Getting an Iran tourist visa might sound a bit complicated and overwhelming to some travelers, as there are many variables and a couple of exceptions to take into account. However, the Government is also trying to make the Iran visa policy easier and facilitate the process for many nationalities. This is the ultimate guide to getting a visa for Iran, where you will find all the latest updated information.

This post contains the latest information from 2018.

For more practical information, read my 80 useful tips for traveling to Iran

 

visa for Iran

 

How to get a visa for Iran – The ultimate guide 2018

Here you will find:

Who is eligible for a free visa for Iran
Iran visa on arrival (VOA)
When you should apply for an Iran visa in advance
How to apply for an Iran travel visa in advance

e-Visa for Iran
Visa for Iran duration
Iran visa extension
Visa for American, UK and Canadian citizens

 

Who can apply for a free Iran tourist visa?

Most likely, you can’t enter Iran on a free visa because only 8 countries are eligible for that. These lucky countries are:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Georgia, Malaysia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela

If you don’t hold a passport from any of the above countries, you must pay for your visa.

Exception! If you enter via Kish Island, all nationalities who are eligible for a VOA, can get a 14-day free Iran tourist visa if they remain in Kish. You may think: who the hell wants to travel to Iran to just remain in Kish? Well, the truth is that many European expats living in Dubai or Doha fly out to Kish to spend the weekend there.

 

Iran visa on arrival (VOA)

Except for citizens of:

Canada, UK, US, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka

Everybody can get an Iran visa on arrival at several international airports in Iran. 

Important! Of course, citizens of Israel can’t enter Iran.

According to MFA, if there is any evidence on your passport, your visa will be granted as long your last visit to Israel was more than six months ago. However, I would not rely 100% on it so, if you have any evidence, I would recommend renewing your passport. For more information, read: Avoid Israeli passport stamps – FAQ

NEW UPDATE Summer 2018! – If entering Iran via any of the international airports, you can now ask the authorities to stamp your visa on a separate piece of paper. This is particularly useful for people traveling to the USA!

 

Which airports are eligible for an Iran tourist visa on arrival?

Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, Qeshm & Kish Island, Mashhad, and Tabriz

 

Iran travel visa requirements – VOA

Hotel reservation – You need to bring your hotel reservation printed out for your first night in Iran at least. If you are staying with a friend, make sure to have their contact details.

Your host contact – Have in hand your host contact details, whether it is a hotel or a friend. If they can’t contact them, you may have to wait at the airport for a very long time. 

Cash, preferably in € – You must pay your visa in cash.

Travel Insurance – All travelers must have valid travel insurance for Iran. If you do have it, you should bring any documents which prove it. If you don’t, they will make you buy it at the airport and these were the prices in March 2018:
1 to 31 days: 14€
32 to 45 days: 23€
46 to 62 days: 28€
63 to 92 days: 34€

However, the insurance you buy at the airport has very limited coverage, so coming with a proper insurance is a must. Unfortunately, most popular travel insurance companies, such as World Nomads, will not cover you for Iran. Therefore, I strongly recommend IATI Insurance, a very professional company which fully covers you for Iran and offers many plans for any kind of traveler and budget.

Moreover, the readers of Against the Compass will get a 5% discount. (you will see the discount after calculating the quote)

Buy it through this link to get your 5% discount!

If you want to know more option, read how to find the right travel insurance for Iran

 

Iranian visa fee

It really depends on your nationality but, typically, prices would range from 40 to 150€. I have a Spanish passport and paid 75€.

In Iran, many websites are blocked, so you will need a VPN to access them. Read how to find the right VPN for Iran

visa iran

 

When you need to apply for an Iran tourist visa in advance

If you can get a visa on arrival, why should you get it in advance?

There are some exceptions:

You enter Iran overland 

If are coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan or Turkey, you must apply for your visa in advance. Apparently, a VOA is available at the Armenian border but there are some reports of people who tried to cross there recently, who failed to get a visa, so don’t rely 100% on it.

You don’t want to wait at the airport for several hours

If you already have your visa, you can enter the country immediately. However, the VOA process takes around 2 or 3 hours and, in some cases, me for example, it may take up to 6 hours. Reasons for waiting hours vary but, in my case, it was because I didn’t have a return flight ticket, said that I planned to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan afterward and had a brand-new passport. They found me a bit suspicious.

To secure your visa 

There are some reports from travelers who claimed that their VOA was not granted because they didn’t have a return flight ticket or because the authorities could not contact their host or any other excuse. The percentage of people in this situation is very low but still, there might be some small risk. If you want to make sure, get your visa in advance.

