The Iranian Visa for Americans

Iranian Visa for the American: Get yours today!


What does it take to get into Iran as an United States national? Apparently a bit more effort than what it took to get into North Korea.

Unlike North Korea for which visas must be applied way ahead of time, tourism in Iran has been going on for awhile; visas-on-arrival are available to pretty much everybody in the world except U.S. citizens, British, Canadian, and Israeli nationals. So if you’re anyone else, you might as well be heading to Iran tomorrow and nobody would notice. (At the time of posting, only Israeli nationals have zero legal chance of getting into Iran)

But for citizens of the USA, take note. This is how you do it:

  1. Give yourself a window of at least 3-4 months to prepare. This will be a relatively long and overly complicated process.
  2. Find an official MFA-approved sponsoring tour agency operating within Iran. In this case we worked with our North Korean pals, Young Pioneer Tours, to find us a trusted one in Iran.
  3. Fill out a pre-visa application form and send it over to the sponsoring tour agency, along with a copy of your passport’s front page and a 2×2 passport sized photo of yourself. If you’re female, it is recommended that you wear a hijab in the 2×2 passport photo.
  4. Wait.
  5. Wait a bit more.
  6. Wait until you think you’re about to give up. Eventually, something will happen.
  7. You’ll get a notice if you’ve been approved. A rejection is always likely, and if that happens that probably means you’ll never be able to get into Iran.
  8. But if you are approved, the agency will assign you an authorization code for visa approval.
  9. Brag to your friends that you’ve been pre-approved for entry into Iran.
  10. Call your local Iranian consulate (in an American’s case, it would be the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistan embassy in Washington D.C.) to confirm whether they have received the authorization number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran.
  11. . . . most likely they will say no.
  12. If that happens, contact your sponsoring agency in Iran and ask them to forward the authorization number again to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  13. In the meantime, fill out the official Visa Application form (Form 101), which is downloadable from the Iranian Interest Section website.
  14. Send Form 101, your passport, one 2×2 passport photo, and a check for $132 ($112 visa processing + $20 return postage fee) to the Iranian Interests Section in Washington D.C. OR do it in person for a faster 2-day turnaround (fee must be paid in cash if you do it in person).
  15. Wait some more.
  16. You might as well buy your roundtrip flight tickets now since you have nothing better to do.
  17. Wait. Realize you’re probably getting into Iran. Feel terrified/giddy.
  18. Receive your passport in the mail, along with your shiny new visa.
  19. Feel a bit defiant.
  20. Head to Iran.

Now imagine doing all of the above, and coordinating that with 10 other U.S. passport holders. That’s what I’ve been working on the last 2 months. And now it’s all coming together (hopefully).

We leave in 16 days.- At time of posting in New York City, Central Park, it was 50 °F -

Humidity: 86% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: broken clouds

Meet the Brave Ones
Why you should come with us to Iran (and/or Chernobyl)


  1. I just finished the visa application process using a tour operator in Iran and getting my visa issued though Washington. I leave in less than 2 weeks. The whole process took over 6 months. I am a US Citizen. My first tour operator (I found a recommendation on an Internet blog by another traveler) was mostly unresponsive and after enough waiting, I found another. There was also the presidential election going on in Iran this past summer which I believe slowed down the process for everyone.
    Having the visa issued in Washington D.C. and doing it by overnight mail (FedEx) took a total of two and half weeks.
    I think in best case scenario a person should allow for a MINIMUM of two and a half months. It will require a lot of patience and I personally wouldn’t make any definite travel plans until you have a passport with an Iranian visa in it.

  2. How long did it take to get the approval letter, and then how long did it take to mail your passport to and from the embassy in DC? We’re US Citizens planning a trip but only have about 2 1/2 months to get visas.

  3. I think the post makes reference to United States of America Citizens or nationals, because AMERICANS mean a lot more countries than just one, for example there is Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil and many more. Please let us start using the correct term when we address the USA citizens or nationals, Americans are all the people who populate the continent not a country in North America. Thank you, people mihgt get confused! and as for Americans most of us can enter Iran without a problem Thank You.

  4. Ideal place for weekends :D

  5. hello guys i used to live in iran before i moved to uk, however im goin back there and i can show u around places in iran if you wanted

  6. What a long process, may be we should just wait 15-20 years after the United States invades them.


  1. A Mesmerizing Journey Into The Heart Of Iran | - [...] can’t believe I was just in Iran,” he tells us after he got back. The visa application process for Americans …

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