Travel Advice for Iran - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Monday, 21 December 2015, 17:14:35, +1100
2015 Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
While every care has been taken in preparing this travel information for travellers, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees including any member of Australia's consular staff abroad, can accept liability for injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.
Travel Advice Levels
|Iran overall||High degree of caution|
|Border areas with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq||Do not travel|
The level of the advice for Iran has been lowered to 'Exercise a high degree of caution'. Higher levels still apply in some parts of the country.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Iran due to ongoing regional tensions. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and keep a low profile in your activities. Monitor the local and international media for information on developments which may affect your security.
Acts of political violence occur throughout Iran, including in the capital Tehran. Possible targets include foreign interests, Iranian government establishments, military parades and religious sites and processions. See Safety and Security
Political developments in the region may prompt large demonstrations. You should avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
Iran does not recognise dual nationality. It is highly unlikely that the Australian Government will be allowed to provide consular assistance to dual nationals.
We strongly advise you not to travel to within 20 kilometres of the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders, to Sistan va Baluchestan province and areas in Kerman province east of the city of Bam due to the dangerous security situation.
We strongly advise you not to travel to areas within 10 kilometres of the border with Iraq because of the volatile security situation. Iranian security forces in these areas are vigilant.
See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
Entry and exit
Australians require a visa to enter Iran. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the Embassy of Iran for the most up-to-date information.
If you have any evidence of travel to Israel, including an Israeli exit or entry stamp in your passport, you will be refused entry to Iran.
Failure to declare foreign currency taken into Iran may result in undeclared foreign exchange being confiscated on departure.
See Laws for entry and exit information for Australian/Iranian dual nationals.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
Tensions in the region have increased with the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the implementation of international sanctions against Iran.
You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and keep a low profile in your activities. You should closely monitor the local and international media for information on developments which may affect your security.
Demonstrations can be triggered by political developments in the region, as well as local political tensions. You should avoid such demonstrations, as they can turn violent.
Violent protests against Western interests: In November 2011, there were attacks on diplomatic premises in Tehran belonging to the United Kingdom. Periodic protests against some Western and Middle East embassies and UN missions continue. You should monitor developments closely and avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings.
Border areas near Afghanistan and Pakistan: We strongly advise you not to travel to areas within 20 kilometres of the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders, to the province of Sistan va Baluchestan and to areas in Kerman province east of the city of Bam. Drug-traffickers and bandits operate in this area and there have been violent clashes between security forces and drug traffickers. Violent incidents occur regularly in this area, including bombings and shootings, resulting in casualties to security personnel. Travel at night is particularly hazardous.
Border areas near Iraq: We strongly advise you not to travel to within 10 kilometres of the Iraqi border because of the extremely dangerous security situation. Iranian authorities closely monitor border areas with Iraq, with Iranian security forces particularly vigilant in these regions.
Acts of political violence occur throughout Iran, including in the capital Tehran. Targets for bomb attacks include foreign interests, Iranian government establishments, military parades and religious sites and processions.
In recent years there have been bombings in the border areas of Sistan va Baluchestan and West Azerbaijan provinces.
In planning your activities, consider the types of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include embassies, hotels, places of worship, government interests and identifiably Western businesses and interests. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and closely monitor the media and other local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Iran has a low crime rate, although petty crime does occur. Anecdotal reports suggest petty crime is on the increase. There have been bag snatchings on the street and violent burglaries at the homes of expatriates.
Bags have been snatched from pedestrians by thieves in passing vehicles. Victims may be knocked down or dragged behind vehicles.
Money and valuables
You should ensure that you have sufficient cash, in the form of US dollars (notes should be post-1996) or Euros to cover all expenses for the duration of your stay in Iran. International credit and bank cards cannot be used in Iran. It is also not possible to transfer funds into Iran using the commercial banking system or money transfer companies.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.
Women should take care when travelling alone, particularly at night.
Travellers entering the Gulf area by sea should be aware that many areas are sensitive in relation to security and territory. There are ongoing reports of vessel inspections, detentions and arrest.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has not audited those bodies responsible for air safety oversight in Iran. The European Union has operational restrictions in place for some of the aircraft in the Iran Air fleet because the airline has been unable to demonstrate that a number of its aircraft meet international safety standards.
There are also serious safety concerns about ageing aeroplanes on many of Iran's domestic air services.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Iran.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
LawsYou are subject to the local laws of Iran, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for importing and possessing drugs are severe and include the death penalty. Foreign citizens have been executed for drug-related offences, including recently. See our Drugs page.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Iran for both men and women and penalties include the death penalty and corporal punishment. This also applies to foreigners. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Australians involved in local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. See also Entry and Exit Requirements below.
The dress code (see Local Customs below) is enforced at all times, including during sports activities.
Close contact between unmarried men and women (especially non-Muslims and Muslims) is prohibited and de facto relationships are illegal. The penalties for breaching these laws are severe.
Photography near military or government buildings and installations, critical civil infrastructure and public demonstrations is strictly prohibited and will result in arrest.
Encouraging the conversion of Muslims to another religion and behaviour considered to offend Islam may be subject to serious sanction under Iranian law.
The importation of all alcohol, pornography, pork products, short wave radios and printed and recorded Western material (including that of a religious nature) is strictly prohibited.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in early June 2016. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.
There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Iran. Women are required to wear loose-fitting clothing which covers the arms and legs, a coat and a headscarf. Men should not wear shorts or sleeveless T-shirts.
Information for dual nationals
Iran does not recognise dual nationality. It is highly unlikely that the Australian Government would be allowed to provide consular assistance to dual nationals who have been detained. Iranian officials may not notify the Australian embassy that an Australian/Iranian dual national has been arrested or detained.
Australian/Iranian dual national males who have not completed military service may be prohibited from leaving Iran.
Dual national females may require the permission of their husband or a senior male relative to leave Iran.
Local authorities may require Australian/Iranian dual nationals to enter and exit Iran on their Iranian passport. Iranian immigration officials may confiscate the foreign passports of dual nationals.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of medical facilities in Iran varies. Facilities in remote areas are extremely limited. In the event of a serious accident/illness, a medical evacuation to London or Dubai may be necessary, costing around $A100,000. There are still indications of shortages of some specialised imported medicines, and travellers should bring any necessary medications with them.
Malaria is prevalent outside the major towns, particularly in the south and west. Other insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and tick-borne encephalitis) are common in Iran. Ticks are especially active from spring to autumn. We recommend you take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary, take precautions against being bitten by insects, including using an insect repellent, wear long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 115 for ambulance service, 125 for fire, and 110 for police. English speakers are not generally available.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australian EmbassyNo.2, 23rd Street
Khalid Islambuli Avenue
Telephone: (98 21) 8386 3666
Facsimile: (98 21) 8872 0484
The working week is from Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice. See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Iran, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Iran is in an active seismic zone and experiences frequent earthquakes, including several major earthquakes in recent years. On 16 April 2013, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck a sparsely populated area near the city of Khash in Sistan va Baluchestan, close to the Pakistani border. On 9 April 2013, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the town of Kaki, in the province of Bushehr in western Iran, causing a number of fatalities. See our bulletin on what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Iran often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year (July-August), the temperature can exceed 50˚C. Heavy snowfall can also occur in parts of the country during the winter months.
Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly. Air pollution occurs in major cities in Iran.