Crucial Iran Visa Tips – Can Tourists Get an Iran Visa on Arrival?

Iran Visa on Arrival How to Article
Get an Iran Visa on Arrival, and you can visit the ancient city of Persepolis, near Shiraz in Central Iran.

Disclaimer : this is a long article, entirely about getting an Iran Visa, an Iran Visa on Arrival, or an extension for an Iran Visa. There are no witty and insightful travel tales contained within, apart from a direct explanation of what happened when I applied for my visa on arrival in Tehran, October 2012. This article is purely information in content, and will be of interest for anyone thinking of heading to Iran one day. Bookmark it.

There is much confusion and mystery about the application process for receiving an Iran visa. Certainly, Iran is a country where the application process differs depending upon your nationality, and there a few hoops almost everyone needs to jump through. However, obtaining a Iran visa is not as difficult as it may first appear.

You’re thinking of taking your holiday in Iran. Great choice. Iran is incredible, and amongst the 35 countries I have visited, it has rocketed to the top of my “favourite countries” list. But, unless you’re from a small group of nationalities (Turkish and Malaysian for example), you’ll need an Iran visa.

There are three methods of obtaining an Iran visa.

Get An Iranian Travel Agency to Apply for an Iran Visa on Your Behalf

Option one – use an Iran based travel agency to piece together a tailor made holiday for you in Iran. In this case, choose a travel agent that will assist with your Iran visa. This is no doubt the easiest way to get your tourist visa for Iran. But, it’s also certain to be the most expensive. All you really need is patience, the application process may take two months, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Plan ahead.

The length of your allowed stay in Iran as a tourist will vary depending upon the length of your tour – but is commonly issued as a 30 day tourist visa. This is the maximum length of the Iran tourist visa.

Americans, British and Canadians, this is likely to be the only way you can apply for a Iran visa. The requirements are stringent for your nationalities -t he Iranian government requires that all American, British, and Canadian tourists travel through Iran with either a government authorised private guide or group tour.

Arrive by air straight into the city of Tehran, with your Iran Visa
Arrive by air straight into the city of Tehran, with your Iran Visa

 

Independent Travellers – How to Get an Iran Visa on Arrival at the Airport

Are you Australian, German, Dutch, French, or Japanese? Good news. You can now apply on-the-spot for an Iran visa on arrival. This is applicable to all international Iranian airports. Note, as previously mentioned – American citizens, British citizens – the Iran visa on arrival is NOT available to you. Other nationalities, consult your Iranian embassy to determine if your nation is eligible for a visa on arrival. There are some useful resources listed at the bottom of the article to assist with this.

This to me is the guts of this article – I’m an independent traveller, and I am providing this information to assist other independent tourists. The Iran visa on arrival process is straightforward, however there are a few requirements you need to take care of, before you arrive in Iran.

1. You must have proof of your accommodation in Iran, with full contact details.

I had booked a hotel for only three nights in Tehran, even though I was planning on staying for two weeks. This was sufficient to meet this requirement for the visa on arrival. I have been told that it is standard practice for the visa officer to contact the hotel and confirm the booking is real. My suggestion is to at least stay one night at the hotel/home-stay/guest house/friendly Iranian’s couch you pre-booked before coming to Iran, you are then free to stay anywhere you choose.

2. You must have proof on onwards travel out of Iran…or do you?

If you have booked a return airfare, or an airfare to anther country, you have met this requirement. However, if (like me) you only have a one-way ticket into Iran, with no proof of onwards travel, there are two issues you will face.

Firstly, you may not be allowed to board your flight. Leaving Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it took several staff, and various explanations, before I was told “OK, we’ll let you on the flight, but once you land in Iran, you’re on your own”.

But this Iran visa requirement is definitely not cut-and-dry. I had a one way ticket, and no proof or onward travel. I was allowed onto the flight, and received my Iran visa on arrival. This is my story:

  • I had “official looking” screen prints from the Iranian embassy website in English, as a kind of “proof” that I knew what I was doing. As simple as this sounds, I’m sure it assisted in being allowed onto the flight.
  • *I showed the airline staff a wad of US dollars. As there is no simple way to access your bank account in Iran, it is essential that you have enough cash for your visit. The airline officer requested to see my cash, and he indicated that the same thing may happen when I land in Iran.
  • I had an exit plan to leave Iran. I was going to travel from Tabriz, to Armenia, on a bus. This is a short bus trip, and it made perfect sense that I would not require a return flight if I was exiting Iran to Armenia.
  • I had a print-out of my online Armenian e-visa application, adding further weight to my story

3. Other requirements for the Iran visa-on-arrival

It’s a requirement that you are not a journalist, or reporter. If you have been previously rejected for an Iran visa, you cannot apply for a visa on arrival.

Once you arrive in Iran, visa in hand, get used to looking up and being amazed.
Once you arrive in Iran, visa in hand, get used to looking up and being amazed.

 

Questions You May be Asked Before Being Granted an Iran Visa on Arrival

The Iran airport officer spoke to me for just a few minutes. He enquired about my occupation, and what my intentions were in Iran. I explained I would be independently travelling around Iran, seeing such cities as Tehran, Esfehan (Isfehan), and Shiraz, before heading to Tabriz and travelling to Armenia by bus. Although he asked a few more detailed questions about my occupation, this was a fairly straight-forward, and short, interview.

