Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by GiacomoLuppi »

I crossed this border yesterday (4th of April), walking from Azerbaijan to Iran. I didn't find any crowd, I arrived around 4:30 PM and in twenty minutes all was done. Azeri side without problem (passport control and backpack x-ray control), iranian side totally empty, the guard looked new as he didn't know how to do with foreigners. A couple of questions about my itinerary and all was ok.

Be careful if you want to exchange money, they try to cheat with all the zero (example 1.090.000 instead of 1.900.000), take your time and count money by yourself
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by Clodo »

We crossed this border from Az to Iran 5 weeks ago and back 2 days ago. Both at around 10 o'clock with bicycles and two swiss passports. In both ways there were only few people and the passing was smooth.
Enter and exit Azerbaidschan: passport control and printed evisa, when entering Az luggage control, partly with x-ray, partly with a dog.
Enter Iran: passport and visa control about 15 min, some questions about itinerary, profession and purpose of stay, x-ray of luggage. The police officer warned us not to change money in the streets 'because these people are not honest, better go to an official exchange shop'
When leaving Iran x-ray of luggage and 5min passport control, the security guard told us about an incident the day before: they checked an European car, which had a camera in front, always filming and he told us that they had to take away this camera. He seemed sad for the tourists who don't have any pictures of the beautiful landscape now.
All in all it took us not more than one hour for the crossing in both directions
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by PIE »

Yesterday (Friday 30th June) we crossed from Iran to Azerbaijan with two motorcycles (including carnet de passage). Did not encounter any issues, although the whole ordeal took us almost 2 hours, despite us being the only ones crossing besides the truckers.

Road on Iran side was great. The M3 road on the Azeri side was extremely busy though and in bad shape. They seem to be building a new Astara-Baku highway though.
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by Van_Gogh »

I crossed the border from Azerbaijan to Iran on March 30 by car.

The road from Baku to the border is nightmare, although it seems that they’re building a new highway.

On the Azerbaijan side, you have to pay 4 AZN for "Customs" before entering the border area; keep the litlle piece of paper they give you, you will need it.
Control was okay, around half an hour. They will look in your car, ask for the papers you got upon entering the country and for your Evisa-printout. Everything was pretty crowded, probably due to the Novruz travelers, but I was cleared after around 45 minutes.

The control on the Iranian side is pretty fast and straightforward, the border guards are friendly and helpful, but don't forget to tell them that you*re having a Carnet de Passages! Otherwise, they will not stamp it.
Just go to the Customs office or ask someone to bring you there, you need to ask around a little bit, it is in the "truck area" of the border. Be sure that they stamp everything right and take the right part out, be always with your Carnet! Don't give someone your Carnet, although there might be people around asking for it — they're scammers and will not give it back until you pay some money.

I could not find any exchange office on the Iranian side, maybe beacuse it was already dark. There are people standing at the border gate, but I didn’t asked for their exchange rate.

The official closure time on Iranian side is 6 PM Iranian time, but they will work until everyone is cleared (at least the cars, trucks might have to go on a parking lot and wait till next day), just be sure to enter the Iranian part of the border no later than 5 PM Ir.T.
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by Sjaan »

The Azerbaijan - Iran border crossing in Astara is now open all day (24/7). The border is at a weird place, no signs. Next to the road is a blue-white stone gate, this is where you have to start. We came by motorbikes, we were the only tourists. Just some trucks, but very quiet.
The Azerbaijan part is very well structured. This takes you about 45 minutes. Then the Iran part... It is a chaos. Officials are not wearing a uniform so you don't know who is official and who is not. You enter a very big, strange area with many old trucks and a wood factory (as it seems). It is hard to find your way here, especially because we had to stamp our Carnet de Passage. We took a 'guide', he helps you through the proces and you can tip him as much as you want. Our guide knew very well what to do and was very helpful. Without him, it would have been hard to find the different offices you have to go through.
During the process you have to pay some dollars. Don't know exactly how and why, but we just did it...
This Iranian part took u about an hour, so after almost 2 hours we were happy to be in Iran!

