran in the past 5 years you will now have to get a visa again.
Iran authorisation number/LOI (letter of invitation)
To apply for an Iranian visa you need a visa authorisation number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can contact a reliable Iranian travel agency through our contact form to get an Iran LOI with visa authorisation number (with discount!).
If you choose to get it through another travel agent, make sure it is not iranianvisa(dot)com! You will get nothing. Just google iranianvisa(dot)com scam for proof.
There are some options to get the visa without LOI: at the moment, The Hague, Kiev, Batumi and Milan embassies definitely do it, but Batumi is shifty. Visa on arrival at the airport also works without LOI.
Iran visa application procedure
1. Contact an Iranian tour operator. Send them your paperwork and some money, and they will give you a visa authorisation number from the MFA. How long this takes is unpredictable, 7-10 days is average. The number is only valid for the embassy you specify to the tour operator.
2. Go to the embassy (call in advance to make sure they got the number from the MFA as well, delays do happen), fill in the application form with 1-4 passport-sized pictures (women need to wear a headscarf on the picture!) and get the visa, usually same day or next day. On the application form, you need to fill in an address in Iran: any hotel will do, no need to book it in advance (unless otherwise specified in the embassy reports). Some embassies ask for an itinerary as well, so make sure you have a basic map of Iran in your head.
Some helpful tips:
Get the paperwork right
While we don’t advocate lying on your application form, try to avoid unnecessary complications.
- Self-driving or cycling is no longer allowed by the agencies, but you will have no problems getting in at the border with your car, motorbike or bicycle. So when applying for the authorization code, if you mention you are self-driving or cycling, you will be asked to get a tour. If you do not mention it, you will get the authorization code and visa without problems and will be able to enter Iran easily on your bike, car or motorbike. Same goes for hitchhikers to a lesser degree.
- Itinerary: if you want a 30-day visa, write a 30-day itinerary. Don’t mention controversial places like Bushehr, Natanz and border regions. Once in Iran you can go almost anywhere.
- Don’t be a journalist or army employee. The MFA does Google applicants so keep it plausible.
- Purpose of your visit: tourism.
- Photographs: women often need to cover their hair (any scarf will do) in the application photo. Check embassy websites.
- Not all times are auspicious for traveling to Iran. You will have serious difficulty trying to get a visa during election times. Read a newspaper once in a while and plan in advance.
- If you are from a difficult country like for instance South Africa, you will need a host of papers: blood tests, employee letters, etc. If you apply on the road however, there’s a good chance that none of that is necessary.
- That you can get a visa directly through the Iranian Foreign Ministry website. You can’t. The relevant page on the ministry’s website has been ‘under construction’ for several years.
- That if your application is rejected once, you will never be able to get a visa. It probably will stop you getting a visa on arrival, but trying another embassy or using an agency can work.
- That visa agencies will always be able to get you an approval number in 7-10 days. They are subject to the mysteries of the ministry too.
- Equally, don’t believe you’ve been conned if your visa doesn’t turn up in time or is rejected. There’s nothing to be gained for agencies by slowing the process or just taking your money without performing the service. If you have used iranianvisa.com however, you are likely to have been conned. They are notoriously bad.
Iran visa prices
Iran maintains different prices for different nations, depending on how much they like your government. Here is an incomplete overview to give you a direction. Please let us know on the forum what you paid!
- UK: 180 – 270 euro
- Spanish: 75 euro
- Australian: 100 – 180 euro
- Japanese: 40-75 euro
- Korean: 40 euro
- Finnish: 40 euro
- French, Dutch, Polish, Swiss, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, German, Belgian,…: 60-75 euro (went up in fall 2016)
- Irish: 75€
- Mexican: 45€
- Belorussian: 12 euro
- Kazakh: 30 euro
- Chinese: 150 euro (3 months)
- New Zealand: 100 euro
Iran visa for Americans, British and Canadians
Since February 2014, the rules for Americans have been extended to include British and Canadian passport holders.
Canadians, British and Americans need to be accompanied by an MFA-approved guide while they are in Iran and have an exact itinerary. Some embassies hassle travelers with extra requirements for these nationalities (eg. Bishkek) – try to find out in advance.
