Home » Travel to Iran: A 2019 visa update for US, UK and Canadian citizens

Travel to Iran: A 2019 visa update for US, UK and Canadian citizens

written by Intrepid Travel January 22, 2019
Iran

Information updated on 22 January 2019.

Post-revolution Iran developed a reputation of being anti-west, anti-tourism and completely closed off. But in 2013, when President Hassan Rouhani came to power he made tourism a key priority in order to rebuild the struggling economy.

The visa process was overhauled (he made it much easier to get a tourist visa to enter Iran), restrictions on US travellers were removed, and the Iran nuclear deal was negotiated in 2015. Slowly, the reputation of Iran started to shift.

We saw continuous global growth of travellers to Iran until Trump’s travel ban in 2017…

A summary of 2017 happenings

It’s now been almost 2 years since Donald Trump’s executive order to suspend entry into the US from seven Muslim-majority nations threw airports around the world into chaos. We all recall heartbreaking stories of those left stranded …

One nation affected by the travel ban was Iran, a country with prickly US relations at the best of times. Iranian citizens were denied entry to the United States (although Canada opened its arms to those affected).

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan Iran

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan

In retaliation, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ceased issuing visas for US (as well as Canadian and UK) travellers for a short period of around two months.

Unfortunately, decisions like that can really damage the reputation of a country and many travellers can be put off travelling all together. We certainly hope this doesn’t stop you from experiencing what is hands down one of our favourite places on earth. Especially because it’s absolutely NOT true that US travellers cannot visit Iran.

Things are back to ‘normal’ and visas are being issued. 

Want proof? Read this blog by one US traveller, who ventured on Intrepid Travel’s Iran Adventure trip last year.

READ MORE: 6 OTHER COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT TRAVEL IN IRAN

What US, UK and Canadian citizens need to know about the Iran visa process

As anyone who’s gone through the process knows, getting an Iran visa as a US, UK or Canadian citizen is a simple but time-consuming process. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • You are not eligible for a visa on arrival.
  • Your visa process will take longer due to government regulations, but it shouldn’t deter you from travelling.
    Please allow 60-90 days to obtain a visa before departure.
  • You will need to provide additional supporting documentation when applying for your visa.
  • For US, UK or Canadian travellers, any time spent in Iran outside of the duration of the tour must be facilitated by the local host (Intrepid’s local operator) and travellers must be accompanied by the leader assigned to the trip. If you would like to spend additional days in Iran, please contact your booking agent for recommendations on extra activities and extra accommodation requests.

Iranian visas are issued after a two-step process and this will differ according to your nationality (specifically the passport you are travelling on). For US, UK and Canadian citizens, the process is as follows:

Step 1:

Once you’re booked on a trip, you can complete and submit an application online for the authorisation code.

An authorisation code for the visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Intrepid Travel will help facilitate this process with our local operator.

Step 2:

You should apply for your visa with your nominated Iranian embassy within 30 days of receiving your authorisation code. Some consulates may have different requirements, so we recommend checking this before submitting your visa application.

Visas for other nationalities

Most other nationalities, including Australian, New Zealand, South African, Irish, and most European countries have the option of getting a visa on arrival (once you’ve received your authorisation code). This process is relatively simple, fast, and therefore more and more travellers are opting to do so.

Regardless of your nationality, the best thing you can do when preparing for your trip to Iran is familiarise yourself with the process relevant to you.

The best news? All of our visa information lives on our website. Simply select the relevant nationality in the drop-down list to access detailed visa information: intrepidtravel.com/iran-visa-application-form

READ MORE: 5 UNIQUE EXPERIENCES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS IN IRAN

What about US citizens with Iranian-American nationality?

US-Iranian citizens who are traveling to Iran with their US passports are subject to the same visa and travel regulations as other US citizens. Therefore they must complete the same visa process.

US-Iranian citizens who are going to travel to Iran with their Iranian passport are not required to obtain an Iran visa.

