Choosing my next destination was fairly easy as Iran was on my bucketlist for a long time. To be honest Dubai or Abu Dhabi is not a real Middle East experience anymore so I was excited to find it Iran. The fact though that most countries in this region have strict visa policies was always holding me back, but then I read about the visa on arrival in Iran and I immediately made up my mind to travel to this Islamic Republic.
Visa on Arrival Tehran Airport
Normally I don’t prepare that well for a trip to a new country, but this time I felt like I had to dig into it a little deeper. Iran has been isolated for a long time since the conflict with the USA started in 1979 and of course due to the sanctions over the nuclear program. Entering the country has not been easy ever since, but not that long ago Iran opened up by loosening their strict visa policy. Iran can now be entered as a tourist by a visa on arrival for 30 days. Looking for more information on the internet you will find a lot of stories some good, some bad, but the reality is that it is fairly easy to obtain visa on arrival in Iran.
What do I need for a visa on arrival in Iran?
It is all about being prepared and if you fail getting a visa then it is probably your own fault. On the internet the requirements are stated clearly:
- Make sure your passport is valid for more than 6 months upon arrival.
- Have a hotel confirmation of your first nights with contact details of the hotel manager.
- Have a confirmed return ticket to fly out of Iran.
- Bring cash in dollars or euros to pay the fee.
- Carry proof that you have a health insurance with coverage in Iran.
- Make sure your passport is free of any Israeli stamps.
If you make sure that you meet all these requirements than there is little chance you will be denied entry into Iran!
For more tips and tricks if you visit Iran, read the blog of my friend Kamila.
My experience getting a visa on arrival in Iran
Everyone on my flight apparently already had a visa before arriving, since no one queued up for the visa on arrival office. I didn’t find anyone in there so I assumed I needed to line up at the passport control lane for foreigners. Although everyone already had permission to enter Iran you could still feel some tension among the people in line. Having a visa is one, getting stamped in is another thing. I was last in line and when I rocked up I told the officer immediately I needed a visa on arrival. He directed me to the visa on arrival desk and found an officer that could help me. The old man asked my passport and my hotel reservation in Tehran. I handed him the paper and my passport and was willing to give him all the other required documents, but he nodded negatively. Apparently this was all he needed. Then he started registering my details and walked out of the room with my passport without saying anything. A moment later he came back but without my passport and then it was awkwardly silent for a couple minutes. I though I better shut up instead of asking if everything was okay. Tension was building up and after 5 long minutes without saying a word the old man walked out of the room. I didn’t know what to do or who to ask what was going on. I looked around but the airport was deserted. An open swinging door down the hall relieved some tension. The man coming out summoned me to come over. He was holding a paper that said I had to pay €60. From that moment on I thought everything would be okay, but then his question was: ‘Do you have a health insurance?’ I answered positive and then he asked to prove this. I explained him that this was in my checked-in luggage. He smiled and said: ‘I believe you’! Finally he stamped my passport and 10 minutes after I applied for the visa on arrival I was officially in Iran!
In the end getting a visa on arrival in Tehran Airport was more about excitement than hassle!
The visa on arrival for Iran opened up the market for backpacking in Iran. A lot of guesthouses are popping up and solo travel in Iran either for man and woman is getting popular. I had a great time and Iran and travelling around will teach you what Iran and Iranian people are really like! Budget travel Iran is hot!
Curious about travelling to Iran? Then I am sure I can help you out. Either you are willing to explore Iran in a group or you want to backpack your way solo through the country some of my friends will get you to the coolest spots and will make sure you don’t miss a thing. They are the ideal partner for the adventurous traveller that is looking for a bit more convenience in this mysterious country!
Go to my blogs to read about my experiences while crossing this Islamic Republic: Iran.