Iran Visa and Tours for U.S. Citizens

If you’re wondering whether can Americans travel to Iran and how to visit Iran as an American, the answer is yes but not without a host of restrictions. but the Iranian government requires that all American tourists travel with a private guide or group tour.

SURFIRAN offers exclusive, handpicked tours with a private guide. We offer small group, private tours and customized trips to Iran that can be tailored to the needs of an individual, a couple, a family, or a group of friends.

How to Travel to Iran as an American

Yes, Its possible, Americans can visit Iran—so long as they travel with a tour guide the entire time. If you’re a US citizen who’s interested in visiting Iran, in fact, the first trip planning step you should take is choosing a tour company, since only the tour company can request an Iran visa on your behalf.

Once this request is processed, the tour company will receive an “Authorization Code” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and you’ll be able to visit your nearest Iranian foreign mission (in the US, it’s the “Iranian Interests Section” of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC) in order to submit your visa application.

U.S, Canadian and British passport holders will need to apply for a travel authorization number from an licensed tour operator in Iran. This will require submitting the following information:

  • A passport scan
  • A complete tour itinerary (provided by the organization)
  • A personal information document (name, birth date, etc.)
  • A professional resume

this process can take anywhere from 4 to 6+ weeks, depending on holiday schedules and other factors in your application.

Once you receive your visa authorization code, the waiting game is almost over and you’re officially approved to get a visa. Now, all you need to do is actually *get* the visa.

For most Americans who live outside of the Washington DC metro area, you’ll have to mail your visa application and passport to the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy. Pakistan’s embassy operates as the representation for Iran, as there’s no Iranian embassy in the United States. To obtain the visa, you’ll need to provide the following items in your mailed package, and send to 1250 23rd St. N.W. Suite # 200 Washington, DC 20037:

  • Visa application forms
  • Authorization code
  • Passport photo
  • Passport
  • $120 USD money order for visa processing fee and return mailing fee
  • Return envelope

After you mail your paperwork, it typically takes 2-3 weeks to process and arrive in your mailbox again. You can also pay an additional fee to expedite the process, if necessary.

If you’re lucky enough to live in or near Washington DC, you can simply bring your authorization code, visa application forms, passport photos, passport, and $90 USD money order (no mailing fee needed) to the Pakistani Embassy yourself, located at 1250 23rd St NW #200, on any weekday from 8-11 AM or 2-4 PM.

After you dropped your passport off, it took approximately 4 days for them to process the visa and return the passport to you. You can pick it up at the same office where you dropped it off.

Thanks to Kay Rodriguez for Such a detailed tips

Visa and Master Cards in Iran

International credit and debit cards cannot be used in Iran since the US trade embargo on the country. Visitors cannot draw cash on credit or bank cards (such as Cirrus or Maestro).

Iran does have a network of ATMs but these are for use with locally-issued bank cards such as the Mellat Card, Melli Card issued by local Banks in Iran.

Can Americans Travel Solo in Iran?

US citizens must by accompanied by a guide at all times while they are in Iran.

This doesn’t me you need to have an extremely structured itinerary. But you can have a number of “free days” into your itinerary where you can do as you please.

This allows you to have some flexibility and break away from my small group tour.

Can U.S. Citizens Travel to Iran by Land or Sea?

As a result of regulations imposed by the Iranian government, American citizens are limited in their travel options to and from Iran.

Land and sea borders are not accessible to American citizens, leaving air borders as the sole means of entry and exit.

Currency Exchange Offices (Money Changers in Iran)

There is a currency exchange office at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran as well as several more in the center of Tehran and other big cities.

A network of currency exchange offices operate in Tehran and in major cities under the licence of Iranian National Bank.

Many banks also offer foreign exchange facilities, but not in all branches. Your host and hotel staff should be able to advise you further.

Iran Cell Phone Service and Internet

Another technology concern to prepare for is the use of American cellphones. US companies like Sprint and Verizon doesn’t have roaming services in Iran.

But you can buy a local sim at the Airport for all domestic and international calls and have a normal 3G and 4G internet on your cellphone.

We suggest you to use prepaid MTN IranCell that  is the second largest mobile phone network operator of Iran. It is 49% owned by the South Africa-based MTN Group.

Can you travel to Iran as an unmarried couple?

Yes! This is an often more assumed problem than a real one for most travellers. Travelling to Iran will not be a problem. Most hotels, like everyone else, won’t ask or care about your relationship status.

In the case that they do, it is up to individual travellers to decide how they respond but no proof of marriage is required.

In the very worst scenario, you may be required to take separate rooms but this is almost unheard of, particularly for foreign travellers. But remember unmarried Persian couples are not able to get a hotel room.

If you’re married to an Iranian we advise you to carry your marriage certificate with passport as proof of marriage.

Can I Drink Alcohol and Eat Pork in Iran?

Drinking alcohol is against the law in Iran and no shops are permitted to sell it. Anyone caught in possession of alcohol faces arrest and in the case of a tourist face deportation.

