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  #1  
Old 9 Jun 2003
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Visa for Iran : how it works

It seems the visa for Iran is a problem for many people.

This is what we did twice (in 2002) and all worked fine and sort-of-fast.

We had ourselves invited by an Iranian travel agency, who the does the proper application to Tehran. That's a PAID service of course.
How does it work :
- you fill in the application form on the Internet. "Name of father" and such things is also there. You also have to fill in in which Embassy you will apply for your visas (Delhi, Islamabad, etc.).
- you go home/tent and wait for some days (one took 3 days, another took 5, on the website they say 5-7 days)
- they send you a VISA REFERENCE NUMBER to your e-mail address, and that's THE most vital piece of information. This number is assigned by their Ministry of Foreign Affairs (or some simular institution). It is then sent (by this institution or by the agency) to the embassy of your choice. You go to the this embassy and fill in the visa application forms, ADDING this number somewhere clearly, so they can match this number with the number they have received.
It then takes just two or three days to get the visas !! How about that !?
Visa cost was 60 U$ pp.

We applied once from Belgium, the second time from Islamabad, both times with the above procedure. Twice we got tourist visas for one month. (well... the last time (in PAK) we made a little mistake and got "only" 25 days as a result : we filled in "one month" on the forms never thinking we were in an Islamic country and "one month" equals 25 days in their calendar ! Another lesson learned.)

We also heard that the Iranians in Delhi were crap. The ones in Islamabad are more or less o.k. though. If you go up the KKH, that's surely an option. Else, it's 'just' a do-able one day 300 kms along the GT road from Lahore.
You will have to sit and wait for a few hours each time though, but in the end, the system worked. No idea how much has changed since last February, but my guess is "not much".

The websites of the agencies :
http://www.iranparadise.com (27 U$ pp in 2002 for the visa arrangement)
http://www.key2persia.com (30 U$ pp in 2002 for the visa arrangement)

The first is based in Tehran, the second in Shiraz. I'd say : take the one Shiraz because it means you can go and pay these guys in cash (I suppose no-one voluntarily goes to Tehran ?). They are on Zand Boulevard, main street in Shiraz. Have a look on their website - all is explained there clearly as well.
(else --like we had to do-- you have to transfer the money by international money transfer. Not only it's difficult (let alone from --say-- India to Iran) but we had a hard time finding all their necessary bank details and the money came back twice. First time because we did it in dollars and there's a boycot on dollars into Iran, then we did it in euro's which worked fine but the bank data were insufficient to trace the man. It took a month each time before we got it all back...)
They will no doubt try to make you book some tour with them, and their English is not always very "clear". One refused to arrange the visa reference number without booking a tour, then all of a sudden, after we went to the other, the first DID send us the number...
But we did pay (we're honest girls you see), and hopefully they recieved the money and will still send you a number without advance payments as they did with us.

VERY VERY IMPORTANT : since these guys trusted us for paying up AFTER receiving the number, I hope they will do so in future too, for everyone. PLEASE FOR THE SAKE OF THE PEOPLE COMING BEHIND YOU : PAY YOUR DEBTS TO THE AGENCY !

===

IMPORTANT too : the "using time" of a tourist visa is 3 months which starts to run on the day you apply for your visas in the embassy. You have to ENTER the country within these 3 months, but you can EXIT after the last date - as long as you don't overstay the total visa time of course.
It means if you get a 30 day visa valid from 15/02 till 14/05/2003, you have to enter at the latest on 13/5/2003 and then you can stay your 30 days.
This is different from what is commonly used for visas in other countries, and it causes confusion even within Iran amongst police chekcpoints and hotel staff. But don't let anyone tell you differently : we stayed twice long after our last date (e.g. 13/05) and had no problem whatsoever leaving the country. Friends of us did the same by the way.

