Forms to fill in, travel insurance, passport photos, visa application is always the least appealing part of travel, if you ask me. As Iran has been imposing itself as a major tourist destination, more so after the signing of the historic nuclear agreement, knowing how to apply for Iran visa is becoming quite the issue, and since many readers have been asking me for information on how to proceed, I thought it might be the case for me to finally write a post about it.
Recently the Iranian government has eased the process of getting a visa for the citizens of many countries and is looking at engaging in reciprocal visa waiver programs with some 28 nations. These are all new measures in the process of being approved at this very moment so I will update the post if some change takes place on the regulations.
Depending on your needs, there are different visas you can apply for: Iran tourist visa online, Iran tourist visa on arrival, long-term Iran visa, multiple Iran visas.
An Iranian tour agency produces an invitation letter and sends it to Visa section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When they approve the letter, they will give the agency the authorization number. You need to take this number to the Embassy of Iran in your country and then will receive your tourist or business visa.
Note: for the agency to get your authorization/reference number it takes around 7-10 days unless it’s an emergency visa request under circumstances which then it takes only 3-4 days.
If you are a guest at some friends’ house, they send you the invitation letter, or you can ask a certified Iranian travel agency for the letter, which is better because getting the visa through them can take less time.
The conditions for long-term Iran visa:
To receive a 3-month Iran visa you should already have three monthly visas on your passport.
To receive a 6-month Iranian visa you should already have two 3-month visas on your passport.
To receive a 1-year Iran visa you should already have two 6-month visas on your passport.
These are only business visa, for the procedure and necessary documents you need to inquire at the Iran embassy in your country.
There are many aspects that Iranian government takes under consideration. The nationality of the passport holder, the number of previous visas, the request of the company you are working with etc.
Like for every country, the process for applying for Iranian visa depends on your nationality.
Iran visa for European citizens
With an Italian (or European) passport like me, there are mainly two ways to enter Iran as a tourist: applying at the Iranian embassy or consulate of your city, either by yourself or through a travel agency, or directly upon arrival landing at the international airports of Tehran (both Imam Khomeini and Mehrabad), Shiraz, Tabriz, Isfahan and Mashhad.
If you are applying through the embassy or consulate, you will need to provide the following documents:
- filled out visa form available for download from the embassy website
- your passport with at least six months validation left
- travel insurance
- invitation letter from an Iranian tour guide
- two passport-size photos
- pay 50 euro of visa fee either at the bank indicated on the website or directly at the embassy
- leave your fingerprints when you are submitting your application (this can be done only once, they will keep it in case you wish to apply for visa again).
If you want to travel with the visa already glued on your passport even if you are not joining an organized tour, there is the travel agency 1st Quest that offers the visa service. You will need to fill in an online form and they will send you your authorization code that you need to take to the embassy or consulate alongside the other documents mentioned above. The fee for the service is 35$ and you can apply directly from 1stQuest website.
Visa on arrival has been recently extended to 30 days, and if you are applying at the airport you will need:
- filled out visa form available for download on the embassy website
- your passport with at least six months validation left
- travel insurance (you can either arrive with an insurance you bought in your country or buy one at the airport)
- two passport-size photos
- your return ticket
- copy of your hotel booking
- pay 60 euro in cash at the counter
The only European nation not allowed to apply for a visa on arrival is the United Kingdom.
Iran visa for UK and US citizens
An exception to the rule must be acknowledged for British and North American citizens because they need to apply in advance and must have an authorized local tour leader to guide them during their trip. Due to the interruption of the relations between Iran and the US and UK, and the resulting absence of reciprocal embassies, British and American citizens applying for Iranian visa need to do it at a vicarial embassy or in another country: British citizens need to go to Ireland while Americans can do it at the Pakistani embassy (I think, but you better double-check).
Iran and the United Kingdom have recently restored diplomatic relations and embassies in both countries have been reopened, but as far as I know, the visa process still goes through the Iranian embassy in Ireland. Very likely it is just a matter of time before they will do it in the UK.
Iranian visa for other Continents
Among the other Continents, Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, Canada, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, and Pakistan can’t be granted a visa at the airport and need to apply at the Iranian embassy in their country. On the other hand, they can travel to Iran and stay between 15 to 90 days without a visa the citizens of Lebanon, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bolivia, Egypt, and Syria.
Syrians don’t need Iran visa in the first 90 days, Georgians for the first 45 days, Bolivians the first 30 days, Egyptians 20 days, while the citizens of Lebanon and Azerbaijan don’t need a visa for the first 15 days. If they stay longer, they can apply for the visa anywhere in Iran at foreign ministry offices.
Iran visa on arrival
These countries get Iran visa on arrival: Albania, Germany, Austria, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Spain, Australia, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Ukraine, Italy, Ireland, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal, Peru, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, China, Denmark, Russia, Romania, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Oman, France, Palestine, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Croatia, North Korea, South Korea, Columbia, Cuba, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Poland, Malaysia, Hungary, Mongolia, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Venezuela, Vietnam, Holland, India, Yugoslavia and Greece.
These are the requirements for a normal tourist visa, but if you need to visit Iran for other purposes such as business, transit, family reunion or study, you will need to inquire on the specific procedure.
How to extend your Iran visa
It’s possible to extend your Iran visa once you are in the country. We advise you to talk to a travel agency in advance if you need to extend Iran tourist visa as they can direct you to an office of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in police departments.
Note: You can extend your Iran visa only in big cities of Iran such as Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Mashhad.
To extend your Iran visa you need:
– Valid passport and visa
– A visa application form for visa extension which can be found in police department, the consular section where you need to go to request the visa extension
– To give a reason for the extension
– Always carry passport size pictures with you.
As stated before, due to the changes in the political and diplomatic relations between Iran and other countries, I will be updating the post whenever a new rule or law comes up. On a similar note, if I forgot to address some important issues, do leave your questions in the comment form below and I’ll make sure to look for the missing piece of information.
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