Is it possible to travel in Iran as a national of these countries without paying for a full tour of Iran? A hitchhikers website used to recommend an agency that issued invitations without the need for a full tour. This was obviously not legal and the agency has closed down since November 2016.
Furthermore, it seems that at least for the embassy in Tblisi, Canadians do not need a guide anymore.
US citizens can apply for a visa at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. Turnaround times can be as short as a week, but the interest section does not reliably answer emails or phone calls.
Iran visa on arrival
Visa on arrival is officially only for airports, not for land borders, but this may soon change. 1 traveler in May 2016 was offered an unofficial visa on arrival at the land border with Armenia (Meghri-Nordooz) for 50$. A Swiss traveler did the same in September 2016 at the Armenian border. A 3rd confirmation came in November 2016.
Visa on arrival is issued in all international airports: Imam Khomeini (Tehran), Mehrabad (Tehran), Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, Qeshm, Kish, & Chah-Bahar. There is always a slight risk of being rejected, but it is a very slight risk nowadays. You do not need the visa authorisation code for a visa on arrival. Changed since August 1, you can now get an easy visa on arrival for 30 days instead of the previous 14.
Everyone can get a visa on arrival except for nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, UK & US.
At the moment, (latest report November 2015) the 30 days visa on arrival is only given out in Tehran (IKA). In the other cities giving VOA, one is only getting 14 or 15 days. This may change. Getting two visa on arrivals on the same passport is possible if you return to Iran at a later date. What this means for extensions for VOA (extra 30 days or 14?) is not clear yet in practice. Reports welcome!
When arriving at the airport, you will be asked to buy a health insurance policy if you cannot produce evidence of already having one (per person 18$ / 14 Euro) at one counter and then on the second counter, the visa will be issued as soon as the fee is paid. The fee is the same as you would pay in your embassy (see price list above). You can pay in Euro or dollar. The process will take 30-90 minutes.
Applicants must no longer have an onward air ticket. You also don’t need a ID picture anymore, but take one just in case. Before, visa on arrival seemed like tricky business, with some people reporting being sent back, but having followed up on this closely since 2014, we haven’t noticed such a thing. You should be fine.
Iran visa extension
You can extend your Iranian visa by its original duration at least twice. This means a 30-day visa with 2 extensions gives you 90 days in Iran. If you got a visa on arrival, you can extend your original 14-day visa with another 14 days, but only once.
Extensions can be issued from the day you turn up at the visa renewal office, or after the end date of your visa, depending on the official. The extension is often issued in 1 day, but it can also take longer.
The cost of a visa renewal is 300,000 Rials (February 2015). You need your passport, 2 photocopies of the photo page, of the current Iran visa, and of the entry stamp.
Extension reports from different cities in Iran have now gotten their own page, see Iran visa extensions.
The new address for the consulate of Iran in Almaty is Radlova 5a at the crossing with Divaev/Kabanbay Batyr street. Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9-13. Telephone number : 3966227 (local area). The bank to pay is the National bank of Pakistan on the corner of Khadzhimukhan and Dostyk street. By public transport, the best way to get there is to take a bus along Al-Farabi, there’s a bus stop very close to the embassy, just before the footbridge. 1 id picture needed and passport.
May 2016: Iran RN is needed, otherwise no visa. Picked up the forms at closing time and got a payment slip. Next morning went to national bank of Pakistan and payed 50 euros, you can pay with any currency. Embassy is completely empty and the guy was very jolly and happy to see a tourist. He said “officially you need to wait 2 days, but I call you once it’s ready”
2 hours later I got a call and picked up my 30day single entry visa.
August 2015: Bit grumpy but correct embassy worker. Was told to call back the next day at 9am. Was not ready yet, called again at 4pm. Was ready and picked it up just before closing time at 5pm.
February 2015: LOI now needed in Almaty. 1 week turnaround once reference number is in.
July 2014: They were very welcoming and we didn’t need any letter of invitation! The visa was produced in only one week for 2 french passports! Paper needed were only photocopy of passport and one ID photo!
September 2013: same day pick-up, only 30 minutes after the payment if the staff doesn’t have work, but if they have work it’s ready in 24 hours. Friendly staff, speak very good English and very kind to help us with our questions!