=====

The hole-in-the-wall treatment seems to be common amongst quite a few Embassies outside "the western world", as is treating you like shit. Doesn't mean you don't get what you need. Used to fend off "annoying customers" I'd say Friendly smiles help (usually). As does a neat headscarf for women and a suit for the men

The "sending to Tehran for processing" is also common practice for Irani visas. Anywhere any time, even back in 1999. It's a sort of "checking out if you are a reliable guest" (and not a possible spy) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

====

Hope this helps many people out there.
If you need any more information on this paperwork, please feel free to contact us.
Happy traveling in this friendly country.


Trui

------------------
Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, often travelling on motorbikes (now on DR650SE's)
2nd overland from home to Northern India and back, April-October 2002
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Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, often travelling on motorbikes (now on DR650SE\'s)
2nd overland from home to Northern India and back, April-October 2002
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  #2  
Old 15 Jun 2003
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To get my Iran visa I emailed Sireh Tours in Iran at info@sirehtours.com Attn: Mr. Ramin
It took 2 1/2 weeks to come through, but it made it. I picked it up in Quetta. Oh yes, along with all the info in the application online you also have to fax a copy of your passport to Mr. Ramin.
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  #3  
Old 16 Jun 2007
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i see this info is long out dated. hopefully some of things have changed since 2003, especially the three month expiration date before you can use the visa... i just applied to the consulate in Ottawa, Canada and I won't be leaving on the trip for another four months!
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  #4  
Old 16 Jun 2007
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Don't worry

Thee months expiration date before you can use the visa? Hm, no, you can enter immediately but no later than three months after the visa is issued.

By the way, unless that book of yours is a follow-up to the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie I'm 100% sure you can get a visa. Why would an Iranian consulate in Ottawa have a visa service if it was impossible to get a visa? That would be a pretty stupid office, wouldn't it? Almost everybody except Israelis can get the visa. It's just a whole lot more difficult for some nationalities such as Americans and Brits. I got mine at first attempt. Very easy. Applicants from more "provoking" countries often have to try several times and have to pay more. If you get a no at first attempt, just apply again. Pump in applications. Funnily it has worked for many. A no is a no to one specific application, and there are plenty of stories of identical applications getting a yes at second or third attempt. Remember that the application form has a trick question, that is: What countries have you visited before? You will make your success more likely if "Israel" or "USA" is not written on that line. I wrote Namibia. Just think about it - when did Namibia annoy Iran?

If still no, try applying through an agent. If still no, try another agent.

If still no success you can try to apply at Iranian consulates as you're getting closer to Iran. E.g. this is the story about your three options in Turkey: In Istanbul you will have a 10% chance, in Ankara 50%, and in Erzurum 90%. The closer to the border the better. Also consider what kind of visa you are applying. You would hope for a tourist visa, but a last resort alternative with a generally better prospect for a yes is a transit visa. As soon as you cross the border you can extend your visa (though double check if this is possible with a transit visa, there are mixed feedbacks on that topic). The rumor is that a visa is especially easy to extend in Esfahan.

In the end I say to you as the Iranian border officer said to me: "Have good time in Iran." Yep Jeremy, you're going for sure.
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Last edited by Eriks; 16 Jun 2007 at 03:31.
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  #5  
Old 16 Jun 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriks View Post
Thee months expiration date before you can use the visa? Hm, no, you can enter immediately but no later than three months after the visa is issued.

By the way, unless that book of yours is a follow-up to the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie I'm 100% sure you can get a visa. Why would an Iranian consulate in Ottawa have a visa service if it was impossible to get a visa? That would be a pretty stupid office, wouldn't it? Almost everybody except Israelis can get the visa. It's just a whole lot more difficult for some nationalities such as Americans and Brits. I got mine at first attempt. Very easy. Applicants from more "provoking" countries often have to try several times and have to pay more. If you get a no at first attempt, just apply again. Pump in applications. Funnily it has worked for many. A no is a no to one specific application, and there are plenty of stories of identical applications getting a yes at second or third attempt. Remember that the application form has a trick question, that is: What countries have you visited before? You will make your success more likely if "Israel" or "USA" is not written on that line. I wrote Namibia. Just think about it - when did Namibia annoy Iran?