A US passport holder whose father is an Iranian is also under the same visa and travel regulations as other US passport holders/citizens.

Further reading

We  love Iran and think visiting is the best way to dispel misconceptions about it. Check out Intrepid Travel’s range of small group tours there.

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48 comments

Ethan Goad February 20, 2021 - 1:11 am

Well, this is very unique. I’m planning my next vacation using this.

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Tanya June 11, 2020 - 7:48 am

Hi! I have a dual citizenship (Ukrainian -American). Can I enter Iran on my Ukrainian passport and leave back to the US with american one? Will this cause any troubles on the way from Tehran airport?
By the way, I have different last names in my passports due to the marriage.
Thanks!

Tanya

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Intrepid Travel August 19, 2020 - 2:18 pm

Hi Tanya, you’re always best to check with your relevant consulate to determine whether a visa will be required for you. Happy travels!

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Shawn January 13, 2020 - 1:42 pm

I was in the area (Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan) in July-August 2017 and was unable to visit for this reason. Stupid politics.

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Victor Martin January 7, 2020 - 12:07 am

One of the best blogs I have read about America. I’m visiting America in December. This will be very helpful for my solo travel.

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Susan December 18, 2019 - 7:09 am

I would like to book one of the Iran tours but is there a refund available if I am able to obtain a visa. I do have a DUI conviction and heard that this could impact the chance of getting a visa approved.

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Anonymous December 12, 2019 - 9:04 am

Perhaps one day. I’m an Iranian born AMERICAN citizen. My family moved here during the Iraq-Iran war, and after nearly two decades, I earned my US Citizenship, and served in the United States Army. I would love nothing more than to visit my country of birth, but sadly, I fear that’s all but a dream until something changes.

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Harry Sandoval Jr September 3, 2019 - 1:08 pm

I would like to go and visit Iran, Tehran mostly I’ve been interested in seeing the beautiful places that are there I just don’t know about how to get a visa since I’m a US citizen. I’d like to learn about the culture and would like to learn the language is there anyway I can do that. If so how

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Samaneh Ghaedi August 28, 2019 - 4:25 pm

Iran is a wonderful country for all nations to visit. Whether you’re interested in going to cultural and historical places, try local food, shopping, or visiting new people, the country is one of the best places for all of these. Honestly speaking, the country offers all of these in every corner of it to make for one incredible experience

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Paul C July 23, 2019 - 5:42 pm

My girlfriend is currently in Iran and I want to go visit here for a week. Is this possible? I am an American citizen. Thank you

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Natalie July 17, 2019 - 4:55 am

My question may have already been answered, but I was wondering if my boyfriend needs to have a booked tour guide when he visits Iran. He is a US citizen, and would be traveling with me (US and Iranian citizen) and my father (US and Iranian citizen) to visit my family in Tehran. Since we will be with relatives, is there a way that they could be “approved guides”?

Any help is appreciated!!

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Jonathan June 24, 2019 - 5:41 am

Hi there,

I have dual US-Italian citizenship. If I enter Iran on my Italian passport- 1) would I be subject to more scrutiny as an Italian coming from the US, and 2) would I still be eligible for the onsite visa process since I reside in the United States but am entering with my Italian passport?

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iran tourism news April 23, 2019 - 9:29 pm

Thanks for the good news you posted

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Jasmine April 19, 2019 - 5:34 am

I have a question. I hold an Iranian passport as well as a Swiss passport, but would like to take my SO (who is an American citizen) to Iran with me eventually. Will he be able to travel with me alone or will he still need to get a guide of some type? He is fascinated by Iranian culture and is trying to learn Farsi for me, but I figured it would make more sense if we actually visited too.

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daryl W saunders March 23, 2019 - 9:17 pm

We are traveling for five years and we are 14 months into this expedition. We are not returning to the USA and would like to visit Iran. Can wegeta visa to travel there and what are the options to do this.

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Shawn February 5, 2019 - 7:53 am

Those two months Iran stopped issuing visas were the two months I visiting Iraq, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan….. would have gone to Iran… but was banned. Funny how the ban overlapped the time I was next to Iran/wanting to go into it.