What does an Iran Visa on Arrival Cost?

Good question. As at October 2012, the Iranian Rial is under severe stress, and is fluctuating wildly. So, I would anticipate these costs could change at any moment. However, the important thing to note, is that you must pay for your Iran tourist visa with either Euro’s, or US dollars. Euro’s are definitely the preferred currency, although you will have no problems with US dollars. Every other currency, is unlikely to be accepted. Credit cards of any sort, are not accepted.

The amount you pay for your visa-on-arrival, will vary upon your nationality. I have spoken to other tourists, from countries such as India, The Netherlands, Bahrain, and Australia. Every person paid a different amount. The price for the Iran visa-on-arrival is made up on-the-spot. Costs varied between $40 US, and $100 US, per person. Make of that what you will.

How Many Days Can I Travel With An Iran Visa on Arrival?

The validity of the visa on arrival is a standard 15 days. If you ask for less days, you will likely receive less days. So, ask for two weeks. If you need 30 days, apply in advance at your closest Iranian embassy, or a travel agent. Or, get the 15 day Iran visa on arrival, and then extend it when you arrive…

An Iran visa extension will allow you time to get off the beaten track.
An Iran visa extension will allow you time to get off the beaten track.

 

Can Your Iran Visa or Visa on Arrival Be Extended?

One thing about a holiday in Iran – there is so much to see, and so little time. The sights are fairly dispersed over the country, so domestic travelling time will be considerable. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you may want more time. Especially if you’ve only received the 15 day Iran visa on arrival.

Good news – your Iran visa can be extended. You need to apply for an extension at the immigration office in cities such as Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz.

Shiraz – Is It The Best Place to Apply For an Iran Visa Extension?

My research had told me that the city of Shiraz had the most helpful visa office. In my personal experience – it only took 90 minutes from the time I entered the building, until I was leaving with a 15 day extension in my passport. This is how I got my Iran visa-on-arrival extended in the city of Shiraz.

  • You will need a photocopy of the “photo” page of your passport, a photocopy of the page of your passport that holds your Iran visa, 300000 rial (about $20 US), and two passport sized photos.
  • Arrive at the visa office at opening time – 7.30am. Catch a taxi, they know where to go, and they’re cheap.
  • Go to the third floor, and humbly ask various officers about a visa extension.
  • An officer will provide you with a slip of paper, saying that you must visit a bank to deposit the 300000 rials fee, and then return with a receipt showing this deposit has been made.
  • The tip is, go back downstairs, and approach a taxi driver hanging around near the front. Every day, they drive foreigners to the bank, fill out the deposit slip on your behalf, do the banking of the visa extension fee, and drive you back to the visa office. My driver charged me 50000 rial (less than $2 US) to do all of this for me. Believe me, this is absolutely the best thing to do. Spend two bucks, and make your life so much easier.
  • Once you have returned to the visa office, fill out a quick application form on the third floor, and then ask around and find out who to give your growing bundle to (your passport, photocopies, bank receipt and photos of yourself).

From this point, you will be seated in front of two, or maybe three more people – each one just checking things, stamping forms, signing papers, ya know, official business. Before you know it, you’ll be done.

In at 7.30am, out by 9.00am. Unofficially, a new Iranian visa extension world record?

Iran Visa Arrival and Extension Article
Your Iran visa doesn’t include a neck brace, for all the time you’ll spend gazing up at ceilings.

 

Iran Visa, Iran Visa on Arrival, Iran Visa Extensions – It’s All Possible, for Almost Any Nationality, but…

Note – if you have any evidence in your passport of travel to Israel, or you are an Israeli citizen, you will not be given an Iran visa, under any circumstances.

Phew! A lot of info to take in! In summary, I suggest you think about your personal circumstances, and your nationality, and pick the section above that applies best to you. You will either be pre-arranging a tourist visa with your local Iran embassy or travel agent, or applying for a visa on arrival.

Most importantly, whether you’re an independent traveller, or using a travel agent to organise a package tour/tailor made holiday – either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your holiday in Iran.

* disclaimer – this article is based upon research, discussions with other travellers in October 2012, and my own personal experience on entering Iran. Your experience may differ. Don’t hold it against me if it does. Do your own research to see if requirements have changed since October 2012. As the man at the check-in counter said to me: you’re on your own if anything goes wrong…

PS – if you have experience with receiving an Iran visa, or an Iran visa on arrival, feel free to tell me your story below. It is bound to be helpful to other travellers.

 

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94 thoughts on “Crucial Iran Visa Tips – Can Tourists Get an Iran Visa on Arrival?

  1. “Your Iran visa doesn’t include a neck brace, for all the time you’ll spend gazing up at ceilings.”

    So much for being wit free!!!

    Did I understand correctly that Iran is now your number 1 favourite place you have travelled to?

    1. …and I tried so hard not to be witty! ;)

      Iran is now officially my number one pick for a tourist destination. I am going to be so sad when I leave here!

  2. Yomadic, Thanks for your extensive information on Iran visa on arrival. As an Iranian local tour operator that gets travelers from Australia, we have faced the fact that many people prefer to have their visas beforehand not to get stressed.

