Do not travel to Iran due to the risk of kidnapping and the arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens. Those present in Iran should exercise increased caution due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
Country Summary: U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Iran have been kidnapped, arrested, and detained on spurious charges. Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans--including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics--on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security. Iranian authorities routinely delay consular access to detained U.S. citizens and consistently deny consular access to dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.
A novel (new) coronavirus disease, recently designated as COVID-19 and also known as the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness in several countries around the world. The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China in December 2019. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Iran is experiencing sustained community spread of COVID-19. The virus can spread from person to person. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel. U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Iran should review and follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus. Individuals suspected of having COVID-19 may face travel delays, quarantine, and high medical costs. Several countries have closed their borders with Iran and/or suspended air traffic to and from Iran. As a result, commercial travel to and from Iran may become severely limited with little or no notice.
The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iran.
Safety and Security:
U.S. citizens who travel to Iran despite the Travel Warning should exercise caution throughout the country, but especially in the southeastern region where Westerners have been victims of criminal gangs often involved in the smuggling of drugs and other contraband. Terrorist explosions have killed a number of people in Iran in past years. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to areas within 100 kilometers of the border with Afghanistan, within 10 kilometers of the border with Iraq, and generally anywhere east of the line from Bam and Bandar Abbas toward the Pakistan border.
U.S. citizens are advised to avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings. Increased tension between Iran and the West over the past several years is a cause of concern for U.S. citizen travelers. Large-scale demonstrations in response to politically motivated events have taken place sporadically throughout the country, resulting in a significant security presence, arrests, and occasional clashes between demonstrators and security officials. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. U.S. passport holders who are arrested or detained by Iranian authorities should request assistance from the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.
Iranian security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Photography near military and other government installations is strictly prohibited and could result in serious criminal charges, including espionage, which carries the death penalty.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 011-973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.