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Jing January 24, 2019 - 3:54 am

Hi there. I have an american passport, with an exit stamp from Jordan (to Israel). I don’t actually have the israeli visa on my passport. But it’s pretty obvious where I exited to from jordan. Is this going to be a problem? Thank you!!

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Nini Barsamian December 17, 2018 - 3:56 am

Hi. I am a US citizen and my fiancée lives in Iran. I want to go visit him and meet his family. I’ve been told it is not safe for me to travel there. Possibility of being inprisonment and being detained. Iran is at Level 4 for travel which states don’t travel if you are a US citizen. Is this true ?

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Kevin Bell August 22, 2018 - 6:41 pm

Hi So I am very interested to visit Iran. I am wondering if it is possible for students to study abroad in Iran. it sounds like most tourists have to be accompanied by a guide, but is there a different visa program for students? my ideal scenario would be 2-3 months during the summer to study Persian language, and maybe culture and history classes, and preferably in Tehran. Do you know of people that do things like this? I have not been able to learn much about americans studying abroad in Iran

Thanks!

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Janet June 20, 2018 - 5:26 am

Iran is one of the most fascinating places on earth.. I highly recommend it! I did a week of independent travel a few years ago. It was great ( pre-trump)

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rick June 25, 2018 - 3:08 am

“pre-trump”? Does that means it is now unwise for a US citizen to visit now?

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Brue June 9, 2018 - 4:09 am

Is it possible just to spend a month in Tehran chilling in a quiet neighborhood or is it necessary to go on a group tour

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Arash September 27, 2018 - 6:03 am

Tehran is cool but not best place to visit. If you visit Iran its better to spend few days in Tehran and then visit other touristic cities such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Yazd.

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Rocco April 27, 2018 - 4:23 pm

I have personally visited there only one time in my whole life but I have an awesome experience there. Millions of tourists love to go there due to its historical places which make more prominent it. I would love to go there again if i get any chance.

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Joe Kelsall June 7, 2018 - 9:56 am

I WILL be going to Iran again! It was one of my bestbtrips in 60 years of travelling as an interest. I was 75 on my first trip and I was more than a little surprised at the genuine friendliness of the people. Just take your time; it is too good to rush!

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Katherine April 24, 2018 - 4:51 am

Hello there! I’m also hoping for some clarification on a trip that I’m planning to Iran. I’m a U.S. resident and I really want to visit Iran because I’ve heard that it is an amazing country (and I want to help dispell stereotypes and biases!). However, I want to travel independently, without a guided tour (both for financial reasons and because I want to visit friends there). Is there any way that I can do this as a U.S. resident, or is this not possible?

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Emily Kratzmann April 24, 2018 - 11:07 am

Hi Katherine,

Thanks so much for the comment. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for US residents to travel independently in Iran at this stage. You could potentially arrange to travel via a Private Group, but you’d need to be accompanied by a leader. If this sounds like it could work, our Private Groups team would be happy to help with any more queries.

Cheers,
Emily

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MD March 16, 2019 - 6:56 am

Is this still the case i.e. US citizens are still not allowed to travel freely ?

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Reza April 19, 2018 - 3:07 am

I’m hoping you can clear up some conflicting information I’ve seen on the web and on your site. Here’s my situation:

I’m a natural-born American citizen. My father (recently deceased) was born in Iran and moved to US in 1957. He held both US and Iranian passports. My mother was born in the US, but was required to obtain an Iranian passport to visit Iran with my father.

I would like to travel to Iran on my US passport. My understanding was that since my father was Iranian, I would also be considered an Iranian citizen and would need to obtain an Iranian passport. This would be a drawn out process, especially since I do not speak Farsi.

Your site seems to say that I have the option to apply for a visa with my US passport. Is this currently correct? Have the rules changed recently?
Thanks for your help!