If still no, try applying through an agent. If still no, try another agent.

If still no success you can try to apply at Iranian consulates as you're getting closer to Iran. E.g. this is the story about your three options in Turkey: In Istanbul you will have a 10% chance, in Ankara 50%, and in Erzurum 90%. The closer to the border the better. Also consider what kind of visa you are applying. You would hope for a tourist visa, but a last resort alternative with a generally better prospect for a yes is a transit visa. As soon as you cross the border you can extend your visa (though double check if this is possible with a transit visa, there are mixed feedbacks on that topic). The rumor is that a visa is especially easy to extend in Esfahan.

In the end I say to you as the Iranian border officer said to me: "Have good time in Iran." Yep Jeremy, you're going for sure.
As a Canadian it is nearly impossible these days to get a visa for Iran. I tried 5 times in 3 countries and ended up using a European passport with diplomatic help from the Belgian government in Theran, from Damascus. It's not easy for Canadians at all. US etc. have no problem. Israelis ... well, no :-)
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  #6  
Old 18 Jun 2007
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Still waiting

Crap. Reading this forum is an emotional roller-coaster. First, "you'll get the visa for sure," then "there's no hope for you." (I'm inclined to believe the negative reports. They are, after all, from a Canadian!) Sigh. Well, I'm still waiting for the consulate, and if I get rejected I'll try again (using a service, I think). Anyway, I'm optimistic. But the part that really gets me is the the three month deadline before I have to use the visa. That could be a problem because I don't plan to cross the border until late October. Anyway, soon I'll be exploring shipping options and the paperwork required (besides the carnet... I have that covered) to do the trip.
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  #7  
Old 18 Jun 2007
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Transit visas can no longer be extended.

You can apply in one place and collect in another place, which you specify at the time of application. So you can collect it at an embassy closer to Iran and the 3 months start from the day it is stuck into your pp.

Many people report success with iranianvisa.com.

I found Pakistan a lot more difficult once outside Germany (my homecountry). See separate topic.
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  #8  
Old 18 Jun 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beddhist View Post
Transit visas can no longer be extended.

You can apply in one place and collect in another place, which you specify at the time of application. So you can collect it at an embassy closer to Iran and the 3 months start from the day it is stuck into your pp.

Many people report success with iranianvisa.com.

I found Pakistan a lot more difficult once outside Germany (my homecountry). See separate topic.
Check with these guys: www.enduroreisende.de
I ran into them in Pakistan and they only had a transit visa for Iran. They managed to extend their visa in Esfahan quite easily if I recall correctly. They speak english, so maybe email reisefritze@googlemail.com directly.
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  #9  
Old 19 Jul 2007
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Here's the latest

Thanks to everyone who's given such helpful advice regarding Iranian Visas. I intend to contact some of you when I get my passport back from the Embassy in Ottawa, but it seems premature to do so until then. Here's the latest development in my journey to collect an Iranian visa (it's taken directly from my website, where I usually update a bit more).

"After weeks of waiting (including a lovely week of “waiting” while vacationing in beautiful Prince Edward Island) I’m finally getting serious with the Iranian embassy regarding my visa and passport issue. (They’ve had my passport for nearly two months and they won’t return my phone calls or e-mails.) I had a friend in Ottawa physically visit the embassy to verify that it exists. She said it did. I asked if it consisted of a dark room up a rickety flight of stairs in an abandoned building down by the docks. She said Ottawa is more of a white collar town than a shipping hub… it doesn’t really have docks. In fact, she said, the Iranian embassy is quite nice and, yes, people do work there. Fine. So I contacted Foreign Affairs. They told me to contact my MP. I called him, filled out some forms and now he’s making inquiries on my behalf. I’m told that my passport should be back in my hands shortly, though, probably, sans Iranian visa… which puts me back at square one."
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  #10  
Old 1 Aug 2007
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Further updates

