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Guide to Obtaining an Iranian Visa as a U.K. Citizen

Guide to Obtaining an Iranian Visa as a U.K. Citizen

The first thing to realise is that obtaining an Iranian visa is an extremely lengthy process. It is advisable to apply 3 months before you are due to travel.

It is not possible to travel independently in Iran, you must visit as part of an organised tour. I was part of a women only trip with Intrepid.

Iranian Visa Application Process

The application process is in 2 parts. First you must apply for an authorisation letter. This application is submitted by the local tour operator to the Iranian embassy in Tehran. They require all your personal details and passport details with a scan of your passport. You must also submit a CV (employment history), a letter detailing your father’s profession, a list of all the countries you have visited and a passport photo. For women it is preferable to wear a headscarf. You will need a further 2 passport photos wearing a headscarf for the 2nd part of the application.

It will take several weeks before you receive your authorisation which is in the form of a ‘Visa Grant Notice’. My authorisation took over 7 weeks from the date of application. Others I spoke to took even longer. I received mine just over 2 weeks before the start of my trip, others received theirs just over a week before.

It will always be a wait and a case of sweating it out. Visa requests aren’t rejected often but it does happen.

Once your Visa Grant Notice is received you must attend the Iranian embassy in London in person. You must take with you a completed visa application form, your Visa Grant Notice, your passport, 2 passport photos (women must wear a headscarf in these photos). I was advised to take details of my travel insurance policy. I wasn’t asked for these but it may still be advisable to have them available.

Receiving Your Iranian Visa

There are 2 options for receiving your Visa:

  • You can provide a self-addressed, special delivery envelope for the embassy to post your Visa back to you. The cost for this is £165. Please be advised this could take 1 week to 10 days. It is not advisable for departures under 2 weeks.
  • The other option is to collect your visa at the end of the day, normally 4.30 – 5.00pm. The fee for this is £250.

Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The embassy is very easy to find, it’s just off Kensington High Steet towards Kensington Court. It is open for visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 2.30 – 4.30pm. I arrived at 12.30pm and there were already 2 people in the queue. The queue is on the opposite pavement to the embassy. Soon more people joined, a total of around 25. The time went very quickly chatting to fellow travellers and native Iranians and the camaraderie was good.

At exactly 2pm someone from the embassy issues everyone in the queue with a number. When your number is called you go to the first window. Here your Visa Grant Notice, Visa application form and passport are checked and your fingerprints are taken. You then queue at the 2nd window where you hand over your passport, passport photos and special delivery envelope, if applicable. This is where you pay your fee for which you receive a receipt. The whole process took around 15 minutes.

The embassy staff were all extremely friendly. All women entering the embassy put on a headscarf. I don’t believe this is a requirement but it was a courtesy. My passport with Visa inside arrived 3 days later.

Information correct as at 25th September 2019.

Good luck and happy travels.


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