If you have never visited Iran, we can assure you it is an intriguing and misunderstood country. With its negative portrayal in the media, it may seem an unlikely popular tourist destination; however, it is a beautiful country that we love to visit. Home to amazing architecture, breathtaking landscapes and beautiful food, Iran is filled with fascinating history, culture and some of the friendliest locals you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.
Hopefully, you are now excitedly thinking, can I go?
Can I get an Iranian visa?
Almost all nationalities are able to obtain an Iranian visa; there are even some nationalities that don’t require a visa at all! However, if you are British, American or Canadian, travel to Iran is a little more difficult and you cannot just turn up and start wandering around.
Whilst Brits, Americans and Canadians are eligible for a visa, you must be part of an organised solo or group tour with a travel company, much like ourselves. In the past, there have been ways to get around the need to book onto a tour, however, the Iranian government have made this tougher and now the only way to visit Iran if you are British, American or Canadian is by booking onto a tour.
If you would like to have a look through our tour packages for Iran, you can find them here.
It is very important to note that if you have an Israel stamp in your passport you will be denied entry, even if you have been approved for a visa.
What do I need to get an Iranian visa?
Before you head on down to the Iranian embassy to retrieve your visa, there are a few things you need to have ready.
You must have your visit to Iran approved by the Iranian government. In order to do this, you will be required to submit an application to receive a Letter of Invitation (LoI) through the organisation that has booked your tour. With Lupine, you will receive a letter with an authorization code that we will send to you to print off. If you are British, American or Canadian, you must also supply your CV and a list of all your social media links alongside your application for a Letter of Invitation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran can send the approval code back as late as 2 weeks before the start of your trip, so please be prepared for your visa being a last minute job!
Here is a list of all the things you will need to take with you to the embassy:
- Letter of Invitation (printed)
- Completed visa application form
- Money – you can only pay for your visa at the London embassy in CASH. For the regular service, it is £165 and for same day express service it is £250 for UK passports(prices may vary on the day). Prices accurate in July 2019.
- 2 passport photos, one standard passport sized photo, one with a headscarf if you are a woman.
- Your passport.
- A pre-paid special delivery envelope, with your address already written on (available from the post office). This is only needed if you are not doing the same day express service.
Where is the Iranian consulate in London?
If you are in the UK, then we are afraid that there is no other option than to head on down to London to apply for your visa. Not only do you need to hand over all your documents in person, but if you are British, you must give your fingerprints too.
It is the consular section that you will need to go to in order to apply for the visa, not the embassy itself. The address for the consular section is 50 Kensington Court, Kensington, London, W8 5DD and it is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday for visa applications, but be aware of any Iranian holidays which may lead to it being closed.
What happens at the Iranian consulate in London?
The consulate begins to take applications from 2:00pm; however, you will find that queues start to form from 1:00pm onwards on the pavement across the street. Once you get through the door, you will be given a ticket which you will take with you to your seat in the waiting area until your number on the ticket is called. From our experience, it takes around 3-4 minutes per applicant, so if you are tenth in line, expect a 30-40 minute wait.
When you are called you can then head over to the desk to have your documents checked and your finger prints taken on a digital scanner. This part of the process shouldn’t take much longer than the aforementioned 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, you will then head over to a second window where you will pay in cash. As previously mentioned, it is £165 for the regular service, or £250 for the same day express service for UK passport holders.
We always advise that you try to call the embassy in the morning just to double check the prices haven’t changed, or bring surplus cash. The embassy staff are usually helpful on the phone, but that’s if you actually manage to get through!
If you are using the same day express service, you can return back to the ground floor office at 5:00pm. All the passports will be brought out and your name will be shouted when they have it ready for you to take.
If you are using the regular service, after submitting your documents you are done and can now go home! Your passport will be returned to you via post and this can normally take up to 1 week. If you are using the regular service, at this time you do not have an option to collect in person, you must have your passport sent back to you via post.
Is it worth it?
Getting an Iranian visa may seem like an inconvenience, but the rewards of exploring a country like Iran will make the day out to London seem like a distant memory as it’s unlikely that you will experience anywhere quite like it again!