• Frequently Asked Questions

    Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I need a visa to travel to Iran

All foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran except citizens of the following countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Egypt and Turkey. Citizens of these countries can stay for up to 3 months without a visa.
For all other nationalities Iran visas can take from 6-8 weeks to be processed. Please allow sufficient time for this.

Iranian visas are issued in a two-step process:

An authorisation code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A visa for your passport must then be obtained at an Iranian Embassy once the authorisation code has been issued.
For your nearest Iranian Embassy please check the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website: www.mfa.gov.ir. Please note your nearest embassy might be outside your home country.

Authorisation code/Visa Approval number and Iran Invite Number all have the same meaning but can be displayed as different names on different forms.
Please note the Iranian Embassy also now require a letter of authorisation to be submitted with your visa application form. Please speak to your agent to arrange this.

Step 1- How to apply for your authorisation code:

A visa authorisation application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete and return this to our sales team.

If you are arriving early or staying on afterwards this needs to be written on your application form. Please note due to government regulations citizens from Britain, Canada, USA, Colombia, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan can only stay one day before and/or one day after the trip start date.
As you are technically the responsibility of our Intrepid operator for your entire stay, only Intrepid-booked activities/accommodation are able to be nominated as part of this visa application.
If you do not receive this form at the time of booking please enquire with your agent.

For U.S, Canadian and British passport holders only, all Iran authorisation code applications must be accompanied with a detailed resume.
This must be a document that lists the passenger’s education and employment history – similar to what you would prepare for a job application. Due to heightened security measures, the name of the passengers' father and his employment history is also required.

Return the visa authorisation form together with a scanned copy of the first page of your passport and your confirmed flight details via email to your booking agent immediately. Please ensure all details are correct before sending. Any errors may result in your visa being denied or delayed. It is vital that you provide us with an email contact at the time of booking.

Our local operator in Iran will submit all visa authorisation code applications to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2 months prior to the travel date. Visa authorisation codes generally take up to 3 weeks depending on your nationality (this process can be much longer for Canadian, British and US citizens). Important note: our local operator can only apply for the authorisation code from 2 months prior to departure to ensure that the visa will be valid.
When approved, your visa authorisation code will be faxed to the Iranian embassy processing your visa (nominated on the authorisation form). Your booking agent will notify you of your authorisation code. Once the code is received please apply for your visa directly with the nominated Iranian embassy (see Step 2 for further instructions).

Step 2 - How to obtain your visa stamp:

Once you have received your emailed authorisation code and letter, immediately apply for your visa with your nominated Iranian embassy. You will need to provide a visa application form (usually you can download it from the embassy website), your passport, the visa fee, photos and insurance policy. Some consulates may have different requirements. You must check this before submitting your application. The cost of an Iran visa is approximately US$110 depending on your nationality. Please check with your nominated embassy for visa costs. We recommend all women provide a photo with their hair covered by a headscarf (not a hat). If you wish to personally collect your visa at the designated embassy you must also arrive wearing a headscarf. In order to collect your visa from the consulate, you must carry your travel insurance policy that covers you whilst in Iran. In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within 3-4 weeks, but can take longer.
Please check with your nominated Iranian embassy for their opening times and processing times for visas (some embassies will say that it takes up to a month). Please note that Iran embassies and consulates worldwide may only open for 3 or 4 days a week and have very limited opening hours. If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process (even to one day). Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue. We will do our best to secure your authorisation code, however the final decision rests with the government of Iran, therefore we cannot guarantee when and if a visa will be granted.
Please check that the embassy issues you with a tourist visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that it is a tourist visa). If you are issued with a business visa, hotels will charge you business traveller rates, which are often far higher than the tourist rates.
While not common, there are occasions where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects a visa application for a variety of reasons (usually unknown to us). Unfortunately we have no control over the success of your application and have little recourse if it is rejected. It is not uncommon for Iran authorisation codes to be submitted very close to the actual time of travel. Obviously this can be an anxious period but again unfortunately we have little authority to speed up the process.

A visa will be flatly refused if your passport contains evidence of travel to Israel. Note: this is not confined to just an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there’s an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will not be allowed.
Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered shoes and a loose fitting skirt or loose long top and pants may be refused entry into the country. Men must also be conservatively dressed, wearing long trousers upon arrival, or they too may be refused entry.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry usually closes over the Iranian New Year period (approx 12 March to 2 April) and will not receive visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.

Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to get the visa processed for these nationalities.
In addition, the following travel restriction applies: Passengers of the above nationalities must visit Iran on a guided tour and must pre-book all extra accommodation (up to one night pre accommodation and one night post accommodation only) and airport transfers with the same operator. Additional sightseeing can only be booked through Urban Adventures on either the day before or after the trip start/finish date. Return airport transfers are mandatory and they will only be issued with a visa authorisation code once all services are confirmed and only for the exact time they have booked the relevant services. Passengers of this nationality must also remain the in the trip leaders company at all times whilst in Iran.

