Travel to Iran
Entry and residence regulations
With a few exceptions, foreigners * need a visa to enter Iran (fee: 40-700 €, depending on the type of visa). In the case of German citizens, this can be applied for at the Iranian embassy in Berlin. In addition, there is now the option of applying for a visa online (this still does not always work smoothly). To apply for a visa, you need a passport that is valid for at least six months and does not contain an Israeli note. You also need an invitation from Iran, which is confirmed by the Iranian Foreign Ministry via a reference number. As a rule, it is enough for a larger hotel issues this invitation in Tehran (this is linked to a room reservation).
In the case of organized trips, the tour operator accepts the invitation, in the case of a student exchange usually the Iranian university. The desired length of stay must be specified in the application form. The visa is issued for a maximum of one month, but can be extended several times in the country to a total of three months. A responsible “Police Department of Aliens” is in all provincial capitals.
Due to the current situation caused by COVID-19, all those entering Iran are asked about their health, disinfected and, if necessary, a doctor examined. Infected people are taken to isolation wards, all other people entering the country must first be self-isolated for 14 days, compliance with which must be assured in writing.
After 14 days at the latest, foreigners have to register with the Iranian police, the registration is noted by a stamp on the visa. Entry must take place within three months of the visa being issued. Transit and multiple entry visas are also available, although the latter are not easy to come by. More detailed information on the Iranian visa regulations can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
Travel, transportation and traffic
According to softwareleverage, Iran has a very good infrastructure, travel is possible without problems. The main means of transport between cities are buses. There are a number of bus companies, all of which have large and medium-sized cities on their timetables. The buses run regularly and very frequently. You have to choose between “Volvo” and “Mercedes”. The big companies have modern Volvo buses with every comfort, as well as the older Mercedes models. Tickets are much cheaper here, but you have to forego a few amenities. Tickets can be bought at bus stations, and the large companies also have offices in the city centers.
Traveling by train is cheaper than buses. Trains run regularly, including at night, between most major cities. The level of comfort differs depending on the route. However, a reservation is recommended for train journeys. You can do this at the train station, in the offices or on the State Railways website, where the timetables can also be found.
Most of the larger cities can also be reached by domestic flights. In addition to Iran Air, which until some time ago still had a monopoly in this sector, several private airlines serve the market. These are usually cheaper, partly because they mainly fly used Tupolev planes.
It is also possible to travel with your own car, the street signs are in Persian and English. In the big cities, especially in Tehran, this is not necessarily recommended, especially for short stays. To describe the traffic as chaotic here would be a euphemism. There are taxis here recommended, which are numerous and not very expensive. You can either get on one of the shared taxis (Savari), which drive along defined routes, or rent one for yourself (dar-bast, Persian for closed door). In any case, you have to pay for all five seats (in Iran it is common for two people to share the passenger seat). The Tehran Metro is far more convenient. Due to the great differences in altitude within the city, this has only a limited route network so far, but it is constantly being expanded.
Vaccinations are not mandatory for Iran from the German side, but there are some that are quite useful. Details on the recommended vaccinations can be found on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office and the travel medical information service of the Tropical Institute of the University of Munich. For stays longer than three months, the Iranian side requires a negative HIV test.
The quality of drinking water is relatively good in most regions of Iran, and Iranians often drink it from the tap. However, they are used to it and it is not recommended for tourists. Mineral water in plastic bottles is preferable here. Most dishes, on the other hand, can be eaten without any problems, especially in restaurants that are heavily frequented by locals, the hygiene is very good. An exception for sensitive stomachs is fresh lettuce that has been washed with tap water.
Medical care is sufficient to good in Tehran and other large cities. The density of doctors is relatively high, and most of the medicines used in Europe can be bought in the numerous pharmacies [Persian: daru-khane] and are not very expensive. The ambulance emergency number in Tehran is 123.