In this post, we’ll go through the requirements for getting the Iranian visa on arrival. This includes who can get it and who can’t, what you’ll need and a step-by-step guide. This information is a mixture of many hours of research and our firsthand experience when we went backpacking in Iran.
Don’t worry, we know the feeling when you’re planning a trip to a country like Iran, it can be a little daunting. I mean they are meant to be the “axis of evil”, there’s strict Islamic law and behind China, Iran has one of the biggest internet firewalls in the world. All of that made me think, and probably what you’re thinking, that getting into the country will be super difficult as well.
Well, luckily for you and me it isn’t. The visa on arrival for Iran is ridiculously easy and we’ll walk you through every step.
Why is it so easy? It turns out, Iran wants to get back to its tourism glory days and increase the number of yearly visitors from 5 million in 2015 to 20 million by 2025.
Further Reading: 82 things to know before you travel to Iran
What You’ll Need For The Iran Visa On Arrival
What You Definitely Need For Your VOA
1. Printout of your hotel or hostel booking for the first night
- Make sure your booking has the phone number of your hostel or hotel. The visa men will most likely call your accommodation to confirm you’re actually staying there. We stayed at Persian Hostel and had no trouble.
2. Printout of your travel insurance if you have it
- If you don’t have your own travel insurance, don’t worry – it’s mandatory for travel to Iran and you’ll just have to buy one at the airport.
3. Anywhere between $50 – $200 in cash or the equivalent in euros
- This money will pay for your visa on arrival and travel insurance. The fee will depend on which country you’re from, with most countries around the €70 mark apart from Australia.
- Germany: €75
- Brazil: €80
- Spain: €75
- Argentina: €70
- Australia: €145 (!!!!)
Good To Have Just In Case
1. A few photocopies of your passport photo page
- Always good to have some copies of your passport just in case the immigration people need these.
2. A couple of new passport photos
- Girls should follow Iran’s official Islamic dress code and wear a head scarf in their picture.
- Sometimes the immigration guys use your new photos, sometimes they use your actual passport photo. If they use the latter and you’re a girl, you won’t have a photo in your visa as your hair is not covered.
3. Printout of a rough itinerary
- The immigration guys might be bored and want to know what you’ll be doing. Just make up an itinerary in Word to make it look like you know where you’re going.
1. Letter of invitation from a travel company
- You’ll only need this if you’re picking up a pre-approved visa. The letter of invitation is not needed if you’re getting the visa on arrival.
- An LOI costs you an extra $40 and will just mean your visa pick-up at the airport should be a little quicker.
2. Printout of your exit flights
- We weren’t asked for this and no one we spoke to was.
Process Of Getting The Iranian Visa On Arrival
Now for the lowdown of how to get your Iranian visa on arrival at the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA).
1. Get off your flight
Head towards the border security and don’t worry about your bags, you’ll pick them up after border control.
2. Go to the travel insurance desk
- If you have insurance already: get your insurance stamped and verified. We travel with World NOMADS and had no troubles what so ever in Iran, even with a little visit to a hospital along the way.
- If you don’t: buy some Iranian travel insurance at the counter ($16 for 1-31 days)
3. Go to the visa window and answer some questions
Smile, hand over your passport and answer the following questions;
“Do you have a letter of invitation?”
They’ll now know you’re applying for a visa on arrival.
4. Fill in some forms
After that riveting conversation, you’ll get a form to fill out with the usual visa questions;
- Passport details
- Home address
- Job (I would advise against writing blogger or anything to do with journalism)
- Adress while in Iran (The name and address of your first night in Iran)
Once you give that back you’ll receive a little piece of paper with what you owe for your nationality.
5. Go to the payment window
Go to the payment desk on the left.
- Give them your piece of paper and the amount of euros or dollars you need to pay.
- Sign your receipt.
6. Go back to the visa desk
Give them the receipt of your payment and if your visa is ready, they’ll hand it over to you, otherwise sit and wait.
7. That’s it!
The whole process took us about 45 minutes which is pretty quick. It could take up to 3 hours if you’re the last one-off your plane and there’s already a line.
FAQ About The Iran Visa On Arrival
Where Can You Get The VOA In Iran?
You can get the Iran visa on arrival at these international airports:
- Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA)
- Tehran Mehrabad Airport (THR)
- Mashhad Airport (MHD)
- Shiraz Airport (SYZ)
- Tabriz Airport (TBZ)
Some forum posts seem to suggest that you can also get the VOA at land borders, but we did not try that ourselves and can’t verify this information.
Who Can Get The Iran Visa On Arrival?
Everyone! Well, almost.
In February 2016, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 180 countries will be eligible for a 30-day visa on arrival.
If you’re from Turkey, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bolivia, Egypt or Syria stop reading now as you’re visa-free for up to 90 days.
Related Post: How to access Facebook while in Iran
Who Can’t Get The Iranian VOA?
Sadly, if you’re from the following countries, there’s no VOA for you:
- The United States
This means you’ll need to arrange your visa in person at an Iranian embassy or consulate outside Iran.
These visas are the same as the visa on arrival, except they require a letter of invitation (LOI) from an Iranian tour company. We won’t go through that process here, but Lost With Purpose have a great post on how they got their Iranian visa in Holland.
Guides For US, Canadian And British Citizens
If you’re from the United States, Canada or Britain you’ve got some extra hurdles to deal with. Not only will you not be able to get a visa on arrival for Iran, but you’ll also need to be accompanied by a guide during your entire trip in Iran. Some companies we’ve heard good things about are Uppersia or Caravanistan.
April 2017 update: Since Mr Trump has imposed a ban on Iranian citizens travelling to the USA, the visa situation for Americans has become even more difficult. The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said: “we will take reciprocal measures in order to safeguard the rights of its citizens until the time of the removal of the insulting restrictions of the Government of the United States against Iranian nationals”.
In other words, US citizens won’t be issued visas to enter Iran if Iranians have a travel ban to the US. Best bet is to check the latest at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The US Department of State.
Can You Travel Around Iran Without A Guide?
If you don’t want a guide, there are some ways to get around the rules. Taking this option can be risky, though, as you are likely to have your passport checked by a random policeman at some stage. Make sure you have your story straight and a few backup phone numbers of tour agencies you can call.
Can You Visit The US After You Travel To Iran?
Yes, you can enter the US with an Iranian stamp in your passport, but you won’t be eligible for the US Visa Waiver Program.
This means that you’ll have to apply in person for a tourist visa next time you want to visit the States.
Can You Visit Iran After Travelling To Israel?
If you’re using an Israeli passport or have evidence of travel to Israel in your passport, you won’t be able to travel to Iran. This even includes any land border entry stamps into Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt from Israel.
We’ve read some forum posts indicating travellers have been allowed into Iran with Israeli stamps, but do you really want to risk going there and getting rejected? If you do have evidence of travel to Israel, it’s better to either get a new passport or apply for a visa in person before you go.
- Should you travel to Iran? 82 Things to know before you go
- What to budget for backpacking in Iran
- 15 traditional Iranian foods that will blow your mind!
- How To Access The Internet In Iran
- Things to do in Tehran
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