Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 05 December 2013.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider your need to travel to Iran due to ongoing regional tensions. You should maintain a low profile and closely monitor the local and international media for information on developments affecting your security.

Iran overall

Border areas with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq

Summary

  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Iran due to ongoing regional tensions. If you are in Iran and concerned for your safety, you should consider leaving.
  • You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and keep a low profile in your activities.
  • You should closely monitor the local and international media for information on developments affecting your security.
  • There is a threat of terrorist attack against Western interests in Iran.
  • Iran does not recognise dual nationality. It is highly unlikely that the Australian Government will be allowed to provide consular assistance to dual nationals.
  • Acts of political violence occur throughout Iran, including in the capital Tehran. Targets for bomb attacks include foreign interests, Iranian government establishments, military parades and religious sites and processions. In recent years there have been bombings in the border areas of Sistan-va-Baluchistan and West Azerbaijan provinces.
  • Political developments in the region may prompt large demonstrations.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to areas near the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders due to the dangerous security situation and high level of violent crime. This includes Sistan va Baluchistan province and areas in Kerman province east of the city of Kerman (including the city of Bam), as well as areas near the border with Afghanistan in Razavi Khorasan (Khorasan-e-Razavi) and South Khorasan (Khorasan-e-Jonubi) provinces.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to areas near the border with Iraq, particularly Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan and Ilam provinces and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan province, because of the dangerous security situation.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Iran for the most 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.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Iran due to ongoing regional tensions. If you are in Iran and concerned for your safety, you should consider leaving.

Tensions in the region have increased following the Middle East uprisings, political tensions in the Gulf area, military exercises and missile testing, and the implementation of international sanctions against Iran.

You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and keep a low profile in your activities. You should closely monitor the local and international media for information on developments affecting your security.

Events and political developments in the region, increased domestic unrest and political tension may also trigger demonstrations, which could turn violent.

Violent protests against UK interests: In late November 2011, there were attacks on diplomatic premises in Tehran belonging to the United Kingdom. You should avoid these locations. Periodic protests against some Western and Middle East embassies and UN missions continue.

You should monitor developments closely and avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings.

Border areas near Afghanistan and Pakistan: There have been terrorist attacks and violent crime in border areas near Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years. We strongly advise you not to travel to areas near the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders, including the province of Sistan-va-Baluchistan, areas in Kerman province east of the city of Kerman (including the city of Bam), and areas near the border with Afghanistan in Razavi Khorasan (Khorasan-e-Razavi) and South Khorasan (Khorasan-e-Jonubi) provinces. In October 2013, a number of border guards were killed in an incident in south eastern Sistan-va-Baluchistan province. A bombing occurred in Chahabar in October 2012. Bombings also occurred in Chahabar in December 2010 and Zahedan in July 2010. As well as terrorist incidents, violent clashes between security forces and drug traffickers can occur in these areas. Travel at night is particularly hazardous.

Border areas near Iraq: We strongly advise you not to travel to areas near the border with Iraq, in particular Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan and Ilam provinces and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan province, because of the extremely dangerous security situation. As well as terrorist incidents, such as an attack on a military parade in West Azerbaijan in September 2010, violent clashes and confrontations have occurred in these areas in recent years. We continue to receive reports of violent clashes between Iranian forces and Kurdish militants.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Acts of political violence occur throughout Iran, including in the capital Tehran. Targets for bomb attacks include foreign interests, Iranian government establishments, military parades and religious sites and processions. In recent years there have been bombings in the border areas of Sistan-va-Baluchistan and West Azerbaijan provinces.

Violent incidents over past years against the British Embassy compound, other Western embassies, some Middle East missions and the United Nations, underline the potential for Western interests in Iran to be targeted.

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. You should 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

Iran has a low crime rate, although petty crime does occur. Anecdotal reports suggest such petty crime is on the increase. There have been bag snatchings on the street and violent burglaries at the homes of expatriates.

Tourists have been robbed by bogus plain clothes policemen during supposed identification checks and drug and counterfeit currency searches.

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

Local travel

Iran is in an active seismic zone and experiences frequent earthquakes. On 16 April 2013, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck a sparsely populated area near the city of Khash in Sistan va Baluchistan, 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. Disruption to transport, health and telecommunications services may occur. You should seek local advice before attempting to enter affected areas.

Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Women should take care when travelling alone, particularly at night.

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

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

Money and valuables

You should ensure that you have sufficient cash, in the form of US dollars (notes should be post-1996) or Euros to cover all expenses for the duration of your stay in Iran. International credit and bank cards cannot be used in Iran. It is also not possible to transfer funds into Iran using the commercial banking system or money transfer companies.

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Airline safety

There are serious safety concerns about ageing aeroplanes on many of Iran's domestic air services. Travel on these aircraft should be avoided where possible.

Recent incidents include:

  • In January 2011, over 80 people were killed in Urumiyeh, West Azerbaijan, when an Iran Air aircraft crashed;
  • In January 2010, a Taban Airline flight crash landed on arrival at Mashad airport, injuring 48 passengers; and
  • In July 2009, 184 people were killed in two separate crashes in Iran involving commercial airliners.

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Iran, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. It is highly unlikely that we will be allowed to offer consular assistance to dual nationals.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

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

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 who might engage in activities that involve 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. See also Entry and Exit Requirements below.

The dress code (see Local Customs below) is enforced at all times, including during sports activities.

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 will result in arrest.

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.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Iran. 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.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

Information for dual nationals

Iran does not recognise dual nationality. It is highly unlikely that the Australian Government will be allowed to provide consular assistance to dual nationals who have been detained. Iranian officials may not 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.

Dual national females may require the permission of their husband or a senior male relative to leave Iran.

Iranian immigration officials may confiscate the foreign passports of dual nationals.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you 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.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to 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 is limited. 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 indications of shortages of 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. We recommend you 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. We advise you to 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

In Iran, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian Embassy

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

The working week is from Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice.

If you are travelling to Iran, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

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. 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, the temperature can exceed 50˚C. Heavy snowfall can also occur in parts of the country during the winter months.

Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.