How to Get Iran Visa on Arrival (VOA)

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I have a lot of countries that I’d love to visit, but there’s one thing that keeps putting my plans off – visas. Some visas are quite difficult to obtain and require a lot of documents. Some even require you to send your passport to the Embassy which means that you can’t travel while waiting for a visa. And for a person constantly moving like me, it’s quite difficult.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with Iran as you can Iran visa on arrival for tourist purposes, at least if you’re an EU passport holder. Especially if you’re traveling to Iran as a solo female traveler, visa on arrival is easier to obtain than at the Embassy at some countries.

I decided to get my visa on arrival after my friend Kamila told me that she was refused a visa at the Embassy, as the consul didn’t want her to travel solo, while upon arrival she got it easily.

How to Get Iran Visa on Arrivalazadi tower

Visas on arrival for any country can often be problematic. The most popular reason why a lot of people don’t like visas on arrival is that they’re afraid that they might not be granted a visa. But even with a visa, an immigration office might refuse you to enter the country (even in the US), so I’d say don’t worry. 

Another reason is that airlines need to put a disclaimer that they might refuse boarding to any person without a valid visa, even if you can obtain it on arrival. Don’t worry about that too. I was asked if I had a visa for Iran in my passport, but when I told the airlines representative that I’ll get it upon arrival, no additional questions were asked.

Iran visa on arrival (VOA) or Iran airport visa, refers to that kind of Iran tourist visa received by eligible nationals traveling to Iran for tourist purpose. Diplomatic passport, official passports, etc. cannot apply for this type of Iran visa.

Visa on arrival can be issued at major international airports in Iran. You cannot get this visa on the land borders. List of airports where you can get Iran visa on arrival:

  • IKA: Imam Khomeini Airport
  • TEH: Tehran Mehrabad Airport
  • SYZ: Shiraz International Airport
  • MHD: Mashhad International Airport
  • TBZ: Tabriz International Airport
  • ISF: Isfahan International Airport
  • KIH: Kish International Airport

Iran visa on arrival is valid for 30 days since January 2017. It used to be only 14 days, and some airlines are still misinformed claiming it’s only 14. Some representatives might be trying to tell you that your return ticket must be within 14 days, like it happened in my case. Tell them it’s not true and don’t worry.

Visa on arrival can only be extended if Iranian Foreign Affair Office finds it necessary. In that case, usually maximum 14 days extension is possible and it’s not an easy process. If you’re planning on staying longer than 30 days, make sure to get your Iran visa at the Embassy instead.

IMPORTANT: Visa on arrival doesn’t mean that it’s a visa free country. Iranian visa isn’t just a quick stamp in your passport, like in for instance Japan. In order to get this visa you still need to have necessary documents. 


Who can get Iran visa on arrival?

Countries whose Nationals Can Apply for the Iranian Visa on Arrival:

Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, China (People’s Republic), Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Countries whose Nationals CANNOT Apply for Iran Visa on Arrival:

Iraq, Colombia, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.
American, British and Canadian passport holders also cannot get visa on arrival. Citizens of these countries also can’t ‘just go’ to Iran and are only allowed in when on an organized tour with a guide.

If you’re illegible to travel on your own, you can consider taking the Discover Persia 14-day G Adventures tour, which I’ve heard good things about. The tour doesn’t chaperon you 24/7 and you’ll have some free time, so even if you’re not a group trip person, you’ll be fine. Check here for the latest Discover Persia tour prices and itinerary.

Another option would be Iran tours from Intrepid. They have a few options available, so check the latest dates and prices here.

Regardless of the nationality, you cannot have an Israeli stamp in your passport. And while Israel doesn’t stamp passports anymore, you also can’t have any evidence of entry in Israel. For example, an Egyptian stamp at the border city of Taba could result in denied entry.

Iran visa


Requirements for Iran visa on arrival

Official documents required to obtain an Iran visa on arrival are:

  1.  A valid passport with at least 6 months validity
  2.  A confirmed return ticket within a 30 day timeframe
  3.  A photo to be attached to the Iran visa application form
  4.  Visa stamp fee, which is payable to the Iran Visa & Passport Office at the airport. Iran airport visa fee depends on the applicant’s nationality.
  5.  An invitation letter or hotel reservation voucher. The invitation letter has to be sent from the Iranian travel agency to Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs at least 48 hours before your arrival to Iran airport.
  6. Not officially listed but mandatory: travel insurance valid for Iran. Printed.

Let me explain these points to you in details.

1 & 2 – pretty self-explanatory.

3 – When I went to Iran I read that you’re required to have a photo with you. Women should follow Iran’s official Islamic dress code and wear a head scarf in their picture. While I had a photo with me, noone asked me about it at any point and instead they used a photo from my passport.

4 – It’s a fee that you need to pay at the cashier upon arrival. I read that it should be paid in USD, but since Trump’s travel ban noone wants dollars in Iran anymore. While it’s still acceptable, it’s better to bring Euros. My visa was 70 euros.

5 – Regardless whether you have an itinerary and pre-booked every hotel or not, you must have a confirmation at least your first night. I booked accommodation for the first 2 nights online and received an email from them stating that I’m staying with them (below):

iran hotel confirmation

However, I was just required to put an address of my accommodation. Noone has asked me to show this email.

6 – You won’t be granted a visa without a valid travel insurance. And in case you’re wondering EU insurance cards won’t work in this case, as they do check whether your policy is actually valid for Iran. While you can technically buy an insurance at the airport, you’ll have to stand in another line to do so. This is why I recommend World Nomads Insurance. It’s valid for Iran and it’s reliable.


Now, how to actually get Iran visa on arrival once you get off the plane?

