Getting a visa for Iran isn’t as hard as you probably thought, unless of course you’re American, British, or Canadian, but we’ll deal with them further down. A select handful of countries can access Iran visa free, while many other nationalities can obtain an e-visa or visa on arrival with a prior approval code.
Visa free entry
Passport holders of the following 16 countries/territories can enter Iran visa free for various lengths of time. Iran and Qatar signed a visa waiver agreement in February 2022 but it has yet to be implemented.
90 days: Armenia, Oman, Syria, and Turkey
45 days: Georgia
30 days: Azerbaijan, Bolivia, and Lebanon
21 days: China, Hong Kong, and Macau
20 days: Egypt
15 days: Malaysia and Venezuela
Visa on arrival
Hypothetically, almost all other passports can obtain a visa on arrival for 30 days if arriving at one of the following airports:
Bandar Abbas, Isfahan, Kish, Mashhad, Qeshm, Shiraz, Tabriz, Imam Khomeini (Tehran), Mehrabad (Tehran), Urmia, Ahvaz, Kerman and Larestan.
However, you must apply for the visa on arrival on the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs e-visa website and obtain approval. Recently approvals for visa on arrival have not been granted, so while it may be worth while trying (you don’t have to pay anything upfront), chances are you’ll be rejected and told to get a visa approval number from a local travel agency.
Visa on arrival is not available to the following passport holders and you’ll need to apply for a visa at an Iranian diplomatic mission:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Iraq, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and United States.
Normal visa application
For regular passport holders of most nationalities, you can obtain a 30 day tourist visa by firstly applying for a Visa Authorisation Code. There are several online reputable companies who offer these at reasonable prices. TAP Persia or Key to Persia can provide these codes for roughly 20 Euros per person and take roughly 3-5 days. You’ll have to select where you wish to obtain your visa, either at any embassy or consulate or on arrival at any international airport.
If you’re going to cross the land border into Iran, you must get your visa from an embassy or consulate beforehand.
You can extend your visa inside Iran up to twice, meaning you can hypothetically stay for up to 90 days.
Iran free trade zone
A unique feature in Iran is that there are several areas which are visa free for all nationalities for up to 14 days, providing you have a hotel booking prior to arrival, except for Israelis. British, Americans and Canadians are still required to have a guide but are not required to apply for a visa.
The free trade zones are Kish Island, Qeshm Island, Arvand, Aras, Chabahar, Maku and Anzali.
Kish Island and Qeshm Islands are the only free trade zones which are likely to be of interest to any potential tourists as the others are purely industrial zones, while Kish and Qeshm have established tourism infrastructure and are popular tourist destinations domestically as well.
What about Americans, British and Canadian passport holders?
Americans, British and Canadians must be on an organised tour in order to obtain an Iranian visa. They must also obtain the visa before they arrive and are not eligible for visas on arrival or e-visa. The process takes at least 8 weeks as the entire itinerary of the individual needs to be pre-approved. After the travel company you are travelling with has submitted the appropriate documentation and the application is approved, you’ll be given an approval letter to take to an Iranian diplomatic mission in order to receive your visa.
This doesn’t mean you’ll have someone watching your ever move while you’re in Iran and you’ll still have the freedom to walk around towns and enjoy meeting the amazing Iranian people, but you will have to follow your itinerary.
Of course if you join us on any Iran Tour we will arrange this for you.
Israeli passport holders are denied entry to Iran under all circumstances. Transit is also not allowed for Israeli passport holders, even if you’re not leaving the aeroplane.
Been to Israel?
Any passport holder will be refused entry into Iran if there is any proof of travel to Israel in your passport. Any connection to Israel can also lead to refusal or entry even if you’ve already obtained an Iranian visa.
If you want to go to Iran, but you've been to Israel, or think there is some reason why you might have trouble getting a visa, get in touch with us and we can work out what options you have.