Visa to visit Iran
Unless you are from one of the following countries, you will need a visa to visit Iran.
- Sri Lanka
The holders of passports from the above countries can easily receive a three-months tourist visa upon arrival. For everyone else, the following information can be useful in order to get an idea of how touristic visa for visiting Iran is issued.
In general it will take 2 to 3 weeks for applicants to receive an Iranian Visa. In principle it should be obtained before visiting Iran (most recommended option), however there is an option to receive a 15-days visa upon arrival (the requirements for this will be explained later). This visa will be issued for 30 days and is extendable. It is required for the visa to be valid to enter for 90 days from the issue date.
Another option is tourist visa on arrival (VOA) which will be issued for 15 days, however since there is always the risk of rejection, this option is not recommended. This option is available for the citizens of about 65 countries, including most European, ASEAN, Gulf Arab and Central Asian countries, several South American countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea (notable absentees are Britain and the US).
All the tourist visas must be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Tehran. Therefore your request is forwarded to MFA, and if accepted an authorization number will be send to the consulate or airport which will process your request further. In general, application form, passport photos and fee is required to issue the visa. The fee for visa can vary depending on the country of origin, therefore you are recommended to check the website of the relevant embassy for the exact amount of fee.
If you are looking to avoid the hassle of going through the visa procedure yourself, the best option is to request it via an agency which will do it for you in exchange for an additional fee (usually less than 50 USD).
Tips and attention points:
- During the Norouz (Persian New Year), March 20th to April 3rd, all bureaucracy shuts down and therefore your visa request will not be processed. To be safe, send your application at least 2 weeks earlier.
- In your application form try to take the following issues into account:
- Email: avoid .gov emails which would raise suspicion that your visit might not be completely touristic intended.
- Itinerary: If you are looking to travel to different cities in Iran, write itinerary visa and don’t mention controversial places like Natanz and border regions. Once in Iran you can go almost everywhere.
- Occupation: People with occupations such as nurse, teachers, office worker and engineer are granted visa easier than military personnel, journalists and other such occupations.
- Purpose: go generic and write tourism.
- Photographs: As it is required for women to wear hijab in Iran, their application photo is also to be taken wearing a scarf (almost any kind would do).
- US citizens are required to pre-arrange a tour or private guide or be sponsored by a friend in Iran who will take legal responsibility for them. However don’t worry, this is just a normal procedure and if your visit is truly touristic, it will not cause you or them any complications.
- Israeli passport holders and anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport will not get a visa. Therefore if you have visited Israel with your current passport, get a new one before starting your visa application for Iran.
- Once in Iran, its easily possible to extend your visa.
- If your visa request was rejected once, don’t count on getting a visa on arrival (VoA). However do try via other agencies or another embassy.