When I was searching for information about the visa-on-arrival process for tourists wishing to enter Iran, there seemed to be a lot of misinformation and companies trying to sell their visa services.
When in doubt, you should always consult the Timatic (read more here) that is maintained by an IATA affiliated company. It is the most up to database for entry requirements that often depend on one’s nationality. The airlines use Timatic at the time of checking in to verify that you have required documents to enter the country.
Who is eligible for visa free entry, visa-on-arrival and who need to apply at the embassy?
According to Wikipedia, the following nationalities are eligible for visa free entry:
- Sri Lanka
Timatic then lists the countries that are NOT eligible for visa-on-arrival:
- United Kingdom
Here’s the Visa-On-Arrival process at the Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport
1. Visa Window
You first need to get a white paper that indicates the amount of money that you need to pay for your visa. You fill it out and take it to the bank window.
2. Bank Window
I gave the clerk 60 euros in cash and he gave me the receipt for the payment.
3. Back To Visa Window
You give the receipt and the filled form to the clerk. He may ask the purpose of your visit (leisure) and the hotel that you will stay at. I did have the hotel’s name that I was going to, although I had no reservation.
You then need to wait while they process the visas. There were less than 10 people coming off from this Qatar Airways flight that needed visas and most of them were there for business purposes.
5. Collect Your Visa
They gave me a proper visa sticker allowing me 30 days to stay in Iran, although the Timatic indicated that the maximum stay would be only 15.
6. Pay for Iranian Insurance
You now need to have a local insurance if your travel insurance company doesn’t have arrangements in Iran. The cost of the insurance was 18 euros.
This visa-on-arrival process was seamless and took less than 20 minutes from the beginning to end. Not sure how many individual travelers enter Iran for leisure purposes, but they didn’t bat an eyelid and were actually helpful. I am sure that the Iranian government doesn’t have anything against tourists coming to the country.
If you are eligible for the visa-on-arrival, I don’t see any reason to pay $50 to $100 to some “agency” to do the processing on your behalf on top of the 60 (visa) + 18 (insurance) euros.
Timatic really is the source that you should always consult with these regarding visa issues. Some countries have health related entry requirements as well such as the Yellow Fever Certificate that the system covers as well.