Most people who want to visit Iran will have to get an Iran visa, either from an Embassy or on arrival. Even though the Iranian government has been planning to introduce a visa-waiver program for nationals of 60 countries in an effort to boost tourism, no such plan has been implemented yet.

So far, only a limited number of people can enter visa-free.

As of 2018, the Iranian government does not affix the visa or any entry stamps on your passport.

Who Needs an Iran Visa?

Almost everyone needs a visa to visit Iran, but most can just get an Iran visa on arrival at one of the eligible airports.

If you are from one of the following countries, then you have to apply for a visa in advance, through one of the Embassies or Consulates of Iran abroad:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • India
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Libya
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tajikistan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Yemen

If you are from one of the countries listed below, you can enter Iran without a visa:

  • Armenia – up to 90 days within a 180-day period
  • Azerbaijan – up to 30 days
  • Bolivia – up to 30 days
  • China – up to 21 days
  • Egypt – up to 20 days
  • Georgia – up to 45 days
  • Iraq – up to 30 days
  • Hong Kong – up to 21 days
  • Lebanon – up to 30 days
  • Macau – up to 21 days
  • Malaysia – up to 15 days
  • Oman – up to 30 days
  • Syria – up to 90 days within a 180-day period
  • Turkey – up to 3 months
  • United Arab Emirates – up to 30 days
  • Venezuela – up to 15 days

Who Can Get an Iran Visa on Arrival?

If you are from none of the countries listed above, then you may be eligible for a Visa on Arrival.An Iran VOA is not available if you are from one of these countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • UK
  • USA

But if you would like to play safe rather than be sorry, then you can always opt for applying for a visabefore travelling. There is, after all, a slight chance that your VOA application can be denied even after you go to Iran.

Note: Citizens of Israel are not allowed to enter Iran.

What Airports Can I Get an Iran Visa on Arrival?

You can get an Iran Visa on Arrival at one of the following airports:

  • Ahvaz International Airport (Ahvaz).
  • Bandar Abbas International Airport (Bandar Abbas).
  • Imam Khomeini International Airport (Tehran).
  • Isfahan International Airport (Isfahan).
  • Kerman Airport (Kerman).
  • Kish International Airport (Kish Island).
  • Larestan International Airport (Lar).
  • Mashhad International Airport (Mashad).
  • Mehrabad International Airport (Tehran).
  • Qeshm international Airport (Qeshm Island).
  • Shiraz International Airport (Shiraz).
  • Tabriz International Airport (Tabriz).
  • Urmia Airport (Urmia).

How to Apply for an Iran Visa?

Before you can apply for an Iran visa, you must have a sponsor in Iran who can issue a Letter of Invitation. Once you receive the Letter of Invitation, you can submit it along with the required documents at an Embassy or Consulate of Iran in your country.

Iran Visa Letter of Invitation (Iran Visa Code)

If you are travelling for tourism purposes, you have to contact a travel agent in Iran or a friend or relative who will host you. If you are travelling for business, then the company you are visiting can issue your invitation letter.

The travel agency, host, or company in Iran will submit an application with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). If the application is successful, they will send you a visa code, which you have to take to the Iran Embassy/Consulate along with all the other required documents.

You can also apply for the Iran Visa code yourself through the website of the Iran MFA (see Iran eVisa below).

Submitting the Documents at the Embassy

After you receive the Visa Code from the travel agency, then you have to take that along with the other documents to the Iran Embassy or Consulate in your country. If there is not an Iran Embassy in your country, then you may have to go to a neighbouring country or another Embassy where Iran has outsourced visa applications to. For example, in the US, it is the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan.

Contact the Embassy/Consulate beforehand so that you know if you have to make an appointment or you can just drop by. Some may allow you to apply by mail instead.

Although you cannot apply for the entire Iran visa electronically, you can apply for the Iran visa code online, through the website of the Iran MFA. This means you don’t need to go through the usual route by a travel agency or host. You still have to go to an Embassy to get the actual visa, however.

