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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 21 Sep 2010
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Turkey/Iran border scam: nothing new

Hi,

Nothing really new but two of us bikers have had the same thing a day or so apart. A third is coming through in a week or two and I've warned him. We'll see how he gets on.

On the Iran side at Bazargan passport control is fine, it is the customs helpers who are the problem.

Firstly, they might well be quite efficient at getting the paperwork stamped and signed but then they operate two systems:

1. they take you down the hill from the main crossing to a semi-deserted building where they explain that you need to pay EUR50 for the terminal. I guessed they meant the Iranian Petrol rationing card. Whether you're legally meant to have one is moot you can quite easily get by without one. They will pester you and point at a dusty board saying cars and trucks pay much more but just say no.

2. they then take you (they have your paperwork so there's not much avoiding it unless you avoided them in the first place) to the insurance shop -- it's clearly sign-posted Iran Insurance on a sky blue sign on the left side near the exit. The poor lads in there looked intimidated and were unsure what to do but I was asked for EUR100 for 30days 3rd party insurance. I was shown no prices or paperwork and was at a bit of a loss so had to cough up. Matt refused and was taken outside the border to another Sigorta where after arguing left with only 2 weeks insurance for EUR40.

Learn your Persian numerals (it's very easy, 2&3 have fallen over and have a tail, 4&6 are upside down, 7&8 are a V and an inverted V, 1&9 are normal, 5 is an upside down heart and 0 is a .). They read L2R as in English.

The precise figures are written on the computer printed document (six tear-off sheets). In the top left sheet, fourth line down, right hand side is the price in Rials: 215,400 in my case (ie. about EUR18).

On the bottom two sheets are two dates three lines up written as yyyy/mm/dd and are listed L2R as to and from (in Persian they'd be reading the whole piece R2L so it would be from/to to them). The year is currently 1389 and in my case 30 days starting in September means that the dd part remains the same and only the mm changes by one.

They might show you a yellow sheet written by hand in English. This is simply rubbish. Mine has a child's attempt to overwrite 30days and 18EUR with 70days and 50EUR. I think they would have shown me this "proof" had I argued. It's made up rubbish and in my case laughably made up. The problem being they didn't show me any of this until I'd paid up.

The proof is on that orangey-pink computer printed sheet. Demand to see that and check the numbers.

My hotel man here in Tehran (at the Parasto Hotel) very kindly phoned up Bazargan (I only asked him to double check which numbers were which) and got hold of the main man who naturally said that I had paid these helpers for their service, his office had only received the IR215,400.

Anyway, nothing especially new but at least you can now check the document for the precise figures and tell them where to go!

It's a real shame as Iranians are the friendliest people and I can't fault them. Except their driving is crazy.

Cheers,

Ian
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  #2  
Old 22 Sep 2010
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Thanks, Ian, I'll set this aside for my summer 2011's trip to Iran or Samarkand (via Iran).

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  #3  
Old 22 Sep 2010
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Good post – great detail.
Border touts make a living by blatent lies mixed with a real understanding of the often mind-boggling border bureaucracy. Personally I try to brush them off, but in most countries where they can operate freely there is a kickback to the border officials, and they don’t like loosing their little bonus.
I went through Bazargan oktober ’08, and then it was the customs officials themselves who were asking for handouts, they asked for Euro 20 after doing nothing for over an hour, reckoning I must be an easy mark by then. The resulting explosion of rough language resulted in my papers being stamped and counterstamped at record speed, they wanted me out of there as fast as possible. Not a method I would recommend everywhere, but these guys fold easily. The booth at the bottom of the hill just countersigned the internal receipt, to make sure you had actually been processed, and not just weaselled your way through.
Insurance is probably a good idea, but the petrol card was a waste of time and money – nowhere did I have any problem with fuel, if they had any in the pumps I was pushed to the front of the queue. Overfilling, splashing several liters of high octane on a hot engine was definitely a more serious problem, as was the “inshallah” driving and “me-first” pushing-and-shoving in queues.
Security of you, your bike and luggage is taken very seriously, they say there is no crime in Iran, and then help you lift your bike into a hotel reception, up three steps. I was unfortunate enough to attract the attention of the counter-espionage agency, and was interviewed twice, as well as being followed, so I was probably safe from normal criminals. There is a bright side to everything.
If you are travelling east in the Baloch area you may have military escorts, they are usually a pain in the ass, but we will never know if they were really necessary. They are very trigger-happy, and sloppy weapons-handling is always dangerous. One soldier shot into the ground near my feet because I took too long drinking water whilst waiting for other tourists at a checkpoint, and another shot in the air to make Swiss-Marco turn his bus around. That was counter-productive, to say the least. Otherwise the average Iranian is very friendly, and helpful, though I do wonder if all the people I spoke to were actually who they said they were, and not informants for the Iranian Stasi.
In ’08 there seemed to be some sort of food rationing, even in mid-range restaurants most of the menu was “off”, but the kebab is available everywhere. Tap water is not safe to drink, and bottled water is available everywhere.
Safe travels
Peter, in Oslo
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  #4  
Old 25 Sep 2010
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Hi Ian

Thanks for this information, very handy!
Cheers
Adastra
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  #5  
Old 25 Sep 2010
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Thanks Ian ; this is exactly the kind of helpful detailed post which makes HU the place it is. Thanks also to GSPeter, for the detailed followup.

