Iran Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Iran
How safe is Iran?
Threat level: Medium-High
Whilst visiting Iran it is essential to be extra vigilant when visiting this country, due to its political and regional difficulties, especially with the bordering areas with Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please take all security precautions possible and seek security advice prior to departure. Recent months have seen tensions between Iran and the West heightened and also Iran's relations with the rest of the Arab world declined in 2017. Most visits to Iran are trouble-free and without incident, with many of the non-bordering regions at medium risk level when personal safety considerations are undertaken.
British-Iran dual nationals are advised against travelling to Iran, as there is a possibility that they could be randomly arrested. Besides, consular access isn't granted to them as dual nationality isn't recognised by the government of Iran.
On the 22nd of September 2018, a terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz (south-west Iran) that marked the anniversary of eight-year war with Irak, killed 29 people.
Late December 2017 saw a rise in anti-government protests; tens of people have been killed in clashed with the Police across the country. It is wise for any visitors to keep away from any demonstrations and large gathering of people at this time.
On the 07th of June 2017, two terrorist attacks masterminded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), occurred simultaneously in Tehran against the Iranian Parliament building and the Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini, killing 17 people and injuring 43 others.
Travel to the areas bordering Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are currently advised against.
Destinations where current travel advisories in place and are advised against are:
- Within 100km of the entire Iran/Afghanistan border
- Within 10km of the entire Iran/Iraq border
- The province of Sistan-Baluchistan
- The area east of the line running from Bam to Jask, including Bam
With the rise of insurgency in surrounding countries, Iran finds itself as a target of hostilities which has increased since Iran has shown its support for the Syrian government’s regime.
Please be aware that you may become a person of interest for underground insurgent groups, political activists who blame Iran’s economic downturn on western sanctions and also government officials, the latter especially if you have not been invited by the Iranian authorities or organisations. Please keep a low profile, be cautious of the security situation at all times and also your behaviour in this Muslim country. Do note that there have been previous incidences of the Iranian governments not notifying visitor embassies on detainment and consular access is not always granted
Sistan-Baluchistan is an area of the country which is known for organised criminal groups and petty gangs. Drug smuggling operations, especially in the nearing areas towards Afghanistan are known in the country, with additional oil, contraband and alcohol operations undertaken by organised groups. There are also risks in this area coming from Sunni insurgent groups such as the Taliban, which have had ongoing disputes and violent acts throughout the Middle Eastern world against Shi’ite representatives.
Zahedan, Zabol and Mirjaveh with the addition of Sistan-Baluchistan are also known for having high levels of banditry and violent crime.
As with all destinations, take sensible precautious against personal theft, keep documents safe and show signs of low affluence. Robberies resulting from men on motorcycles have been known to occur. It is wise to understand local laws and customs and to be respectful of these during your visit to Iran.
Demonstrations, although heavily policed are a heightened security risk, if not by protestors by the threat of being arrested from local forces. Vacate any areas which have large public political gatherings as soon as possible. Demonstrations and protests are known to occur on Fridays after prayers. Please note there is some animosity directed towards western interests and person in the country due to the economic situation in the country.
Iran's International Relations
Formally known as Persia, Iran’s ruling monarchy was overthrown in 1979 and became the Islamic Republic of Iran. Having fought a war with neighbouring Iraq from 1980-88, international relations with many parts of the world have had complexities. The western world and some of the Middle Eastern regions such as Israel have been tempered at times, although armed conflict is unlikely due to ongoing developments and measures taken by the Iranian government such as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) working towards amicable resolutions with regards to its nuclear developments.
There are underlying tensions with some countries, especially the United States of America. This has stemmed from generational mistrust from both Iranian and U.S. citizens due to past incidences.
One such notable occurrence was the “Iran Hostage Crisis” in which 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981). Subsequently there has been no U.S. embassy in country since and affairs are dealt with cordially by the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.
Iran’s relations and support with Syria has made western countries uncomfortable, however Iran has good diplomatic ties with China, India, Pakistan and Russia, with new alliances with countries in Asia, South America, and Africa.
Travelling around Iran
There is a high rate of road fatalities in Iran and if you are involved in an accident please do not leave the scene. Also in addition to this, take care when using public transport and crossing roads in the area. There have been known road blocks in operation, so ensure that you have appropriate documentation on you at all times.
Maritime conditions dictate it is probably wise not to venture the Persian waters without prior government consent, due to numerous incidents which have resulted in detainment, especially around the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunb’s. These are deemed sensitive areas for military purposes. There have been known attacks on vessels further afield in the Gulf of Oman, Aden and Bab El Mandeb in addition to this the Northern Arabian Waters.
There have been incidents involving taxi services robbing the occupants, please be cautious of this.
Earthquakes in Iran
Be aware that Iran is in an active earthquake zone and as such, Iran does regularly suffer from large earthquakes. The last major notable event was in Kerman, south eastern Iran, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in 2003 that killed more than 30,000.
The recommended travel advice for Iran is that you undertake training and know of precautions when visiting countries that have active earthquake zones.
Emergency services in Iran:
Police emergency: 110
Medical emergency: 115
Fire emergency: 125
Time now in Tehran:
Consular information for Iran
US Embassy Represented by United States Interests Section
Embassy of Switzerland,
No. 39, Shahid Mousavi St.,
Golestan 5th, Pasdaran Ave.,
Telephone: +98 21 22 54 21 78
British Embassy Tehran
198 Ferdowsi Avenue,
Telephone (UK CONTACT): +44 01908 516666
Visa requirements for Iran
Visas are required for all visits to Iran by UK, US and passport holders. Further information on requirements for Iran can be found at : Visa Check Iran
Women, and girls over the age of nine, should wear a headscarf in their visa application photos.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Iran are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in Iran, if you have been in a country where there is a risk of the disease, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
In many of the main cities in Iran, the quality and services are generally excellent, with many doctors able to communicate in English. However, medical care beyond these areas are poor or non-existent. You should ensure that your travel and health insurance will cover you for all requirements, including medical evacuation to a better-equipped hosiptal/country.
In some areas of the country, particularly in the capital city Tehran, there are high levels of air pollution. If you experience respiratory problems, you may find this irritates it further.