Please note that any cancellations after the authorisation code paperwork has been lodged, will incur a $100USD cancellation fee . This is to cover the application lodgement fees.
Additionally, if for whatever reason, passengers need to apply for a second authorisation code, the above fee may also be applicable.

Iran travel FAQs
What will it cost for a...?

Squat toilets are the most common variety in Iran, although flushable western-style toilets can be found in some tourist areas and hotels. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always provided.

What are the toilets like in Iran?

Squat toilets are the most common variety in Iran, although flushable western-style toilets can be found in some tourist areas and hotels. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always provided.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Iran?

Mobile phones from other parts of the world may not work in Iran, although it's possible to buy a low-cost prepaid SIM card in most of Iran's large cities.

What is the internet access like in Iran?

You'll be able to access the internet in Iran's cities, with many major hotels and cafes having internet access. Expect little to no access in rural and remote areas.

Is tipping customary in Iran?

It's customary to tip service workers in Iran, so set aside small amounts for porters, local guides, waiters, drivers and cleaners.

Can I drink the water in Iran?

Tap water is considered safe to drink but due to the high mineral content, visitors should avoid drinking tap water which can cause stomach upsets. For environmental reasons, try to avoid drinking bottled water - ask your leader or hotel where access to filtered water can be found.

Are credit cards accepted widely in Iran?

Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards or travellers cheques while in Iran. A handful of tourist-orientated shops accept credit cards; otherwise, cash is the main method of trade in Iran. US dollars and euros are the only hard currencies accepted at Iranian banks and money-changers. Having those notes changed into Iranian rials is a fairly simple exercise.

What is ATM access like in Iran?

As with the question above, ATMs in Iran rarely accept foreign cards, so cash is the main form of currency. Bring US dollars and euros, which can be exchanged into local currency.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before travelling in Iran?

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

What public holidays are celebrated in Iran?

Jan 11 Demise of Prophet Mohammad
Jan 12 Martyrdom of Imam Reza
Jan 24 Birthday of Prophet Mohammad
Feb 10 Victory of Islamic Revolution
Mar 19 Nationalism of Oil Industry Day
Mar 21-23 Nowruz (Persian New year)
May 23 Birthday Imam Ali
Jun 6 Shab-e-Miraj (Night of Ascension)
June 24 Birthday Imam Mahdi
Jul 29 Martyrdom Imam Ali
Aug 8 Eid-e Fitr (Ramadan ends)
Sep 1 Martyrdom imam Jafar sadegh
Oct 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
Oct 23 Eid al-Ghadeer
Nov 4 Islamic New Year
Nov 12 Tassoua
Nov 13 Ashura
Dec 24 Arbaeen

Many Islamic holidays and festivals are timed according to lunar phases, so these dates are an estimate only. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Iran/public-holidays

Do Women have clothing limitations?

Women have to cover their body and their hair in public (restaurants and hotel lobbies are public). According to the law, only the face and the hands of women may be visible, therefore it is best to wear a headscarf to cover the hair and a coat to cover the body. The body has to be covered in such a way that the skin of the woman is not visible. The hips, the legs and the feet should not be visible. It is best to wear wide clothing, so that the lines of the body are not recognizable. The headscarf should cover the hair fully. The color of the scarf and the clothing does not matter, and one is free to wear any color.

Do men also have clothing limitations?

Everybody has to obey the Islamic clothing rules in Iran. Not only women have to stick to the rules, also men have certain rules to stick to: the body of the men should be fully covered. Only hands, the neck, and the head may be visible. Short trousers are strictly prohibited. It is recommended to wear shirts with short sleeves rather than T-shirts. It is very important that the buttons of the shirt are not open. It is not forbidden to wear a tie or a bowtie.

Do women have to dress in Chador?

It is not necessary to wear a chador unless one wants to visit a holy mosque or shrine. Wherever the chador is a must, one will be given a chador.

What if women headscarf falls down?

It can happen that the head scarf falls down and does not cover the hair. In those cases most of the people advise one to cover up again. Also the police advise one to cover the hair.

Is it allowed to make up or wear sunglasses?

According to law of the country there is no limitation for making up or wearing sunglasses by women. Excessive use of make-up maybe in not socially acceptable in some Iranian cities.

Is it possible to enjoy alcoholic beverage?

Making the long story short, according to Iranian law buying, selling and serving alcoholic beverages are forbidden and against the law. However, in Iran many local herbal beverages called SHARBAT are so tasty and interesting to new visitors that one don’t feel a lot the lack of beer or wine at the table.