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  #6  
Old 25 Sep 2010
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Thank you for that informative post Ian. We are hoping to cross from Turkey into Iran in a few weeks, currently underway in a rainy Germany

My impression is you are better off without the helpers altogether? We have never done a proper big scary land border crossing before so it could be interesting...

Keep it between the hedges.

Neil
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  #7  
Old 26 Sep 2010
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None of these shenanigans encountered at the Esendere/Serou crossing. Not a single tout in sight. I had green card insurance for Iran. The topic of insurance never came up however. Very friendly on both sides.
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  #8  
Old 27 Sep 2010
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Thanks for the news Ian, I think the numerals you are trying to describe are Arabic even though they speak Farsi in Iran.

In which case this graphic is useful and as you say not so hard to memorise

http://www.sahara-overland.com/country/arabic-nums.jpg

Chris S
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  #9  
Old 27 Sep 2010
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Hi,

Sat here with the hotel wireless I should do the decent thing and post some pictures! Sorry about the colouring: there's some disagreement between me, the camera, the PC software, the ....

Hopefully I've attached the official 3rd part insurance form then blow-ups of the two relevant parts (the price in Rials and the to&from dates) and the "yellow" hand-written form.

You can see from the numbers that, certainly here the glyphs used are not quite the same as Chris' examples. Most of the 4s I've seen are like the computer printed form though there are a few road signs (speed limits mostly) where they use the reversed "3" as a 4 -- I haven't seen a speed limit without an "English" translation. Most of the time it is much like an upside down (open) four. We do have two ways of writing a 4 in English (closed or open). The 6s here tend to have a rounded (and open) blob at the top. As to whether they're Arabic or Persian, see wikipedia which has a comprehensive looking page!

You can see the Persian 4 in the Rials price, 215400, and the 6 in the from date (the right hand one) 1389/06/23 and the to date is 1389/07/22 (hah! I'd misread that as 23 again!).

You can see on the "yellow" hand-written form that they've done a poor job of correcting from 30 days and EUR18(?) to 70days and EUR50.

As I said, I only received any of this after I'd coughed up EUR100.

Cheers,

Ian
Attached Thumbnails
Turkey/Iran border scam: nothing new-dsc_4153_001.jpg  

Turkey/Iran border scam: nothing new-dsc_4153_002.jpg  

Turkey/Iran border scam: nothing new-dsc_4153_003.jpg  

Turkey/Iran border scam: nothing new-dsc_4154_004.jpg  

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  #10  
Old 6 Oct 2010
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dieselcard and bordercrossıng

Hey travellers,

thanks for the ınformatıon!

We are now before Bazargan and just heared the news about the dieselcard....
How does this work at the border, if you don't accept the "help" of the helpers. Do you still have to buy it? or can you avoid this ın some way? Maybe by tellıng them that you are drıvıng petrol? Or ıs the border south (Esendere/Serou ) a much better optıon concernıng all the hassle ın the Bazargan?

Thanks for the heads-up!
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  #11  
Old 7 Oct 2010
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Insurance

One more question,

what types of ınsurance are you able to get at the border? Sınce the traffıc ıs crazy ın Iran, I'm thınkıng of gettıng all-rısk/full casco, ıs thıs possıble or only the one where the other party gets money when you hıt them (I don't know the Englısh term).

Thanks for the ınfo!
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  #12  
Old 7 Oct 2010
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We yust cros 4 days ago the border at Esendere/Serou with no problem at all. We have carnet de passages.

Chers, Zoran and Tamara, curently in Qazvin
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  #13  
Old 7 Oct 2010
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Thanks Zoran and Tamara,
Dıd you have to buy a dıeselcard or are you drıvıng petrol? How about the ınsurance? and lıcense plates?
Thanks agaın!
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  #14  
Old 7 Oct 2010
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I suspect getting full risk 'comprehensive' insurance will be a bit of a dream in Iran or anywhere on the road - or it will be very expensive. Better to drive/ride carefully.

Chris S
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  #15  
Old 12 Oct 2010
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Wow, lots of info. Thanks for the İmages Ian, they should defınıtely come ın handy ın a couple of weeks.

Ian you mentioned the problems ın Iran, and I keep hearıng of people shıppıng around, rather than goıng through. I´ve been somewhat out of the loop for the past month but from scannıng the net I can´t fınd any recent developments ın political relatıonshıps or otherwıse that would cause above usual concern ın thıs area? Just the usual bloody cold weather in Eastern Turkey ın the very near future and polıce escorts through Baluchıstan area of Iran\Pakıstan. Have I mıssed anythıng? Apart from hopefully the snow?

Cheers
Bryn
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