    1. Thanks for the comment. It’s certainly a good idea to apply for an Iranian Visa in advance..just in case. However, it’s also good to know that certain nationalities, such as Australians, can also get an Iran visa on arrival. For those of us that leave travel planning until the last minute ;)

  3. Your experience resembles my own. I travelled to Iran last year and also applied for the visa on arrival. It’s a good thing I had a formal hotel reservation in Teheran, because they did call the hotel to confirm my reservation was good (even when I had a proper printout of my web reservation, from a well known reservations website). They called every single “sponsor” ( that’s how they call whoever is hosting you or receiving you in Iran) for all ther other travellers that arrived with me, so make sure you have that angle covered. The fact that we arrived at 03:00 AM didn’t seem like a problem for them.. :-) I flew in from Istanbul, and I carry a dutch passport in case you are wondering. I found Iran a beautiful country, safe (I travelled alone), with beautiful and kind people, amazing food and certainly some absolutely wonderful historical sites to visit..Highly recommended.

        1. Hey Nate!! Yep, me: spanish mom and dutch dad. Was born and live in Spain, but carry my dad’s nationality. Haven’t been to Holland in two years. How are you enjoying the fine dutch weather?? :-)

            1. I hear you! I live in the Canary Islands and there is no way I could get used to living in Holland. But when you live in a sunny, warm place it´s cool to have a “white christmas” now and then.. ;-)

              You take care!!

              Erik.

    1. Hello Erik,
      I wonder if you flew with Turkish Airlines? And in that case did Turkish Airlines want to see your iranian visa satmp for checking in and boarding in Germany and Istanbul? Since you got yor visa stamp on arrival what did you say/show them?

      Thank you in advance

  4. Im Planing on motorcycling to India or maybe Thailand from the UK. I wish to travel through turkey, through Iran to Pakistan and on. How would i get a visa? Before arriving at the Turkey-Iran border (in the UK) or can i get one at the border.

    Im Planing on motorcycling to India or maybe Thailand from the UK

    1. Hi Simon,

      Sorry, I can only report on my own experience, from my own nationality (Australian) You will need to check with some embassies, or perhaps the services of a company that can arrange the visa’s for you.

      1. Hi there gents,
        I will be flying to Shiraz in 2 weeks, also hoping for a VOA. I have booked a hotel and will overland it out of the country and book a flight out of Tiblisi, but do you know do I ALSO have to contact one of theses visa websites in advance for a ‘visa number’ that will assist with the process on arrival? or can I arrive without that?

        1. Hi Deb…are you Australian? Or of a nationality that can get a VOA?

          If so, my experience will be similar to yours. Let them know you are going overland to Georgia, via Armenia I presume. I got an eVisa for Armenia – they are cheap, about ten bucks. I just printed up the Armenia eVisa page as extra evidence. Actually, once I mentioned “Armenia”, and “bus”, to the Iranian official – that seemed to be the turning point – he perfectly understood that was a feasible option.

          The problem you may have, is getting on the plane in the first place. It was a really close call for me – they didn’t want to let me fly. Be prepared for a bit of debate and persuasion. That’s where the extra paperwork for your Armenian eVisa comes in handy.

          If all goes well, please come back here and tell us about your experience, and all the best!

        2. Hi Deb…are you Australian? Or of a nationality that can get a VOA?

          If so, my experience will be similar to yours. Let them know you are going overland to Georgia, via Armenia I presume. I got an eVisa for Armenia – they are cheap, about ten bucks. I just printed up the Armenia eVisa page as extra evidence. Actually, once I mentioned “Armenia”, and “bus”, to the Iranian official – that seemed to be the turning point – he perfectly understood that was a feasible option.

          The problem you may have, is getting on the plane in the first place. It was a really close call for me – they didn’t want to let me fly. Be prepared for a bit of debate and persuasion. That’s where the extra paperwork for your Armenian eVisa comes in handy.

          If all goes well, please come back here and tell us about your experience, and all the best!

          1. Hi Nate, I am Australian, I am just a bit confused about what I read in Lonely Planet that it helps to contact a ‘sponsor or visa agency’ (eg touranzamin.com or iranianvisa.com) in advance, pay the 35 or 60 Euros or whatever they want, they will submit your info to the embassy for a ‘visa authorisation code number’ (it says it does not guarantee the actual visa, just supposed to help with the process on arrival)..so I am just wondering if that step is or is not necessary?
            Thanks for your info on the evisa thing too

            1. Hi Debra … all I can say is that I didn’t use any kind of agency service, I just rocked up. If you have time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea – I think next time I will probably use a service like this, just to be sure.

          2. Hi again, so I arrived to Shiraz at 4am with about 20 other people off the flight, just had my hotel booking confirmation, onward flight ticket (from Georgia), Armenian e-visa & cash for the visa, was all good they didnt ask me for anything..(except the $ of course) , took just 20 minutes to stick that little visa in the passport and I was in…Iran has really has such awesome sweet & honest people. BTW Did not have the ‘agency’ letter they talk about in LP & was not asked for it.

            1. Hey Deb! Glad you made it. Have a great time, as I know you will – you’re right, people in Iran are really so friendly, welcoming, and eager to help and take care of tourists. Quite a journey ahead of you, enjoy!