Is it possible to bring alcoholic beverage to Iran?

Entering Iran; bringing alcohol is forbbidden. It is possible to get non-alcoholic beverages almost all over the country.

Is it safe to drink the water from the tap?

The water is drinkable, but it may contain too many minerals. It is recommended to have mineral water.

What kind of vegetarian food is available in Iran?

Vegetarians have to order special prepared food, as there is usually no vegetarian food available.

Is there coffee in Iran?

Coffee is almost served in any coffee shop or teahouse all around the big cities. In the hotels' lobbies and coffee shops almost in all cities and towns and even in some restaurant (after having the meal) coffee is served. Of course if you wish to visit small towns and villages you are recommended to have your coffee with you.

What kind of bread do the Iranians have?

Iranian bread is flat, and varying. Different sorts of flat bread, baked in traditional ways, is available.

Is there a lot of garlic in Iranian food?

Most of Iranian food does not contain garlic.

What is the Iranian currency?

The Iranian official currency is Rial. Rials are available in coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 250 Rls.) and notes (100, 200, 500, 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, and 10.000 Rls.). Coins are only marked in Persian script and numerals, but one side of the notes is printed in English.

Where can I exchange money?

It is possible to exchange money already at the airport, no matter at what time; but only special banks do exchange money. Lately, the exchange of foreign currencies has been allowed, and there are exchange shops available in most big cities. The exchange rates of these shops are usually higher than the official rate. The following currencies can be easily exchanged at any Exchange Shop: US Dollars, German Marks, British Pounds, French Franken, and Japanese Jen.

How to find out about the exchange rates?

The exchange rates may change quite often, but it is possible to find out the exchange rates at any bank.

Is it possible to pay by a credit card?

In some places, it is possible to pay by credit cards. Master Card and Visa are accepted.

Why don't you offer flights?

We believe that offering a tour without the flight gives you several advantages. You are able to look around for the best deals on offer, probably saving yourself a lot of money. Also you have far greater flexibility in deciding which airline you might prefer to book with, where you want to come from, or where you might want to stop off en-route. As well as these, many people join our tours when they are already in the country, removing the need for a flight altogether.

Why are your tours such good value?

We don't produce expensive brochures - but we hope you like our website. 2-Other tour operators hide the local cost of arranging these tours by adding in the air fare. 2-You get what you see with us! The majority of our tours are sold direct so there are no travel agent commissions We don't save when it comes to putting together your tour but we do ensure that the marketing and advertising costs are kept to a minimum. We know that a satisfied customer will refer a friend and that's why we're successful.

If I will already be in the country at the start of the tour. How do I find out where to meet you to start the tour?

After you have booked, we will email you with pre-departure information. This will include details of the hotel where you will join the tour and spend your first night.

I will be flying into the country before the start of the tour. Do I still get an airport transfer?

Our tours include an airport transfer only if you arrive on the first day of the tour. If you arrive one day before the start of the tour, we can organise an extra night's accommodation for you. Details will be included in the pre-departure information we send you after your booking. If you arrive two days or more before the start of the tour, we can offer you our accommodation package . Extra nights can be added to this package if you require.

I want to buy some souvenirs like carpets when I am on the tour. Can I carry them with me on the tour?

There are many great opportunities for buying exciting and valuable souvenirs on many of our tours. However, it is not always practical to carry large items around. Most places can arrange for items such as carpets to be shipped home at relatively low costs and this is usually a better and safer policy.

I would like to join one of your tours with some of my friends. Can you offer us a discount?

We try to help groups keen on joining our trips in several ways. Anyone who has been on one of our tours before may benefit from our 'refer a friend' scheme. We also try to offer group discounts for parties of over 4 persons. Please contact us for specific details for your tour.

I like your tours but I would like to do something different. Do you conduct tailor-made tours?

We consider ourselves as the most flexible company in organizing tailor made tours. If you have a group who are interested in some form of adventure or solo travel at any part of Iran, or even combination tours with other countries in the region, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will try to create exactly what you are looking for.

I'm really interested in one of your packages; I'm just not sure whether I'm fit enough for it or if it's right for me?

Each of our tours is graded, enabling you to determine prior to booking whether or not it's suitable for you. Besides, we are available to correspond and give any extra explanations. Just drop us a line on our info E-mail. You should be fairly confident that you match the criteria for taking part in that particular activity.

Why should I buy from you, as opposed to all the other companies that are out there?

We're not just your average tour company. We have some incredibly experienced staff that really know what they're talking about. We haven't just been selling these trips, we've been doing them. Another point worth mentioning is that we have a registered official office in Madrid, Spain www.orienteviajes.com that facilitates secure money transactions. And last not least is that we have been responsive to our guests before, while and after their trip to Iran is over.

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