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Intrepid Travel April 20, 2018 - 10:14 am

Hi Reza,

Thanks so much for reaching out. You should be able to obtain an Iranian visa with your US passport, following the same process as other US citizens. However, we would recommend contacting the Iranian consulate/embassy in the USA for further clarification and any extra information you might need.

Hope this helps!
– Intrepid Travel

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ECDC May 28, 2018 - 7:11 pm

Really? I see single Americans visit all the time.

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Hossein July 12, 2019 - 9:33 am

You can also apply for Iranian passport, so you don’t need a visa to go to Iran.

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Diana April 17, 2018 - 5:15 pm

Just a quick, perhaps dumb question. If I pay for the trip and my visa is declined, does travel insurance cover that loss or is my deposit refunded?

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gwen puza June 21, 2018 - 7:34 am

Diana, that is not a dumb question! I would say to ask your travel insurance company. Or does anyone know – will she get reimbursed from travel insurance if her visa is denied?

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Andrew November 25, 2019 - 2:10 am

No, she won’t. Happened to us in 2018. Visa denied with no explanation. Lost all the money prepaid for the group trip.

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Andrew November 25, 2019 - 8:02 am

Unfortunately, she won’t be reimbursed. Our visa applications (two Americans) were rejected without explanation in 2018, and we lost the entire cost of our trip — which had to be prepaid. Insurance didn’t cover it.

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rick be April 11, 2018 - 12:37 pm

It’s somewhat difficult for an American to get into Iran,but for even harder for an Iranian/American to get out. Unsubstantiated charges can arise at any time.

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Jaclyn S. April 11, 2018 - 3:14 am

I am contemplating going to Iran but I am not sure if it would be safe for me. My mother is Iranian and was born there. My father is American and I was born in the US. Not sure if my mother’s nationality would effect how easy/difficult it would be for me to travel to Iran.

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Nooshin April 10, 2018 - 5:30 am

Hi I am an Iranian and have lived in USA for the past 34 years. I would like to go to Iran and I was told that I must submit my American passport to the Iranian Embassy in Washington DC. I feel very uncomfortable doing that considering I’m a citizen of USA. I would truly appreciate any advise

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Rebecca Shapiro April 11, 2018 - 7:56 am

Hi Nooshin, if you are travelling on a US passport then you would need to submit your US passport to the embassy in order to get a visa before departure – just like everyone else. Prior to this you’d have to go through the authorization code process. Hope that helps!

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Geoff April 21, 2018 - 12:10 am

Point of order: there is no Iranian embassy in the US, as the two countries don’t have formalized diplomatic relations. You have to work through the Iran office at the Pakistan embassy.

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Lisa March 21, 2018 - 9:56 am

How do i get my boyfriend in Iran to us? We are thinking meeting in Georgia and marry there. Anyone have any suggestions? Lisa

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Mehran zmaleki February 14, 2018 - 3:25 pm

Contemplating a trip to Iran for the first time after fourth two years, but hear stories of issues Iranian American have there !
Your thoughts?

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Rebecca Shapiro February 22, 2018 - 1:34 am

Hi Mehran! If you email me (rebecca.shapiro@intrepidtravel.com) some more details about your situation then I’m happy to ask my on-the-ground team here. There are a lot of factors that affect the situation – from the country you were born in to your father’s nationalist 🙂

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reza abbasi August 20, 2017 - 6:38 pm

good information about travel to iran

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Emma July 13, 2017 - 6:00 pm

Any updates? I was fortunate enough to visit Iran with Intrepid last summer, but I am dying to return. Visiting Iran as an American was the best decision of my life.

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maede February 12, 2018 - 8:20 am

hello dear traveler 🙂
are you still willing to travel to Iran?

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Sean Bradford May 8, 2017 - 2:39 pm

Such an awful situation. What you say is true: “the current situation only makes cross-cultural interaction more important than ever.” I hope that not everyone cancelled their trips and that some will still try to go. Banning one another from our countries is certainly not the solution. Knowledge does so much to combat fear.

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