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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Iran. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the local and international media for information on developments which may affect your security.
  • On 7 June, simultaneous terrorist attacks at the Iranian Majlis (parliament) in central Tehran and at Imam Khomeini's Shrine on the southern outskirts of Tehran. Avoid these sites and follow the instructions from local authorities.
  • Acts of political violence targeting foreign interests have occurred in Iran in recent years. See Safety and Security
  • Political developments in the region may prompt large demonstrations. Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
  • Iran does not recognise dual nationality. It is highly unlikely that the Australian Government will be allowed to provide consular assistance to dual Australian/Iranian nationals.
  • Ensure you take sufficient cash to convert to local currency (Iranian Rials) to cover all costs for the duration of your stay in Iran. International debit/credit cards are not accepted in Iran. It is not possible to transfer funds into Iran using the commercial banking system or money transfer companies.
  • Do not travel within 20 kilometres of the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders, to Sistan va Baluchestan province and areas in Kerman province east of the city of Bam due to the dangerous security situation.
  • Do not travel to areas within 10 kilometres of the border with Iraq because of the volatile security situation. Iranian security forces in these areas are vigilant.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Australian passport holders require a visa to enter Iran. Contact the nearest Iranian Embassy or Consulate to apply for a visa before travelling to Iran. Australian passport holders are eligible to apply for a 30-day tourist visa on arrival, if entering Iran via an international airport (not land border crossings), which must be paid for in cash. Travellers planning on obtaining a visa on arrival should contact their nearest Iranian Embassy or Consulate for detailed information on requirements. Iranian visas are a matter for the Government of Iran. The Australian Embassy  is unable to intervene in visa issues, including visas on arrival.

As visas and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, if you are considering travelling to Iran, you should contact the Embassy of Iran for up-to-date information.

If you have any evidence of travel to Israel, including an Israeli exit or entry stamp in your passport, you will be refused entry to Iran.

Failure to declare foreign currency taken into Iran may result in undeclared foreign exchange being confiscated on departure.

See Laws for entry and exit information for Australian/Iranian dual nationals.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Tensions in the region have increased with the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the local and international media for information on developments which may affect your security.

Demonstrations can be triggered by political developments in the region, as well as local political tensions. Avoid such demonstrations, as they can turn violent.

Violent protests against Western and other foreign interests: There have been attacks on diplomatic premises in Tehran in recent years. The missions of the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia were attacked in November 2011 and January 2016 respectively. Periodic protests against some Western and Middle East embassies and UN missions continue. Monitor developments closely and avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings.

Border areas near Afghanistan and PakistanDo not travel to areas within 20 kilometres of the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders, to the province of Sistan va Baluchestan and to areas in Kerman province east of the city of Bam. Drug-traffickers and bandits operate in this area and there have been violent clashes between security forces and drug traffickers. Violent incidents occur regularly in this area, including bombings and shootings, resulting in casualties to security personnel. Travel at night is particularly hazardous.

Border areas near IraqDo not travel to within 10 kilometres of the Iraqi border because of the extremely dangerous security situation. Iranian authorities closely monitor border areas with Iraq, with Iranian security forces particularly vigilant in these regions.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See Terrorist threat overseas.

There is an ongoing risk of terrorist attack in Iran, including in Tehran. In recent years there have been bombings in the border areas of Sistan va Baluchestan and West Azerbaijan provinces.

In planning your activities, consider the types of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include embassies, hotels, places of worship, government interests and identifiably Western businesses and interests. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and closely monitor the media and other local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Crime

Despite relatively low levels of violent crime, reports of petty crime are common. Take sensible measures to safeguard your belongings.

Bags have been snatched by thieves in passing vehicles. Victims may be knocked down or dragged behind vehicles.

Money and valuables

Ensure that you have sufficient cash to cover all expenses for the duration of your stay in Iran. Major currencies can be exchanged at numerous foreign exchanges in all major cities. International credit and bank cards cannot be used. It is also not possible to transfer funds into Iran using the commercial banking system or money transfer companies.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Iran has significantly increased in recent years. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of this situation to perpetrate scams targeting tourists. We have received reports of men in cars (purporting to be plain-clothes police officers) approaching foreigners and asking for wallets and identification alleging they are looking for 'foreign drug dealers'. If in doubt, ask a uniformed police officer for assistance. Keep a low profile and only carry limited amounts of cash.

