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Old 17 Jun 2022
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Crossing Iran-Pakistan border June 22


We are two 1200 GS riders on a RTW trip, currently in Tehran and aiming to cross into Pakistan at Taftan in ten or so days (late June 22).

Is anyone on the trail or has crossed there recently?

For info, we are getting the Tourist Visa in Inbox for Pakistan.

Thanks for any useful info in advance!
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Old 29 Jun 2022
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Here are some details on how it went.

Firstly, Visa in inbox for Pakistan
We haven’t met anyone yet who did the same process weirdly. This is different to the Tourist Visa, where you need to go to a Pakistani embassy. The Visa in Inbox is a sort of Visa on Arrival and it can be done when passing the border at Taftan (for residents of some countries only, the list is on the official website).

We filled in the questionnaire a week before crossing and only uploaded a screenshot of our booking.com booking for a hotel in Islamabad instead of getting a letter of invitation.
As soon as we submitted the form and paid the $35 fee, we received confirmation emails and were able to download an ETA or Electronic Travel Authorisation.

Upon arrival at the border, on the Iranian side and specifically Hamid (King of Taftan border who offers help and assists you through the border crossing for no fee), they wanted to make sure that we would get the via from Pakistan before they stamped us out of Iran, specifically because they pointed out that on our ETAs it mentioned showing them ‘at the Airport’. It seemed like they hadn’t seen an ETA before and that the Pakistani system hasn’t been updated for land borders. Hamid printed them out and had them brought over to the Pakistani side. We waited a fair bit but then received an email with our visas. On the site, the status of our application went from ‘In process’ to ‘completed’. Hamid printed out our visas and sent us on our way.
We didn’t need to go to an embassy or wait for approval in Zahedan, we only waited a little at the border. Probably the easiest visa of our trip!

Next, the border crossing. It was long, hot (end of June) but once we were stamped out of Iran, it only took a few hours to be stamped into Pakistan. We exchanged dollars for rupees when approached by a man after getting our passports and carnets stamped. Then we went to the gate for the final writing down of information and photos (twice) and waited for a policeman to escort us the 2 minutes to the police station. We had been told by Hamid that we wouldn’t get an escort towards Quetta that day so didn’t bother leaving Zahedan too early and knew to expect an overnighter in the police station.
The set up there is primitive. If you can, bring clean drinking water, they only have filtered and it’s not great. The toilet in the tourist room was disgusting and leaked, there was only carpet to sleep on so if you are equipped for camping you will be comfortable enough if you can bear the heat (no AC). The fixer can go to the shop and get you basic provisions (get water!).

We left Taftan at 7.30am and arrived in Quetta at 00.30.
This seems weird given the distance but it included 2.5hrs stranded on the side of the road when one of the Levies’ pickups broke down and all the time spent at the many checkpoints + a few hundred kilometres doing 30 kph in the dark despite our protests that we could ride faster.
Note that we were in a convoy consisting of us on 2 motorbikes, a truck that could only do 80-90 kph, and the levies’ pick-up that the travellers without vehicles were carried around in (changed 15 or so times).
Also note that the levies don’t communicate amongst themselves so one set will have no idea if you last stopped for water 10 kms or 100 kms away.
They also don’t grasp the fact that unlike the other travellers, motorcyclists can’t ride and drink/eat at the same time so we actually need a stop for lunch and a stop for dinner that doesn’t last just 3 minutes. We had to refuse to get back on the bikes on two occasions so we could eat.

Pack food and drink - we struggled to find food that would be good for eating in the go on the Iranian side so be sure to plan in advance. Supermarkets in Zahedan weren’t all that good for this purpose and we regretted not spending more time earlier finding a good place to buy snacks.
Expect that all the water you do pack and that you haven’t gone through during the border crossing and the overnighter in Taftan will be near boiling temperature after being cooked in the sun for an hour (at least it was for us in end of June). We had temps between 30 degrees (at midnight in Quetta) and 47 degrees (most of the day). Sometimes you can get cold water at the stops but don’t count on them as there is no logic to when the levies let you stop.
Our water was nearly all finished by the time we arrived at the Bloomstar hotel.
We paid 4,000 rupees for a double and stayed two nights because getting the NOC takes some time and the next place to sleep if going to Islamabad is 500km away.