  1. You have to start the application process here.
  2. You will need an electronic (scanned) copy of your passport as well as a picture (max 500 KB)
    1. Picture should be rectangular (at least 400 x 600 pixels)
    2. Your face should take up 70-80% of the photo
  3. Answer all the questions correctly
  4. Submit the application
  5. You will receive a Verification Code in your email, which you have to write on the Verification Page
  6. After you verify your email, you will see a confirmation page with a barcode
  7. Print the page (there is a Print button) and write down the Tracking Code
  8. Use the Tracking Code to track your application
  9. After the code is issued, you have to take it to the Embassy of Iran in your country (along with the required documents) so you can receive your visa. You may also have to enter a visa interview.

In order to apply for an Iran Visa on Arrival, you have to receive a Grant Notice from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs beforehand.* You can apply for the Grant Notice online at the Iranian MFA’s official website. Once you have the confirmation, you can travel to Iran and appear before the VOA counter to receive your visa.

Iran Visa on Arrival Online Application

You have to apply at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official website:

  1. Start the application here.
  2. You will need an electronic (scanned) copy of your passport as well as a picture.
  3. Make sure to answer all the questions correctly.
  4. Once you have completed all the sections, submit the application.
  5. You will receive a Verification Code in your email, which you have to write on the Verification Page
  6. After you verify your email, you will see a confirmation page with a barcode
  7. Print the page (there is a Print button) and write down the Tracking Code
  8. Use the Tracking Code to track your application
  9. Once your application is processed and approved, you will receive a Grant Notice.
  10. Print it and bring it with you when you travel to Iran, along with the required documents.

*Some travellers claim that an online application is not always necessary and that you can simply apply at the Iran airport once you get there. There are some problems with that, including:

  • This process will generally take longer
  • The chances that you will be denied entry are greater than if you first applied online.

It is generally advisable to apply online before you travel, simply for peace of mind and added security for visa approval.

Applying for Iran Visa on Arrival at the Airport

Once you arrive at the airport, you have to approach one of the Visa Issuance offices at the airport along with all your documents. There, you have to pay a fee in Euros. They will only accept cash, not cards.

Make sure you have proof of accommodation and travel insurance.

Note: If you are a woman, make sure you wear a headscarf after you land in Iran. You also have to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants or stockings.

What Types of Iran Visa I Can Apply For?

The types of Iran visas you can apply for based on the purpose of your travel are:

  • Iran Tourist Visa, for people who want to enter Iran simply for tourism purposes. Applicants will need a sponsor such as a travel agency in Iran.
  • Iran Pilgrimage Visa, for muslim foreign nationals who want to do pilgrimage on one of the Holy places in Iran
  • Iran Student Visa, for foreign students or religious scholars and researchers who will study in Iran. Applicants will need a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status from the science ministry, education ministry, or an accredited academic institution
  • Iran Work Visa, for foreign nationals who intend to work in Iran such as skilled workers and specialists. Applicants will need a labor certificate from their employer in Iran, which is approved by the labor ministry.
  • Iran Transit Visa, issued to travellers who only pass through Iran and do not intend to remain in the country for any extended period of time, such as tourists, drivers, or merchants. Travellers will need a visa for the final destination or other proof of onward travel.
  • Iran Media Visa, which is issued to foreign journalists or film directors. Applicants need a permit from the Media & Public Diplomacy center.
  • Iran Marriage Visa, issued to foreign men who are married to Iranian women as well as their children.
  • Iran Medical Visa, issued to foreign nationals who wish to enter Iran to receive medical attention.

What Are the Iran Visa Requirements?

