As Iran’s policy to open up to tourism is expanding, so travellers see the once difficult task of getting a tourist visa, get more accessible. As of today (March 2018), there are two possibilities for getting an Iranian Tourist visa. Read how to get an Iranian visa:
The far easier option is the VOA (Visa on Arrival)
This option is only available to those that arrive at International Airports (since January 2018: Tehran, Tabriz, Shiraz, Isfahan, and others). It is not available to all citizens though. Citizens of countries from European Union can apply for VOA. Hungarian nationals do not require any visa at all to enter Iran. UK and US nationals must obtain a visa in advance.
Tip: Remember to have an address of a hotel or of the host who is going to receive you at hand, because officials will require that information to fill in your application.
UPDATE (March 2018): The official site of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes that Visa on arrival candidates now also have to apply for an electronic application online. See e-visa link.
Visa in Advance (on Iranian Embassies throughout the World)
- Without online application:
You can go to any Iranian embassy without having made the previous online application. However, this procedure will take longer and does not give you any guarantees that you will be granted a visa because the embassy will still have to make the online application or send you home and request you to do it beforehand. (Foresee at least ten days).
- With online application (our experience!):
Apply for the online visa number at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website https://evisatraveller.mfa.ir/en/request
- You will need to answer a few simple questions (i.e. the address of accommodation in Iran – even if no reservation is demanded) and upload a pdf of your passport and a pdf of a passport photo of yourself. You will also need to name the Iranian Embassy where you wish to collect your visa. In our case, we asked to have it in Georgia (as we were travelling in Georgia).
- A few days after applying for the visa online, you can check the status of your application on the same website. You will not receive an e-mail notifying you of the status of your application.
- Once your application is accepted, you should print it as well as the visa number you have been allocated. Remember to take these printed documents to the Embassy where you will finalize the visa procedure.
- At the Embassy you will have to hand these copies as well as the rest of the needed documentation (see below). The official will send you to the bank to pay the fee that corresponds to your country (Portugal: 50 EUR // Luxembourg: 50 EUR). The Embassy will make an appointment for you to come with the bank slip that proves payment of visa to fetch your visa (in our case one working day).
- Address of hotel or any other accommodation
- Passport (valid for at least 6 months after the date of departure)
- 1 Photo
- Copy of Travel Insurance
– When filling in your online application, do not ask for more than 30 days. We asked for 60 days on our first application and got rejected. Two days later we made another request for 30 days and were immediately accepted.
– Make sure you fill your application on the official website and not on an Iranian travel agency site. An agency will ask you to pay for their fees. The application procedure on the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website is free.
– Read the instructions to upload the pdf of your passport and photo carefully and comply with the requested format, or else the upload will not work.
How was the procedure?
It was quick and simple. While waiting for our turn, one of the officials offered us coffee. There is also water and many chairs to sit. As soon as the official handed us our passports with the Iranian visas, they wished us a good trip and welcomed us in Iran. We couldn’t feel any better! 🙂
While in Iran, it is possible to ask for your visa to be extended. Head to the central headquarters of the police on any of the big cities (preferable cities that are used to tourists and therefore used to handle extensions). We were in Kerman 5 days before our visa expired, therefore we asked for our extension there.
The procedure to request the visa extension is quite simple. You will make the official request one day and will be able to get the extension the day after. All we had to do was print and fill in the forms (which we had to buy at a photocopier shop), pay 10 EUR at a national bank nearby, hand one photo (careful, women will have to wear hijab – something that had not been requested for the visa!) and return the next day.
Make sure you do not try to extend your visa too early. A German couple had tried to extend their visas in Kerman 7 days before they expired and was asked to come a few days later.