Getting the NOC - the police picked us up from the hotel at 10.30am and took us to the Home Office. We were then granted our NOCs (the process took an hour and a half) and the letters were given to our guards. We told them we needed an ATM and SIM cards. They took us to an ATM - so far, so good.
Then we were transferred a couple of times before being taken to a road with the phone companies’’ shops. We were in the Jazz shop for hours, getting everyone’s phone set up because the shop assistants didn’t know how to configure the phones properly. We think we were just unlucky.

Having left the hotel 6 hours previously, we were desperate to get back and get food, but despite our pleas to be taken to the hotel, we were transferred a couple of times and taken to the police station where we put our foot down and demanded to be taken to the hotel because we were just going to be hanging about there while they took photocopies of our NOCs.
I wish I could say that the 8 minute drive from the police station to the hotel took less than 10 minutes but alas is was another 40 minutes before we finally arrived.

In summary, once you get to Quetta, you are at the mercy of your guards and I recommend bringing water and snacks even if you think you are just going to be out for a couple of hours to get your NOC. Once it had been drafted, ask for it or they will keep it with them meaning you are not free. Even once you have it, you are not actually free to go wherever you want, stay in the hotel and order food in.
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Old 29 Jun 2022
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Thanks for posting, good to hear that someone has actually got through to Pakistan.
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Old 29 Jun 2022
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Great information! Thanks for taking the time to describe so thoroughly.
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Old 7 Jul 2022
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Quick Summary and add-on post Quetta

Expect to dedicate 4 days from the border crossing to leaving Quetta
Day 1 - cross the border at Taftan and sleep in police station
Day 2 - escort to Quetta
Day 3 - getting the NOC in Quetta
Day 4 - leave Quetta

NB this does not take into account weekends when the NOC office is closed.

Potential accelerated version (but unlikely)
If you cross the border early enough on day 1 and they have enough people, the escort may leave Taftan the same day meaning you sleep in Dalbandin that evening. Day 2 would get you to Quetta and potentially you could if you’re very lucky and the timings are right, get the NOC the same day, but highly unlikely. Day 3 you could leave Quetta. Again, this is unlikely, planning for 4 days is more realistic.

Another accelerated version could be asking to get the NOC for departure the same day - for example you are a foot passenger and want to get a train the same day (if there’s one leaving that day), you could actually leave Quetta on day 3.

Leaving Quetta:
If you are taking a bus or train from Quetta, you will be escorted to the station to buy the ticket. Once you are on board, you are free from the escort.

If you are in your own vehicle, you will be escorted to the border of Balochistan. By motorbike, this took us a whole day. We left at 8.30 am, changed escort countless times all day long, but it was faster than the escort the day before because it was just us, no foot passengers obviously and no slower trucks.
We crossed out of Balochistan at 6pm and had two blissful hours of freedom without escort (including a 30 minute stop where the road was closed because they were rigging up an electricity pylon). An hour before DI Khan, we ran into a police checkpoint and they insisted the region, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is not safe enough for us to roam without escort. The escort and usual changes of lead pick-up took 2.5 hours but we made it to DI Khan where they set a guard up outside our hotel room all night. The next day, we were escorted to the border with Punjab, just a few hours away, and then set free again just beyond the border after the checkpoint (which took a while to get through).

All in all, Taftan to Islamabad by motorbike took us 5 days (actually 6 because we took an extra day’s rest in Quetta to recover from illness). Realistically, I don’t think you can expect to go much faster given the speed of the escorts, the potential pairing with slower vehicles, the time it takes to get the NOC etc

Also keep in mind the toll that journeying in this way takes on your body. We both succumbed to illness and our energy levels were taxed to the max because of the long hours spent on the bikes.

