Do I need a visa to travel to Iran

IRAN:
All foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran except citizens of the following countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Egypt and Turkey. Citizens of these countries can stay for up to 3 months without a visa.
For all other nationalities Iran visas can take from 6-8 weeks to be processed. Please allow sufficient time for this.

Iranian visas are issued in a two-step process:

  1. An authorisation code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  2. A visa for your passport must then be obtained at an Iranian Embassy once the authorisation code has been issued.

For your nearest Iranian Embassy please check the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website: www.mfa.gov.ir. Please note your nearest embassy might be outside your home country.

Authorisation code/Visa Approval number and Iran Invite Number all have the same meaning but can be displayed as different names on different forms.
Please note the Iranian Embassy also now require a letter of authorisation to be submitted with your visa application form. Please speak to your agent to arrange this.

Step 1- How to apply for your authorisation code: 

A visa authorisation application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete and return this to our sales team. 

If you are arriving early or staying on afterwards this needs to be written on your application form. Please note due to government regulations citizens from Britain, Canada, USA, Colombia, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan can only stay one day before and/or one day after the trip start date.
As you are technically the responsibility of our Intrepid operator for your entire stay, only Intrepid-booked activities/accommodation are able to be nominated as part of this visa application. 
If you do not receive this form at the time of booking please enquire with your agent. 

For U.S, Canadian and British passport holders only, all Iran authorisation code applications must be accompanied with a detailed resume.
This must be a document that lists the passenger’s education and employment history – similar to what you would prepare for a job application. Due to heightened security measures, the name of the passengers' father and his employment history is also required.

Return the visa authorisation form together with a scanned copy of the first page of your passport and your confirmed flight details via email to your booking agent immediately. Please ensure all details are correct before sending. Any errors may result in your visa being denied or delayed. It is vital that you provide us with an email contact at the time of booking.

Our local operator in Iran will submit all visa authorisation code applications to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2 months prior to the travel date. Visa authorisation codes generally take up to 3 weeks depending on your nationality (this process can be much longer for Canadian, British and US citizens). Important note: our local operator can only apply for the authorisation code from 2 months prior to departure to ensure that the visa will be valid.
When approved, your visa authorisation code will be faxed to the Iranian embassy processing your visa (nominated on the authorisation form). Your booking agent will notify you of your authorisation code. Once the code is received please apply for your visa directly with the nominated Iranian embassy (see Step 2 for further instructions). 

Step 2 - How to obtain your visa stamp:

Once you have received your emailed authorisation code and letter, immediately apply for your visa with your nominated Iranian embassy. You will need to provide a visa application form (usually you can download it from the embassy website), your passport, the visa fee, photos and insurance policy. Some consulates may have different requirements. You must check this before submitting your application. The cost of an Iran visa is approximately US$110 depending on your nationality. Please check with your nominated embassy for visa costs. We recommend all women provide a photo with their hair covered by a headscarf (not a hat). If you wish to personally collect your visa at the designated embassy you must also arrive wearing a headscarf. In order to collect your visa from the consulate, you must carry your travel insurance policy that covers you whilst in Iran. In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within 3-4 weeks, but can take longer. 
Please check with your nominated Iranian embassy for their opening times and processing times for visas (some embassies will say that it takes up to a month). Please note that Iran embassies and consulates worldwide may only open for 3 or 4 days a week and have very limited opening hours. If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process (even to one day). Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue. We will do our best to secure your authorisation code, however the final decision rests with the government of Iran, therefore we cannot guarantee when and if a visa will be granted.
Please check that the embassy issues you with a tourist visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that it is a tourist visa). If you are issued with a business visa, hotels will charge you business traveller rates, which are often far higher than the tourist rates.
While not common, there are occasions where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects a visa application for a variety of reasons (usually unknown to us). Unfortunately we have no control over the success of your application and have little recourse if it is rejected. It is not uncommon for Iran authorisation codes to be submitted very close to the actual time of travel. Obviously this can be an anxious period but again unfortunately we have little authority to speed up the process. 

A visa will be flatly refused if your passport contains evidence of travel to Israel. Note: this is not confined to just an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there’s an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will not be allowed.
Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered shoes and a loose fitting skirt or loose long top and pants may be refused entry into the country. Men must also be conservatively dressed, wearing long trousers upon arrival, or they too may be refused entry.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry usually closes over the Iranian New Year period (approx 12 March to 2 April) and will not receive visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.

Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to get the visa processed for these nationalities.
In addition, the following travel restriction applies: Passengers of the above nationalities must visit Iran on a guided tour and must pre-book all extra accommodation (up to one night pre accommodation and one night post accommodation only) and airport transfers with the same operator. Additional sightseeing can only be booked through Urban Adventures on either the day before or after the trip start/finish date. Return airport transfers are mandatory and they will only be issued with a visa authorisation code once all services are confirmed and only for the exact time they have booked the relevant services. Passengers of this nationality must also remain the in the trip leaders company at all times whilst in Iran.

Please note that any cancellations after the authorisation code paperwork has been lodged, will incur a $100USD cancellation fee . This is to cover the application lodgement fees.
Additionally, if for whatever reason, passengers need to apply for a second authorisation code, the above fee may also be applicable.

Buying a Local SIM Card

On a practical note, we can mention that - even late at night - it is quite cheap (a few dollars) to buy a SIM card at the airport in Tehran. With the SIM card you have cell phone coverage almost everywhere, you can call Europe, and in most places you can even use mobile data (often also GPRS). In many food shops and stores you can buy a card with a code that entitles you to additional call and data credit for around 50,000 rial (~1 euro).

Time Difference

The time difference with Iran varies. Normally, it is 2.5 hours later in Iran than Central European Time. However, between 22 March and the last Sunday of March it is 3.5 hours later, and from 22 September to the last Sunday in October it is 1.5 hours later.

Money matters

Iran's national currency is the rial. You will find that the prices are often given in toman (10 rial is 1 toman). This can sometimes be confusing. 
In early 2015 you got about 38,000 rial for one euro; this rate, however, is significantly subject to change. Look for current exchange rates on this website.
Because of the international boycott of Iran, it is not possible to withdraw money from ATMs in Iran, although ATMs are fully present in the street. Also, credit cards and travelers checks are not accepted. You should therefore bring your money in cash (euros or US dollars) to carry. We recommend a about € 175 - € 200 a week for meals, drinks, entrance fees and excursions. 

Believe it or not, when you walk into a bank to change money you will often be told that their "official" rate is not good and they will tell you where else to go to change money. You will always get a better rate somewhere besides a bank. Everywhere you can find such exchange offices; these money changers will most often be in the bazaar. Be careful to check the rate before you change. You can also exchange money at a reasonable rate at most airports.