People in Iran tend to drink tea, Sharbat (a cool, sweet drink known as the world’s first soft drink) or doogh (a savoury yogurt drink). Alcohol free beer is also available. Pork is not available.

When it comes to meat most Iranians tend to eat chicken, beef or lamb, all of which are widely available.

When is the Best Time to Visit Iran?

It depends on what you want to do! In most places in Iran summer is hot and winter is cold, with snow in some places.

During the month of Ramadan it can be difficult for travellers as many food stores are close during the day.

At times around the Iranian New Year which occurs on March 21, more people inside Iran go on holiday, so it can be more difficult to secure accommodation.

How Much Money Should You Bring?

On a reasonable budget, you should plan on spending ~$25-35 USD per day on food and entry fees, plus extras for souvenirs, laundry, and other incidentals. I also recommend bringing some “miscellaneous/emergency fund” money. For 15 days, I budgeted ~$800 USD ended up spending ~$500. This amount included small souvenirs, a few fancy dinners, and gratuities for my driver and guide. I’m a pretty light eater, though.

Travel to Iran – A breathtaking journey through a spellbinding land

Small Group Tours In Iran | Iran Tailor-made Tours | Iran Hotels | Iran Expedition Tours

"*" indicates required fields

DD dash MM dash YYYY
Drop files here or
Max. file size: 10 MB, Max. files: 5.


    Prefer speaking to us over the phone? Our specialists would love to help you out!

    +98 (21) 910 30 860

    Or simply drop us an email at [email protected]

    Opening Hours:
    8:30am – 5.00pm Sunday to Thursday

    • WhatsApp 24/7

      +98 912 880 3921


    What initially attracted me to choose Surfiran for my trip to Iran was their beautiful website, if you can believe it. Thankfully, I soon learned that the substance of this organization matched its style.

    Surfiran not only provided me with an unforgettable trip through Iran, but showed incredible patience and persistence in getting my visa (I’m American, so it was difficult), and was available before, during and after the trip to hear feedback and solve problems.


    My trip was not an ordinary tourist trip to Iran visiting the sights of the ancient civilization if the country. I was interested in the equine activities n the country due to the fact that I had been a horse trainer working for the Court in the 1970s. SURFIRAN did a great job in satisfying my desires. I not only met up with old friends in the horse world but it was arranged for me to visit shows, polo matches, races and many horse farms and clubs. Their guides, driver and personnel were the best. I highly recommend this agency.

    Marvellous and unforgettable experience

    Do yourself a favour and visit Iran. And if you would like a smooth, inclusive and carefree experience contact SurfIran.
    Everything has been great, Farzaneh helped us from day 1, there were a couple of small misunderstanding/miscommunication on behalf of the Australian operator, and Farzaneh went above and beyond to sort them out.

    The guides were fantastic, we spent a day with Sarjat in Tehran, followed by the rest of the tour with Arya. I will always treasure the memories I’ve made with these people and all the knowledge they’ve shared with us. Farzaneh called everyday to check that everything was good. I was very impressed by the level of attention.
    Hotels were great, clean, comfortable and top quality service.

    Definitely an excellent experience.

    We spent two weeks in Iran and loved our time there. SURFIRAN were fantastic to work with and helped us plan an amazing itinerary. We wanted to plan and book with a local company to get local knowledge and put our money on the ground there instead of going through a larger international tour company.

    The lovely people in the office were helpful and prompt with our questions. Our two guides were fantastic. Sajad, our guide in Tehran, is a friendly knowledgable guy. We had a ball and enjoyed his company. Our guide in other cities, Mustafa, is a real character and expert. Both are warm like most people we met in Iran.

    Iran is an amazing place. And, while it’s history, culture and food are clear highlights, the one thing that keeps shining through is that war,th of the people. We had many experiemces of people’s hospitality and just wanting to welcome us to Iran.

    Thank you SURFIRAN for showing us you great country.

    Iran Desert Garmeh and Mesr Desert, Iran

    Fantastic honeymoon experience thanks to SURFIRAN

    We had a great experience with Surfiran who helped us plan a customised honeymoon package that took us from Tehran to Kashan, Esfahan, the Central Desert, Yazd, Persepolis and Shiraz in 13 days.

    Everything went smoothly thanks to Farzaneh who was extremely prompt over email and Whatsapp and kept in touch with our guides the whole trip to make sure things were on track. The guides – Hosein, Kian, Ali and Sajad – were all professional, attentive and spoke fluent English, each with their own distinctive personalities and all passionate to show us Iran from a local perspective.

    I’ll admit we were rather cautious about going to Iran at first but the experience with Surfiran really changed our perspective. The level of service was comparable to what we were used to in Singapore and on trips to Europe and the hospitality and warmth far exceeding what we would have got from a mass tour.

    Kudos to the team and we hope to be back!


    I took 9-Day Iranian Culture and Heritage Small Group Tour from April 27th through May 5th 2018 with Surfiran tour company. I spend 2 extra days in Tehran before the tour. Complimentary scenic day tour on private train to Alborz mountains north of Tehran is included in every tour with Surfiran.