- Crossing the Iran/Pakistan border at Taftan to arriving in Islamabad (Punjab) where you are free from escorts takes AT LEAST 5 DAYS.
- Prepare for long days, low speeds, countless changes of escort vehicules, no proper meals for days, very hot temperatures, breakdowns that leave you stranded in the sun with no shade.
- Pack more water than you think you will need, and food.
- As a motorcyclist, you will suffer more than anyone else, demand breaks (or longer breaks) to have time to rest and eat, even if they push back and it delays the other travellers (who can eat while driving).
- Go with the flow, you won’t get rid of your escorts until you reach Punjab (at least this was the situation in June 2022).
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Old 16 Aug 2022
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Very detailed description.
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Old 16 Oct 2022
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Taftan crossing on 8 october

The Baluchistan crossing is i think worse then ever. It started very well.
Left day 1 early in BAM, around 7 am, just had a stop in Zahedan town center to change my rials to ruppees, toke some time to find and get in and out of town, and the change. Getting petrol also is complicated, big cues and even then you pay 5 times the normal price then official, which is still better then pakistani price, after i filled up in Mirjaveh, just before the border, it took me almost an hour. The crossing itself is quiet simpel, took altogether 3 hours, arrived 13.30 and at16.30 i was at the levies station at Taftan pakistani side.
Day 2: The levies arrived nice at 8.00 and off we go,they changes endless from escort, and waitngntimes went up, it took 9 hours to get to Danbaldin. Sleep again in levies-station, its dirty but they are friendly. I slept in my car anyway, even its not perfect made for it.
Day 3, levies started again 8.00, hopefull, but nono, same shit, it took another 9 hours to get to Quetta, arrived to late to make the NOC, straight to Bloomstar hotel, 3500 for a room and 2800 for diner and some extra to the breakfast, because it was vvery basic. 6300 ruppees whats about 30 euros. Its pretty clean, but very basic, i will put fotos on google mapps off it.
Day 4/ LEVIES arrive 10.00, go to the NOC-office, its not that complicated, takes a good half hour, back to Bloomstar, pick up car and luggage, and off we go, full of hope. But, nonon, wrong bet, first to police station, more paperwork to do, and join some english pakistanis and some germans, 3 vehicles, not to bad. It was about 13.30 when we really went out of Quetta. At darkness we had moved a record of 190 kms, even not to Zhob, sleep in big police-station, rooms and matrass dirty, sleep in car again (3th night).
Day 5: started around 9.00, endless changes of escorts, and at some place it took almost an hour to do paperwork, because they where military, and no Levies or Police. After sunset we entered D.I. Khan, nothing was aranged, the escorts had no clue what to do. I decided to escape and booked the only reasonoble hotel in town (National club). When we arrived, they refused us to give a room because the NOC said Islamabad, and not D.I. KHAN. After some dicussion, my english and german friends also arrived, with the escort, hahaha. They had same problem, it took hours of discussion, before they agreed to give us a room, we were 8 people. Lucky we had 3 guys who speak Urdu with us.
Day 6, escort arrived at about 10.00, again escorted out off town, it was around 12.00 on day 6 when we entered the motorway north of D.I. KHAN towards Islamabad and no more escorts, arrived Islamabad around 16.00. Knever ever i have seen such incompetent people. I ws in the Bosnian war escorted in the 90s, that worked better . . .
Al together, be prepared for the unexfpected !!
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Old 16 Oct 2022
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Interesting that they took you through Zhob, almost certainly the least secure of the four major routes heading out of Quetta to lowland Pakistan. I stayed in Zhob for a night there 13 years ago (no escorts) on the way to Kohat, a very beautiful journey indeed.
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
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Old 23 Oct 2022
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Tagtan-border to Kunjerab border

