Perhaps you’ve heard about the stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality that this fascinating country has to offer. However, you may also be wondering whether or not it’s possible for Canadians to travel to Iran, given its complex political situation and international sanctions. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about traveling from Canada to Iran, including visa requirements, safety concerns, and tips for making the most of your trip. So let’s dive in and discover if an Iranian adventure is possible for you!
SURFIRAN Tours provides exclusive handpicked Iran tours and Iran tour packages with private guide. We offer small group, private tours and customized trips to Iran. Iran tours can also be arranged which suits the needs of an individual, a couple, a family or a group of friends.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO IRAN AS A CANADIAN
Yes, It’s possible, Canadian can visit Iran—so long as they travel with a tour guide the entire time. If you’re a Canadian 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. (For more information about the FedEx services please contact us)
IRAN VISA FOR CANADIAN CITIZENS
Canadian, American 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 Canadian, 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
- $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 be 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.
VISA CARD AND MASTER CARD 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 CANADIAN CITIZENS TRAVEL SOLO IN IRAN?
Canadian Citizens must be 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.
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 Canadian and American cell phones. Canadian and American 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 cell phone.
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.
WHAT 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.