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Travel to Iran: Iran Travel Guide, Discover Iran Attractions, Destinations, Travel Information, Climate, Culture, Visa, Nature, Geography, Food & Drinks, Hotels and ...

Arriving Travelers Entering Iran

 

* Gold & Foreign Exchange : 

Every passenger is allowed to have gold with him/her personal use. Otherwise for larger sums for non-personal use, it should be declared to the customs officials at the border checkpoint. Upon arrival, every passenger should declare his/her foreign exchange. The amount of foreign exchange allowed to be exited by every traveler shall be no more than his/her previously declared amount.

 

Restricted Goods Without Proper Permits : 

  • Import of alcoholic beverages,
  • Playing cards and so on used for gambling,
  • Weaponry,
  • Explosives,
  • Narcotics,
  • Types of publications, films, and pictures as well as all products contradictory to the religious and national ethics of Iran.
  • Import of tapes and publications is allowed if inspected and confirmed by the Ministry of Guidance representatives based at entrance gates.


* Goods authorized to enter Iran by passengers are as follows:

  • Home appliances, either portable or non-portable powered by electricity, gas and kerosene 
  • Spare parts and accessories for home appliances mentioned in article 1
  • Spare parts and accessories for automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles 
  • Tableware and housekeeping implements and utensils 
  • Personal belongings and their spare parts and accessories 
  • Bags and suitcases 
  • Apparel, handbags, and shoes 
  • Textile 
  • Foodstuff, including pastries, chocolate, fruit juice, and nonalcoholic beverages 
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, eau-de-Cologne, perfumes, and so on 
  • Cosmetics 
  • Cigarettes 
  • Laptops and their accessories 
  • Sport equipment and gear 
  • Stationary 
  • Bicycles and tricycles 
  • Artificial flowers 
  • Airguns 
  • Machine-made carpets 
  • Hand tools
  • Newspapers, Magazines, calendars, albums, and other products pertaining to printing industry.

 

* The Temporary Entrance of Automobiles

The temporary entrances of passenger cars are possible as the following:


Aliens and Iranian residents abroad can import their Automobiles temporarily by receiving the carnet de passage or tripque booklets from the motoring centers in the original country. These automobiles should be exited from Iran when the permitted period (3 months) is over. Passengers who could not get the carnet de passage or triptique booklets in the origin country, should get the temporary admission license in the entrance frontier by putting deposit or a bank bond on security.

 

 

Departing Travelers Exiting Iran

 

Any passenger leaving Iran can have his / her personal belongings within the limits of non-commercial nature. There is no limitation about the amount of handicrafts and other Iranian products (except carpets which will be described later) the amount of transferable foreign goods by each passenger is up to 160 dollars.

 

  • Nuts : Any passenger leaving Iran is allowed to take nuts with himself/ herself. The maximum permitted amount of pistachio is 10 kilograms of Saffron by any one who holds a valid Passport. Moreover the accompanying persons cannot have any amount of these mentioned items.
  • Carpet and Short-Napped Coarse Carpets : Passengers who depart Iran by air can take only one hand knotted carpet not more than 6 Square meters. This means passengers are not allowed to carry two carpets less than 6 square meters in area. The accompanying persons cannot benefit from this privilege.
  • Exit of carpets, pistachio, nuts and saffron by those passengers whose destination is United Arab Emirates and Syria is prohibited.
  • Transfer of precious carpets and other objects, which have historical and cultural value, are also prohibited.
  • Foreign Exchange : According to laws of Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the maximum permitted transferable foreign currency by each passenger is 1000 dollars (Bank-note, traveler check or a combination of both). Transfer of foreign currency more than the allowed limit requires a bank statement or a transfer certificate issued by the bank system. Transfers of Dinar (Iraq), Ruble (Russia), and Afghani ( Afghanistan) currency is prohibited by passengers and traders. Transfer of Iranian Currency is allowed up to 500,000 Rials at the Iran border control.

Tehran, is the capital city of Iran. A bustling metropolis of 14 million people, it is situated at the foot of the towering Alborz mountain range. Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, and warm friendly people. It deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.
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Iranian Architecture

Pre-Islamic:

Iranian architecture or Persian architecture is the architecture of Greater Iran that has a continuous history from at least 5000 BCE to the present, with characteristic examples distributed over a vast area from Syria to North India and the borders of China, from the Caucasus to Zanzibar. Persian buildings vary from peasant huts to tea houses, and garden pavilions to "some of the most majestic structures the world has ever seen".

 

Iranian architecture displays great variety, both structural and aesthetic, developing gradually and coherently out of prior traditions and experience. Without sudden innovations, and despite the repeated trauma of invasions and cultural shocks, it has achieved individuality distinct from that of other Muslim countries". Its paramount virtues are several: "a marked feeling for form and scale; structural inventiveness, especially in vault and dome construction; a genius for decoration with a freedom and success not rivaled in any other architecture".

Naqshe Jahan square in Isfahan is the epitome of 16th century Iranian architecture.

Traditionally, the guiding, formative, motif of Iranian architecture has been its cosmic symbolism "by which man is brought into communication and participation with the powers of heaven”. This theme, shared by virtually all Asia and persisting even into modern times, not only has given unity and continuity to the Persian architecture, but has been a primary source of its emotional characters as well.

The pre-Islamic architecture draws on 3-4 thousand years of architectural development from various civilizations of the Iranian plateau. The post-Islamic architecture of Iran in turn, draws ideas from its pre-Islamic predecessor, and has geometrical and repetitive forms, as well as surfaces that are richly decorated with glazed tiles, carved stucco, patterned brickwork, floral motifs, and calligraphy.

As such, Iran ranks seventh in the world in terms of possessing historical monuments, museums, and other cultural attractions and is recognized by UNESCO as being one of the cradles of civilization

 

Each of the periods of Elamites, Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sassanids were creators of great architecture that over the ages has spread wide and far to other cultures being adopted. Although Iran has suffered its share of destruction, including Alexander the Great's decision to burn Persepolis, there are sufficient remains to form a picture of its classical architecture.

The Achaemenids built on a grand scale. The artists and materials they used were brought in from practically all territories of what was then the largest state in the world. Pasargadae set the standard: its city was laid out in an extensive park with bridges, gardens, colonnaded palaces and open column pavilions. Pasargadae along with Susa and Persepolis expressed the authority of The King of Kings, the staircases of the latter recording in relief sculpture the vast extent of the imperial frontier.

With the emergence of the Parthians and Sassanids there was an appearance of new forms. Parthian innovations fully flowered during the Sassanid period with massive barrel-vaulted chambers, solid masonry domes, and tall columns. This influence was to remain for years to come.

The roundness of the city of Baghdad in the Abbasid era for example, points to its Persian precedents such as Firouzabad in Fars. The two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city's design were Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a former Jew from Khorasan.

The ruins of Persepolis, Ctesiphon, Jiroft, Sialk, Pasargadae, Firouzabad, and Arg-é Bam may give us merely a distant glimpse of what contribution Persians made to the art of building.

Islamic:

The fall of the Persian Empire to invading Islamic forces led to the creation of remarkable religious buildings in Iran. Arts such as calligraphy, stucco work, mirror work, and mosaic work, became closely tied with architecture in Iran in the new era.

Archaeological excavations have provided sufficient documents in support of the impacts of Sasanian architecture on the architecture of the Islamic world.

Many experts believe the period of Persian architecture from the 15th through 17th Centuries to be the most brilliant of the post-Islamic era. Various structures such as mosques, mausoleums, bazaars, bridges, and different palaces have mainly survived from this period.

Safavi Isfahan tried to achieve grandeur in scale (Isfahan's Naghsh-i Jahan Square is the 6th largest square worldwide) knowledge about building tall buildings with vast inner spaces. However, the quality of ornaments was decreased in comparison with those of the 14th and 15th centuries.


In the Old Persian architecture, semi-circular and oval-shaped vaults were of great interest, leading Safavi architects to display their extraordinary skills in making massive domes. Domes can be seen frequently in the structure of bazaars and mosques, particularly during the Safavi period in Isfahan. Iranian domes are distinguished for their height, proportion of elements, beauty of form, and roundness of the dome stem. The outer surfaces of the domes are mostly mosaic faced, and create a magical view. In the words of D. Huff, a German archaeologist, the dome is the dominant element in Persian architecture.

Another aspect of Persian architecture was the harmony it presented and manifested with the people, their environment, and their beliefs. At the same time no strict rules were applied to govern this form of Islamic architecture.

The great mosques of Khorasan, Isfahan, and Tabriz each used local geometry, local materials, and local building methods to express in their own ways the order, harmony, and unity of Islamic architecture. And thus when the major monuments of Islamic Persian architecture are examined, they reveal complex geometrical relationships, a studied hierarchy of form and ornament, and great depths of symbolic meaning.

In the words of Arthur U. Pope, who carried out extensive studies in ancient Persian and Islamic buildings:

"The meaningful Impact of Persian architecture is versatile. Not overwhelming but dignified, magnificent and impressive."

While it’s not as comfortable and fast as Europe or North America, Iran has a high quality and very affordable transportation system. There's a vast network of flights between Iran and Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Visitors usually fly to Iran, using Dubai, Istanbul or Doha air hubs. Most flights land in Tehran (IKA) and in in Shiraz (SYZ) . You can also fly to Shiraz, Esfahan and Mashhad, usually from other cities in the Middle East. 

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The biggest problem Americans, Canadians, and British have is often getting the visa to Iran in the first place. We are regularly asked about Iran visa requirements and tour guide requirements. It's actually pretty straight forward, so here's an easy guide to getting consular visas for Iran.

 

 

Who Needs a Consular Visa to Iran?

 

It is mandatory for nationals of the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan to arrange a consular visa before traveling to Iran. Iran doesn't have an official visa policy for most African, and other nationals from developing nations, so for these countries you should contact your nearest Iranian Embassy or Consulate. Otherwise the consular visa is recommended if you are concerned about your background.

 

 

Common Visa Types

  • Transit Visa
  • Tourist Visa
  • Business Visa
  • Partner Visa
  • Diplomatic Visa

This article concerns the Iran visa requirements for the consular tourist visa only.

 

 

Iran Visa Requirements 

 

The MFA stipulates tourist applicants must submit the following documents to your Iranian Embassy or Consulate nearest you: [1]

  1. One completed application form. Download HERE.
  2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Authorization Code.[2]
  3. Two biometric full-face photos measuring 4cm x 3cm.[3]
  4. An original valid passport.[4]
  5. A bank payment receipt for the Iran visa issuance fee.[5]
  6. Pre-arranged guided itinerary for nationals of the United States of America, United Kingdom, and Canada.[6]

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Translated Version)

 

Notes:

1 Iran visa requirements may vary between Iranian diplomatic missions. Proof of travel insurance, return flight tickets, and you may need to be a national (or a resident) of the country where applying from.

The MFA does not receive Iran visa applications directly from tourists. Your details must be submitted to a registered Iran travel agency, who will then process the application with the MFA. Iran travel agencies generally charge US $35-50 (or equivalent) to process the authorization code. Regular processing times takes between 7-10 days, however nationals of the UK, U.S.  and Canada can take up to 2 months. Some nationals have experienced considerable difficulties trying to get visas from private online visa agencies, this is because not all travel agencies are registered to process visas for Canadian, British, and American nationals. Once processed, your visa authorization code will be forwarded into your nominated Iranian consular mission. Higher ranked agencies may be able to speed up the process for priority guests.

 Photos should be taken within the past 6 months. The Iran visa requirements specify full face, front view, open eyes, a plain white background, without a hat, glasses or neck scarves. Women, and girls over the age of nine, should wear a headscarf in their Iran visa application photos (colored is acceptable).

4 Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date an Iran visa application is submitted.

Your nearest Iranian consular mission will provide the bank account details for the Iran visa charge. The visa charge itself varies for different nationalities and is subject to change.

6 Iran travel agencies must be registered to receive American, British, and Canadian nationals. The tour guides must also possess a specialty license for security training. The MFA must approve your itinerary. Overall, the Iran visa process is pretty straightforward and includes a couple of forms, itinerary, flight information, and standard visa application information.

 

 

What Else Should I Consider?

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran and associated diplomatic missions also implement the following regulations:

  • Incomplete documents may be refused.
  • In the event of Iran visa refusal, the visa charge will not be refunded.
  • The I.R Iran, if necessary, may invite applicants for an interview with an immigration official.

 

You should lodge your Iran visa application well in advance of your date of travel. The application process for an Iranian visa can be long and unpredictable. Check the expiry date of your Iran visa before traveling, depending if you have a fixed tour date, you will generally have 3 months to enter Iran once your Iran visa is printed. Most nationalities can get a Iran visa extension from major cities. However if you overstay your visa, you may have to remain in Iran until the situation is resolved. 

 

Cheap Iran Guided Tours

You can get budget tours for between US $50-150 per day. Including accommodation, a registered tour guide, and transport costs. Ok so let's do the math on a budget with standard 2016 rates:

  • Tour Guide (on foot): Starts from US $50/day. American guides cost US $130/day.
  • Driver Tour Guide: Starts from US $120/day. American guides cost US $260/day.
  • Quality 4 and 5 Star Hotels: Starts from US $120/night for a double.
  • Good 3 Star Hotels: Starts from US $70/night for a double.
  • Budget Hotels: Starts from US $35/night for a double.

 

You'll also be paying for the driver and guides' accommodation costs outside their based city. So quick math:

- 4 person budget-range trip: (120+40*2.75)/4= US $58/Day per person.

- 4 person mid-range trip: (120+80*2.75)/4= US $85/ Day per person.

- 4 person luxury-range trip: (120+130*2.75)/4= US $120/ Day per person.

 

But the average daily costs may vary, for example smaller group sizes will cost more, and larger group sizes (20-40 people on a bus) will be better value per head. You may also need to buy your own meals and for the guide ($30-50/day).

Sfiran adopts cost rates with suppliers receiving only small margins on purchasing power, however quoting directly with tour guides is often just as cheap. However larger British, American, and Iranian travel agencies often have 100% markups or more for wholesale costs and profits.

The Iran visa MFA code are often included with tour packages, however the Iran visa charges 

So in these circumstances the average rate is typically over US $200 / day.

 

Visa Free Travel to Free Trade Zones

Iranian visas aren't required for Kish and Qeshm Island, where you can stay for 14 days without a visa. This includes British, Canadian, and U.S. Nationals. The Iran visa free travel applies to the economic free trade zones of Qeshm Island and Kish Island in the Persian Gulf.

If planning to enter other parts of the country through a free trade zone, tourists can visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (immigration mission) on each island to receive permission.   Permissions are also required for vehicle transfers and bulky goods to the mainland.

 

Traveling with Children

Under Iranian law, a female parent traveling with her children must have the (usually verbal) permission of the father to take them out of Iran. This is assumed to be the case by Iranian immigration authorities unless the father has petitioned the court, and/or the court has ruled to prevent the children traveling. For further information contact the Iranian Embassy or Consulate nearest you.

 

Iran Land Border Crossings

Travelers are permitted to enter Iran at registered land border crossings, however the Iran visa requirements must approved prior at the Iranian Embassy or Consulate nearest you. Otherwise obtaining Iran visas on arrival is permitted at major international airport and sea port terminals. Tour guides are able to meet Canadian, British, and American at the land border crossings. 

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Translated Version)

 

Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever vaccination is required for travelers arriving in Iran from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.

 

Israeli Nationals and Previous Travels to Israel

The Iran regulations permit visa assessment to all nationals, except Israel (Palestine). If your passport contains an Israeli stamp or stamps from other countries’ border crossing points with Israel, you may be refused entry to Iran. For further information contact the Iranian Embassy or Consulate nearest you.