Local travel

Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are six times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Iran than in Australia. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Women may be subject to unwanted attention and harassment. Take care when travelling alone, particularly at night.

If you are entering the Gulf area by sea, be aware that many areas are sensitive in relation to security and territory. There are ongoing reports of vessel inspections, detentions and arrest.

Piracy occurs in the Gulf. For more information about piracy, see our piracy page. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

Air safety

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has not audited those bodies responsible for air safety oversight in Iran. The European Union has operational restrictions in place for some of the aircraft in the Iran Air fleet because the airline has been unable to demonstrate that a number of its aircraft meet international safety standards.

There are also serious safety concerns about ageing aeroplanes on many of Iran's domestic air services.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Iran.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Iran, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for importing and possessing drugs are severe and include the death penalty. Foreign citizens have been executed for drug-related offences, including recently. See our Drugs page.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Iran for both men and women and penalties include the death penalty and corporal punishment. This also applies to foreigners. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Australians involved in local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Iran. Women are required by law to wear loose-fitting clothing which covers the arms and legs, a coat and headscarf at all times when in public. Men should not wear shorts or sleeveless T-shirts. These laws are enforced by local authorities. Women not adhering to requisite dress standards may be subject to detention and other penalties.

Close contact between unmarried men and women (especially non-Muslims and Muslims) is prohibited and de facto relationships are illegal. The penalties for breaching these laws are severe.

Photography near military or government buildings and installations, critical civil infrastructure and public demonstrations is strictly prohibited and could result in arrest.

Encouraging the conversion of Muslims to another religion and behaviour considered to offend Islam may be subject to serious sanction under Iranian law.

The importation of all alcohol, pornography, pork products, short wave radios and printed and recorded Western material (including that of a religious nature) is strictly prohibited.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin in late May 2017. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Iran, which are strictly enforced by local authorities. Women are required to wear loose-fitting clothing which covers the arms and legs, a coat and a headscarf. Men should not wear shorts or sleeveless T-shirts.

Information for dual nationals

Iran does not recognise dual nationality. It is highly unlikely that the Australian Government would be allowed to provide consular assistance to Australian/Iranian dual nationals who have been detained. Iranian officials are unlikely to notify the Australian embassy that an Australian/Iranian dual national has been arrested or detained.

Australian/Iranian dual national males who have not completed military service may be prohibited from leaving Iran.

Female Australian/Iranian dual nationals may require the permission of their husband or a senior male relative to leave Iran.

Local authorities require Australian/Iranian dual nationals to enter and exit Iran on their Iranian passport. Iranian immigration officials routinely confiscate the foreign passports of dual nationals.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in Iran varies. Facilities in remote areas are extremely limited. In the event of a serious accident/illness, a medical evacuation to London or Dubai may be necessary, costing around $A100,000. There are still indications of shortages of some specialised imported medicines, and travellers should bring any necessary medications with them.

Malaria is prevalent outside the major towns, particularly in the south and west. Other insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and tick-borne encephalitis) are common in Iran. Ticks are especially active from spring to autumn. Take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary, take precautions against being bitten by insects, including using an insect repellent, wear long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 115 for ambulance service, 125 for fire, and 110 for police. English speakers are not generally available.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy

No.2, 23rd Street
Khalid Islambuli Avenue
Tehran IRAN
Telephone: (98 21) 8386 3666
Facsimile: (98 21) 8872 0484
Website: iran.embassy.gov.au

The working week is from Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice. See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Iran is in an active seismic zone and experiences frequent earthquakes, including several major earthquakes in recent years. On 16 April 2013, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck a sparsely populated area near the city of Khash in Sistan va Baluchestan, close to the Pakistani border. On 9 April 2013, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the town of Kaki, in the province of Bushehr in western Iran, causing a number of fatalities. See our bulletin on what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Iran often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year (July-August), the temperature can exceed 50˚C in some areas. Heavy snowfall can also occur in parts of the country during the winter months.

Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly. Significanr air pollution occurs in major cities in Iran.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following link: