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All you need to know about Iranian Visas

We are able to offer an Iranian visa authorisation service to travellers of most nationalities when abroad, or to those in the UK who have left their visa application too late.

We ourselves are a UK based visa agency and also a tour operator offering tours and expeditions that travel through Iran. We therefore are in the best position to offer you advice and assistance in all aspects of your travel to Iran.

At the current time we are only able to provide visa assistance to organised groups travelling to Iran.
For individuals wishing to apply for an Iranian visa we recommend using the Iranian based company Iranian Visa.
Why choose this authorisation service:
As the cautionary tales at the end of this section show, making a full application abroad yourself can be a time consuming and sometimes fruitless process. Making your Iranian visa application through us enables you to miss out one level of the application process abroad. We handle the time consuming authorisation application through our contacts in Tehran, allowing you to simply arrive at an embassy abroad, fill in the application forms, pay the consular fee, and leave with your visa the same day.

Authorisation Procedure:
Our service starts with our obtaining you an Iranian Visa Authorisation Number from the Tehran Foreign Ministry. You then take this number to the Iranian Embassy in India, Pakistan or Turkey whichever is most convenient for you. The authorisation number is faxed to the appropriate embassy by the Foreign Ministry, as well as to us in the UK. When you visit the embassy, you quote this number, which we will have forwarded to you. The Embassy then matches the two authorisation numbers and your visa application is approved. The Embassy itself has no input into the application decision as the authorisation number comes from the central authorities in Tehran. This makes the collection of your visa a relatively straightforward process.

Application Forms:
You will still have to fill out the application forms at the appropriate embassy and pay the relevant visa fee. After payment of the visa fee, which you may have to do in a nearby bank, you will collect your passport and visa on the same day.

Time Required:
The process time for the Iranian Authorisation is approximately 10 days from payment date. WE DO NOT NEED YOUR PASSPORT. Simply contact us and we will ask for all the relevant details.

Costs and Charges:
The official authorisation fee for this service varies for each nationality. Please email us for details and the exact cost.

Current sample prices :

70 (UK citizen) (45 Authorisation fee, 25 our service charge)
170 (USA & Canadian citizens) (150 authorisation fee, 20 our service charge)

Collecting your Visa:
We can arrange for you to pick up your Iranian visa in India (Delhi), in Pakistan (Islamabad) or in Turkey (Ankara or Istanbul).

Types of Visas Issued:
There are 2 main types of visa issued for tourist travel in Iran - Transit and Tourist Visas. The type and length of visa you actually receive varies depending on the country where you will collect the visa, and on the current situation in the Tehran Foreign Ministry. For example, sometimes one-month tourist visas are issued as standard, while other times it may be very hard to obtain anything more than a 10-day Transit visa. Please contact us to find out the current situation.

Latest Situation (Jan 2001) : Currently Iran requests that you supply a day by day itinerary. Visas are being given that fit your length of stay.

Iranian Visa Extensions whilst in Iran:
You can usually extend your visa quite easily during your time in Iran. The ease of obtaining an extension, and the extra number of days you can obtain varies from city to city. Tabriz is normally the hardest place to try to extend your visa and people have been refused here. Shiraz and Esfahan are much better options (as well as being much nicer cities to stay in). Usually the only difficultly in extending your visa is obtaining the extra time you want. Again this can vary between immigration offices. You can usually get a 7 day extension, but some times only 3 or 4 days are issued. It is often possible however, to get upwards of a 10 day extension, while the longest extension we have heard of was a 3 week extension obtained by a cyclist in Esfahan. Generally, it is well worth asking for more days than you actually want.

You can extend your visa a number of times, we have known of up to 4 extensions being issued on an original 7 day transit visa. A lot can depend on your persuasive power and on the official on duty at the time.

Visa Extensions are available in the following cities on the standard West-East transit or tourist route across Iran: Tabriz, Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Kerman, Zahedan.

We generally recommend people to try in Esfahan or Shiraz as these are the most popular and as a result the easiest places to obtain a long hassle-free extension.

Making a full application abroad - Cautionary Tales

It is possible to simply apply for an Iranian Visa in countries bordering Iran. However, delays and postponements can hold you up for days if not weeks as the following story illustrates:

I was once in Islamabad, Pakistan on my way back to Europe, and had applied for an Iranian visa, which I was told would take 14 days to receive. I went off up the Karakorum Highway and came back 14 days later, only to be told to come back the next day. This I did for the next 3 weeks, each day to be told to come back the next day as no authorisation had been received from Tehran. After 5 weeks I was told I could not get an Iranian Visa at all. No explanation was given. I believe I had so annoyed the person behind the counter by turning up every day that he simply decided to say NO. I was driving my own vehicle at the time so what was I to do now? Luckily, in the 5 weeks I was waiting around, two other English guys had turned up and had their visa application accepted. I flew over Iran to Turkey and the two guys, Dion and Gary, drove my vehicle through Iran.

I have met many other such unlucky people with similar tales, mostly British, but not all, who have spent many a frustrated day at the Islamabad Tourist Campsite. Some eventually received their visa but others eventually had no option but to ship their vehicle home. This is an expensive tale, even if you don't have a vehicle, as you have to pay all the fees whether you receive the visa or not.

The Delhi Tourist Camp (now closed) has also held people waiting for their Iran visas. In April 2000 British citizens in Delhi were being refused nearly all the time. I was advised that it was not worth applying for an Iranian Visa at all here. They would take the payment and then 10 days later tell you that your visa application had been denied.
First48 - Overland Expedition Leader

Help us stay up to date

Please let us know of any of your own experiences. We appreciate any emails or postings on our visa forum, which help us to keep up to date on the application situations abroad.

Further Information


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