In extremely welcome news, Iran has gone ahead and unilaterally removed visa requirements for passport holders from 33 countries around the world. Including the countries that were already visa free, there are now 45 passports that can travel to Iran without the requirement to get a visa in advance or apply for an e-visa.
Many of the countries on the list make sense, being neighbours in the region or allies in the developing world, however some western countries have made the cut, such as Bosnia, Croatia and Japan.
One of the nations that is newly visa free for travel to Iran is Saudi Arabia, who have also announced that Iranian citizens will be again allowed to visit the holy city of Mecca to perform Umrah. This follows the thawing on diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran after years of conflict and hostilities. It has been 8 years since Iranians were last allowed to make the Umrah pilgrimage.
In a move that will surely boost tourist numbers, the following countries no longer need visas to visit Iran: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Croatia, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, UAE, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.
The holders of these passports just need to arrive at any international airport or land border crossing, with a passport valid for at least 6 months, and they can enter Iran for up to 30 days.
It was also announced that tour groups from Russia will be visa free as well, although individual travellers will still need to obtain a visa in advance.
These countries join the list of passports that already can enter Iran visa free which include Armenia, Oman, Syria, Turkey, Georgia, Bolivia, Lebanon, Iraq, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Egypt, Malaysia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
The government of Iran has announced that the following countries are under consideration for visa free travel in the near future: Argentina, South Africa, Jordan, Uruguay, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ecuador, Algeria, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Paraguay, Tanzania, Thailand and Turkmenistan.
There is still no news as to whether they will ease the restrictions on US, Canadian and UK passports. The holders of these passports are required to be on an organised guided tour in order to enter Iran.
Iran’s tourism numbers stood at 3.3 million in the first half of 2023, 38 percent higher than the previous year, and the visa liberalisation is intended to bring much larger numbers to this home of 27 UNESCO world heritage sights .
These moves are very good news for tourism in Iran, a country with incredible potential and, which is easily one of Saiga Tours’ favourite destinations. The Iranian government has announced its intentions to really promote tourism. No doubt the Iranian government is trying to utilise tourism as an export to get around sanctions as well as show that the country is not the same as what is portrayed in most international media.
Saiga Tours offers a yearly trip to Iran with our own custom designed itinerary which covers all the classic must see sights as well as some more off the beaten track destinations.
Read more about Iran's visa policy on our Iran visa page .