  5. “There is much confusion and mystery about the application process for receiving an Iran visa.”

    Amen to that, been trying to read up on it the last two weeks and your article is the one Im putting my hope in! My embassy doesnt even mention the VOA and and Lonely Planet strongly discourages it.

    But I am from Sweden so Im eligble for the visa, will be flying to Iran on the 1st of April and fly out of Tbilisi a month later so prays that it works :)

    Do you know what happens if you are denied a visa? Will it be impossible to get one in the future then? Do I have to pay the flight company insane amounts to fly me out of there?

    Regards
    Simon

    1. Hi Simon! First, good luck. Second, I’m not an expert, so please just read this as my opinion only.

      If your country is the same as Australia, you can get a VOA. Try and confirm that is the case. If you are denied, I would assume you would have to leave. Flights out of Tehran aren’t that expensive – but they will most likely sting you on an exchange rate if you have to pay in Rial. Make sure you have plenty of US dollars, nice crispy hundreds. Take some Euros as well, as they made me pay for the visa with Euros (a little strange, because as soon as you leave the airport, US dollars are the only foreign currency anyone would exchange). I think if you are denied, you will have troubles in the future, but again, that’s just my opinion.

      Please come back here and let me know how it goes, and again, good luck.

      1. Hey Nate

        Just wanted to tell you that the VOA worked just fine, I gave them the number to my booked hotel but they said it wasnt enough and then I gave the number to the person that booked the hotel for me. After that the guy dissapeared with the numbers and my passport for 10 minutes but apparently he neither called the hotel or the girl that booked it for me.
        Cost me 50€, there was also a French women with a Iranian husband and a Indian guy getting the VOA at the same time, the Indian had some issues because he didnt have a leaving stamp from some country but eventually they let him in to,

        I only carried Euros with me on the whole trip and I had no problems exchanging them anywhere, to me it seemed they rather exchange euros then dollars actually.

        And I truly agree with you, Iran soared up to one of my favourite countries in the world, sadly I only had 15 days there which is way to short but I will for sure visit it again :)

        Regards
        Simon

        1. Well done Simon. I really appreciate the updates on the Iran Visa situation, and I’m sure other readers will as well. 50 euro’s seems to be around the standard price, but I know it does vary. As you saw, the price is basically made up on the spot.

          It’s also great information about the exchanging of Euros, I didn’t know that (and I hung out with a black market currency exchange guy for a few days!).

          I’m with you – Iran is absolutely incredible, I will be returning for sure. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

          Great to hear from you again, I love hearing other peoples experiences in countries like Iran.

    2. Hello Simon,
      I wonder if you flew with Turkish Airlines? And in that case did Turkish Airlines want to see your iranian visa satmp for checking in and boarding at Stockholm Arlanda? Since you got yor visa stamp on arrival what did you say/show them?

      A swedish friend of mine will follow me to Iran for two weeks. We will fly by Turkish Airlines Stockholm-Istanbul-Iran and plan to get visa for him on arrival. The iranian ambassy says that is no problem, but Turkish airlines in Stockholm says we must show visa or som other documents to them!!!.

      Thank you in advance

      1. Hello Reza

        I flew with Pegasus Airlines from Copenhagen and have to pick up my baggage in Istanbul because I was staying there from early morning to late evening waiting for the next flight.
        They never asked me for a visa stamp in Copenhagen or Istanbul but I have heard that they can do that sometimes as it is the flight companies responsibility to get you out of the country if they dont let you in.

        Regards
        Simon

        1. Hello Simon,

          I was in Stockholm yesterday and visited the iranian ambassy. They said that swedish citizens can use the opportunity to get visa on arrival, and all airlines should know this. Then I visited Turkish airlines disk at Arlanda airport. First the lady there said you have to show the visa stamp for checking in, but when I told her about what iranian ambassy had said, she looked at the computer and said if you have a valid swedish passport, a return ticket within 15 days it will be ok to check in.
          But if we can not get visa on arrival Turkish airline will not take any responsibility.

          Now I know that it wont be any problem with the airlines :-)

          Thank you
          Regards

          /Reza

  6. Hi Nate,
    Just wondering how much you budgeted for a month in Iran. Obviously there will be no booze so that will be a saving!! Do you think I’ll get by on $1500 AUS?

    1. Hey Patrick – I took $2k US, for two people – and we stayed for a month. We traveled around the country, and had enough cash left over to pay for air tickets to Amsterdam. Iran is pretty cheap (especially by Australian standards).

  7. Good day Nate,
    As you have mentioned Malaysia, does the Iran immigration grant the VOA to Malaysian ?
    I m planning to visit Iran. I searched through the internet but got confusing answers, some said Malaysian required to have visa , some said doesn’t need one. I would be more than happy to start with my first visit with 15 days VOA – if I can get it. :)

  8. Me and my friend, both in our twenties and Dutch, travelled through Iran for three weeks on a VOA, thanks to this article. We got the visa in 20 mins, withouth ANY hassle, even without a leave-country-date or -ticket. Extension in Shiraz was a breeze, the officials there were very friendly.

    Iran is great, the Iranians are the most friendly we ever met.

