How to Enter Iran

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

Should you decide to travel to Iran despite the current Travel Warning, a passport (valid for six months beyond duration of stay) and visa are required, except for travel to Kish Island where a visa is not required. Travelers should not attempt to enter mainland Iran from Kish without a visa. To obtain a visa, contact the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan located at 2209 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC. 20007; tel. 202-965-4990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99; fax 202-965-1073, 202-965-4990 (Automated Fax-On-Demand after office hours); email: requests@daftar.org.

U.S. citizens traveling to Iran are fingerprinted upon entry. The Iranian press has reported that foreign tourists may obtain seven-day tourist visas at the airport in Tehran. However, U.S. citizens are not eligible to receive these visas and must obtain valid visas from the Iranian Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC. Note: possession of a valid Iranian visa will not guarantee entry into the country. Some U.S. citizen travelers with valid visas have been refused entry at the border without explanation. U.S. citizens do not have to obtain a visa for travel from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Kish Island.

U.S. passports are valid for travel to Iran. However, the Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality and will treat U.S.-Iranian dual nationals solely as Iranian citizens subject to Iranian laws. Thus, U.S. citizens who were born in Iran, who became naturalized citizens of Iran (e.g., through marriage to an Iranian citizen), and children of such persons—even those without Iranian passports who do not consider themselves Iranian—are considered Iranian nationals by Iranian authorities. Therefore, despite the fact that these individuals hold U.S. citizenship, under Iranian law, they must enter and exit Iran on an Iranian passport unless the Iranian government has recognized a formal renunciation or loss of Iranian citizenship. Dual nationals may be subject to harsher legal treatment than visitors with only U.S. citizenship. (See section on Special Circumstances below.)

Iranian authorities have prevented a number of U.S. citizen academics, scientists, journalists, and others who traveled to Iran for personal/cultural/business reasons from leaving the country and in some cases have detained, interrogated, and imprisoned them on unknown or various charges, including espionage and being a threat to the regime. U.S. citizens of Iranian origin should consider the risk of being targeted by authorities before planning travel to Iran. Iranian authorities routinely deny dual nationals access to the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Tehran because they consider dual nationals to be solely Iranian citizens.

As a precaution, it is advisable for U.S.-Iranian dual nationals to obtain, in their Iranian passports, the necessary visas for the countries they will transit upon their return to the United States so that if their U.S. passports are confiscated in Iran, they may depart Iran with their Iranian passport. These individuals can then apply for a new U.S. passport in the country they are transiting.

No visa is required for Iranian nationals traveling to Turkey, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, or Armenia.

Dual nationals whose U.S. passports are confiscated may also obtain a “Confirmation of Nationality” from the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland, the U.S. protecting power. This statement, addressed to the relevant foreign embassies in Tehran, enables the travelers to apply for third-country visas in Tehran, provided they meet Schengen States' criteria for a visa. Dual nationals finding themselves in this situation should note in advance that the Swiss Embassy would issue this statement only after the traveler's U.S. nationality is confirmed and after some processing delay. A "Confirmation of Nationality" would be considered in lieu of the standard invitation letter that all Schengen visa applicants are required to present; however, it does not guarantee issuance of an entry visa. Dual nationals must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.

Visa extensions are time-consuming and must be filed at least one week in advance of the expiration date. A foreign national and anyone accompanying him/her will pay a fine of 300,000 rials or 30,000 tomans per day for each day of unauthorized stay in Iran.

U.S. citizens, whose stay surpasses six months and whose domicile is outside Iran, need to obtain an exit permit to leave the country. U.S. citizens residing in Iran on permanent resident visas must obtain an exit permit each and every time they depart Iran, regardless of the period of stay. Although an exit stamp is no longer inserted into the passport, the exit tax must still be paid. U.S.-Iranian dual nationals are no longer required to pay an exit tax regardless of the duration of their stay in Iran. More specific information on Iranian passport and exit visa requirements may be obtained from the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC.

Non-Iranian-national women who marry Iranian citizens gain Iranian nationality upon marriage. If the marriage takes place in Iran, the woman’s U.S. passport will be confiscated by Iranian authorities. A woman must have the consent of her husband to leave Iran or, in his absence, must gain the permission of the local prosecutor. Iranian law, combined with the lack of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran, means that the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran can provide only very limited assistance if a U.S. citizen woman married to an Iranian man has marital difficulties and/or encounters difficulty in leaving Iran.

After divorce or death of the husband, a foreign-born woman has the choice to renounce her Iranian citizenship, but any of the couple’s children will automatically be Iranian citizens and their citizenship is irrevocable. They will be required to enter and depart Iran on Iranian passports. For a divorce to be recognized it should be carried out in Iran or, if outside Iran, in accordance with Sharia law. Upon divorce, custody of the children normally goes to the mother until children reach age 7, at which point custody automatically transfers to the father. However, if the courts determine that the father is unsuitable to raise the children, they may grant custody to the paternal grandfather or to the mother, if the mother has not renounced her Iranian citizenship and is normally resident in Iran. If the courts grant custody to the mother, she will need permission from the paternal grandfather or the courts to obtain exit visas for children under age 18 to leave the country. The term "custody" in the United States does not have the same legal meaning in Iran. In Iran a woman is granted "guardianship," and only in very rare cases is actually granted "custody." Even if the woman has "custody/guardianship”, all legal decisions (e.g., application for a passport, permission to exit Iran, etc.) still require the consent of the father. Iran is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

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

Disclaimer

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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