April 2016: Same-day, quick & easy.
September 2013: Like before: 80 euro, next business day pick-up.
June 2013: Usually visa processing is next business day pickup so avoid Fridays or else you will need to wait till Monday or pay 40 Euros for Express service for same day pickup. Very busy embassy on day I went. Some tourist are picking up their visas here and also many Iranian citizens requesting usual consul services. Cost of Visa = €80. Express Service for Same Day = €40 ( a possible option if consul is happy to do it).
Open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 1 pm. The consulate is reached by metro (station Insaatcilar). Updates welcome here.
September 2016: The consulate in Baku is a great place to pick up your Iranian visa. I filled in the form, gave one picture, my passport and paid 50 euros for a one-month tourist visa ( the cashier/bank is on the premises, you can also pay in USD or Manats ) on day 1. Picked up my visa on day 2. As simple as that.
Opening hours: 9-12.30, pick-up 3pm.
February 2013: See comments for a detailed report from Mike.
April 2012: You will need a head scarf as a woman. Price was 3000 baht for 10 day Iranian visa for UAE passport holder. You need to deposit it a bank, but with persistence can give it in cash.
January 2017: still very random process, takes a long time, not sure of the outcome.
September 2016: No LOI needed, 2 week turnaround, could keep passports. No express service possible.
July 2016: Didn’t need an authorisation number, LOI or proof of insurance as a citizen of the Netherlands. After 2,4 and 6 weeks, no luck with the application.
May 2016: Possible again without LOI. We got the visa in 7 open days, for 15 days, one entry, although we had asked for 30 days..
January 2015: “Not really possible anymore” without LOI.
November 2014: Rejections very common now, or it takes 2-4 weeks and costs lots of money.
October 2014: 13 calendar days, but still without authorisation number.
September 2014: Visa without authorisation number now only for Europeans.
August 2014: 1 day turnaround, no authorisation number required. Form, 1 passport picture and 50 € cash (just Euros accepted!). Friendly stuff speaks basic English.
June 2016: They ask for fingerprints, which needs to be done by a notarial office and would cost 300RMB (~42€) and take 5 days, or 3 days for the express treatment. Once that’s done, it would take between 5 and 6 days for the visa to be ready.
The employees where very kind at the embassy, and spoke English, but apparently, the fingerprints are the rules there.
Opening hours Mon- Fri 9-13 and 15-17. Embassy keeps your passport, 1 or 2 day turnaround. Address of the embassy is at the intersection of Moscow St and Razzakar St, and you need to enter at the Moscow St entrance. Make sure that females are fully covered and wearing a headscarf, and males should be wearing long sleeves and long pants. Updates posted here.
Place to get the LOI for 20$ in Bishkek: Parsia, Sovietskaya 166 (it’s just a travel agent for Air Arabia and other airlines). You can choose which embassy you want to pick up visa later.
August 2016: In addition to standard form + passport pic, also needed to show copy of some type of health insurance.
July 2016: Could get visa and LOI same-day for 100$ at Parsia.
May 2016: Air Arabia office: no English speaking staff when I went in, but I could communicate in my elementary Russian.
Filled out a quick form in English. I did not need a detailed itinerary, or entry date. Paid $20 administration fee and 85 Euros (they will accept $ or com equivalent) for the visa at the Air Arabia Office. Told I would get a call in 10 working days about my application. 10 days later, I got call and told to come in the next day and pay additional 30 Euros at the Air Arabia Office.
Paid an additional 30 Euros the next morning and handed over my passport. I was told to come back in the evening.
Went back in the evening and received passport with the visa. 1 month visa, with 3 month validity to enter.
Now given my level of Russian, I didn’t really understand why I needed to pay the extra 30 Euros.
This was possible just an added same day express service, as I was originally told it would take 3 working days to get my passport back, but to be honest I didn’t really mind.
October 2014: Chinese passport, 2 photos, form, reference code, 150 euro for Chinese passport and German passport, 75 euro for Japanese passport, 3 months single entry.
September 2014: Not the place to get the visa if you are Canadian or American! They hassle you with extra tests.
August 2014: 2 pictures (covered for woman), copy and original passport, application form, travel insurance, pay 50€ at Pakistan bank (5 min walking from the embassy), 24h turnaround.
