Here is detailed information about US citizen’s traveling to Iran rules (also UK and Canadian citizens) whose traveling law is different from other nations.
What is the Iran visa rule for US citizens?
The Iranian government requires that all US, UK and Canadian citizen’s travel with a private guide or group tour to Iran. Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) must approve your complete guided travel itinerary before issuing you a visa; guided travel itinerary means a travel guide must accompany you while you are in the country. It can be traveling either as part of a group tour, or on a tailor-made individual one specially planed based on your interests. You must submit your itinerary in advance and adhere to it exactly. No matter you join a group tour or travel as an independent traveler; you will have many time to explore around, walk the streets, browse the bazaars, making connection with ordinary people, eat street food and…
Where to start applying for Iran visa?
You should start by contacting an MFA-approved Iranian travel agency like Iran Traveling Center to either join a tour group or set up a custom itinerary. By filling in the application form and submitting needed documents online; the agency staffs will contact and guide you through the Iran visa process and in the following will plan a desired tour itinerary based on your budget, time and interests.
When to start applying for Iran visa?
It’s highly recommended to start at least three months beforehand, as Iran visa process and adjusting detailed itinerary will takes some time.
How to apply for Iran visa?
Obtaining an Iranian tourist visa for US, UK and Canadian passport holders has a two-step process:
Getting an authorization number from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which a MFA-approved travel agency in Iran should apply for that.
The actual Iran tourist visa issued by an Iranian consulate.
So, all you need to do is to fill out the application form and select an Iranian consulate where you’ll pick up your visa. Then the travel agency you work with will help with the needed paperwork’s. The time consuming part is the authorization number that usually takes 30-40 business days. Once you have that number, getting your visa from the Iranian consulate is done in 2 or 3 days.
Note 1: Although Iran doesn’t have an official embassy in United States of America, you can get the visa in Iranian Interest Section at the Pakistan Embassy that handles Iranian visa requests in Washington, D.C.. If you don’t live in that area you’ll need to send your passport, application form and passport photos by mail with a prepaid return envelope.
Note 2: If your travel starts before Iran and you plan to visit other countries; you can pick up your visa at an Iranian Consulate abroad. But you should specify the consulate in advance on your application form.
Group tour or private guide?
On group tour you will join other nations; it’s a unique experience for everyone, also the total coast decrease; but it may be somehow time consuming. On a private tour you have more freedom as the guide is just accompanying you and it’s your own time to be managed, on the other hand the rate is higher that joining a group tour.
What is the dress code for women traveling in Iran?
As a woman visiting Iran, you are required to wear a headscarf that covers your head when in public. In addition, you should wear a long shirt, sweater or jacket over trousers or long skirt. As a foreign woman you will get less scrutiny than local women, but it’s still best to dress modestly and respectfully. There is no limitation in choosing colors, do it as you wish and fashionable! Like most of other Iranian women do, there you will see headscarves and outfits are perfectly matched.
What are immigration and security entering/exiting Iran?
Usually just fingerprinted on your way into the country at airport is sufficient. Maybe some questions asked about agency name applies for your Iran visa, checking your hotels voucher or sometimes asking about your traveling reason. Anyway it’s not a worrying matter and would done for any other nation, too.
What about credit cards in Iran?
Unfortunately up to now credit cards are not acceptable in Iran and cash is the name of the game. You’d better travel with U.S. dollars or Euros and exchange them in major cities at currency exchange outlets. So, don’t count on using your credit card, only some of the more sophisticated Iranian souvenir and carpet shops will accept credit cards and route transactions through a partner business in Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East.