If you’ve ever wanted to visit Iran and had questions about the process of obtaining a Visa on Arrival (VOA) then look no further!
Here is everything you need to know about the Iranian VOA.
Are You Eligible?
Visa policies in Iran do differ greatly depending on your nationality.
Some nationalities are eligible for visa-free travel into Iran. Citizens of the following countries do NOT require a visa to enter Iran: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Georgia, Malaysia, Syria, Turkey and Venezuela.
Some nationalities must apply for a visa in advance. Citizens of the following countries must apply for a visa at an Iranian embassy or consulate prior to arrival in Iran: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka.
For citizens of the United Kingdom and Canada, not only must a visa be applied for in advance, but independent travel for these nationals is not allowed. For UK and Canadian citizens, if a trip to Iran is on your bucket list, it is mandatory that you join a guided tour. This is a result of the closure of Iranian foreign missions in these regions.
For citizens of the US, things are currently even more fuzzy. Previously Americans could visit Iran with their UK and Canadian buddies on a guided tour, however, due to some pretty horrible travel bans recently put in place by the US Government, this is currently not the case. If you are an American citizen who already has a valid Iranian visa, then your entry into Iran will NOT be denied.
However, no new visas will be issued for American citizens for the foreseeable future as a reciprocal measure. It is not clear yet whether this ban on the admission of US citizens will continue indefinitely.
For Israeli citizens, unfortunately you are currently barred from entering Iran and will not be granted a visa even if you apply in advance. It is also worth noting that if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport your entry will into Iran will be denied. Furthermore, if there is any evidence that you have entered or been connected with Israel in the 12 months prior to arrival in Iran, your entry will also be denied.
If you have NOT yet seen your home country (the country in which you are a citizen) mentioned so far in this article, then you are one of the lucky nationalities who IS eligible to obtain a Visa on Arrival in Iran.
The Iranian VOA is a special type of tourist only visa that can be issued upon arriving at most international airports in Iran. It is usually valid for 30 days only, but reports of people only being issued visas valid for 14 days do pop up from time to time.
Where Can You Get It?
The Iranian VOA is available at the following airports:
IKA: Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, THR: Mehrabad International Airport, MHD: Mashhad International Airport, SYZ: Shiraz International Airport, TBZ: Tabriz International Airport, ISF: Isfahan International Airport and KIH: Kish international Airport.
This visa can also be granted at Bandare Abbas Port and Shahid Bahonar Harbour.
What About Travel Insurance?
One of the slightly strange things about the Iranian VOA is that it is a condition of its issue that you have valid travel insurance that covers your time in Iran. If you have a print out of your travel insurance policy clearly stating that you are covered for travel in ‘Iran’ or ‘Worldwide’ this will be sufficient.
However, if your insurance policy does not clearly state this, you may be required to purchase travel insurance in the airport before your visa can be issued. Typically this insurance costs about €12-30.
I personally did not have my travel insurance policy checked (I got my VOA at Shiraz International Airport) but many travellers I met who arrived in Iran through Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport did have their insurance policies checked, so it does pay to be prepared.
How Much Does It Cost?
Frustratingly, the cost of the VOA will vary depending on your nationality. Prices start from around €25 for citizens of Belarus, right up to a whopping €145 for Australians! The average cost seems to be around €75, so expect to pay something within this price range.
What Is The Process?
After landing into whichever international airport hub you have chosen, find the clearly signed ‘Visa’ desk which will be located before immigration.
You will be asked to complete a form asking standard visa questions including your reason for travel, your address in Iran and you occupation in your home country.
After you have completed this form, you then need to take it to the payment counter to pay your visa fee. Please note that payment is only accepted in CASH – and in euros ONLY.
At this time you pay also be required to purchase travel insurance (if you do not already have adequate insurance) which would set you back a further €12 to €30 – so it pays to have some extra cash handy.
After this, take your payment receipt and completed forms back to the original desk. At this time you may be asked to show a booking for a hotel and/or may be questioned about what you intend to see and do in Iran. Once such evidence is supplied, simply wait a few minutes for the visa sticker to be printed and before you know it you can head through immigration with your brand spankin’ new Iranian VOA!
Any Other Handy Hints?
Flying into the largest airport hub (Tehran) does come with longer wait times. For a smoother and faster visa processing experience, try flying into Esfahan or Shiraz international airports.