We couldn't find any money exchange office in Astara. Better to ask the 'guide' where the offices are.
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by neilstarks »

glad to report that there have been **MAJOR** improvements at this border crossing. First and foremost the crossings are now 24/365, they are always open.
things to keep in mind when crossing from Iran>AZ:
*if you are an Iranian passport holder, do NOT pre-pay your "exit/khorojee" online, only , I repeat ONLY pay for it at this border. Apparently they are not online and you will be forced to either pay again (its up to 220,000 tooman now {about $35USD}) so preferably not or if your lucky and its regular banking hours, you have to trek to the "Bank Melli" and get an authorization/release on the banks letterhead.
*as mentioned beforehand, do not deal with the goon currency exchange guys at both borders {they will charge an arm and leg, if they dont try to pull those other stunts}. Once you cross into the AZ side (so after you clear their customs and the final officer checks your passport) you will reach a two way, bear right and about ten stores down on your right is a local small market, that guy will exchange dollar>manat at 2 manat per hundred (decent rate) you will get better rates in Baku at some banks and exchanges but if your like me and wanted to get a cold bresky, changing a hundo there wont kill you.
*if you have not arranged transport from Astara to baku, there are these old diesel mercedes that will take you for $80 manat, up to four passengers. You can either get the entire car to yourself or buy a seat for $20 manat , they fill up pretty fast...I happened to get lucky on the return {as on the way in, decided to go visit masaly, would totally recommend it for anyone that has not been there, real chill city in the villages near Lankeran...nice resort called "Vilesh") but I digress, the drivers phone number is {if perhaps your thinking of getting the entire car to yourself, can probably arrange it ahead of time with the guy, sorry didnt catch his name} +99 55-2646944 {or} +99 51-8033838
**Things to keep in mind from the AZ>Iran side
*Your entering an Islamic country, means headscarves for lady's, no shorts for men and try not to smell like you just drank a bottle of gin...{do not bring back and liquir either, dont even try to sneak it, they have seen it all from shampoo bottles to medicine, just not worth it. You can easily get your hands on booze in Iran, fret not, especially in Astara...
*We got back late, so the market dude was not there to buy my left over manat, had to deal with those shiesters on the iranian side, what can you do..?
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by Rupert »

Crossed this border by bicycle from Azerbaijan to Iran on a morning in early June 2018. Used the vehicle, rather than pedestrian, lanes. Easiest to find by sticking close to the sea. The process itself, particularly on the Iranian side, couldn't have been simpler.
The Kapital Bank on the Azerbaijan side changed AZ Manat into US Dollars at a good rate and without fuss.
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by beyondoverton »

Crossed the border a few days ago. There are many Tehran-Baku buses daily by different companies. Price is about $14-15 per person. Buses leave from West Terminal. You can book online but only with Sima Safar, as far as I know (because I asked a local to help me out) but I would not necessarily recommend the company (see below). One is better off just going to the Terminal and checking out the different options. You can also easily pick up a taxi/private car to take you to Astara for about $40 - from the 'stand' in front of West Terminal, as you walk from the Azadi Metro Station.

It's not a long distance at all and a normal drive takes 12-14h depending on the border. The bus ride is at least double that. There is a brisk trade going on across the border at the moment (due to recent devaluation of Rial, Iranian goods have become ridiculously cheap by almost any standard) and Azeri customs take forever to inspect. Plus it does not seem there is a clear procedures if someone is caught bringing in too many consumer goods for resale. At the Azeri border it was a standoff between half a dozen Azeri women bringing tons of goods clearly for resale and customs officers. Our bus driver refused to leave without them (making me suspicious that he was on the same trick with them) thus we ended stuck there for 10h!

The bus stopped just before the border on the Iranian side for the most expensive 'breakfast' I had in Iran (and the worst exchange rate - I was told this was my last chance to exchange my Rials - that was not true as there are people offering to exchange just before passport control on the Iranian side). Iranian officials were polite and efficient as always in my experience.

