Michael Pullman Iran is regularly in the news for the wrong reasons, but as pretty much all of our clients will testify, it is one of the most rewarding countries you can visit. Aside from the sights - the unrivalled Islamic architecture of Esfahan, ancient Persepolis, the bazaars of Shiraz and the lakes and forest scenery of the Zagros Mountains, what really makes a lasting impression are the people, with Persian hospitality being legendary.
Having been taking clients to Iran for the last ten years, we would love to see more people visit this amazing country, so we have taken it upon ourselves to dispel some myths about potential barriers to visiting:
It can be done, although the process takes a little time.
Firstly, to apply for an Iranian visa you require an invitation code. To get this all you need to do is provide us with a passport scan and some personal details, and we can apply on your behalf for the invitation code from the Ministry of Tourism in Tehran. The code generally takes around three weeks to come through.
Secondly, once your code has arrived, you can proceed with the actual visa application. To do this, simply complete the visa application form (we’ll send you this) and submit, together with your passport and two photos, to an Iranian Consulate. Women please note that your passport photo needs to picture you in a headscarf. You can submit the form and passport in person, by post or by using a visa agent/representative (such as our local Iranian partner).
Sounds relatively easy? Well the only complication is that there is currently no Iranian Consulate in London, so instead British passport holders can apply through the Consulate in Dublin. However this can be done by post, which makes it much easier as there is no need to go in person.
The current cost of the Iranian visa is 180 Euros for British passport holders, and the Embassy is likely to return your passport complete with visa in around five working days.
Is Iran on the Foreign and Commonwealth FCO blacklist?
Yes, the FCO advises against all but essential travel to Iran, but this is largely for diplomatic reasons rather than for reasons of safety. Most parts of Iran are deemed safe to visit by pretty much all other nations, including the US and Australia. The difference is, just as Iran has no consulate in London, the UK has no embassy in Tehran. This means the UK government cannot guarantee the same level of support to UK nationals in Iran that it does in other countries.
How can I get insurance if the FCO advises against travel to Iran?
Although most standard insurance policies in the UK won’t cover you for travel to Iran, Travel and General offer an Elite policy which provides the same comprehensive level of cover as the standard policy. In addition the Elite policy provides cover for travel to areas where the FCO is advising against all or all but essential travel. However the policy will not provide cover for any claims arising from or relating to the reasons why the FCO is advising against travel. You can call them directly with any questions on 0845 345 3456
How safe will I feel in Iran?
Whilst nowhere offers 100% guaranteed safety, all our clients and staff members who have been to Iran recently have commented on how safe and comfortable they felt wandering the sites and even the city streets on their own.
How strict is the dress code in Iran?
For women, a headscarf must be worn, although outside some of the more traditional areas, some hair can be shown. Your arms and legs should be covered at all times, although it is now acceptable in less conservative places to show bare ankles and forearms. You should wear clothing that hides the shape of your body. Ideally this will be a plain, dark coloured lightweight coat (which can be purchased in Iran), however a long shirt can also be used if it reaches at least to mid-thigh. For men you should also dress conservatively - shorts are not acceptable dress.
Having said all of that, you will likely see teenage girls with headscarves as far back on their heads as to almost not be visible, and if invited to an Iranian’s home they are likely to wear jeans and Western clothing. What tours do Wild Frontiers offer to Iran?
We have three group tours to Iran - The 15-day Iran Unveiled which combines the highlights of Persepolis, Esfahan, Tehran and Shiraz with some of the lesser-known sites including the Zagros Mountains and the nomadic families of the Bavanat Valley, which costs £2,705 per person; and the 15-day From Iran to Iraq tour, which includes Tehran, Soltaniyeh and the volcanic landscapes of northwestern Iran before heading to IraqiKurdistan. This tour costs £3,895 per person. Finally there is the 16-day Journey Around the Caspian Sea, a spectacular journey from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, through Iran and onto Baku in Azerbaijan, which is £2,995 per person.
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