Iran Visas and Authorisation Codes
Getting a visa for Iran travel is quite possibly the most difficult and stressful part of your entire trip. For countries like the UK, which have little to no diplomatic relations with Iran, you may find that you cannot even get a visa in your country because there is no Iranian embassy and so you may have to travel elsewhere. Brits have to travel to Dublin or Paris for example.
How to Get an Iran Visa on Arrival – 180 Countries
Most airlines flying to Iran will not allow you on a flight unless you show you have the visa, but you can get a visa on arrival. However, sanctions have been lifted, most notably in 2016, with up to 900 Visas daily on average granted on arrival, according to the Office of Foreign Affairs. Tourism numbers annually have increased year-on-year, with 5.2 million foreign visitors entering Iran in 2015, in comparison to 4.7 million in 2013.
On the 14th February 2016, the Ministry of Iran announced that airports are directed to issue 30-day visas for nationals of 180 countries.
Non-eligible nationalities for Iran Visa On Arrival:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, USA, UK
A 30-day Tourist Visa Upon Arrival, for those of eligible nationality, can be obtained at the following airports:
IKA: Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport
THR: Tehran Mehrabad Airport
MHD: Mashad Airport
SYZ: Shiraz Airport
TBZ: Tabriz Airport
ISF: Isfahan Airport
Those people I met who were granted a visa on arrival as part of the tour were given a special letter from the company that they could present to both the airline and passport control on arrival in Iran.
Getting Your Iran Authorisation Code – Non-Eligible Nationalities
Before you apply for your visa (giving you up to 30 days), you have to apply for an Authorisation Code. EVERYONE has to have one of these and it will determine if you are granted an application for a visa or not. For those who HAVE to travel in a group (see below), this code will normally be processed by your tour company; for everyone else, you will can use IranianVisa.com, source an Iranian travel agency local to you or seek direction from the embassy you wish to get for visa from about where to apply for it.
When applying for the authorization code, you will need to specify which embassy you will be processing your visa at – a pain for those travel around with no solid plans. Once the code is granted you cannot change the embassy choice. It’s wise to choose an embassy in a city you are likely to fly to Iran from (see also timings below).
Iran Visa and Authorisation Code Costs
Authorisation codes (if not booking with tour) come with an administration cost of around 35 Euro, which is dependent on the agency you are working with. There is no set price for a visa since it is determined by nationality and where you process your visa.
I paid 180Euros for mine in Tbilisi, Georgia and a British guy on my tour paid a little more to process his in Paris. The Australians in my tour group paid differing amounts between 50-100Euros, as did the Germans. There’s no hard and fast rule – it’s more about luck.
Iran Visa Timings with Authorisation Code
If all that wasn’t enough, it is highly likely that 1. Your authorization code will take WEEKS to process 2. It will most likely arrive with only a matter of DAYS to spare before your planned arrival in Iran or tour start date.
This means that before any trip to Iran, especially when travelling in a tour, you will be dashing to the embassy in the hope of them processing quickly (and where you may have to pay extra for fast-tracking) and booking flights very last minute (which is course doesn’t always guarantee the best price).
DON’T book your flights or any travel arrangements until you know your visa will definitely be processed. Many people travel to Turkey before hand to process their visas and use the country as a cost-effective flight or train route to entry.
Refusal of Entry to Iran – Proof of Travel to Israel
The main reasons for Iranian visa refusal is if proof is found that you have travelled to Israel and the government’s paranoia based on your career (think journalists, media workers and similar).
Refusal of Entry to Iran – Current Diplomatic Relations
Diplomatic relations and any political actions for/against Iran based on historical or current issues at the time of applying may also affect your entry into the country.