  9. Nate, thank you so much for sharing! I was researching all day yesterday through this Iranian visa jungle and finally I got the best information ever: just book a flight and go! Lucky German me :) I was just wondering about the onward-flight-proof. I will be flying to India after spending 4 weeks in Iran. But if I arrive I get only 14 days on the VOI, will I get in trouble when my flight to India is in 28 and not in 14 days after my arrival? I know you are not an expert…but maybe you have a well grounded opinion. Thank you so much, my friend! Everything will be great, so looking forward to visit Iran!

    1. Me and my friend didn’t have to show ANY onward flight documentation. Just have a hotel reservation + phone number to confirm. When you get the visa form, don’t fill in the departure date. The guy there didn’t mind, he didn’t even asked us to fill in that part, only one of our names, arrival date and hotel name and number.

      4 weeks in Iran is quite long btw.

      1. Thank you, Paul! That sounds amazing. 4 weeks might be a bit long, that’s actually the longest I would stay. Will have to extend the visa as well because 2 weeks are not enough then…and I’m a slow traveler anyway. But I’m so happy I discovered all this VOI info today because I was nearly desperate with this jungle of contradicting info on Iran visa on the net :)

        1. I stayed 15 days in Iran and thought it was way to short, could easily have spent double as much time so dont think 4 weeks is to long :)

          Have fun down there, amazing country!

    2. Hi Sebastian – I can tell you that when I got my Iranian visa extension in Shiraz – they did not ask to see any proof of onward flights (indeed, I didn’t have an onward flight, and therefore I had no proof!). As I mentioned – I have heard that Shiraz is the best place to get an extension. Good luck – I’m jealous!

      1. Hi Nate, thanks again for all the info :) Finally I am going on Oct 29th and I will try to go without a connecting flight and see if I expend my visa or not. But is the VOA actually 15 days or only 14? There is different info on different websites? Can you confirm it’s really 15, please? Thanks a lot again!!!

        1. Hey Sebastian ..that’s excellent! Have a great time! But, I can’t tell you for certain if it’s 15 or 14. Apparently, extensions are now easily done in Tehran – and I can tell you from experience it was easy in Shiraz. So, if need be, you can always extend. Good luck, let me know how it all goes! (jealous)

  10. Hi,
    I am an Iranian who lives in Australia. I plan to go back Iran with my Australian friend. She applied for Iran visa through the Iran embassy in Canberra but they did not accept her documents until she provides a reference number for them. I am just wondering can she get the visa on the Tehran International air port or needs to get the that reference number? My family are in Iran. I don’t know the process at all if she wants to apply through me or family in Iran. I need some advice. thanks

  11. One thing I saw in Iranian government ( is not in Australian government) is common sense!
    If you talk to them and explain your situation they understand and find a way for you, compare it to Australian government that usually say too bad or pay the fine!

  12. Hi there, thanks a lot for this very informative article! I am an Indonesian national (though residing in Dubai), so officially am eligible for VoA. That said, I still have this apprehension of having to fight my way through at the airport (especially because like you, I’m planning to travel onward to Armenia, and will arrive in Shiraz to save time). By the way, a bit out of the topic, I’m deliberating between flying from Tehran to Yerevan and taking a bus all the way (with an overnight stop at Tabriz, perhaps). Help me weigh the options, please :)

    Lastly, I assume you’ve been to Georgia as well, is it easy to get VoA at the border? Sorry, again out of topic.

    Thanks a million!

  13. Hey,

    Thanks for this very helpful information Nate.
    I am a Brit, living in Munich, and I’ve been considering iranianvisa.com – do you know anyone who’s had a good experience with them? I’ve read a few bad experiences about them online. Then the other problem would be getting to Frankfurt to pick it up from the Iranian consulte there, there’s sadly nothing nearer. So frustrating!

    1. Hi Rachel, I may not be much help here – but I’ve never used any kind of agency to get a visa. Very frustrating for you I’m sure, but it will be totally worth it! Good luck!

  14. My trip to Iran was so lovely!! I enjoyed everyday and I really got to love it:-) VOA was not a problem at all, they didn’t even wanna see my hotel reservation at the airport, everything went quick and uncomplicated! thank you again for everything, Nate!

  15. Hi, I am planning to go to Iran for the first time with my fiancé. I am Slovakian and he is Iranian born, we are visiting his family. I should be eligible for VOA, but tried to apply for visa thru agency to avoid any hassle. The thing is they keep asking for travel itinerary, however we are not planning to stay in any hotels as staying with family. So I guess, this may be an issue, as I read that they will ask for hotel information upon arrival in Tehran.
    Also, I worry that they will have issue with the fact that we are not married, so I think we should say we are just friends. This may sound funny, but don’t want to be disrespectful to their culture.
    Anybody here has any experience about recent visit, whether they are really open to more tourists as they say on the news?

    1. Hi Mila,
      1) passport police wont ask you about your relationship with your fiancé. in case, you can say you are friends and his family has invited you to visit Iran and the family for learning more about the culture. No problems. Everybody should meet and know the family before a marriage.

      2) You can ask your fiancé’s family for going to the foreign office (“Vezarate omore khareje”) for inviting you as a friend to visit Iran. They get a form to fill in (visa application). They email you a copy of the completed form that you can show to the Airlines if they ask for your visa when you check in.