When you apply for an Iran visa, the documents you need will depend on the Embassy as well as the type of visa. However, you can expect to be required to submit these documents:

  • Your passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you intend to travel.
  • Electronic copy of the first page of your passport (for the online application or to send to the travel agency):
    • .jpg or .jpeg format
    • More than 10 kB and less than 500 kB
    • Colored
    • At least 800 x 600 pixels
    • Clear and legible
  • A picture of yourself (electronic):
    • Recent (within the last six months)
    • Colored
    • White or off-white background
    • Your face must be fully visible. You must be staring ahead.
    • Women must wear a headscarf
    • No headgear allowed except for religious purposes. Even in this case, it must not obstruct your face
    • Glasses are not allowed.
  • A travel itinerary, such as your flight tickets.
  • Your CV/resume
  • Travel insurance. As of 2011, it is compulsory to have travel insurance before entering Iran.
  • Paid visa fee
  • For Iran Student Visa:
    • Acceptance from accredited educational center.
    • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status from the science ministry, education ministry, or an accredited academic institution
  • For Iran Work Visa: Labor certificate from their employer in Iran
  • For Iran Transit Visa: A valid visa for the final destination or other proof of onward travel.
  • For Iran Media Visa: A permit from the Media & Public Diplomacy center.
  • If you apply via mail: A pre-paid and self-addressed envelope to return your documents.
  • Your passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you intend to travel.
  • Electronic copy of the first page of your passport (for the online application or to send to the travel agency):
    • .jpg or .jpeg format
    • More than 10 kB and less than 500 kB
    • Colored
    • At least 800 x 600 pixels
    • Clear and legible
  • A picture of yourself (electronic):
    • Recent (within the last six months)
    • Colored
    • White or off-white background
    • Your face must be fully visible. You must be staring ahead.
    • If you are a woman, wear a headscarf.
    • No headgear allowed except for religious purposes. Even in this case, it must not obstruct your face.
    • Glasses are not allowed.
  • A confirmed return flight ticket. The return date must be within 30 days of entry.
  • A confirmed hotel reservation.
  • Your CV/resume.
  • If you applied online: The printout of the Grant Notice, issued by the Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • If you applied via a travel agency: An invitation letter from the Iranian travel agency submitted to the Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs at least two days before your arrival.
  • Travel insurance. All international travellers who enter Iran must have valid travel insurance. If you failed to purchase it beforehand, you will have to buy it at the airport.

Iran Visa Fee

Here are the Iran visa fees:

Visa Fee Visa on Arrival Fee
From €10 to €100 From €40 to €150*

The Iran visa fee changes based on the following factors:

  • The travel agency that will help you with your visa application.
  • The Embassy/Consulate of Iran where you submit your visa application.
  • The fee for an Iranian Visa on Arrival changes depending on nationality. You have to pay it in cash at the Visa on Arrival Issuance office and in Euro currency.

*For most European countries the VOA fee is €75

How Long Does It Take to Receive an Iran Visa?

Since there are two different applications processes involved, the visa processing time is not always the same.

First, you have to apply for the Iran Visa Code (online or via an agency). It takes about 5-7 working days to receive an Iran Visa Code online. If you are from the US, UK, or Canada, it may take around 1-3 months.

Then, you have to apply for your Iran visa at the Embassy, which again can take a few days to two weeks, depending on your nationality.

If you are not applying at an Embassy, then you can get the Iran Visa on Arrival, which takes just a few hours at the airport.

Iran Visa for US Citizens

US citizens are included among those who have to apply for a regular Embassy visa for Iran along with the Letter of Invitation or the Visa Code from the online application at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. However, when it comes to actually submitting the documents for the visa application, since there is no Iranian Embassy in the USA, you will have to contact the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan instead.

USA citizens can expect to wait anywhere from 1 to 3 months to receive their Visa Code.

What is the Duration of the Iran Visa?

The duration of the Iran Visa depends on your nationality as well as the type of visa you receive:

  • Iran Visa (in advance from Embassy) and Visa on Arrival are valid for 30 days.
  • Iran visa for residents of Georgia is valid for 45 days.
  • Iran visa for residents of Turkey, Syria, and Armenia is valid for 90 days.
  • Iran Visa for residents of Venezuela and Malaysia is valid for 15 days.

Can I Extend an Iran Visa?

Yes, if you have received an Iran visa in advance or on arrival, you can extend it from the Police Department of Aliens Affairs in a major Iranian city. The process usually takes only about one day.

The extension of your visa is based on the initial duration: if you had a 30-day visa, you can extend it for an additional 30 days. If you had a 15-day visa, then you can only extend it for another 15 days, and so on.