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: 
- One completed application form. Download HERE.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Authorization Code.
- Two biometric full-face photos measuring 4cm x 3cm.
- An original valid passport.
- A bank payment receipt for the Iran visa issuance fee.
- Pre-arranged guided itinerary for nationals of the United States of America, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Translated Version)
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.
2 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.
3 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.
5 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 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.
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.
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.
Modarres Blv., Fazlabad
Tel: +98 711 7260030
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.
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
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/
UK FCO: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iran