 

Dual nationality

Iran doesn’t recognize dual nationality. The Iranian authorities will deny that foreign governments have any legitimate responsibility for Iranians with dual citizenship. If you are regarded as an Iranian national under Iranian law, you will be required to enter and leave Iran using Iranian travel documents. This may apply if your father is Iranian, or if you are married to an Iranian man, even if you don’t consider yourself Iranian. Unless the Iranian government has recognized a formal renunciation or loss of Iranian citizenship. Dual nationals may also be subject to harsher legal treatment than visitors with only U.S. British or Canadian citizenship.

 

The Iranian embassy in London has confirmed that it has commenced its Iran visa service; you should apply by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More information is available from the embassy by calling 02079375225.

 

Visa Validity

You will have 3 months to enter Iran once your Iran visa has been issued in your passport. However this is subject to your registered Iran tour itinerary, if you have one. 

 

Emergency Travel Documents

Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Iran. ETDs are accepted for exit from Iran only; however, this only applies to mono nationals who must first acquire permission from the Iranian Bureau of Alien and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA). The Swedish Embassy can issue EU ETDs to British nationals.

 

Swedish Embassy
Modarres Blv., Fazlabad
Shiraz, Fars
Iran

Tel: +98 711 7260030
Web: bafia.moi.ir/

 

 

Length of Stay

 

The nominal length of stay on your Iran visa is 30 days. However your Iranian visa can also be extended in major Iranian cities such as Isfahan, Shiraz, and Tehran if you don’t mind waiting in line. Extensions generally take the better part of a day inside Iran. 

Multiple entries can also be requested. For further information contact the Iranian Embassy or Consulate nearest you.

 

 

How to Apply for your Iran Visa?

 

To obtain a visa, contact the Iranian Embassy or Consulate nearest you. Travelers should not attempt to enter mainland Iran from Kish Island without a visa, unless you are a national on the Iranian visa-free list.

The Iranian embassy in London has confirmed that it has commenced its visa service; you should apply by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More information is available from the embassy by calling 02079375225.

Americans should contact the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan located at 2209 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC. 20007; tel. 202-965-4990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99; fax 202-965-1073, 202-965-4990 (Automated Fax-On-Demand after office hours). Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Americans also have a Virtual Embassy Tehran, however the Swiss Government serves as the protecting power for U.S. citizens in Iran.

 

Embassy of Switzerland – U.S. Interests Section

No. 39, Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Iran)

Telephone: +(98) (21) 2254-2178 and +(98) (21) 2256-5273

Fax: +(98) (21) 2258-0432

tie.vertretung(at)eda.admin.ch

 

 

Need to Know

 

For general up-to-date information see these websites.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: econsulate.mfa.ir/. (Translated Version)

U.S. Department of State CA: https://travel.state.gov/content/

passports/en/country/iran.html

 

UK FCO: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iran

AUST: smartraveller.gov.au/countries/iran

How about learning some Persian greetings before traveling to Iran? Whether you want to get a taxi, pay for your dinner or talk to the local people and interact with Iranians, you will need to know some Persian. For sure you will meet lots of Iranians who come to you to have a chat and maybe even hang out together. Remember, Modern Persian and Farsi are the same language.

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Whether you are a backpacker who is interested in local foods or simply a busy businessman, traveling can be challenging. With extended hours on a plane or hectic hours on the bus and long meetings with colleagues, you barely have time to sleep, let alone think about how you will find healthy foods to eat. Strange names on the restaurant menu, different spices, smells and tastes? This article walks you through some steps you can take to eat right while you're away and answers some questions about foods in Iran and what to eat and drink when you are traveling through the country.

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Whether you’re a backpacker traveling to Iran on a budget, or an all-the-frills luxury traveler, you’re going to need to plan ahead regarding the handling of monetary units. Although Iran is one of the cheapest countries in the Middle East for travelers, unstable exchange rates and an isolated banking system has made a few difficulties and questions about how to plan and what to bring before coming to Iran.

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