Once you get off the plane, with your scarf on if you’re a woman, you’ll see a sign that says visa on arrival. If you don’t see the sign, staff will direct you.

You’ll need to fill a simple piece of paper with all your information, get your travel insurance validated and stamped in another window, pay the fee in another window, and leave your passport at the counter.

I was not asked a single question and had to show anything. But remember, they might ask you some questions regarding your trip and documents.

Then you’ll have to sit and wait for about 15-20 minutes. Once your name is called you’ll pick up your passport and proceed to the immigration.

urmia lake

Lake Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province


Other important info

Journalists and reporters on mission cannot get Iran visa on arrival. If you’re a blogger, it’s a grey area. I put ‘online marketing’ as a job and didn’t have any problems.

While you can enter the US with an Iranian stamp in your passport, but you won’t be eligible for the US Visa Waiver Program. 

This means that you’ll have to apply in person for a tourist visa next time you want to visit the States. But fear not, I actually have a tourist visa for the US and thanks to that I can actually stay in the country up to 180 days, unlike people on visa waiver only 90 days.How to Get Iran Visa on Arrival (VOA)

Voila! Now you’re ready to go to Iran. Read up on things to know before you go and enjoy it, as it’s a beautiful country. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to post your comment below!

Want to read more about Iran? Check out my ultimate guide to Iran page.

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14 Comments

  1. Apr 27, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    Great info Anna – sad that one can still not get in through VOA as an American. It’s been on my list for some time, and unfortunately have waited too long. Now have to wait 3 yrs or an impeachment, which ever comes first : (

    • Apr 27, 2017 / 5:14 pm

      I actually heard that after the travel ban was lifted you can now apply for a visa. There’s no info about it anywhere, but I heard something like this when I was in Iran. I doesn’t hurt to try I guess? 😉

  2. May 12, 2017 / 11:02 am

    Did they accept your non-Iranian insurance? Boy next to us had the one issued before and although covering Iran (some UK insurer), they didn’t accept it at the border – maybe it’s up to the official at the counter but it’s really confusing, especially when you have to pay so much for your insurance covering Iran. I think anyway it’s better to pay for Iranian insurance anyway – it`s super cheap and I heard a lot of good about stories about claim handling of foreigners (they really care).

    • May 12, 2017 / 4:33 pm

      I didn’t have any insurance, so I bought the Iranian one. But everyone else had World Nomads, or some Dutch one, and no issues – the guy just had to check if it covers Iran. The price was the same – $15 for a month.

  3. Jul 5, 2017 / 11:35 am

    Thank you so much! I was wondering if I could enter Iran with a VOA as a Dutchie but now I know I can and what to bring with me 🙂 Looking forward to visiting Iran!

    • Jul 5, 2017 / 5:28 pm

      Totally! Enjoy Iran 🙂

  4. Bianca
    Jul 22, 2017 / 6:01 am

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for your detailed post about the Visa, it’s really helpful. Unfortunately point 2 about having a confirmed flight ticket brought up a question 🙂 I though of exiting Iran via land which seems impossible after what I’ve read.
    So my plan is to exit via plane from Tehran to Yerevan, Armenia. BUT I’m gonna fly in from Cambodia. Here’s my question: Does the confirmed flight ticket include any kind of flight as long as it proofs one leaves the country or does it need to be a RETURN ticket?

    Thank you so much in advance.

    Take care
    Bianca

    • Jul 22, 2017 / 5:42 pm

      Hey Bianca! Yes, you’ll be fine. I also found out when I was in Iran that you can have a flight leaving from Erbil and it would be fine. I actually wish I did that because I only got a one-entry visa to Iran so if I visited Iraqi Kurdistan I’d have to buy myself another flight from there. Everyone was super friendly and helpful at the airport when I was getting my visa, so don’t worry!

  5. Marian
    Jul 24, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    Hi Anna.

    I have two questions.

    On the official iranian e-visa site they mention even if you want to get the VOA you have to apply for the e-visa to obtain the Tracking code, print the document and show this at the counter at airport in Tehran. Do you think this is necessary? Isn’t this the new 2017 rule to obtain VOA?

    I have applied for the visa electronically via the official iranian e-visa site with issuing it at embassy in Vienna..just to have it in advance, even if I have a nationality eligible for VOA. After more than one week, the site still says my application is “waiting for verification”. I fly to Tehran on August the 9th and I am a little nervous after reading some stories of long time for issuing a visa.
    Do you think you can try to obtain the VOA even if you already applied for a visa via the electronic system with issuing at an embassy?

    Thanks for your opinion 🙂

    Marian
    Slovakia

    • Jul 24, 2017 / 5:50 pm

      I didn’t do that and noone ever asked me for it. Weird. Time of issuance depends on how many people are waiting in line, but it shouldn’t take more than 40 minutes.

  6. Akina
    Jul 24, 2017 / 6:15 pm

    Hi Anna, I’m a dual-national (American and German). I was wondering if I go to Iran on my German passport while I currently live in the US and was also born in the US, if I’ll have any problems getting into the country. I’m assuming they should treat me as a German, but it is very obvious that I’m both German and American.

    Thanks

    • Jul 24, 2017 / 6:30 pm

      No problems at all. Also, you don’t have to be scared to tell people in Iran that you’re American. They definitely don’t have anything against Americans from my experience everywhere 🙂

  7. Lyve
    Jul 29, 2017 / 3:15 am

    I got visa confirmation.And they want m to sent my orignl pasport to washington.Is there anything more i need to pay just to mark my visa in my passport? Thanks

    • Jul 29, 2017 / 5:39 pm

      Nope, you’ll enter Iran with it 🙂

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