30 November 2016

Impressions and Images of Iran: Getting my Iranian Visa

I suppose I was just toying with the idea of going to Iran earlier this summer. I did buy a guidebook, and even if I did buy a guidebook, it wouldn't be the first time that I bought a guidebook and didn't actually use it (though yes, the reason I didn't use my Lebanon guidebook was because Lebanon denied me a visa, but I digress). Anyway, it wasn't until I actually applied for a visa that things started to get fixed.

There are many ways to get a visa. I could of course use the visa on arrival facility. This is a recent development, but Iran now allows visa on arrival for plenty of nationalities, including my own. All I need to do is show up at the airport, and present them a health insurance, as well as a hotel booking for my first few days, and they would issue me a 30-day visa on the spot.

I also could do the paperwork on my own by applying at the Iranian Embassy here in Berlin. This would take a few days to process.

Anyway, I did the surest path: I contacted a travel agency that is based in Iran. I contacted the guys at Touran Zamin, who processed my application with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on my behalf. They (the travel agency) basically vouched for me, and a few days later, I have received an email saying that my visa application was approved. I was then instructed to present an authorization number to the Consular Section of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin, which I did a few days later. The embassy told me to come back in 10 days, and 10 days later, sure enough, affixed to my passport was my shiny new Iranian visa.

This visa was valid for a single entry, for the next 90 days, with a permission to remain in Iran for 30 days.

This perhaps isn't the cheapest option to get a visa. I paid the travel agency 40 EUR, plus I paid the embassy an additional 50 EUR. But at least, this option had the one with the most peace of mind. Given that there's a travel agency that was vouching for me, the chances of rejection wasn't high. So if you want not to worry about whether you'd get the visa or not, especially since there are some horror stories lurking online about travelers being rejected at the border, then I suggest use an agency. Just make sure to read agency reviews online. Some agencies have a bad reputation and probably don't deserve your business.

So, armed with my visa, I headed to Iran. When I landed in Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, I skipped the visa lines, and instead queued at the border. The officer looked at my visa, and without asking any questions, simply stamped my passport, and voila! I was in Iran!

2 comments:

  1. Is the passport stamp nice? Don't think I've ever seen the Iranian one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zhu,

      The visa stamp is fancy, which seems to be the norm for visas nowadays. But the entry/exit stamp is normal I guess.

      By the way, have you seen the gallery of stamps here? There's quite a few interesting ones!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallery_of_passport_stamps_by_country_or_territory

      Delete