      The foreign office issues your visa after 3-4 days, but they dont give any paper/reference number or quittance to the family. You dont need to do anything more. When you arrive in Iran you will get your visa in your passport after that you pay 60 euro.

      Dont worry be happy :-)

        1. Hi, so I have gone and come back from Iran and have to say I didn’t have any issues at all getting my VOA in tehran. I did have the reference number – just in case – got it for £50 thru an agency http://www.persianvoyages.com/ – I recommend others who are worried to use this agency as well. But when we arrived at visa section they just asked me to pay £45- as I didn’t have euros on me. So it’s strange they didn’t ask me anything, they probably had the information the agency provided them with& there were only handful of people so they knew who is who? And maybe having a local person with me helped as well. They were few other people- I think Ukraine- and they had some forms to fill in, which I guess was probably they didn’t have the reference number.
          Next time, I am tempted not to get the reference number and see how it goes:)
          Best of luck everyone

  16. Hi Nate
    Great post on all things Iranian visa related. Thanks for all the info. Here’s my situation. Going to Iran – end of January. Currently my Irish passport has expired so I am in the process of applying for a new one. Now I am a bit concerned that we won’t have time to apply for the 30 day tourist visa pre trip. So we were thinking of getting the VOA in Tehran. Both of us (Ireland and Poland) are eligible for this service it seems. However I want to book flights for at least 20 days.Shorter seems pointless in such a vast country. Will they give me problems if I have a return flight outside my initial 15 days VOA? We would fully intend to extend it in Shiraz but I am just a little worried about this. Perhaps it would be better not to tell them about our return flight? What do you think? Thanks!

    S

    1. Hi Shaun,
      It wont be any problem, I think, since you will extend your visa with another 15 days.
      Have a good trip.

    2. Hi Shaun,
      I am in the same situation as you described above (return ticket past visa date) and I am curious if it did indeed work out!
      Best wishes, HJ

  17. Hi Nate. For weeks I’ve been fighting my way through the internet to find some really useful information about Iranian VoA. I’m Brazilian, therefore eligible for a VoA. I’m staying for 15 days on September, 2014 through a Brazilian tourism agency, booked a flight with Qatar Airways but my agency wants to charge me over US$300 to do all things regarding a tourist visa to Iran. As usual, the Brazilian agencies tend to overcharge when it comes to “certain services” or “mandatory stuff” required when someone is leaving to an “exotic place”. Note the various “quotes” I used here. :) Don’t get me started about the Fifa World Cup we’re hosting this year. I feel sorry for the tourists coming to Brazil… Prices are skyrocketing for everything. By the time the World Cup begins, a bottled water will cost you 500 euros. hahaha Anyway, I’m planning to get my Iranian visa on arrival. Do the officers ask for any additional documents such as document photos, letters of recommendation and stuff? I’m staying at pre-booked hotels, never been to Israel, I’ll have all the documents provided by the agency, round-trip flight confirmations… So I think I’m good, right? I think I’m going to do this all by myself and disregard the so-called “visa service” offered by my agency, since the trip itself it’s not going to be cheap. Thank you very much for such useful tips. I’m really excited about going to Iran.

  18. So incredibly useful! I’m Norwegian and planning on getting a VOA and was worried about not having a return flight, as I’m also planning on getting the bus to Armenia. Sounds like it should all be fine though? There’s so little information about this online!

  19. Hi there, I’m an Australian passport holder, hoping to visit Iran – won’t be for awhile! But just trying to get plenty of info (which I realise may change by the time I go anyway).

    I was just wondering if anyone here who has visited Iran has also visited Israel? – with no proof of course. I mean I visited Israel late last year and because I flew straight in and out of Tel Aviv there is no evidence of this visit in my passport (I was issued with a little slip to keep the whole time, I can’t remember what they’re actually called, and then you pop it in a machine on your way out and get another sort of receipt copy) – no stamps, no borders stamps obviously as well.

    I have also visited Jordan, and again just flew in and out of the same airport. I’m just nervous they’ll see that I’ve visited Jordan and question that visit – even though I never went to Israel at that time. And I just don’t know if there is any other way they might know I’ve visited Israel :-/

    All the comments have been so helpful, any advice, experiences etc would be much appreciated :-)

    1. I have OZ passport and visited Israel before. Then I visited Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries banning any one with Israeli visa. I don’t believe Iran can detect your trip to Israel at all. But then it is only my belief. Please keep us informed how your Iranian trip goes as I plan to go there sometime in the future

  20. Hey mate;

    I used your info and went to Iran and am back to Austria now; it was amazing and got the visa on VOA.

    The food is fucking Awesome, and people were kind and friendly. They don’t hesitate to help foreigners.

    I loved Yazd the most, its so ancient. did u go there too?

  21. from the official website of Iranian embassy (http://www.iranembassy.org.au/english_AU/council/airportvisa.aspx),

    Airport Visa Information

    Australian applicants holding ordinary passports may apply for a 15-day tourist/pilgrimage visa on arrival at the Passport and Visas Offices at Intenational Airports of I.R. of Iran.
    Airport Visa is granted at Mehrabad, IKIA, Kish, Qeshm, Boushehr, Shiraz, Tabriz, Mashhad, Esfahan, Asalouyeh and Chahbahar airports.

