Frequent Asked Questions
1) Do I need a visa for Iran? And how hard is to get an Iranian visa?
Whether you need a visa depending on where you are from and where you are travelling to, please read the general information of the visa in our visa page.
2) Can I drive in Iran? What if I am a woman? How are roads safety and condition?
Yes, both men and women can rent a car to drive if they have international driving license. Many routes are highways, roads are asphalted with separate lane to and from cities which regularly maintained. In fact if you choose to travel overland you can enjoy landscapes and visit many en-rout attractions.
3) How much is Iran’s time difference?
The formula to set your time is very simple: GMT + 3.5 (GMT + 4.5 from March 20 to September 21).
4) Is it possible to mail post cards without envelope? How fast is it done?
Yes, if it is hard enough and both addresses of receiver and sender are written on it. Airmail to Europe as well as Canada and the United States can take around two weeks.
5) Are there any English local newspapers and TV channels in Iran?
Yes, there are. You may find English local newspapers in hotel’s lobby or you can buy from newsstands in the city.
6) What about transportation, how do I get about?
It depends on your preference. Rosha Gasht will provide transport while you are on a tour. Major cities have public transportation, such as buses and in Tehran, a metro and Taxis are also very affordable. It is also possible to hire cars for travelling. Between cities buses are regular and affordable. There are also flights between cities, as well.
7) Should I keep a copy of the entry form after being stamped at the airport?
Yes, it is necessary to keep it until departure.
8) What’s budget accommodation like in Iran, how high are prices in Iran?
There aren’t many hostels in Iran, which many associate with budget travel. However, hotels in Iran tend to be considerably cheaper than in many other countries. So, you may find 4 star hotels priced in what would be considered budget range in other countries. With an expected increase in tourism to Iran, it is expected that a wider range of accommodation options will be available in the near future.
The price for the majority of goods which tourists are looking for such as transportation, food and souvenirs is relatively low.
9) What are the working days in Iran?
Iranian work days start from Saturday to Thursday, Fridays are off. Some organizations and companies may be off in Thursdays or work only half day.
10) Is tipping customary in Iran?
Yes, usually porters, servants and janitors in hotels, porters in the airports, waiters or waitresses in restaurants, drivers giving services during tours as well as guides expect tipping.
11) When is the best time to visit Iran?
It depends on what you want to do! In most places in Iran Summer is hot and winter is cold, with snow in some places. During the month of Ramadan it can be difficult for travelers as many food stores are close during the day. At times around the Iranian New Year which occurs on March 21, more people inside Iran go on holiday, so it can be more difficult to secure accommodation.
Note: If you like visiting Persian Gulf beaches, it is best to come to Iran during January and February but if you are a skiing fan November and December might be good. There is an extraordinary climate variety all over Iran which gives you the chance to experience at least two different weathers during only one trip.
12) Is it safe to travel to Iran now?
One of the major worries that people have when thinking about travelling to Iran. The recent rise of groups such as ISIS have heightened those fears. However, Iran represents one of the safest places in the Middle East to travel to. There has been no terrorist attacks in Iran in the last eight years, nor has there been any significant political unrest that has posed any threat to foreigners. This has been reflected in governments such as the Australian government reducing their travel warnings to Iran. Some areas of the country, particularly close to border areas with Afghanistan and Iraq, the Baluchistan province are seen as areas of higher risk by Western government and are generally not recommended as a travelling destination.
Those who travel to Iran tend to report that they feel most unsafe as a pedestrian, as particular norms that are followed in many western countries such as cars stopping automatically at pedestrian crossings are not generally adhered too in Iran.
13) Can I travel to Iran as an unmarried couple?
Yes! This is an often more assumed problem than a real one for most travellers. Travelling to Iran will not be a problem. Most hotels, like everyone else, won’t ask or care about your relationship status. In the case that they do, it is up to individual travelers to decide how they respond but no proof of marriage is required. In the very worst scenario, you may be required to take separate rooms but this is almost unheard of, particularly for foreign travelers. But remember unmarried Persian couples are not able to get a hotel room. If you’re married to an Iranian we advise you to carry your marriage certificate with passport as proof of marriage.
14) Can I travel backpack in Iran?
Backpacking, as a concept, is not as well known in Iran as in Europe or Australia, so specific backpacker hostels do not exist but this does not making backpacking impossible, in fact some of the conditions make backpacking ideal. For 20 to 40 US dollars a night you can get rooms at budget hotels, which include breakfast, transport is inexpensive between cities, as is food. As a guest, you can also expect to be offered food. So, a traveller on a budget can expect to have a bit more comfort in Iran than in a lot of other places. Hitchhiking is not common in Iran, however, so don’t expect people to know what you are looking for and remember the thumbs up sign in Iran is like giving someone the middle finger in other countries, a sign of disrespect.
15) Is it safe for women to visit Iran?
All women while in Iran are required to follow the dress codes prescribed form women in Iran. This means wearing a headscarf and not allowing the skins on your arm or legs to be shown while in public. There is also gender segregation of public transport. Following these laws will mean women will generally have no issues when it comes to safety. Iranians are renowned for their hospitality and as a visitor you will be invited to many people’s houses for dinner or lunch. This isn’t as forward as it may seem in other countries and is generally a sign of respect to the guest. There is, however, no obligation to accept such offers.
16) Is it safe for US citizens to visit Iran?