Well, I was warned. People told me that I wouldn't get an Iranian visa with a Canadian passport and they were right. Now, I didn't exactly get rejected... I just got ignored. The good news is I finally got my passport back from the embassy in Ottawa, but obviously I'm still without a visa. There's a service called iranianvisa.com that some people have recommended and I may give them a try. The advantage of using them is that you don't need to send them your passport and you can pick up your visa authorization number at any Iranian embassy en route. They also understand English fairly well and respond to e-mails promptly. They list their success rate for Canadian applications at a dismal 43%, but at least they seem realistic and they tell me those numbers are steadily improving. (Is anyone as skeptical as me about that?) But, it can't hurt to try. Failing that, I'm told there's another way, but it's sort of a last ditch effort. We'll see how it goes, and I'll keep you updated. And, as always, if I lag behind on my reports here, you can always reference my website... I do a little better job of posting there! Thanks again to all of you who responded to my call for help!
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  #11  
Old 1 Aug 2007
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If your first agency fails, there is STANTOURS - Central Asia Travel Resources. David got me my Iran visa (Irish passport). You don't need to send your passport and he will be applying from the Iranian embassy in Amaty. Perhaps they are more lenient there?
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  #12  
Old 2 Aug 2007
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Unhappy

thanks, pete. i'll try a service, i think. however, the problem isn't getting an iranian visa, it's getting an iranian visa with a canadian passport. it's tougher for us than most countries.
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  #13  
Old 20 Oct 2007
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Updates

The visa service "IranianVisa.com" promises wait times for visas ranging between 7 and 10 days. They don't grant the visas, per se. Rather, they use contacts to prearrange authorization, then send you a code that you take to your chosen embassy or consulate for final approval. Granted, their conversion percentage for Canadian applications is low (41%) but they are quick to add "The results have been much bette [sic] for Canadians, recently." Well, I applied for my visa on August 3, 2007. Now I'm told it should be in any day, probably Sunday. Yes, except that's just the thing I've been told for months... and of course, everyone is closed Sunday. Did they really mean Monday? Or were they just deliberately wasting my time? I suspect the latter. Of course, it might be prudent for me to stick around until Monday to see if the code arrives (Istanbul is the destination I chose to arrange the paperwork), but the code just isn't coming. It's not. I could try another service, but that means another lengthy and expensive application, then I'm back to waiting while winter approaches. No, I'm off to Ankara tomorrow. There, I'll perhaps try again for the Iranian visa, but I'll also begin the process for Syria... another guessing game and bureaucratic nightmare.
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  #14  
Old 20 Oct 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hopelessly lost View Post
The visa service "IranianVisa.com" promises wait times for visas ranging between 7 and 10 days. They don't grant the visas, per se. Rather, they use contacts to prearrange authorization, then send you a code that you take to your chosen embassy or consulate for final approval. Granted, their conversion percentage for Canadian applications is low (41%) but they are quick to add "The results have been much bette [sic] for Canadians, recently." Well, I applied for my visa on August 3, 2007. Now I'm told it should be in any day, probably Sunday. Yes, except that's just the thing I've been told for months... and of course, everyone is closed Sunday. Did they really mean Monday? Or were they just deliberately wasting my time? I suspect the latter. Of course, it might be prudent for me to stick around until Monday to see if the code arrives (Istanbul is the destination I chose to arrange the paperwork), but the code just isn't coming. It's not. I could try another service, but that means another lengthy and expensive application, then I'm back to waiting while winter approaches. No, I'm off to Ankara tomorrow. There, I'll perhaps try again for the Iranian visa, but I'll also begin the process for Syria... another guessing game and bureaucratic nightmare.
You can get Syria and Jordan at the border. No carnet needed there either, but it does speed up the process. I didn't use my carnet in either because a buddy of mine didn't have one with him. Also, make sure you have valid insurance before you reenter Turkey, as otherwise you'll be stuck by them not letting you in. A 3 month motorcycle insurance in Turkey is $5 or so.

Go to Palmyra in Syria, in the desert. Stay for a few days, it's a great spot. And Craq De Chevaliers, of course
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