April 2014: As before. 60 euro for German passport, 30 euro extra for express same-day.
Jan 2014: Very friendly lady. We asked for a start date in the future but they gave us 3 months from date of issue. Step 1, you need to go to the Air Arabia office on Sovietskaya to arrange the LOI which costs 10 usd. Very simple and they turned ours around in 2 days not 10. (Winter). Step 2, bring the reference number to the Iranian embassy. You will need to pay before anything else happens. They will send you round the corner to the National Bank of Pakistan. You can pay in usd, euros or som. For UK passports it will set you back a whopping 200 euros for an “entry” visa. Step 3 come back to the embassy with payment receipt and fill out the form. We got a single entry visa valid for 3 months from date of issue. You need a copy of travel insurance and ladies need a photo wearing a head scarf. Our visa was ready the following day.
July 2013: Do not answer emails, and seem very busy because they do not answer the phone or the phone is always busy. Also they do not speak English very well. We got a 15 day visa valid 3 months (we had requested a 30 day visa) without LoI or any reference number by applying directly to them through the post but the one time they called they told us we should have a LoI and if applying without a LoI we risk maybe not getting the visa. As a female, I covered my hair and neck in the visa photo.
June 2016: Insurance is needed. “Worldwide” was not accepted, needed to pay 18$ for the insurance cover. Middle East was ok. Euros are preferred.
April 2016: 250 Dirhams by cash or card, ready in 24 hours.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 08:30-12:30. You may or may not need to pay someone 20 somoni to fill in your application in Farsi. After application, you need to pay at the bank and return your receipt to pick up the visa. The Iranian bank is 1-2 km north of the embassy on Rudaki (right hand side, 1km north, the block just before the Merve cafe). You can pay in USD, cash only. Bus 3 shuttles between the bank and the embassy. 1 day processing time. Updates are collected here.
October 2015: Took 3 business days.
July 2015: Normal process, 3 months validity.
May 2015: only got 2 months validity instead of 3.
Erzurum, Turkey consulate
The consulate is on Emniyet sk. in central Erzurum. From the city center walk down Cumhuriyet cad. and take the road in between Polis Evi and PTT (post office) to your left. Walk up the street for about 2-3 minutes and you will see the consulate on your left (the address on Google Maps is terribly wrong because the consulate moved about two years ago). Coordinates N39.90253 E041.26862. Opening times are 08:30 – 11:30 and 14:30 – 16:00 from Monday to Friday. All updates collected here.
April-May 2016: Same-day pick-up, 1,5 hr. Next-day pick-up for 50 euro no longer possible, only same-day for 75 euro.
September 2015: Next-day pick-up for 2 Swiss passports.
April 2015: Apply there in the morning and you can pick up your visa in the afternoon or one day later. For German citizens it’s 50 EUR (next day) or 75 EUR (same day). They will send you to Ziraat Bank on Cumhuriyet cad. to pay the visa fee. No copies of anything needed, only passport, 2 pics, application form and the payment receipt from the bank. In case you are not in Erzurum, you can call the consulate (+90 4423159983) and ask them whether they have received your MFA code already. I got a 30 days visa and one month to enter the country.
Opening hours: 8:30 to 11:30. After 2 pm it is open ONLY for phone calls. Embassy reports being collected here.
October 2016: 1, 3 or 5 day turnaround for different prices. They keep your passport.
July 2016: 4 day turnaround.
December 2015- June 2016: With authorisation code, 50 euro next day, 75 same day.
July 2015: With authorisation code, 75 € express, 55 € 3 days waiting for Swiss passport
Address: Kiev, Kruglouniversytetska 12.
Opening hours: 9 am to 4 pm, Mon-Fri, come earlier. +38 044 253 85 01. Updates posted here.
September 2016: Not possible for travelers, only locals can apply.
May 2015: 61 € (60 € + 20 UAH) for Ukrainian nationalities. For others check by phone. We’ve been told to come in 7 days, however they asked if we are in a hurry and it was actually possible to collect visa in 3 days for same price. We weren’t. Same day visa = 101 € (100€ + 20 UAH). Staff was very polite and there were no queues at all.
