How to get a visa
When tourists intend to visit Iran they need to get a visa according to the existing regulations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The tourist visa is issued for a maximum stay of 30 days but it can be extended. Some nationalities are eligible for visa-free entry like Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela. In case travelers are not from the above-mentioned countries, there are two ways of getting a visa to Iran. You may apply for your Iranian Tourist Visa on Arrival or in Advance.
- Tourist Visa on Arrival:
Tourists can receive their visas as soon as they arrive at the entry points. This way, there is no need to go through all the paperwork to get the visa authorization code. However, it can be a risky option due to visa rejection. Military personnel and journalists cannot apply to get this kind of visa. Some countries are not eligible to apply for this kind of visa. The list is as follows: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, USA, Uzbekistan,
- Tourist Visa in Advance
There are different options for this way of getting visas which are discussed separately.
Option 1- Getting visa authorization number in advance and collecting visa on arrival
Travelers are required to apply for a visa authorization number. This number should not be considered as a visa but as the main step before their visa application. This number is provided by Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Travelers will contact travel agencies in Iran to apply for this number and pay some amount of money. Having this authorization number in hand, travelers are able to obtain their visa in the air/land /sea or railway borders of Iran. It is needed to declare the entrance border in the visa authorization request form. Here you can find the list of Iranian borders: Tehran International Airport (IKA), Shiraz International Airport (SYZ), Isfahan International Airport (IFN), Mashhad International Airport (MHD), Tabriz International Airport (TBZ), Bazargan Land Border, Razi Railway Border, Anzali sea port on the Caspian Sea.
Option 2- Apply for Tourist Visa through an Iranian consulate or embassy:
Travelers need to fill out a visa application form in advance and along with other documents take it to Iran’s Embassy/Consulate in the country they are living in. Travelers can contact the embassy and confirm in case there should be any personal appointments. Some of the necessary documents are as follows: completed visa application form (downloadable from the consulate website), the authorization reference code, original passport, 2 recent passport-size photos, travel itinerary, bank statement, and resident card (if you are living in a country other than your country of origin). The fee for visa is payable to the embassy/consulate to travelers who want to collect the visa.
Option 3: Apply for Tourist Visa through a third party:
This is the best option recommended to all tourists and travelers. The process of getting a visa with the help of travel agencies working in Iran not only takes a shorter time but also saves you the trouble of paperwork. It is worth mentioning that travel agencies only get visa authorization codes, and in order to get the actual visa travelers have to go to an Iranian embassy/consulate (the one mentioned in the initial visa application form as the place travelers wish to collect their visa).
Some points to remember:
- Travelers’ passports must be valid for six months and preferably have two blank pages at the time of arrival.
- Travelers are required to check the needed documents with the consulate, as there may be differences from one consulate to another
- The money travelers pay for the visa application process is for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the amount is not refundable.