    This type of visa is only for tourist purposes and the following applicants are NOT entitled to this visa facilitation:
    Journalists and reporters on mission.
    Holders of Diplomatic/Service passports
    Those whose applications for Iranian Visa have been previously rejected.

    Airport Visa is issued with the following conditions and requirements:
    Tourist/Pilgrimage Visa applicants have no permission to work or study during their stay in Iran.
    The applicants are required to have a confirmed return ticket and a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and a photo to be attached to the application form.
    The applicants are required to submit one of the following proofs at the airport:
    Address and contact number of the place in which they want to stay in Iran
    Invitation Letter
    Hotel booking confirmation for duration of their stay in Iran
    Airport visa fees is EUR50.00 for each applicant and EUR10.00 for each companion.
    Tarvel Agencies can submit an Electronic Visa 48 hours prior to passengers arrivals to facilitate their visas issuance at the international airports. Electronic Visa can be applied through the following link: http://www.mfa.gov.ir/cms/cms/Tehran/fa/evisa

    1. Well I recommend to get rid of this passport after your visit to Iran if you plan on traveling to any of these hyper sensitive countries.

  22. Hey,

    Thanks heaps for the advice. I researched pretty hard and this was the most comprehensive guide to the VOA for Iran available. I thought that now back from Iran I would help make this even better.

    For those who do not meet the visa requirements this may help you out:

    My situation: two passports, one british, one NZLD. History living in Israel, working as a journalist and specialising in Human rights work: all nono’s according to the available information.

    Solution: used my other passport and lied. They did not check my bags and did not do much research into my online presence obviously. I was granted a visa for 100 euro (I met australians who were charged 150 euros) and you must pay in Euros. Now, there is a new requirement that you must have travel insurance too otherwise you have to buy it from this dude at the airport, so have a copy of your policy (luckily I did). It seems they have no way of knowing if you have visited Israel if there is no stamp in your passport.

    Another tip: for anyone shooting film, get it developed before leaving at Iran Film on Azadi sq.

    Good luck

  23. Hello,
    I’m from France so elligible for the VOA in Iran, I’m in India at the moment and I’m planning to fly to Shiraz the 25 of January.
    I would like to take the train which goes from teheran to Ankara, in order to leave Iran, so I will not have any onward ticket proof to show at the immigration…
    As a French citizen I don’t need any visa to get to Turkey, so I will not have any proof to show, so It’s a bit different than you Nate as you were going to Armenia after Iran.
    Do you think it’s a bit risky or should I booked a separate onward flight that I soul cancel with a cancellation insurance ???
    Thank’s you for your help, and for the priceless information

    Cheers

    1. Hi Salah,

      This is just my opinion of course, but: I recently arrived in Shiraz for a second time (I’m in Iran again right now), and they did not ask for any proof of onward travel, or accommodation. I got the VOA no problems. I think if you explain you are going to Turkey, you won’t have a problem. Again – just my opinion, but I really don’t think your plan is “risky”. Good luck, have fun! (and now, I’m going to look into the train!)

      1. Hi,

        Thanks for all your help in regards to visas.

        A friend and I both have Australian passports and are planning to get VOA. We will be cycling out of Iran though so will not have a return ticket.

        I have read that you may not be allowed onto the flight in the first place if you do not have a return ticket. Is this true?

        1. Hi Charlie… I’ve been on a flight without a return ticket, many times, so that shouldn’t be an issue. As far as the visa, just be honest – I once told the Iran customs control that I would be leaving overland by bus, and they accepted that without question and gave me a visa. I believe now the visa on arrival is 30 days.

  24. Hi Nate! Thank you very much. Your site is so helpful. I’m from Thailand. But I live & work in Dubai. I have 3 days off and planning to go to Tehran on Feb 7-9 & back to work in Dubai (I know Visa on Arrival-VOA is valid only for 14 days). However, can I return to Iran again like 2 weeks later? (I will fly to Shiraz & Mashhad on Feb 21-24 then end my journey in Turkmenistan on 25-28). Do you think they will allow me to come back to Iran for a second time in less than just 2 weeks gap? Or should I extend VOA in Tehran? But I will leave Iran to Dubai on Feb 9, so I don’t think it will help me much if I get an extension or become invalid after leaving Iran (I’d been to India before on a tourist visa and it says, my second visit to India must be after 6 months). Do you know the VOA policy? I saw you are now in Shiraz for a second time, so I wanted to know if they check on your history, ask you much or not? Please clarify…

  25. Hello Nate and tanks for the answer :)
    Well I guess I will try to land in Iran without any onward ticket, I will see how it goes haha.
    Yep this train is really interesting, a good way to meet iranian aswell on the way it takes 3 days to reach Ankara and leave once a week every wednesday.
    Maybe you already know but you can get very useful information on this website for any trip by train, I really recommand : http://www.seat61.com (see the Iran section for this train)
    Actually, during my trip I try to overland as much as I can so this train is a good option instead of the bus :)

    About the VOA the only document I need on arrival are :
    – a booking for a hotel (actually would you recommand a cheap one that I can book online before my arrival ?)
    – a copy of my travel insurance
    – Do you think I need to apply to get a ref number ? (if it’s just about waiting a bit less at the immigration, I will not do it)
    – Anything else ?

