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I have a lot of countries that I’d love to visit, but there’s one thing that keeps putting my plans off – visas. Some visas are quite difficult to obtain and require a lot of documents. Some even require you to send your passport to the Embassy which means that you can’t travel while waiting for a visa. And for a person constantly moving like me, it’s quite difficult. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Iran as you can Iran visa on arrival for tourist purposes, at least if you’re an EU passport holder.
In fact, especially if you’re traveling to Iran as a solo female traveler, visa on arrival is easier to obtain than at the Embassy at some countries. I decided to get my visa on arrival after my friend Kamila told me that she was refused a visa at the Embassy, as the consul didn’t want her to travel solo, while upon arrival she got it easily.
How to Get Iran Visa on Arrival
Visas on arrival for any country can often be problematic. The most popular reason why a lot of people don’t like visas on arrival is that they’re afraid that they might not be granted a visa. But even with a visa, an immigration office might refuse you to enter the country (even in the US), so I’d say don’t worry.
Another reason is that airlines need to put a disclaimer that they might refuse boarding to any person without a valid visa, even if you can obtain it on arrival. Don’t worry about that too. I was asked if I had a visa for Iran in my passport, but when I told the airlines representative that I’ll get it upon arrival, no additional questions were asked.
Iran visa on arrival (VOA) or Iran airport visa, refers to that kind of Iran tourist visa received by eligible nationals traveling to Iran for tourist purpose. Diplomatic passport, official passports, etc. cannot apply for this type of Iran visa.
Visa on arrival can be issued at major international airports in Iran. You cannot get this visa on the land borders. List of airports where you can get Iran visa on arrival:
- IKA: Imam Khomeini Airport
- TEH: Tehran Mehrabad Airport
- SYZ: Shiraz International Airport
- MHD: Mashhad International Airport
- TBZ: Tabriz International Airport
- ISF: Isfahan International Airport
- KIH: Kish International Airport
Iran visa on arrival is valid for 30 days since January 2017. It used to be only 14 days, and some airlines are still misinformed claiming it’s only 14. Some representatives might be trying to tell you that your return ticket must be within 14 days, like it happened in my case. Tell them it’s not true and don’t worry.
Visa on arrival can only be extended if Iranian Foreign Affair Office finds it necessary. In that case, usually maximum 14 days extension is possible and it’s not an easy process. If you’re planning on staying longer than 30 days, make sure to get your Iran visa at the Embassy instead.
IMPORTANT: Visa on arrival doesn’t mean that it’s a visa free country. Iranian visa isn’t just a quick stamp in your passport, like in for instance Japan. In order to get this visa you still need to have necessary documents.
Who can get Iran visa on arrival?
Countries whose Nationals Can Apply for the Iranian Visa on Arrival:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, China (People’s Republic), Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam.
Countries whose Nationals CANNOT Apply for Iran Visa on Arrival:
Iraq, Colombia, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.
American, British and Canadian passport holders also cannot get visa on arrival. Citizens of these countries also can’t ‘just go’ to Iran and are only allowed in when on an organized tour with a guide.
If you’re illegible to travel on your own, you can consider taking the Discover Persia 14-day G Adventures tour, which I’ve heard good things about. The tour doesn’t chaperon you 24/7 and you’ll have some free time, so even if you’re not a group trip person, you’ll be fine. Check here for the latest Discover Persia tour prices and itinerary.
Regardless of the nationality, you cannot have an Israeli stamp in your passport. And while Israel doesn’t stamp passports anymore, you also can’t have any evidence of entry in Israel. For example, an Egyptian stamp at the border city of Taba could result in denied entry.
Requirements for Iran visa on arrival
Official documents required to obtain an Iran visa on arrival are:
- A valid passport with at least 6 months validity
- A confirmed return ticket within a 30 day timeframe
- A photo to be attached to the Iran visa application form
- Visa stamp fee, which is payable to the Iran Visa & Passport Office at the airport. Iran airport visa fee depends on the applicant’s nationality.
- An invitation letter or hotel reservation voucher. The invitation letter has to be sent from the Iranian travel agency to Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs at least 48 hours before your arrival to Iran airport.
- Not officially listed but mandatory: travel insurance valid for Iran. Printed.
Let me explain these points to you in details.
1 & 2 – pretty self-explanatory.
3 – When I went to Iran I read that you’re required to have a photo with you. Women should follow Iran’s official Islamic dress code and wear a head scarf in their picture. While I had a photo with me, noone asked me about it at any point and instead they used a photo from my passport.
4 – It’s a fee that you need to pay at the cashier upon arrival. I read that it should be paid in USD, but since Trump’s travel ban noone wants dollars in Iran anymore. While it’s still acceptable, it’s better to bring Euros. My visa was 70 euros.
5 – Regardless whether you have an itinerary and pre-booked every hotel or not, you must have a confirmation at least your first night. I booked accommodation for the first 2 nights online and received an email from them stating that I’m staying with them (below):
However, I was just required to put an address of my accommodation. Noone has asked me to show this email.
6 – You won’t be granted a visa without a valid travel insurance. And in case you’re wondering EU insurance cards won’t work in this case, as they do check whether your policy is actually valid for Iran. While you can technically buy an insurance at the airport, you’ll have to stand in another line to do so. This is why I recommend World Nomads Insurance. It’s valid for Iran and it’s reliable.
Now, how to actually get Iran visa on arrival once you get off the plane?
Once you get off the plane, with your scarf on if you’re a woman, you’ll see a sign that says visa on arrival. If you don’t see the sign, staff will direct you. You’ll need to fill a simple piece of paper with all your information, get your travel insurance validated and stamped in another window, pay the fee in another window, and leave your passport at the counter.
I was not asked a single question and had to show anything. But remember, they might ask you some questions regarding your trip and documents.
Then you’ll have to sit and wait for about 15-20 minutes. Once your name is called you’ll pick up your passport and proceed to the immigration.
Other important info
Journalists and reporters on mission cannot get Iran visa on arrival. If you’re a blogger, it’s a grey area. I put ‘online marketing’ as a job and didn’t have any problems.
While you can enter the US with an Iranian stamp in your passport, but you won’t be eligible for the US Visa Waiver Program. This means that you’ll have to apply in person for a tourist visa next time you want to visit the States. But fear not, I actually have a tourist visa for the US and thanks to that I can actually stay in the country up to 180 days, unlike people on visa waiver only 90 days.
Voila! Now you’re ready to go to Iran. Read up on things to know before you go and enjoy it, as it’s a beautiful country. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to post your comment below!