You are an American, British or Canadian citizen

Like I said before, these three nationalities are not eligible for a VOA, so you will have to arrange your visa via a tour company.

 

How to apply for an Iran tourist visa in advance

In order to get your Iran visit visa in advance, you will have to first get a code which, basically, is a letter of invitation from a tour operator. Once you have this code, you will be able to collect your visa at any embassy or at any airport. 

How to get your Iran visa code?

As you may imagine, there are quite a few companies that can provide with this code.

I strongly recommend the guys from 1stQuest. Why?

Basically, because they offer the lowest rate, their system is easy, fast and they are very responsive. 

A few things you should know regarding the Iran visa code:

The code is valid for one month – This means that you need to collect your visa within a month.

Iran visa code cost – It costs 29€. 

Timing – Since very recently, it only takes 1 to 3 working days.

You are planning to enter Iran overland – You will have to pick up your visa at the embassy and you will have to mention which embassy at the application, as 1stQuest will send the code to them.

You are flying in Iran – You need to tell which airport, so you will just have to collect, very quickly, your visa once you arrive at the airport.

Moreover, the readers of this blog can use my discount code to get an exclusive 5% discount which can be used for all the services of 1stQuest, not only for your visa but for the travel insurance, booking hotels, bus & plane tickets, and tours.

This is my discount code which you can use as many times as you want: ATC-QST

CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR YOUR VISA CODE WITH 1stQuest

 

Picking up your Iranian visa at the embassy

Once you get the code, you can pick up your visa.

Since I was in Tajikistan, after traveling the Pamir Highway and the Wakhan Valley, I decided to pick it up in Dushanbe. 

However, regardless the embassy, your first step will be to verify that your code has arrived at the embassy. For this, the agency will give you a tracking number which you need to show at the embassy. However, you could actually call them and there’s no need to go to the embassy. I still went to the embassy but only because it was really close to my hostel. Either way, you will have to wait for one day until they check that the code has arrived.

 

Iran travel visa requirements – Needed documents to apply for your Iran visa at the embassy

  • Passport with a minimum of 6-months’ validity
  • Passport copy
  • 2 passport photos
  • Visa application form – To be collected and filled at the embassy

When you have all your documents, you can go to the embassy. For EU nationalities, the price is 75€. An Australian friend paid 150€. You will have to make the deposit at the Iranian bank and come back with your payslip. The bank is very close to the embassy and they guy will give you the address.

Once you show the payslip, you will have to leave your passport and come back on the next day (or the same afternoon) to collect your visa.

Iran visa on arrival
Tehran – Iran visa on arrival

 

e-Visa for Iran

In 2017, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) launched a website where you can actually apply for your visa saving you from getting a letter of invitation.

However, the website is not working properly and, apparently, very few people succeeded, including me. 

October 2018 Update – Recent reports say many travelers haven’t been able to get their visa. At first, the system seems to work fine but then, the visa verification remains as pending for weeks by then just getting rejected.

 

Visa for Iran – Duration

Normally, everybody traveling to Iran should be able to get a 30-day visa, regardless you enter via airport or overland.

 

Iran Visa Extensions

Extending your visa is very easy and feasible. Typically, if you get a 1-month visa, you can extend it twice for 30 days. This means that you can travel in Iran for up to 90 days.

You can extend your visa at any Immigration Visa Office in any provincial capital. Yazd or Esfahan are very popular places to extend your visa among travelers. I personally extended mine in Bandar Abbas, a southern city. Each office has its own rules but, in Bandar Abbas, they required a passport and visa copy and two passport photos. The one-month extension cost me 345,000IR and it took 24 hours to proceed.

 

Visa for Americans, UK and Canadian citizens

As you may know, the MFA requires Americans, British and Canadian nationals to make a tour from arrival to departure; essentially this means you need a guide at all times you on a daily basis. 

Citizens of these countries need to have a confirmed itinerary, which should be requested from a valid tour company. For this, they should send a passport copy, as well as passport photos to the tour operator.

Typically, getting the invitation letter takes around 30 working days. 

It is highly recommended that these nationalities book their international flight ticket after receiving the LOI, as there have been several refusals.

As per the tour operator, I recommend Key2Persia, one of the tour operator in Iran, which is even recommended by the Lonely Planet. I know them personally, hired some of their services and even worked together on promoting Pars Province. For further information, email them at [email protected].