    One last question :)
    The visa is valide for 15 or 14 days ? Do you gthink it’s possible to ask at the immigration to make it valide for 16 days ? If possible I would like not having to do procédure the visa extension just for 1 or 2 days more…
    (that’s 2 question sorry :)

    Thank’s a lot for you help :)

    1. Yes, I love seat61!

      I wouldn’t worry about a reference number, I have not had one on my two visits to Iran (both VOA).
      The visa will be valid for 15 days, I think you will struggle to get anymore than that, but you could always ask! The extension procedure is easy, but can be time consuming depending on what city you do it in. I’ve heard, for example, that the process takes several days in Tehran.

      Have a great time in Iran, and maybe when you’re done, come back here and leave a comment for future readers about your visa/VOA experiences!:)

  26. Hi Nate, I really would like to thank you for the information and the very kind responses from you and others. I found your website so helpful as I was searching for some time for information on Iran without the “dirty” propaganda war. I am planning to go on early pension and Iran would be my first choice to visit and stay for some time. I had Istanbul on my agenda, but after I visited it in 2014, I reconsidered the idea of going there again. Istanbul is beautiful city, but it is expensive and over-commercialised. I will travel to Iran then.
    However, I have one question in mind. Do you have any idea about the possibility of getting more than one month visa? for example, 3-6 months permission to stay in Iran? I know you are not expert in Visas to Iran but may be you or others have an idea. Thanks a lot. I appreciate your help and please remain.

    1. Hi Yasmin, you’re welcome.

      As I understand it (I will be able to confirm when I return in May), if you pre-apply for a one-month-visa, it can be extended an additional month, twice – giving you a total of three months.

      And yes, you will find Iran far less commercial, and much cheaper than Istanbul. All the best, and good luck Yasmin!

  27. Dear Nate, Thanks so much. I really appreciate your help. It is great to see that there is possibility to stay longer time in Iran, as I am a person who need some extra time on everything. That is why I am going on early retirement,, haaa
    Looking forward to read your tells
    Best Regards
    Yasmin

  28. Hey Nate

    I just came back from my second trip to Iran, last one was 2,5 years ago.
    The VOA has for Europeans has gone up in price, from 50€ to 60€ but instead of 15 days it lasts 30 days now :)

    Noticed that tourism has increased a lot since last time. Last time it was me an an Indian guy applying for the VOA, this time it was like 20-30 people (at least 2 planes arrived at the same time).
    Also many more tourists in Yazd etc. Good for Iran, not so good for me :P

    Went to Queshm Island, Kerman and Bam etc this time, wonderful places all of them!
    This country never ceases to amaze me :)

    1. Hey Simon… thanks so much for the updates, really appreciate it (as do the readers of this page). I’m actually in Iran again right now, and I can confirm two of my guests also received the 30 day VOA – and it was a pretty quick process (much quicker than before). There are definitely more tourists on the ground here, but, it is the high season right now.

      And I agree… Iran never ceases to amaze!

  29. Dear Nate,
    I am planning to go to Iran and stay there 12 days or so. But I don’t want to book hotels for all that time, do you think I’ll get my VOA if I have a reservation for a guest house or so for 2 nights? (I’ll have my back flight booked)

    1. Hey Manuel – yes, in my opinion you will have no problems getting the VOA with that booking (assuming your nationality is eligible for the VOA).

      Enjoy your trip!

  30. Dear Nate,

    Thanks for all the info! I’m planning on traveling to Iran for 3,5 weeks in September. A friend of mine intends to join me, but that will be a last-minute thing, so she’ll apply for a VoA. There’s one thing I can’t find anywhere on the web: are there any restrictions in getting a VoA? Like the US or Australia , where you can’t get a visa with a prior conviction. She did something stupid like a decade ago, but it would be a shame if she was rejected. So are they asking about that? Thanks for your answer!

  31. Hi there!

    I was wondering how long before landing in Iran you should apply for the visa on arrival? I am roughly planning to go to Iran in the last two weeks of July.

    Cheers!

  32. Hi all,

    I have the same (?) Question as Frederik.
    Do have to apply for this eVisa reference number thing beforehand or not?
    The webpages of the different Iranian embassys in Germany cities say different things – from 7 to 30 days and with or without this eVisa applycation…

    Cheers,
    Christian

    1. Hi Christian,

      If you are German, you can just fly into Iran and get a visa on arrival. There is nothing you need to do before. Note – this only applies to arriving by flight – not overland into Iran.

      Enjoy Iran!

  33. I went to Iran last year for the first time and had an absolute blast.
    Planning on going again next year and have a question i hope someone can answer.

    Last year i used a Dutch Travel Agency, Iran Silk Road, to do our visa application and book the first 2 nights in Teheran.
    After that, we we’re on our own.

    This time we want to do everything ourselves, including visa application.
    Already downloaded the form from the website of our embassy here in The Hague.
    On that form they need the info on 2 persons in Iran, that will vouch for us.

    I am wondering, since i don’t personally know anybody in Iran, can this also be the info of a hotel that we have booked ?

    Greetings from Holland and a BIG thumbs up for this great website !

    1. Hey Anton – can you just do the visa on arrival? It’s faster now, and you will get a 30 day visa (that’s my suggestion)… Enjoy your return journey!

      Nate
      (currently in Shiraz!)

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