    I also visited Shiraz, Persepolis, Yazd, Isfahan, Kashan and small cities in between. I was amazed by magnificent architectural and cultural heritage of Iran, and its beautiful nature and kind people. I was joined by another tourist from Germany, so my tour was almost private for the price of a group tour. As US citizen I felt very comfortable in Iran all the time during my tour.

    Iranian people which I met treated me extremely warm and friendly. I stayed in good quality hotels in the center of visited cities, breakfasts were plentiful and tasty. On recommendation of my guide Hossein I tried different cuisine in authentic Persian restaurants.

    Hossein provided exceptional information about culture and history, always tried to show something unique and interesting. The whole tour was well organized by Surfiran and by sales manager Farzaneh Sarafraz, who guided me through visa application process and answered multiple questions. I definitely recommend Surfiran as a travel company to visit Iran.

    Twelve Greeks friends visited Iran from 18 of April till 2 of May. We returned home just a few days ago and a part of our heart is still there; this is quite natural. We came back physically tired but brim-full of images, colours, scents, and melodies; above all, deeply impressed by the kindness, warmth, and hospitality of your compatriots. We feel lucky that we had chosen SURFIRAN travel agency to organize our trip. In particular, we would like to thank:

    1. Miss Elham Babaee for the excellent trip she organized for us. The schedule she prepared included visits to very beautiful and equally important places from historical point of view. Places that bear the imprint of your civilization. She had also the kindness to insert in the schedule whatever we asked her. The fact that she offered us a bus of 30 seats made our trip very comfortable, given that most of us were over fifty years old. The hotels she chose were in general very good. She was also taking care of us during the whole trip and arranged on the spot any matter that arose. We apologize if we wearied her with many requests or embarrassed her for any reason.

    2. Our guide, Miss Fatemeh Heydari, who made us love your country as she was talking about its history and answering to our innumerable questions. She also presented to us some of the best aspects of modern Iran and helped us visit some excellent restaurants and coffeeshops. She has been tireless and addressed always with a warm smile any contingency. When we said goodbye at Teheran airport, she was already our friend Miss Fatemeh.

    3. Our chauffeur Mr Mahdi. Unfortunately, I was not keen to be informed of his family name. He was driving carefully and safely during the whole journey and always kept the bus clean and had available fresh water and coffee for us.

    4. Last but not least, we thank Dr. Mahdi Eshragi because his agency always supported us whenever we needed you and his main concern was to please his guests and not how to earn more money.

    My husband and I just returned from our tour a few days ago so every experience we had is still fresh in our minds.

    SURFIRAN arranged the tour just for the two of us. Though we had an itinerary, there was flexibility. From the day we stepped into Iran to the day we left, we were given very personalised service. Farzaneh, Sajad and Alireza are people we will long remember.

    Never have we ever been to a country (and we gave been to more than a hundred) where we were greeted with warmth almost everywhere we went! People on the streets, in the museums, on the trains, at the airport; everywhere. The traffic in Tehran may seemed chaotic but it is somehow it flowed smoothly.

    Out of bustling Tehran there’s so much to feast the eyes. The ancient sights, the old buildings, the bazaars, the museums, the traditional accomodations, the desert and not forgetting the food! With two days extention on our own, we had 11 wonderful days in Iran!

    SURFIRAN Read Reviews

    Organization of round trip, hotel accommodation and flights were perfect. Our guide Mostafa was absolutely excellent, helpful, friendly and his information about Iran were very informative. Thanks a lot !

    Will come back soon.

    Johannes Grumet

    Everything was arranged very efficiently. Nothing went wrong. Our guide, Mostafa Farhadi, was remarkable. Not only was he a brilliant driver, but his knowledge of the culture, history and contemporary life of Iran was amazing. He also had superb contacts in all the places we visited.

    He is clearly known and respected by many other guides, as well as by managers and owners of the hotels, restaurants and sites we visited. He managed to satisfy all our interests and to overcome every difficulty. Of course we were thrilled to experience the cultural treasures of this great country, but still the most treasured memories are of our encounters with Iranian people, Including some introductions that our friends had made beforehand.

    Thank you for arranging everything.

    Stephen Barber

    My colleague and I are in tea business. We are working on a book about the stories of people behind your cup of tea. We were looking for someone to help us getting introduced to the tea industry and show us around in Gilan. SURFIRAN arranged everything for us: the contacts, the meetings, the cultural activities and the logistics.

    We were overwhelmed by the friendliness, the hospitality and the professional approach of both the team of SURFIRAN in Teheran and the guides they work with.

    It was business, but it never felt like that. It felt like coming home. We are already planning a next tour with a group!

    Persian wonderland

    It may take a bit of effort to get to Iran but once there get ready for a really great experience. Tehran is bustling and surprisingly modern. Isfahan is a gem. I found Surfiran to be a knowledgeable, reliable and approachable tour operator.

    × Available on SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday