From Turkey, I arrived by plane in the capital city Tehran at August 10th 2016 5:30 AM. I would be lying if I will not tell you that I was really nervous about my Iran visa on arrival. The Lonely planet was not very hopeful about the Iran visa, and the internet didn’t give me much information either. With a nervous mind, and a messy looking headscarf bound around my head I walked out the airplane. I will tell you how my Iran visa on arrival worked out and what you need to prepare.
My only positive hope for the visa on arrival was this hostel website which explains that after lifting the sanctions against Iran in 2015, Iran’s government liberalized the visa rules. The fact is, that now more than 180 countries can apply for an Iran visa on arrival. Only holders of passports from the following countries CAN’T obtain a visa on arrival: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, United States.
Visa on arrival is for a maximum stay of 30 Days. You can receive your visa on arrival at the following airports:
- Imam Khomeini International Airport
- Isfahan International Airport
- Kish International Airport
- Mashhad International Airport
- Dayrestan Airport
- Shiraz International Airport
- Tabriz International Airport
How to get a Visa on Arrival at Iman Khomeini International Airport
I was nervous in the beginning, but I soon realized it was not necessary. The visa process was surprisingly very easy as a holder of a Dutch and European passport. I was there with another Dutch girl who I met at the airport, and together we applied for a visa on arrival. First, we had to buy a travel insurance for around 12$. Afterward, we had to give our passports and fill in an information form. I was prepared for many questions, but the only thing the immigration officer asked was: “What are you going to do in Iran?” I said I was a tourist.
In the end, we had to wait for like half-an-hour and had to go to another guy to make the payment. He wrote on paper how much it cost: $75 and we received back our passports with an Iranian visa. The payment is possible in euro and dollar. I walked to the passport control guy and received a stamp. “Welcome in Iran.”
Total Costs: $75 visa fee + $12 health insurance fee = $87. Payment by Euros or Dollar. Visa is for 30 days.
What do you need for an Iran visa on arrival?
I was well prepared, maybe too much prepared. But I think that too much preparation is better than not being prepared at all. This is what I brought with me:
- My passport (more than six months validity)
- Passport photo
- 100 euro cash
- Copy of my passport
- Copy of my return ticket
- Copy of my health insurance
- Address and phone number of the hostel (you can book a hostel in advance on this website).
This is what I needed:
- My passport
- 87 euros cash
- Adress and phone number of the hostel
The lonely planet says that most like the immigration security call your hotel to be sure that you have a booking at that certain hotel. But recently, I didn’t hear or read from someone that they (still) call hotels. Probably you can also write down a fake address and phone number, and they will not notice.
I also heard that you need a passport photo with a headscarf. For me, this was not applicable. The immigration just copied my picture from my passport.
Important: You need to have a return ticket from Iran! They didn’t ask for it for the visa application but they did check it at the airport when I checked in my flight. Contact beforehand your airline and airport where you are flying from since rules about this can change.
How to get in Tehran
After receiving my stamp, I took my backpack from the luggage ramp and walked out the door where taxi drivers were waiting for me. Taxi costs around 700.00 IRR to the city center of Tehran. The Tehran municipality is planning to expand their metro network to Iman Khomeini International Airport, but it is not clear when it will be finished. A cheaper option is to take a taxi to the nearest metro stop: Shaded metro station. On the airport, you can exchange your money for Rial and buy a sim card (don’t exchange too much of your money because in the city center it will be cheaper). There is also a restaurant where you can buy a drink or grab some food. Read the Guide for your first days in Tehran, for more about transport, accommodation and what to see in Tehran.
From other (mostly European) travelers I met in Iran, had similar easy experiences as me with their Iran visa on arrival. Please share your experience about your visa on arrival in the comment section or send me a private message through the contact form.