A visa on arrival VOA is definitely what the name implies - get your visa after getting off the plane. This type of visa is also referred to as an airport visa because it is received at an airport, there is no visa on arrival if you are travelling via land borders, at least not to Iran. The popular opinion that the process of acquiring a visa on arrival is tedious and almost impossible isn't really true, sometimes, it is even easier to get a visa on arrival than to get a visa in advance.
An airport visa (visa on arrival) is quite different from a visa in advance or no visa. A visa in advance is the typical visa where you have it on you before travelling. The no visa on the other hand means you do not need a visa to access the country - it's free entry, and only very few countries are allowed this privilege.
The process has been made convenient enough and less stressful by the Iranian government in a bid to attract more tourists to the country. However, there are still a few regulations that one should definitely know before packing their bags or before purchasing a flight ticket to Iran. Though the visa on arrival has been made to be easily accessible, there are still a number of countries not allowed to receive. So...
Visa office at Imam Khomeini airport, Tehran, Iran
Who Cannot Get Visa On Arrival?
So the first thing you should know is if you are going to be granted one. If not, then applying for a regular visa in advance is your best bet. The following are the class of people that will not be granted a visa on arrival:
✓ Those from the United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Iraq, Israel, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Bangladesh and Jordan. So if you are with a passport bearing any of these countries, you won't be getting a visa on arrival. Just apply for visa in advance.
✓ Those whose visa application has been turned down before will not be given an airport visa.
✓ People of the press. Another set of persons that can not get a visa on arrival are journalists and reporters. If you are a blogger, it is advisable you mention another profession. Just in case.
✓ Since the Iran visa on arrival is strictly for tourists, it will need to be backed up with an ordinary passport only. That means that if you have any other kind of passport like an official passport or a diplomatic passport, your application for a visa on arrival will very likely be denied.
✓ An Iranian. An Iranian with another country's passport will not be given a visa on arrival. So if you are an Iranian and you want a visa on arrival, then you would to get an Iranian passport.
What Will Be Required When Requesting For A Visa On Arrival
Definitely, you can't just walk up to the officer in charge and ask for a visa on arrival without having stuff like your passport, a picture and some other requirements. It is better off if the documents required are printed.
1. A valid passport. Who travels without a passport? No one. A passport with at least a 6 month validity period would do the work.
2. A return ticket. While most travellers might not be a hundred percent certain of their return date, having a return ticket is still essential. Moreover, you can extend your stay if need be.
3. A photo of you to be attached to the Iran application visa form. For a female, it is actually better you go with a photo of you dressed in accordance to the Islamic dress code. Tying a scarf is also part of the deal.
4. Visa stamp fee. This fee is not a fixed price, the fee varies based on the traveller's nationality and is paid to Iran Visa & Passport Office in the airport. Generally, it is around 75 to 150 Euro. Oh, come with cash, Euro or dollar but preferably, Euro.
Iran visa on arrival (VOA) is a tourist visa granted to citizens of 180 countries upon their arrival to Iran.
5. An invitation letter or at least, a hotel reservation voucher to be presented to the officer in charge of processing the request for a visa on arrival. If you are presenting an invitation letter, make sure that the letter is confirmed 48 hours before you land in an Iranian airport at the Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And as for how to get an invitation letter, a friend in Iran or a travel agency in Iran can do that.
6. A travel or medical insurance. A valid travel insurance is usually asked at the airport so it's safe to go with one. The insurance policy is required to specifically mention that the insurance is valid for Iran, and not middle East or Asia. This can also be purchased in the airport for about 20 Euro just in case the one you came with isn't valid or maybe you didn't even come with any.
What else? Your bags.
Note: The Iranian visa on arrival is usually valid for 30 days but if you wish to extend your stay, a period of at most 14 days will be added only if the Iranian Foreign Affair Office deems your extension application worthy of being approved.
Where You Can Get A Visa On Arrival In Iran
If you are travelling by land, then forget about getting a visa on arrival. They are not available on land borders. Visas on arrival are mainly processed at the airport. Below, is a list of some (not all) of the airports that can offer you a visa on arrival.
✓ Mehrabad International Airport THR
✓ Mashhad International Airport MHD
✓ Shiraz International Airport SYZ
✓ Tabriz International Airport TBZ
✓ Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport IKA
✓ Isfahan International Airport ISF
✓ Kish international Airport KIH
Ports such as Bandar Abbas Port and Shahid Bahonar Harbor offer a visa on arrival. Another way to get a visa after arriving at the airport is to apply for a visa before travelling, then when you arrive at the Iranian airport, show the officer in charge your Iran Visa reference number and that's all. Your visa would be handed over to you because you have a reference number.
Visa on arrival does not substitute to free entry. Only citizens of a few countries can have access to Iran without a visa and the number of days they can stay vary. Citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Georgia, Malaysia, Syria, Turkey and Venezuela have the privilege to enter Iran without a visa. The least number of days for any of these citizens is 15 days, if you are a citizen of any of these countries, don't stress yourself trying to get a visa, especially if you are not planning to stay for over 15 days.
Visa policy of Iran
Process Of Getting Visa On Arrival
Usually, there is a sign at the airport that says VOA, but if you can't see the sign, ask a staff around for where you can get the visa on arrival. If you are a woman, put a scarf on, just to be on the safe side.
Once you get to the VOA station, you'll be given an application form to fill. Also, get your travel insurance validated and stamped, then at the cashier, pay the visa fee in cash (Euros or dollars). Afterwards, leave your passport, filled application form and the receipt of the visa fee to the visa officer at the counter and wait for your name to be called.
Waiting usually takes about 30 minutes, once your name is called, your passport alongside with your visa will be handed over to you. You might be asked a few questions too and if you are lucky, no questions will be asked. Done there, proceed to the immigration office. Quite simple.
Getting a visa on arrival can be as simple as that. The process might be delayed a bit depending on how long the line at the counter is. But generally, the process is relatively easy.