April 2015: 3 days turnaround, no LOI needed. Applied by post, no fingerprints needed.
May 2015: Very friendly and good English is spoken. You can call them beforehand to check if your authorization code has arrived. If you apply in the morning you can pick up in the afternoon. Unfortunately the visas they issue are only valid for entry within ONE month. Fee is 75 EUR for German passport.
The biggest problem is that you have to pay the money into their account at the NBU about a mile away. They will ask for your customs form and if you haven’t brought Euros in to Uzbekistan that will be a problem, as Euros are hard to come by through the official way (they won’t change Dollars or anything to Euros. Don’t know if there’s a bank doing Euro chash advances). I told them that a friend I was traveling with gave me Euros (got them from the bazaar). The question if that is something like a loan or exchange I answerd with “no, he just gave them to me”. It worked and they just added the Euros to my customs form, signed and stamped by the National Bank of Uzbekistan.
Opening hours: 10-12 applications, 15-17 pick-up, Mon-Wed and Friday.
Address: 80 Chavchavadze av. Take marshrutka # 32 or 126 from the central train station, it costs 80 t. It takes about 25 minutes to get there. Needed: 2 pictures, travel insurance paper and your passport. You need to give an itinerary and an address (no need to have a booking) in Iran, any hotel will do.
A shady man called Shota works at the embassy in Tblisi. He is well-known for asking too much money for your visa. But sometimes he doesn’t… Prices for your nationality are listed on this page. Make sure you don’t pay extra – best is to just apply elsewhere if you can. If you are going overland, you can apply in Yerevan. If flying in, you can get the visa on arrival. All updates are collected here.
Trabzon, Turkey consulate
December 2016: 3 day turnover, no same-day issue available. No fingerprints needed anymore.
January 2016: They require to fill the form (one for the consulate (you need Iranian address and phone number) and one for Iranian Interpol with your fingerprints), a photocopy of your passport, photocopy of the page with the stamp of your entrance in turkey, a photocopy of your travel insurance, two pictures, your passport. 75 euros for same day, 50 euros to get it in 4 days. French passport.
November 2015: 4-5 days is normal but it took 12 days due to confusion and misdirection.
June 2015: Now 4 days turnaround with authorization code.
January 2015: The fun is over. Authorization code required, 2 weeks turnaround.
October 2013: 1 month visa (3months validity) issued the same day. No Loi, no number from agency required. 75 euros for french. Hysterics of summer are over it seems.
July 2013: No MFA code required after 2013 elections. Same day service but one New Zealander I met reported that it is easier for Europeans to get their visa but not New Zealanders or Australians. He got it after waiting till all the other tourist have left and he reckons having an European wife as a co-applicant helped somewhat.
The Hague embassy
June 2016: Got a visa for 60 days. No questions asked, all very easy, and all very friendly and helpful; so no need to get a visa extension inside Iran. And also remarkable/unusual: we specified our date of arrival, and our visa validity for single entry starts from about a week before planned arrival (+ 3 months), not immediately from the date of issue + 3 months.
June 2014: No LOI needed, 3 day turnaround.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9-12
April 2013: Visa is only valid for 30 days from when it is stamped in your passport, not the 90 I was told. You can mail your passport.
Address: 1 Budaghyan St; pay your visa fee at Mellat Bank (new address: Tumanyan Street 5a). Opening hours: The NEW opening hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 14:00 to 16:00.
Require insurance policy, passport photo, passport photocopy & of course your reference number. No hotel bookings. It’s advisable to call in advance to enquire as to whether your ‘visa authorization code’ is definitely at the embassy first before paying them a visit.
Once you’ve dropped your passport off with the bank receipt and you are done for the day, it’s a fairly nice walk back into town from the embassy, you can pass near the Mother of Armenia statue and then arrive to the very top of The Cascade.
It’s advised to pay in advance before paying a visit at the embassy, should you know the price of your visa. You can fill in your visa form in advance as well to save time.
August 2016: 1 week turnaround, express service is next opening day. Require insurance policy, passport photo, passport photocopy & of course your reference number.
January 2016: 1 week turnaround for Fin and Irelander, 20-25 euro extra to get it next day. You can pay in multiple currencies at the Iranian Millet bank, no card payment though.
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