Entering Iran: The ‘Visa on Arrival’

In the following, I will tell you more about my arrival to Iran and the application for the ‘visa on arrival’. When planning to visit Iran, you might find out that there is also the usual way of applying for a visa through Iranian embassies or consulates but since I have chosen the ‘visa on arrival’, this article will solely deal with the latter.

The first precondition to apply for the ‘visa on arrival’ is to enter Iran via one of its international airports. This does not necessarily have to be Tehran which might make sense to you if entering Iran from a neighbouring country or for generally being more flexible with your travel itineraries. Officially, the ‘visa on arrival’ is available on the following airports: Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashhad, and Kish.

At Tehran Airport, I made the experience that official requirements don’t really fit to the actual reality when applying for the visa. Officially you need the following documents:

  • Passport (Expiry date later than 6 months after arrival)
  • 2 biometric photos
  • Travel insurance that namely covers Iran
  • Accident insurance that namely covers Iran
  • Invitation letter or confirmation of your first accommodation in Iran
  • Flight ticket out of Iran
  • Cash for paying the visa (Euros or US-Dollars)

In fact, at the airport I was asked for the following documents:

  • Passport (Expiry date later than 6 months after arrival)
  • Travel insurance that namely covers Iran
  • Confirmation of your first accommodation in Iran
  • Cash for paying the visa (Euros)

The procedure is the following: After leaving the aircraft, you first need to follow the ‘baggage claim’ signs. After a short walk, most of the other passengers might walk towards the passport control, especially Iranians. However, you must follow the ‘visa’ sign. On your way, someone might try to stop you for selling you an Iranian travel insurance. Since you better get one before arriving to Iran, you keep following the signs. Arrived at the visa desk, things might be a bit unorganized and hectically. Most important thing here is to ask the inspectors for the entry form in which you must fill in all your data. Tell them that you don’t have an invitation letter in case you are asked for it. At the same time and depending on your nationality, someone will give you a sheet of paper with the exact among of money you must pay for your visa which is 75€ for German citizens. Also, they will check your travel insurance so make sure to remember where the word ‘Iran’ is written on your printed insurance letter so that you can show it to them to save some time and to avoid questions. After paying the visa at the checkout and receiving a receipt, take your passport, the receipt, and the filled entry form to the visa desk so that they can prepare your visa. The next thing you must do is simply to wait. For me it took more than 2 hours so make sure to bring a book or something else to kill time since WiFi did not work for me. Some other travellers told me that they had to wait even longer but maybe you will be lucky. Wait until someone will call your name to finally receive your visa!

Some additional information:

  • Probably you must answer some questions regarding your stay or your passport. Just answer all questions correctly, it’s often just routine. Make sure to be able to give them some more details about your visit, for example names of places or hostels you will be heading to.
  • Although I didn’t have to show all documents which are officially required, you should take all of them with you since you never know if the procedure might change or if there are differences between the airports. Make sure to check relevant websites before.
  • Don’t worry about your luggage. Even if you must wait for hours, it will be kept for you at the baggage claim.
  • Normally you will receive a visa for 30 days with single-entry.
  • I made all above experiences, being a German citizen. Be aware that there might be differences regarding other nationalities, especially when it comes to the price of the ‘visa on arrival’.

Overall, everything worked well and without any problems. The only thing to remember is that you might have to wait for a long time. However, I think that the ‘visa on arrival’ is a good alternative to the conventional way of applying for a visa, especially if you don’t have enough time for the organizational requirements of the latter before your flight. Enjoy your stay in Iran!

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