US citizens should have their itinerary and tour guide approved beforehand. Sticking to the itinerary is part of the conditions of visa approval, so sticking to the itinerary and the instructions of the tour guide will ensure that there are no problems. The Iranian government is highly sensitive for historical and political reasons of any foreign involvement in the political process, in particular this applies to the United States. Avoiding political demonstrations and making any public political statements is another way to avoid any trouble.
Otherwise, Iranians will be keen to demonstrate their hospitality to US citizens and will offer to host them for lunch or dinner. Hostility towards particular actions of the US government, doesn’t stop the people of Iran having nothing but the warmest feelings for Americans themselves.
17) Can I travel independently to Iran? Do I need a guide to travel Iran?
Most people are able to travel independently within Iran, without any guide or official guidance whatsoever. US and Canadian citizens, however, need to have their itinerary and tour group approved beforehand, which will require an officially sanctioned guide. However, as part of the itinerary it is possibly to include free days, which if approved, will allow for free travel.
Many people, however, prefer to go on guided tours, as much of the population, including those who work in tourism do not have proficiency in English, making some experiences more difficult.
18) Is the weather polluted?
Tehran, the capital of Iran, has undergone a massive population increase over the past few decades. One of the side effects is air pollution, which can affect Tehran badly at times. Pollution control programmers, as well as more energy efficient cars and public transportation have been implemented, which is believed will have an impact into the future. Most other cities do not have major problems with pollution.
19) Best Islands to visit in Iran?
It depends on what you are looking for. For luxury travel with all modern amenities, then Kish Island is the best one to travel to. It is a resort island filled with hotels, shopping centres, malls, as well as beaches. For natural beauty, Qeshm is generally considered the best, as there has been less impact on the island by tourism and wildlife flourishes more there. This makes it the ideal location for Scuba Diving, amongst other things.
20) Can I use a credit card in Iran?
Due to the imposition of financial sanctions international credit cards are not currently accepted in Iran. It is advised for travelers to bring cash money with them.
21) How can I get a travel insurance coverage to Iran?
In some places travel insurance for Iran will be as normal as travelling elsewhere. Just make sure to confirm that your policy will cover Iran. Due to some travel warnings to Iran in some countries, some companies may not cover Iran. It is best to look around to see if any companies do, otherwise there are travel insurance companies which specialize in insurance to areas considered ‘high risk’. Alternatively, you can purchase insurance from Rosha Gasht or of the Iranian government at the airport for a small fee.
22) What if I do not agree (Iran Politics and religion)?
It is not a requirement to agree with any particular political decision or religious ideology to visit Iran. While in Iran, you will hear a lot of different views from different people about politics and religion, and inevitable all travelers will have their own thoughts. However, the Iranian government is very sensitive to any foreign involvement in internal political affairs, so any political activity inside Iran, particularly directed against the Iranian government, could lead to arrest. At least while in Iran, it is best to keep your views private on political and religious matters.
23) Can I drink alcohol and eat pork in Iran?
On the basis of I.R of Iran’ rules, importation or exportation of the following goods is prohibited.
– Alcoholic drinks or material
– Gambling tools
– Weapons and explosives
– Narcotic drugs
– Magazines, photos, films or movies those are against religious beliefs of country or contain the
pornographic pictures and information.
Note: carrying alcoholic drinks and narcotic drugs are prohibited.
24) What about other food and drinks?
You can enjoy lots of delicious and healthy local food and drinks. Except for alcoholic ones; you can find almost any beverages and juices in restaurants and supermarkets. Along with traditional Iranian food you can have many international and vegetarian food in restaurants. It is good to say that Iranian food is much similar to Mediterranean food and not as spicy as Indian food. Just to reassure you all food and drinks both packaged and sold in supermarkets and prepared in restaurants are completely sanitary and regularly controlled by authorizations.
25) Is it permitted to take photos of historical sites and people in Iran?
Rules on photography depends on the place. Many mosques will allow photography inside and outside. Some museums will not allow photography inside but will outside. Generally, if it is not permitted, a sign will indicate. Restrictions are placed on photography of government and military buildings. For people, when taking photos of specific people, it is always better to ask for permission. Often this will led to a positive response, many Iranians like to pose for photos.
26) Can I buy souvenirs like Persian rugs in Iran?
Yes, it is possible to buy Persian rugs or other souvenirs. Iran is known for having the best rugs and carpets in the world. However, caution is advised before spending lots of money to ensure you are getting the genuine item rather than a fake. When buying items in places like the Bazaar, bargaining for price is considered normal.
27) Travel to Iran – How much will it cost?
It depends on what you want to do. In general, though, in comparison to most countries, travelling to Iran will be less expensive, with accommodation, food, internal travel being affordable for most travelers. Most entrance fees for sites will be less than one US dollar and a meal will cost around 5 to 10 US dollars at a restaurant
28) Are there any cultural norms in Iran?
There are many cultural norms in Iran, one of the strangest to foreigners, is the concept of Ta’arof, which governs rules of social interaction and hospitality. It is form of exaggerated politeness. For instance, restaurant owners or taxi drivers as a sign of respect will often say there is no charge, and in return you will show your respect by insisting on paying until they accept. This also applies to hospitality at the home, where hosts are obligated to offer their guests as much as they can and guests are supposed to reject, sometimes several times, before accepting.
29) How are the communications services including mobile and internet?
You can use both in Iran but international mobile phones don’t work here and you can buy a local service which is not necessary if you’re with a guide. There is a Wifi system available in most of the hotels and some of them even have business centers.
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