There is absolutely nothing on the Azeri side of the border. Not even a passenger terminal - just a makeshift hanger. But I have to say the Azeri customs officials did their job thoroughly.

The border reminded me a bit of the Turkey-Georgian border at Sarp - only this one is on the Caspian Sea (and yes, the Batumi equivalent, Baku, is some 300km away!) But yes, there is a beach on the Azeri side.

While we were there the border was deserted: not one car passed through while we waited. A few trucks did. There are no exchange bureaus on the Azeri side and I did not see any other transportation options to Baku.
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by ninanina »

crossed with own car a week ago.

azeri side: drive towards the border and then turn right (a bit counter-intuitive because it's a small gravel road). expect your entire stuff being scanned. our car was x-rayed, etc., etc. it took about 1,5 hours.

iranian side: the border was busy with trucks, maybe it's busier than usual because if the weakened rial. once we arrived at, "helpers" flocked around us. important to note: they might persistently tell you they are border officals and demand you give them your passport to take it with them, etc. it's obviously your choice if you want them to take care of things for you, but be aware (and expect them to get a bit mad and manipulative once you turn down their services. we found it helpful to stick to people in uniforms and never give passport, carnet etc. out of hand except to people sitting *inside* booths/offices. (one very persistent "helper" put off quite a show by taking a stamp from an empty booth and (randomly?) putting a stamp onto our's/the car's running sheet.)

as for the procedure itself, it's not as complicated as the "helpers" want you to believe (but also not exactly evident, at least to us): when you arrive at the border with your car, you will find a number of booths at the checkpoint. just go to every single one of them and let them do their thing, put their stamps, etc. communication might be a problem.
after that, customs. simple. after that, YES, you still have to get your carnet stamped. you find yourself in a no-man's land filled with trucks waiting to clear customs. if you find somebody who speaks a bit english, ask for the "transit office", or be smarter than me and prepare yourself with the word written down in farsi), if not, drive a bit. it is not one of the first buildings you will see, but a bit more in the "back". sorry for the vague description, I was already a bit tired at this point of the procedure... again, stay aware of the "helpers" - they told us it is not possible to get the carnet stamped before tomorrow and that only they can help us, etc., etc. if the office is empty (it was when we arrived), ask the police(?)man in the booth next to the building. at least that worked for us: the called a carnet person that arrived by car and took care of us friendly and efficiently.
after that, drive up to the exit of the border area for one more checkpoint where you present the running sheet you got in the beginning. then you're good to go.
we did not pay anything on the iranian side.

if you need/want, it is possible to get car liability insurance for 15usd for one month shortly after the border exit, left of an "import export" office.
exchange rate (usd to rial) at the astara bazar was very fair.
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Re: Iran-Azerbaijan Border Crossing in Astara

Post by Granite2018 »

Crossed from Azerbaijan to Iran the second week of November. Got the sleeper train from Baku and then a taxi from Astara train station to the border (five minute drive). An Azerbaijani guy that was waiting with us negotiated with the taxi driver and four Manat was agreed. The taxi driver decided he wanted double when we arrived. We refused and walked to the border.

Total chaos on the Azerbaijani side. Huge queue and lots of pushing and shoving every time the guards let people at the front through (around ten people every ten minutes). Lots of soldiers standing around doing nothing. Customs and passport control only took ten minutes when I reached the front of the queue, but overall, it took three hours to exit Azerbaijan.

The Iranian side was a breeze, not even ten minutes.

I found out later that I crossed after two days of national holidays in Iran, which may account for the huge queue. Generally, traffic at this border has picked up since the Rial's crash. A shopkeeper told me that some people cross the border just for grocery shopping because it's so much cheaper.

I made the mistake of crossing on a Friday when a lot of money exchange shops were closed. Not something I'd do again.

On a side note, I use to keep track of the free (black) market exchange rate. That's the rate (or something close) that exchange shops should give you. Avoid banks, they only give you the official rate, which was around one third of the free market rate when I arrived.
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