We were 3 cars and trucks with 8 persons, and all had to go to Islamabad for an Indian visa, i think that was the main reason they took us by Zhob and not Multan. If you have your indian visa before, and go straight to Wagah border it would be shorter and maybe safer taking the Multan-road.
I also wanted to do the Karakoram highway, and went up to the chinese border 3 days ago, it was really good snowing and the temperature dropped to minus 9 degrees. I went up bu Barbusar pass on 18th and had no problem at all, but now its closed by heavy snow, it means i had to come back the other way (as planned) by Dassu and Besham. Roadconditions there are really bad, i was stuck in a protest from local farmers near Chilas for 2 hours, later there where several landslides before Dassu, they are building 2 big dams there, and they are moving the mainroad several hundred of meters up because the old road will flow, and because of these roadworks, upstairs, the oldroad often get landslides downstairs. Took also more then an hour to cross that section. Then arriving in Dassu, there was again protests in the town center, i was alone in the middle of heated protests, when the police saw my lefthanddrive, they escorted me out, to take the "bypass", its more a gravel goat-track, but i getted away. All together it took me 11 hours for 330 kms from Gilgit to Besham . . Inshaalaahhh !!
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Old 8 Dec 2022
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Mirjaveh/Taftan for Pakistani bikers

We also crossed the Iran/Pakistan border in June 2022 returning from Turkey and it was a pleasant experience except for the scorching sun.

We left Zahedan after a comfortable late breakfast and drove to Mirjaveh. The only fuel station was empty and didnt take any time.
Hamid made the process look easy but as the day progressed the mercury kept on rising with hardly any shade out of the building.

After the formalities on the Pakistani side spent hours in a restaurant waiting for the sun to get a bit merciful. Finally left Taftan late afternoon replenishing our fluids and electrolytes at every opportunity. I was carrying 4 1.5 ltr bottles of drinking water and many sachets of ORS still would stop at every small shop on the way getting cold water.

Reached Dalbandin before sunset and slept on the roof of a hotel. Temperatures got comfortable after sunset while early morning it became chilly and we had to take blankets. Desert variations can be extreme

Left early for Quetta because wanted to avoid the day heat and reached Quetta before noon.

Luckily there were no restrictions for us and i was riding a Pakistani made Honda CG125.
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Old 20 Mar 2023
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Hey guys, just arrived in Pakistan and bikes arrived by shipping. Do you had to take an insurance at the border ? I don't find any information about it online so I'm guessing if it is mandatory in Pakistan. Thanks
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Update July 2024:
June 30: Exit Iran, enter Pakistan at Taftan crossing. Usual expected runaround with documents, stamps, etc. Levies give the choice of staying at a guesthouse or with them. I choose the Levies compound. Its hot and dirty, but free and the Levies were very kind and gave me water, offered to get food, etc. Slept outside.
July 1: 7am we depart Taftan, bound for Quetta. I am with a couple of sedans and 4 big tour buses. It is very hot and windy, and we encounter a sandstorm about an hour into the journey. Speeds are reasonable for me, 80-90 kph. At the first checkpoint (mid-sandstorm) I had to write my passport & visa details in a logbook. Thereafter, at any checkpoint they just photographed me, my passport and visa.
The stops were very brief and there wasn't really time to eat, barely time to drink water. Heeding advice in the previous posts, I did pack a kilo of dried fruit, dates and nuts, and extra water. I couldn't drink water fast enough, and soon ran out. One of the bus drivers took pity and would bring me water during the stops, when he could. I developed a bit of a fan club among the passengers who would come to chat during stops and would sometimes bring cold water.
Just after midday there was a lunch stop for about 40 minutes, during which the bus passengers wanted to ask me a bunch of questions, take selfies with me, etc. And I just want to rest, eat food and continue dumping water down my throat.
The day continued....high heat, wind and sand, very brief breaks and several escort changes. After 15 hours we reached the edge of Quetta, the rest of the group peeled off and I followed several escorts to the Bloom Star hotel, where I checked in for 2 nights, feeling mentally and physically spent.
July 2: Sleep in, eventually get contacted by security and we go get the NOC, and after a bit i wrangle an escort to an ATM and mobile shop for a sim card. The escorts in town involved me being sandwiched between 2 AK-toting guys, on a 150cc Honda. Again, there are several escort changes as one escort reaches the edge of their "district" and they call for someone to come and take responsibility for me for the next one. At one point, the escort guy said if I didn't fill up their motorcycles with petrol, it would be a 60-90 minute wait until the next vehicle could show up. I just said "No thanks", and 5 minutes later we were on the move.

