Special Travel Circumstances in Iran

The Iranian government has seized the passports and blocked the departure of foreigners who work in Iran on tax/commercial disputes. In addition to being subject to all Iranian laws, U.S. citizens who also possess Iranian citizenship are also subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Iran, such as military service or taxes. Iranian-citizen males aged 18-34 are required to perform military service, unless exempt. This requirement includes Iranian-Americans, even those born in the United States. Young men who have turned 17 years of age will no longer be allowed to leave Iran without first having completed their military service.

Dual nationals sometimes have their U.S. passports confiscated and may be denied permission to leave Iran, or encounter other problems with Iranian authorities. Likewise, Iranian authorities may deny dual nationals’ access to the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran, because they are considered to be solely Iranian citizens. Refer to the above section entitled "Entry/Exit Requirements" for additional information concerning dual nationality. U.S. citizens who are not dual U.S.-Iranian nationals are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport (biodata page and page with Iranian visa) with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of U.S. citizenship is readily available. Carry some other form of identification with you at all times as well, such as a driver’s license or other photo identification.

Credit cards and bank cards cannot be used in Iran. It is easy to exchange U.S. dollars for rials, either at banks or with certified money changers; however, you will not be able to access U.S. bank accounts using ATMs in Iran. While in Iran, avoid accessing a U.S. bank account via the internet, since the account will immediately be frozen or blocked by the bank due to U.S. government economic sanctions. Traveler’s checks can be difficult to exchange. Bring enough hard currency to cover your stay, but make sure you declare this currency upon entry. There is no Western Union or similar institution and bank transfers may not be possible. Exchange money only at banks or an authorized currency exchange facility, not on the street, and keep your exchange receipts. Import and/or export of over U.S. $5000 (or its equivalent in other foreign currencies) must be declared by submitting the relevant bank notice or any other document which proves that the amount was withdrawn from a foreign currency account or the sale of foreign currency. Pre-paid overseas calling cards are available at most newsagents. The internet is widely used in Iran. There are internet cafes in most hotels; however, usage may be monitored. The Iranian government blocks access to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Do not work illegally. You will be deported, fined, and/or imprisoned. You may also be prevented from re-entering the country.

Islamic law is strictly enforced in Iran. Alcohol is forbidden. Importation of pork products is banned. Consult a guide book on Iran to determine how to dress and behave properly and respectfully. Women should expect to wear a headscarf and a long jacket that covers the arms and upper legs while in public. There may be additional dress requirements at certain religious sites; e.g., women might need to put on a chador (which covers the whole body except the face) at some shrines. During the holy month of Ramadan, you should generally observe the Muslim tradition of not eating, drinking, or smoking in public from sunrise to sunset each day, though there are exemptions for foreign travelers who eat in hotel restaurants. In general, it is best to ask before taking photographs of people. Hobbies like photography and those involving the use of binoculars (e.g., bird-watching) can be misunderstood and get you in trouble with security officials. (See Threats to Safety and Security section above for warnings on photography.)

Iran is prone to earthquakes, many of them severe. To learn more about the seismic regions of Iran, including the most recent earthquakes, please visit the U.S. Geological Survey website.

U.S. government economic sanctions prohibit most economic activity between U.S. persons and Iran. In general, unless licensed by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), goods, technology, or services may not be exported, re-exported, sold or supplied, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by a U.S. person, wherever located, to Iran or the Government of Iran. With limited exceptions, goods or services of Iranian origin may not be imported into the United States, either directly or through third countries.

OFAC regulations provide general licenses authorizing the performance of certain categories of transactions. Such general licenses include, but are not limited to, the following: articles donated to relieve human suffering (such as food, clothing, and medicine), the import of gifts valued at $100 or less, licensed exports of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices, and transactions involving information and informational materials. All transactions ordinarily incident to travel to or from Iran, including baggage costs, living expenses, and the acquisition of goods or services for personal use are permitted. OFAC has the authority by means of a specific license to permit a person or entity to engage in many transactions or services which would otherwise be prohibited. Information on how to obtain a specific license can be found at 31 C.F.R. 501.801.

OFAC provides guidance to the public on the interpretation of the current economic sanctions on Iran. For further information, consult OFAC’s Iran sanctions resource page or contact OFAC’s Compliance Programs Division at 202-622-2490, visit OFAC’s web site, or obtain information via fax at 202-622-0077.

For information concerning licensing of imports or exports, contact OFAC’s Licensing Division at:

Licensing Division

Office of Foreign Assets Control

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Treasury Annex

Washington, DC 20220

Telephone (202) 622-2480; Fax (202) 622-1657


You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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