 

visa for Iran

 

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27 comments

  1. Joan, in your advice on “How to get your Iran visa code+” you say … ” The Iranian Ministry of Tourism has launched a website where you can actually apply for this code, saving you from getting a letter of invitation. However, the website is not working properly and, apparently, nobody has been able to get it, including myself.” –

    A question; on this website it gives an e.mail address for contacting them & I am interested to know whether you DID contact them mentioning their ‘website’ not working ?

    In any case as a British citizen, along with Americans & Canadians, in theory we have to have not only an official ‘letter of invitation/visa code but can not go as independent travellers without an official guide & itinerary which it is necessary to produce when applying for the Visa Reference Number. Unlike EU, Australian & New Zealand nationals, whom can also now get Visas On Arrival !!!

    As of 2016, for my last visit, and now preparing my next for Spring 2018, this still seems to be the case, at least, for Brits. However there is no mention of this on the website you posted http://e_visa.mfa.ir/en/ , which may only be for French nationals & those others as mentioned with telephone numbers for enquiries ! ??? Perhaps that’s why the website didn’t work for you ?

    1. Hi Soko, thanks for your message! This post is aimed at people who can get their visa on arrival. Perhaps, I should specify that at the beginning of the article. For you guys, the process is significantly different and I don’t really know the rules.

      As per the website, I tried to apply for my code and the application didn’t go through. I checked in a few forums, including Caravanistan, and apparently, nobody has ever been successful in applying for it. I will keep an eye on this, to see if they can fix it soon and will update the post accordingly. I am going back to Iran in March, so I’ll check the website again because I may enter overland. Cheers,

      1. Thanks for your response Joan, and probably a good idea to mention the differences … for those Brits, Americans & Canadians who might be following your English blog ! Also I notice this Iranian website is new-ish/2017, and what with the fluidity of relations between Iran & other countries, could also explain why it doesn’t actually work …. as yet !

  2. Hey there,
    I tried to apply for my code on http://evisa.mfa.ir/en/ and it was rejected after 30 days (automatically). I called the embassy, asking them wtf. He told me to make application again and call him back in 2 days. After 2 days he told me, he sent it to Iran and I should call him back in 2 weeks. I checked the application in 5 days and it was accepted so I called him again and he confirmed it.
    The next day I went to embassy (in Vienna) and got my visa. Paid 50€ (for 21 days) + 27€ to get it in the same day. I am from Slovakia.

  3. Thanks for the info. Just let me mention that World nomads does not seem to insure Iran (at least being a Spanish citizen)

  4. Hello!
    Thanks for all the informations!
    Just one question: Is with e-visa required an exit flight ticket? Because I would like to exit overland in Azerbaijan.
    Thank you

  5. ویزای ایران

    I really appreciate the sharing of information as an Iranian. I appreciate your work, this is really very useful for those who are going to visit Iran

  6. Hi. I’m traveling to Iran in two days and was planning on getting my VOA at IKA (Uruguayan passport) but I filled out the e-visa form as it said it would speed up the process and last night I got a “visa rejected, apply through sponsor” message. Does this mean I cannot get a VOA anymore? Will I always be rejected? Or am I stuck with paying an agency? I would very much appreciate any Information you may have! Thanks!!

    1. Hi Alejandra. E-visa form from which website? The official Iranian website doesn’t work very well and visas get often rejected or the system doesn’t work. That’s why you need to do it through 1stQuest, like I say somewhere in the article. Cheers.

  7. I am an Indian passport holder and citizen of India..
    I plan to enter Iran overland border by my self driven own car while coming from Turkeministan.
    Do I need a paper visa?
    Do I need to be a part of tour group of a tour agency for crossing overland border?
    Is it not possible for me to enter Iran as a solo traveler?
    Even if I get LOI from a tour agency still is this possible that i may be refused visa by Iranian embassy here in India?

  8. Hi guys.i have some qsts.I’ve been applyed for a 3 month visa through http://evisa.mfa.ir/en/ 22 days ago,and still there is written waiting for verification.i contact embassy in my city they said my visa is rejected,but i didnt got any official email regarding this and the status on website diddnt change yet.what shall i do in this case?
    Thanks

    1. The e-visa system is very unreliable and that’s why in the article I recommend you get the authorization code from 1stQuest and then go to your embassy. It is seriously much quicker, more effective and easier.

    1. They have nothing to do with this system. They just provide with the authorization code which is needed to pick up the at the embassy, regardless of your visa status. You are not the first person has some trouble and gets the visa rejected with the official e-visa system. It sucks and it’s still very buggy, so waiting for something to happen is not very recommended.

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