All missions accomplished over several hours. Front desk helps me order food for delivery.

July 3: 6am departure for Sukkur, actually on time. We move a dozen meters, then stop & wait for 10 minutes. Several escort changes later we're on the highway, going 50kph. This is the standard rate of speed all day. The escort vehicles smoke badly, the road surface changes to dirt occasionally, and the weather is hot and humid. Whenever we're stopped for more than 20 seconds, I am drinking water and eating dates. Some of the escort changes are "rolling", where they wave me on to follow another vehicle that is already on the move. As we approach Sukkur, the escorts get a little more lenient..."Just ride to the next checkpoint, and promise not to stop, ok?" Eventually at the edge of Sukkur, the escort just waves me on to...no one? Sweet freedom! I find a hotel on iOverlander, but they are full and direct me to another hotel around the corner. They also help me order food for delivery, and after eating I flop out with the AC and ceiling fan on High.

July 4 (Independence Day for USA) Everyone is asleep at 6 when I am up and ready to roll. I just leave the key and room payment on the front desk, making sure jts within view of the security camera. No security, no cops...understand that in this region, foreigners are not really allowed to travel without armed escort. But there I was! I stopped for gas and headed out onto the highway. Garmin wanted to route me onto the expressway, where motorcycles are forbidden. I got lost trying to find the regular highway, and asked a couple of guys for guidance. After a discussion they decided they would hop on a small motorbike and guide me somewhere. We ended up at the entrance to the expressway (I appreciated, but did not share, their optimism). The cop there had good English and said..."where is your escort?" He sat me in front of a fan and had someone get me a cup of cold water while he figured out what to do with me. He decided to photograph me and my passport and send me on my way, instructing the 2 original guys to guide me to the regular highway. I offered them a little thank you gift and they refused. To my immense surprise I rode the rest of the way to Multan without an escort. I even waved to the guys at the checkposts and they just waved back. I stopped for gas, food and cold beverages at will, and met very welcoming, hospitable people. In Multan, the first hotel I went to was full, the 2nd said they weren't allowed to accept foreigners, but the expensive hotel up the street could. So I go there... reception asked where my escort is. I told my tale and they basically said the fun is over, you're back on the radar pal. Had a pleasant and relatively expensive stay.

July 5: I consume an excellent breakfast and am ready to roll at 730. Sorry, escort won't be ready for 30-40 minutes. No problem, the coffee is good and paid for. 30 minutes later....sorry it will be another 30 minutes. Reception asked would i mind sitting for a short video describing my pleasant stay at the hotel? Ummm, ok sure. Finally we start moving at 930. I spend the day looking at the back of beat, smoking Toyota Hilux pickups. 13 hours later, well after sunset, they leave me at the edge of Islamabad, with rain threatening. It's a wild ride to my guesthouse, and with 5 minutes to go, the heavens open up and I get absolutely drenched. My Garmin nav starts acting up but eventually I get to where I need to go, but end up going into the wrong guesthouse & getting a room for 7 nights. It wasn't until the next day that I realized I was in the wrong place.

Day 1: Exit Iran/enter Pakistan. Spend night at Levies compound. Note: Exchange for rupees when you can, just USD$100 worth for food and fuel over the next 1 or 2 days until you get to Quetta.
Day 2: Extremely long and tiring day, Taftan to Quetta. Don't underestimate how taxing this leg will be. Probably my most mentally and physically exhausting day of riding, ever.
Day 3: Logistics and rest day in Quetta. Get NOC, rupees and sim card.
Day 4: Quetta to Sukkur.
Day 5: Sukkur to Multan (escort-free for me!)
Day 6: Multan to Islamabad. Long, grueling day. But once you're in Islamabad, you're free to travel and roam the city like a regular person.

The whole escort requirement is very frustrating with the low speeds, smoking vehicles and unpredictable stops, but with very few exceptions, the Pakistani security personnel and civilians are super friendly and supportive. Just when I was cursing under my breath at the absurdity of it all, a Pakistani would appear next to me with a smile, and a bottle of cold water, asking "What is your good name, sir?"
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