Who needs a visa to enter Iran?
All foreign tourists, except for passport holders of a few countries, require a visa to travel to Iran. Citizens of these countries do not need a tourist visa to enter Iran: Armenia, Azerbaijan (for 15 days), Bolivia, Georgia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
Iran e-visa vs. visa reference number
You might get confused with different terms used to talk about Iranian visa; Iran eVisa or e Visa , electronic visa, authorization code, reference number, invitation letter and tourist visa all refer to the same type of visa required for a tourist to enter Iran. So, don’t worry about different names; they all refer to same visa.
How to get an Iran visa in advance?
Getting a visa is very simple with 1stQuest. Fill in an online application form and pay the service fee. We’ll do the paperwork and get you an authorization code from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 2 working days. When you receive the code, it means that your visa is ready and you just need to collect it. In fact, an authorization code (also spelled as authorisation code or called reference code) is the electronic receipt for your visa.
After you received your authorization code, you can collect your visa either from an Iranian embassy/consulate or from an international airport in Iran. But, there’s an important point to remember! You should specify where you want to collect your visa when filling in your application form.
Is there any other way to obtain visa in advance?
To obtain a visa to travel to Iran, you can also refer to an Iranian embassy in person or use the website of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). However, individuals applying directly from a(n) embassy/consulate or MFA’s website are reporting very long waiting time and high rejection rates (see here to read more on travelers’ experience).
What are Iranian visa requirements?
For the application of a visa, the following documents are required:
- A passport with at least 6 months validity and two blank pages
- A photo to be attached to visa application form
- Embassy fee, payable to the chosen Iranian consulate or the visa office at the airport. The visa fee depends on the applicant’s nationality (see the list of visa fees). This is different from the service fee received by 1stQuest to process your application. The visa fee is payable in cash with euro or US dollar.
- Travel insurance. When collecting your visa at the embassy or airport, you are required to have a printout of your travel insurance. You can purchase insurance through 1stQuest at 15 euros or get it at the airport or consulate. Read more on how to get an Iran travel insurance and travel insurances acceptable in Iran.
For online visa application, you need to upload a digital copy (scanned files) of your passport and photo. Still, for collecting your visa from the airport/embassy you need the original documents.
How to get an Iran visa on arrival (VOA)?
Visa on arrival (VOA) (aka Iran airport visa) is a tourist visa granted to citizens of 180 countries upon their arrival to Iran. Since August 2017, to get a VOA at international airports in Iran, you must apply through the Iranian government’s e-visa website at least 2 days in advance.
Then, upon your arrival, you will hand the submission receipt to the visa officer at the airport and receive your VOA. While getting a VOA seems to be convenient, our recommendation is to apply for a visa a couple of days before you get to Iran. There are four reasons behind this recommendation:
- It is not cheaper. Visa on arrival fee ranges between 10-150 euros, costing around 75 euros for most European countries. Therefore, VOA fee for Europeans is almost equal to getting a visa in advance through 1stQuest; for other nationals, getting VOA can be even more expensive up to 30 euros.
- There is always a minimum risk of rejection which should be taken care of. If you are rejected, you have to buy a return flight and pay the extra costs.
- Issuing VOA is sometimes very sluggish and can slow you down for hours at the airport; no one likes waiting in standstill lines of visa and passport check.
- Getting a visa is very fast with 1stQuest. It only takes two business days to get your authorization code; also, if you can't or don’t like to visit the embassy, you can easily collect your visa from the airport once you arrive.
- Citizens of some countries cannot get a visa on arrival; these countries include the US, UK, Canada, Colombia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
What’s the best time to apply for an Iranian visa? How Early?
We recommend you start the process of visa application two weeks ahead of your scheduled travel. However, getting visa won’t take that long. You’ll receive your authorization code in two working days and then, if you choose to collect your visa from the airport, you’re almost done. If, on the other hand, you’ve chosen to collect your visa from the embassy/consulate, you need to have enough time to go to the embassy and collect it.
Duration, extension, and validity of Iranian visa
Iran tourist visa is a 30-day single entry visa. But, you can extend it in Iran for 30 days for the first time and another 30 days for the second time. It is valid up to 3 months after the issue date.
In order to extend your visa, head for the Police Department of Aliens Affairs. The offices are open from Saturday to Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and are usually crowded; so, it’s better to be early. Check Iranian national holidays to avoid any delays. There, you’ll need the following documents:
- two photocopies of the picture page of your passport, your current visa, entry stamp, and any other extensions;
- fee for the extension (about IR 500,000; check the current fee with the office). To pay the fee, you’ll be directed to a Bank Melli branch. After returning the bank receipt, the visa extension will be issued.
Iran visa for American, Canadian, and British citizens
American, British, and Canadian passport holders can enter Iran only if they are accompanied by an authorized tour guide. This, however, doesn't mean that your tour guide will watchdog you during the trip. You’ll have your free time to find things on your own and negotiate every aspect of your travel to customize your visit. Hiring an authorized tour guide is easy and cheap through 1stQuest. Our tour guide service fee starts from 45 EUR per day. Read more on Traveling to Iran as an American, British, or Canadian in our blog.
Visa requirements for Indian and Pakistani citizens
Pakistani nationals are not eligible for getting VOA. In order to get visa, they are required to apply through an agency. Indian nationals, on the other hand, can get visa both in advance or at the airport on arrival. The process and required documents for Pakistani and Indian citizens are exactly the same as other citizens.
How to enter Iran without a visa? Visa-free zones: Kish and Qeshm
There are some Iranian free trade zones where all nationals eligible for visa on arrival can enter without a visa for stays up to 14 days. These areas include Kish Island, Qeshm Island, Chabahar, Aras, Anzali, Arvand, and Maku. There are international airports in Kish Island and Qeshm Island with frequent international flights. So, they can be great destinations for air travel. Other areas are best accessible by land. Keep in mind that for exiting the free zones and entering Iran, you will require a visa.
US visa waiver program and new Iran visa policy
Some travelers ask: Does a visit to Iran affect my future for visiting other countries? The answer is NO, but there is a story behind it. US Visa Waiver Program (WPM) allows citizens of 38 countries, including most European countries, to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. However, in 2015, a new limitation was imposed on citizens of these countries who have previously traveled to Iran and a few other countries.
In 2018, Iran updated its visa policy and started a new stamp-free policy to encourage more foreign visitors to enter Iran. In the new policy travelers to Iran will no longer have an Iranian visa attached to their passport or an enter/exit stamp on their passport. Therefore, visitors will be easily using the Visa Waiver Program to enter the US.
How much does it cost to get an iranian visa?
In order to obtain visa (whether it’s a On Arrival or in advance) you need to pay an embassy/stamp fee to Iran consulate/airport when collecting your visa. The fee depends on the applicant’s nationality. Following you can see the list of visa fees for different nationalities:
|Nationalities||Schengen Nationalities||Australian/New Zeland||British||American||Canadian||Pakistani||Indian||Chinese||Brazilian|
|Visa on arrival fee||€75||€145-150||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||€90||€100||€80|