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Iran

If you’re travelling to Iran, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise Irish citizens in Iran to Exercise a High Degree of Caution.

We advise against all travel to the regions bordering Pakistan in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, the border with Afghanistan in Khorasan Province and the border with Iraq in Khuzestan and Ilam provinces because of the persistently dangerous security situation in these areas.

Latest Travel Alert

A major 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Iran-Iraq border region late on 12 November causing widespread damage and hundreds of casualties. Several western Iranian provinces bordering Iraq, in particular Kermanshah province, are reported to be affected. Aftershocks are likely. Any Irish citizens in Iran should avoid affected areas and follow the instructions of the local authorities. If you need assistance you can contact the Department in Dublin on 00353 (0)1 408 2000 or the Irish Embassy in Ankara, which is also accredited to Iran, on 0090 (0)312 459 1000.

There were a series of apparently coordinated terrorist attacks in Tehran on 7 June 2017. The attacks targeted the Iranian parliament in central Tehran and the Imam Khomeini Shrine, causing a number of casualties.

Travellers with dual citizenship

If you are an Irish citizen with Iranian nationality, be aware that Iran does not recognise dual nationality and our ability to provide consular assistance to dual nationals is very limited.

Overland travel from Iran to neighbouring countries

The Irish Government cannot facilitate Irish citizens who want to travel overland through to neighbouring countries with letters of introduction for visa purposes.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Contact the Embassy

Because there is currently no Irish Embassy in Iran, we are limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consul in Tehran or the Irish Embassy in Ankara in Turkey.

Other EU Embassies

You can also contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Unrest

You are strongly advised to avoid any street gatherings or demonstrations while in Iran and to avoid taking photographs or showing an interest in demonstrations, as such behaviour can result in arrest by the security forces. We recommend you exercise caution and monitor local media reporting for up to date advice on security risks.

Terrorism

There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

Travellers have occasionally been victims of theft while in Iran so you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from crime: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Reporting crime

If you are a victim of a crime while in Iran, report it to the local police immediately. You can also contact the Honorary Consul in Tehran or the Irish Embassy in Ankara if you need help.

Driving

If you are planning to drive in Iran, you should be extremely careful. The standard of driving, particularly in urban centres, is poor and can be challenging to newcomers. Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world and travellers should drive with great care.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you are stopped at traffic lights

 If you are involved in an incident

Do not leave the scene. You should wait until the police arrive to make their report.

Hiring a vehicle

If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Advice for all visitors

People travelling on tourist visas should strictly adhere to the conditions of their visas. Tourists should not engage in any other activities such as voluntary work, research or internships. It is a criminal offence to do so and may lead to prosecution or detention. Tourists should bear in mind that Iranian security forces may be suspicious of foreign nationals, particularly independent travellers or students. Any behaviour that doesn't have an obvious explanation can put you at risk, no matter how innocent you believe it to be. This may include travel off the beaten track, being present near crowds or sensitive sites, taking photographs (except in major tourist sites) and having contact with Iranians who are of interest to the authorities.

llegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. 

Muslim culture

Iran is an Islamic Republic and Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country's customs, laws, and regulations. Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour.

Islamic codes of behaviour and dress are strictly enforced. Visitors should dress conservatively. Men should not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts; women must cover their head with a scarf and conceal the body’s contours by wearing a loose-fitting knee-length outer garment and trousers. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

There are additional dress requirements at certain religious sites. Women may be asked to put on a chador (a garment that covers the whole body except the face), before entering.

Ramadan

During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), you should refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start at sundown on 26 May and finish on 25 June.

Law enforcement

Please note that while in Iran, Irish citizens are subject to Iranian law, which differs in many areas to Irish law.

There are restrictive laws governing modesty and sexuality in Iran. Sex outside of marriage and adultery are illegal and subject to severe penalties, including the death penalty.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Iran and subject to punishments including corporal punishment, prison sentences and the death penalty.

Forbidden products

It is prohibited to import alcohol or pork products into Iran. The sale and consumption of alcohol in Iran is strictly forbidden and penalties can be severe.

Photography

Photography near military, government installations and many other areas is strictly prohibited and you may see warning signs displayed to this effect. Any transgression may result in detention and serious criminal charges. Be aware that sensitive government buildings and facilities may be hard to identify so take extreme care when taking photographs in any areas that are anything other than very obvious tourist attractions.

 

Natural disasters and climate

Climate

Iran has a variable climate ranging from arid or semi-arid, to subtropical along the Caspian coast and the northern forests.

Earthquakes

Iran is located in an active seismic area. In 2012, two large earthquakes struck north western Iran, near the city of Tabriz killing over 300 and injuring many more.

If you are travelling to or living in Iran, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake. Familiarise yourself with the appropriate steps to take in case of an earthquake, including carrying a minimum of emergency supplies, such as a flashlight, whistle and any relevant medication and liquid.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Iran, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Iran.

You should also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Iran. Medical facilities are reasonable in the major cities of Iran but poor in remote areas.

It is recommended that you have adequate health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation if required.

Communications

Communications can be difficult with low internet speed, frequent interruptions of SMS networks and sporadic severing of the mobile phone network.

Be aware that using a laptop or other electronic equipment in public places can be misinterpreted, especially if it contains photographs. You may be arrested and detained on criminal charges including espionage.

Money

The local unit of currency is the Iranian Rial and Iran is a strictly cash economy. There are no cash machines or ATMs in Iran that accept Irish bank cards or credit cards. Usually it’s not possible to change travellers’ cheques. You should therefore bring enough hard currency (euros or US dollars) with you to fund your stay.