How to Get a Tourist Visa for Iran as a U.S. Citizen

Iran Tourist Visa US Citizen

Iran Tourist Visa US Citizen

Iran is an amazing place, and, as a U.S. Citizen, it is totally possible to travel to this country on tourism.

Foreigners of any country can go to Kish Island, Iran (a small island in the Persian Gulf) without a visa.  I went there with a friend of mine back in 2010 and got a visa on arrival in about 30 minutes.  You take Kish Airlines from the Dubai International Airport for the short flight (holding my breath the entire time because I felt like I was in a 1960s-style Soviet propeller plane) to Kish Island.

Upon arrival in Kish, you will be asked to show your passport and take a bunch of fingerprints.  The guys at Immigration were very friendly and actually more curious than anything on why a westerner would want to travel to Iran.

The second and other route for coming to Iran as a U.S. Citizen is to get a visa for mainland Iran, including Tehran.  There is the general misconception that you cannot travel there. Completely not true!  While independent travel to Iran is forbidden, you can go through an approved travel agent or tour company in Iran who can get you the necessary paperwork you will need for the visa (which you will need to get in advance of your trip).  In most cases, even though you need to have a tour guide, you will have plenty of time to stroll the streets and eat the local foods on your own when you want to.

Plan your trip and visa well in advance (I recommend 10-12 weeks) and have a healthy dose of patience.

  • Go to my Iran visa page to see information on other types of visas for this country.
  • I’m going to tell you below all you need to know about getting the Iran tourist visa as a U.S citizen:
1
Contact an approved travel agent
  • Contact a Ministry of Foreign Affairs-approved Iranian travel agent or tour company
  • You will need to contact them and fill out a form with your personal details, consulate where you want to have your Iranian visa processed, and your travel details. This agency or tour group will then apply on your behalf to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that you can get a visa authorization number.
  • There are a number of reputable Iranian tour companies, including Key to Persia and G Adventures.
2
Wait for your visa authorization number

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran will take up to 2 months (yes 2 months, so plan ahead!) to fax your visa authorization number to the Iranian Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington D.C. or whichever Iranian consulate or embassy you selected at the time you submitted the form to your tour agency or guide.

3
Locate the embassy your tour guide uses
  • If you’re inside the U.S.:

Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan

4
Confirm receipt of the visa authorization number

Your tour group or travel agency will need to confirm if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran has already faxed your visa authorization number to your consulate/embassy.

5
Gather documentation.
  • Original passport
  • One Visa Application Form  (If you are under 18 years old, use this form)
  • One passport sized photo
  • Visa processing fee
  • The last page of the visa form has the latest fees.
  • If you are applying to the Iranian Interests Section in Washington D.C., I recommend you get a U.S. Postal Service money order (payable to “Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran”)
6
Submit materials
  • Either apply in person or mail the information to the Consulate/Embassy you found in Step 3
  • Don’t forget to include a prepaid self-addressed US Post Office Express mail envelope so that the Embassy/Consulate can return your passport with visa
7
Receive your visa
  • Congratulations, you got your visa!
8
Don't get sick!

Check vaccination requirements here.

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About Addison Sears-Collins

Hey! I'm Addison Sears-Collins, the founder of Visa Hunter. You can learn more about me here. Connect with me by liking my fan page on Facebook, connecting with me on Twitter, or check out my website Automatic Addison where I build robots and embedded systems.

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