When you are preparing to travel to Iran and searching for information about Iranian tourist visas, you will come across the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) website. First launched in 2017 the MFA, the official website was a beacon for hope and clarity for to-be travelers to Iran. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For reasons unknown, visa applications sent via the MFA website see long delay times and higher rejection rates.
Nevertheless, some travelers will choose the MFA route. Here, I examine the process of applying for and (eventually) getting Iran visa authorization code through the MFA e-visa website and other options travelers should know about.
What is Iran e-visa?
Iran electronic visa or simply e-visa is the process of applying for Iran visa electronically through the website managed by E-visa department of Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “speed up the process of getting a visa for travelers and make it easier for them” as the department claimed, once starting its work.
Using the website and if your application gets approved, you will receive an authorization number which lets you enter Iran as a traveler; a service which has been provided by travel agencies as well for many years. Here is a brief summary of what the process is through the website.
How do you apply for Iran visa through the MFA e-visa website?
To start the process of getting the authorization number, you need to click “Apply Now” in the website’s front page, it will lead you to a page explaining general issues and also types of Iran visa, click “Start a Visa Application” to continue. Guided to the next phase, you should select your Visa type (which is tourist visa in this case), your nationality, type of your passport, and the place in which you want to submit your documents and get your visa. You should also upload a personal photo as well as a copy of your passport’s first page. Consider all photo requirements to proceed to the next step in which you need to fill your personal information, your passport information, and the contact information (for phone number and address in Iran, if you don’t have a host, you need to write information of the hotel you want to stay at during your travel). Here is a complete guide about Iran visa requirements: Iran visa requirements
You should also specify your visa information including the duration of your stay and type of entry in this step. Completing all the steps above, you will receive a verification code through email. Note that the verification code would be sent just to confirm that the application has been completed. You still need to wait for an authorization number which states that your visa has been approved and guarantees getting your visa stamp. The next step is to check your Iran visa status online and probably attend an interview in the nearest Consulate or Embassy.
How do you check your Iran visa status online through the website?
To check your Iran e-visa status, you need to check the website time to time as they would not send you an email, confirming or rejecting your application. Click “CHECK NOW” on the website’s front page which leads you to the page to check your Iran visa status. Enter your application number or ID or track your visa by passport number, date of birth and email to find out whether your visa has been issued or rejected. It usually takes 5 days to even more than 2 weeks (in rare case there may be no reply for a long time, either due to holidays’ of Iranian New Year or system errors). That’s it! Though it seems straightforward, applying for e-visa and asking for Iran visa tracking code through Iran MFA’s website has some shortcomings too. Here we mention some of them.
Why shouldn’t you apply through MFA e-visa website?
The first and maybe the most important reason to avoid applying for Iran visa through the e-visa website is the high possibility of getting rejected. There are several cases of travelers, visiting Iran as a family with the same contact information in Iran (something you need to fill in Iran visa application form, it can be the address and phone number of your hosts or the hotel you are going to stay at) and while some of them get their authorization number, the others get rejected. Still, when the same person, rejected once or several times through the e-visa website, applies via an agency, the visa code is issued easily. As mentioned in the article Why apply for Iran Visa in advance, the average rejection rate applying through e-visa website is almost 20% while it is safer to apply via an agency. Depending on the agency and its connections, the rejection rate would be much lower, for 1stQuest, for example, it is almost 1.8%.
What makes Iran visa check through e-visa website even more confusing is that there are no clear reason provided and reasons for rejection stated in the answer are sentences like:
“Please apply via a host in Iran”, or
“Apply at the center through a business host or tourist agency”
The other reason is the time it takes for the department or whoever which is responsible to reply. It is especially important for travelers who are in haste. The process takes 5 days (in the best case scenario) to even more than 2 weeks. Considering the fact that no one would answer phone numbers available at the website and the other contact options (email) does not work, if you don’t have enough time, do not apply through the e-visa system. Applying through an agency, the process takes less time, for 1stQuest it usually takes just 2 working days.
Moreover, the process through the website is complicated. To submit your application, you need to fill a long form having detailed information about your visa type and also your passport, personal information, and contact info (both in your homeland and in Iran).
These are a few problems you may encounter applying for your Iran visa online through MFA website, not to mention system errors in uploading your photos and getting the verification code. To sum it up, though it is free of charge (you still need to pay Iran visa fee at the airports or consulates) and effective for many applicants, the e-visa website is underdeveloped and not user-friendly. You also need to apply for your visa through MFA website at least one month before your travel, so if you don’t have enough time, we do not recommend it.