Iran Visa On Arrival Guide

Getting The VOA Is Easy As Pie

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

Agha Bozorg Mosque in Kashan

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
    • Italy:€75
    • 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.

Don’t Need

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.
Kids Getting Ready For Some Zoorkhaneh in Yazd

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?”

Your reply;

“No”

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.

Visiting this mosque in Shiraz will be one of the first things you'll do after getting your Iranian visa on arrival

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:

  1. Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA)
  2. Tehran Mehrabad Airport (THR)
  3. Mashhad Airport (MHD)
  4. Shiraz Airport (SYZ)
  5. 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

Graffiti Tehran American Embassy after you get your iran visa on arrival

Who Can’t Get The Iranian VOA?

Sadly, if you’re from the following countries, there’s no VOA for you:

  • The United States
  • Britain
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Bangladesh
  • Jordan
  • India
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia

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.

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Disclosure: there are affiliate links in this article. This means we get a small commission from the company if you buy their product at no extra cost to youWe only use affiliate links for companies/products we have personally used. Just think of it as if you were buying us a beer to thank us for the work we’ve put into this post.

Further Reading

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How To Access The Internet In Iran – Finding The Best VPN Internet in Iran is a little tricky. Find out what a VPN is, why it's a good idea to access the internet in Iran through a VPN and which VPN is best V...
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By | 2017-06-20T18:53:43+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Categories: Guide, Iran, Middle East|Tags: |22 Comments

About the Author:

A twenty-something x engineer who loves eating strange things, jumping off things, can be a little OCD about most things and loves trying to make his travels as cheap as possible!

22 Comments

  1. Sam December 8, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Nice article!! Very practical and complete!!
    I confirm easy to do the visa in the airport (I was in Teheran) if you have prepared your letter from the hostel (I have asked for this to the Persian Hostel, it was perfect, the phone number of the Hostel is on the letter if they need verifications but for me wasn’t necessary).
    Thank you for the shared tips Mariana and Liam!!

  2. Liam & Mariana Ramblings December 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks Sam and we’re happy to help 🙂

    Good to hear you made it into the country with no hassles.

  3. mt. damavand January 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    This post is invaluable. Hoow can I find ouut more?

  4. Mariana January 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Hi! Thanks for reading 😊 Is there anything specific you’d like to know more about?

  5. tassieboy January 18, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Nice blog!
    Great information!
    I thought originally the author must have been German or Swiss as the care to detail re finance is very grundlich.
    I know because I keep accurate records of my expenditure too.for every trip.
    Maybe we can compare trip cost financial statements one day instead of photos.

  6. Liam & Mariana Ramblings January 18, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Hahaha….When it comes to governments or money when you’re travelling on a tight budget, you can never be too German. Glad you found the information useful and we would love to see some of your photos! Maybe we can even compare spreadsheets hahaha

  7. Sebastian March 5, 2017 at 4:59 am

    How long is a visa on arrival valid for?

  8. Nana March 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    And what happens if you sons go to a hotel/hostel, because you’re staying with friends. Do you have to give them your friends address?

  9. Mariana March 6, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Hi Sebastian!An Iranian visa on arrival is valid for 30 days, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore this beautiful country 🙂

  10. Mariana March 6, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Hi Nana! It all comes down to being discreet. There shouldn’t be any issues with you giving your friend’s address to the other people you’re traveling with, but it might not be a good idea to share it with people you don’t trust. Hope you have a great trip to Iran!

  11. Mehdi March 8, 2017 at 3:26 am

    I am taking a Swiss friends to Iran with me in September, I am an Iranian.
    My friend will stay with me and family the entire trip. Do we still need to obtain a hotel booking for the first night?

  12. Liam & Mariana Ramblings March 12, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Hey Mehdi,

    Your best bet is to still book a night in a hotel, even if you’re not actually going to stay there. The chances are higher of being denied your visa if you don’t follow the rules to a tee. Maybe it would be better if your Swiss friend got a visa from an Iranian embassy instead if you don’t want to make the hotel/hostel booking.

  13. Michiel Coupé March 23, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Thank you for this information!
    Do you know if you can get this visa on arrival at any time? We arrive in Teheran Airport at 00.25 at night. I suppose the Border control will be there anyway, so the visa office will be available as well…

  14. Liam & Mariana Ramblings March 25, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Hey Michiel,

    No need to worry, the visa office is open all night. Most flights arrive in Tehran at ridiculously early hours of the morning, so they’re on to it!

  15. Casio March 28, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    We were not even asked about our hotel. Very easy and straightforward process. Also, we had no problem entering without a return/onward ticket. In the visa form we received at the desk, we indicated BUS, a date of travel and destination in Turkey. We got the 30 day visa without any questions asked.

  16. Liam & Mariana Ramblings March 29, 2017 at 3:14 am

    It’s great to hear the process is still easy Casio!

    Maybe the guys behind the desk couldn’t be bothered asking you, just like they didn’t use the passport photo we made of Mariana wearing her hijab. All reports are that the hotel booking is still required for the first night. Better to have it just in case anyway, no one wants to be turned around at the airport!

  17. Eliza April 2, 2017 at 5:10 am

    Hi there!

    Thanks for the helpful guide! Just wondering if there is a visa form or anything you need to fill out in advance? (Casio mentions a form in his post above). Or do they give the form to you when you arrive? Do you know what information is required of the form?

    Thanks so much,

    Eliza (Australia)

  18. Liam & Mariana Ramblings April 3, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Hey Eliza,

    No, you don’t have to fill out anything in advance. We didn’t have to fill anything out, but I would assume it would be your standard immigration form with job, how long you’re staying, how you’re entering and exiting, etc.

    As we’ve said, there’s no need to stress 🙂 The process is super easy nowadays.

  19. Ben May 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for putting up this post. I read it prior to flying into Iran in March 2017 and found it very useful. I can confirm the visa application process played out exactly as described.
    The only confusing part of the process was that they kept asking me for various bits of information which were unrelated to the visa on arrival application. I just kept saying, ‘no I am applying for visa on arrival’, and it all worked out
    Ben

  20. Liam & Mariana Ramblings May 1, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Great to hear Ben and thanks for the update 🙂

  21. Leo May 1, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Just want to report that the visa fee listed on that website link is pretty outdated. I travelled in April 2017 with an Australian passport and was charged a hefty 145 euro plus 3 euro processing fee (on top of the US$16 insurance). Make sure you bring in the correct change, otherwise they’ll give you change back in rial with a pretty unfavourable exchange rate.

  22. Liam & Mariana Ramblings May 1, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Yeh the Aussie fee is hefty! I made sure to avoid it with my Latvian passport which was only half the cost. We’ll try and find a new list of charges and link to that instead. Hope you had a good trip apart from that though Leo 🙂

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