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How to get an Iranian visa (2015/10/05)

Who needs an Iranian visa?
Passport-holders from half-a-dozen countries (Bosnia & Hercegovina, Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia and Turkey) get a three-month tourist visa on arrival. Everyone else needs to arrange a visa in advance or take a risk on getting a 15-day visa on arrival at an airport.
US citizens are welcome, but need to pre-arrange a tour or private guide, or be sponsored by a friend or relative in Iran who will take legal responsibility for them. Israeli passport holders, and anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport, will not get a visa.


Which Iranian visa type do I need?
Iran has all the usual visa types – business, student, journalist, etc – but for travellers there are three:
    Tourist visa: issued for up to 30 days and extendable. Must be obtained before coming to Iran and valid to enter for 90 days from the issue date. This is the safest option.
    Tourist visa on arrival (VOA): issued for 15 days on arrival at any international airport. Convenient but relatively risky as you might be denied entry.
    Transit visa: issued for five to seven days. You must enter and exit via different countries, and have a visa or a ticket to an onward country. Can be obtained in one or two days and, critically, no authorisation number is required. Not available to US passport holders.


What is the process for getting an Iranian visa?
Other than transit visas, all visa applicants must be 'approved' by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran. This includes those seeking a visa on arrival, who can be approved either in advance or, with a longer wait, on arrival.
If you're approved, the MFA sends an authorisation number to the consulate or airport, which takes your application form, passport photos and fee and issues the visa. Fees vary depending on your country of origin; see the relevant embassy website .
Avoid the No Ruz (Iranian New Year) holiday period – March 20 to April 3 – when all bureaucracy shuts down. Submit before 8 March to be safe.


How do I do it?
Basically, you need to decide which visa type you want and whether you’ll try to get the visa yourself, or pay an agency to smooth the process.
DIY: going directly through a consulate saves an agency fee but often takes longer. In theory, you download the application form from the consulate in your home country; take or send it with your passport, photos, money and proof of your travel insurance to the embassy, which then sends your details to Tehran for approval.
Agency: visa agencies charge between EUR35 and GBP120 to get you an authorisation number. In most cases you fill out an electronic form with details of your itinerary and where you’d like to collect your visa, attach digital copies of photo and passport, and the agency submits it to the MFA in Tehran. The MFA claims it takes between five and 10 working days to assess the application. Some agencies are slow to respond to follow-up emails, though in fairness the agency usually does not know what is slowing the process. There is no refund if your application fails, but take comfort that only about 1% are rejected.
Once the authorisation number is received, the agency will forward it to you and your nominated Iranian embassy/consulate. You then need to go through the DIY process described above as a formality, and in most consulates the visa is issued on the spot – in Canberra it took us 25 minutes.
If you’re organising your trip through an Iran-based travel agency you’ll find the agency will probably organise the authorisation number as part of their service. In theory, any Iranian individual can do this.



Visa agencies and private sponsors
Any Iranian can sponsor your application, so if you know an Iranian in Iran and they are prepared to go through the bureaucratic process for you, you can save yourself a few euros. Most travellers use the travel agency that is arranging their trip or a specialist visa agency that has a working relationship with the MFA.


Iranian tourist visa on arrival (airport visa)
Iran issues 15-day tourist visas on arrival to people from about 65 countries, including most European, ASEAN, Gulf Arab and Central Asian countries, several South American countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Notable absentees are Britain and the US.
Applicants must have an onward air ticket.
In theory VOAs are available at all international airports to visitors with an Iranian sponsor, such as a travel agency, visa agency or hotel manager. And some people report getting one with only the name of a hotel in Tehran.


Get the paperwork right

    Photographs: women often need to cover their hair (any scarf will do) in the application photo. Check embassy websites.


Extending your visa in Iran
Extending isn’t hard if you take the variables into account.

And finally...
Remember that things change. Check on the relevant embassy website or the visa agency websites for the latest news.

منبع : lonely Planet