Visitors to Iran must obtain a visa from one of the Iranian diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries eligible for visa on arrival. All visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months.
Who needs an Iranian visa?
US, UK, and Canadian citizens are welcome, but they need to pre-arrange a tour with a private guide or be sponsored by a friend or relative in Iran who will take legal responsibility for them. Israeli passport holders, and anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport, won't get an Iran visa. The citizens of Afghanistan and Bangladesh can receive the visa approval reference code via travel agencies if they have another country's passport or travel documents; If that's not the case, they need to request for Iran Visa personally via Iran's consulate or embassy near them.
Which countries don’t need an Iran visa?
Note: These conditions will include travelers who enter Iran only from their own country. Otherwise, they should contact the nearest Iranian consular unit to their place of residence and get a letter to enter Iran.
To extend the duration of their stay in Iran, they can submit their request after visiting Iranian consulates or embassies. Also, if they are in Iran to extend their visa, they can go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Immigration Police of Iran and submit a visa extension request.
Which countries cannot get an Iran visa on arrival?
Passport holders of the United States, England, Canada, Ireland, Colombia, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Scotland cannot obtain visas on arrival and must go to Iranian consulates or embassies to obtain an Iranian visa.
Agencies cannot get an Iran visa for these countries
Agencies cannot get an authorization number for Passport holders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Passport holders from these countries have to apply from Iran's consulates or embassies to get an Iran visa.
Except for the countries mentioned above, all the countries can get an Iran visa on arrival, but they need to apply before traveling to Iran, get the visa approval letter, and obtain their visas on arrival holding the approval letter.
Note: Iran visa is not on a label in your passport.
Iran has all the usual visa types – business, student, journalist, etc – but useful for travelers and businessmen are as below:
There are two ways to get a tourist visa.
Do it yourself: going directly through a consulate saves an agency fee but often takes longer and has a much greater chance of rejection (many consulates won’t even accept an application without an authorization number). In theory, you download the application form from the consulate in your home country; take or send it with your passport, photos, money, and proof of your travel insurance to the embassy, which then sends your details to Tehran for approval. If you’re lucky, several weeks later your passport (hopefully with a visa) will come back. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact them, which can be hard given that Iranian embassies have for years been like black holes to email and telephone calls.
Exceptions abound. In rare cases, this method can take just a few days. However, there have been many cases where weeks after submission the consul has directed applicants to a visa agency to get the authorization number; ie start again. Given the uncertainty, if you DIY give yourself at least six weeks.
Agency: visa agencies charge between EUR30 and GBP120 to get you an authorization number. In most cases, you fill out an electronic form with details of your itinerary and where you’d like to collect your visa, attach digital copies of your photo and passport, and the agency submit it to the MFA in Tehran. The MFA claims it takes between five and 10 working days to assess the application (unless you’re British or American when it's slower, more costly, and more arduous). But plenty of applications take longer or require some clarification. Some agencies are slow to respond to follow-up emails, though in fairness the agency usually does not know what is slowing the process. There is no refund if your application fails, but take comfort that only about 2% are rejected.
Once the authorization number is received, the agency will forward it to you and your nominated Iranian embassy/consulate. You then need to go through the DIY process described above as a formality, and in most consulates, the visa is issued on the spot – in Canberra, it took us 25 minutes.
If you’re organizing your trip through an Iran-based travel agency you’ll find the agency will probably organize the authorization number as part of their service. In theory, any Iranian individual can do this.
Any Iranian can sponsor your application, so if you know an Iranian in Iran and they are prepared to go through the bureaucratic process for you, you can save yourself a few euros. Most travelers use the travel agency that is arranging their trip or a specialist visa agency that has a working relationship with the MFA.
Remember that using, and paying, an agency is not a guarantee of getting a visa, and you won't get your money back if your visa is not issued for any reason. To avoid most problems, start the process early. We recommend that you seek up-to-date advice from other travelers about which agency to use, as the quality of service varies enormously.
Iran visa Extension
The good news is that Iran's tourist visa is usually extendable up to 60 days, 2 months. If you have a 30-day tourist visa, by going to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, or the Immigration Police in Mashhad, or Isfahan you can usually extend it for another 30 days, but harder, to extend it again, up to a maximum of 90 days. If you have an Iran visa on arrival, the extension of it depends on the discretion of the Police Aliens Affairs Dept.