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

written by Intrepid Travel January 22, 2019

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.


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:


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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