Thursday, August 25, 2005

Iran Consular Information Sheet

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Iran Consular Information Sheet

August 25, 2005

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  Iran is a constitutional Islamic republic, governed by executive and legislative branches that derive national leadership primarily through the Muslim clergy.  Shia Islam is the official religion of Iran, and Islamic law is the basis of the authority of the state.  The workweek in Iran is Saturday through Thursday; however, many government offices and private companies are closed on Thursdays.  Friday is a public holiday for all establishments.  Offices in Iran are generally open to the public during the morning hours only.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Iran at for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:  Should you decide to travel to Iran despite the current Travel Warning, a passport and visa are required.  The Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan is located at 2209 Wisconsin Ave. N.W, Washington, DC. 20007; tel 202-965-4990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99, fax 202-965-1073, 202-965-4990 (Automated Fax-On-Demand after office hours).  Their Internet Website is (click on "View in English").  Possession of a valid Iranian visa will not guarantee entry into the country as a few American travelers have been refused entry at the border without explanation.  U.S. passports are valid for travel to Iran.  However, U.S.-Iranian dual nationals have in the past been denied permission to enter/depart Iran documented as U.S. citizens and have had their U.S. passports confiscated upon arrival, unless they have renounced their Iranian citizenship.  Nevertheless, in recent years the Iranian Government has become more lenient with dual nationals and rarely confiscates U.S. passports of U.S. - Iranian dual nationals.  As a precaution, however, it is advisable for U.S.-Iranian dual nationals to obtain in their Iranian passports the necessary visas for the country which they will transit upon their return to the U.S., so that if their U.S. passports are confiscated, they may apply for a new U.S. passport in that country. 

Alternately, dual nationals whose U.S. passports are confiscated may obtain a "Confirmation of Nationality" from the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland, which is the U.S. protecting power.  This statement, addressed to the relevant foreign embassies in Tehran, enables the travelers to apply for third-country visas in Tehran.  Dual nationals finding themselves in this situation should note in advance that the Swiss Embassy would issue this statement only after the traveler's U.S. nationality is confirmed and after some processing delay.  Dual nationals must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.

All Iranian nationals, including American-Iranian nationals, should have an exit permit stamped in their passports.  The stamp is affixed to page 11 or 13 of the Iranian passport when it is issued and remains valid until the expiration date of the passport.  Iranian nationals residing abroad are exempted from paying exit taxes if their stay in Iran does not exceed four months.  All Iranian nationals living permanently in Iran are required to pay the exit tax upon departing Iran.

Minor children (under the age of 18) of Iranian citizens must have the father's permission to depart Iran, even if the mother has been granted full custody by an Iranian court.   Non-Iranian-national women who marry Iranian citizens obtain Iranian nationality upon marriage and must convert to Islam.  They likewise must have the consent of their husbands to leave Iran.  In case of marital problems, women in Iran are often subject to strict family controls.  Because of Islamic law, compounded by the lack of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran, the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran can provide only very limited assistance if an American woman encounters difficulty in leaving Iran.

For entry and exit requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction, read our information at  For Customs Information see

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Large-scale demonstrations have taken place in various regions throughout Iran over the past several years as a result of a sometimes-volatile political climate.  U.S. citizens who travel to Iran despite the Travel Warning should exercise caution throughout the country, especially in the southeastern region.  American citizens should avoid travel to areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

Iranian security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.  Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.  Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Travel Warning for Iran, the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement and the Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security, including safety and security in Iran, can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" at and "Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa" at

CRIME:  Major crime is not a problem for travelers in Iran, although foreigners occasionally have been victims of petty street crime.  In view of the possibility of theft, passports, disembarkation cards and other important valuables should be kept in hotel safes or other secure locations. 

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:  The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Interests Section for assistance.  The staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, Swiss Embassy officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

See our information on Victims of Crime at

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:  Basic medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities, but may not be available in outlying areas.  Medical facilities do not meet U.S. standards and frequently lack medicines and supplies.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at  Further health information for travelers is available at

MEDICAL INSURANCE:  The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:  While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Iran is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Drivers throughout Iran tend to ignore traffic lights, traffic signs and lane markers.  Urban streets are not well lit.  It is therefore particularly dangerous to drive at night.  Sidewalks in urban areas only exist on main roads and are usually obstructed by parked cars.  In the residential areas, few sidewalks exist.  Drivers almost never yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. 

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information at

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:  As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Iran by local carriers at present, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Iran's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:   The Iranian Government has seized the passports and blocked the departure of foreigners who work in Iran over tax/commercial disputes. 

U.S. citizens who were born in Iran, who have become naturalized citizens of Iran, or who were at one time citizens of Iran, and the children of such persons, are considered Iranian nationals by Iranian authorities.  Therefore, despite the fact that these individuals possess U.S. citizenship, they must enter and exit Iran bearing an Iranian passport.  Exit visas are required for dual nationals to depart Iran.

In addition to being subject to all Iranian laws, U.S. citizens who also possess Iranian citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Iran, such as military service or taxes.  More specific information on Iranian passport and exit visa requirements may be obtained from the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.

Dual nationals sometimes have their U.S. passports confiscated and may be denied permission to leave Iran, or encounter other problems with Iranian authorities.  Likewise, Iranian authorities may deny dual nationals access to the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran, because they are considered to be solely Iranian citizens.  Refer to the above section entitled "Entry/Exit Requirements" for additional information concerning dual nationality. 

U.S. citizens who are not dual nationals of Iran are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. 

For specific information regarding Iranian customs regulations, contact the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. 

Please see our information on customs regulations at

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:  While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Iranian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Fines, public floggings, and long prison terms are common.  Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, as well as persons who encourage Muslims to convert, are subject to arrest and possible execution.  Drinking, possession of alcoholic beverages and drugs as well as flirting or having sexual contact outside of marriage are considered to be crimes.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Iran are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Iran executes many people each year on drug-related charges.  Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  For more information, please visit

U.S. citizens in Iran who violate Iranian laws, including laws that are unfamiliar to Westerners (such as those regarding the proper wearing of apparel), may face severe penalties.

The Iranian Government reportedly has the names of all individuals who filed claims against Iran at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague pursuant to the 1981 Algerian Accords.  In addition, the Iranian Government reportedly has compiled a list of the claimants who were awarded compensation in the Iran Claims Program administered by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.  The Iranian government is allegedly targeting award-holders who travel to Iran.  It is reported that upon some claimants' entry into Iran, Iranian authorities question them as to the status of payment of their respective awards with a view to recouping the award money.  It is also reported that the Iranian Government has threatened to prevent U.S. claimants who visit Iran from departing the country until they make arrangements to pay part or all of their award.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:  For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at

REGISTRATION/U.S. INTERESTS SECTION LOCATION:  There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Iran.  The Embassy of Switzerland serves as the protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran.  The U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy is located at Africa Avenue, West Farzan Street, no. 59, Tehran.  The local telephone numbers are 021-8878-2964 and 021-8879-2364, fax 021-8877-3265, E-mail:  The workweek is Sunday through Thursday.  Public service hours are 8:00 am - 12:00 noon.  The Interests Section does not issue U.S. visas or accept visa applications.  The limited consular services provided to U.S. citizens in Tehran include:

(a) registering U.S. citizens;
(b) answering inquiries concerning the welfare and whereabouts of U.S. citizens in Iran;
(c) rendering assistance in times of distress or physical danger;
(d) providing U.S. citizens with passport and Social Security card applications and other citizenship forms for approval at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland;

(e) performing notarial services on the basis of accommodation; and,
(f) taking provisional custody of the personal effects of deceased U.S. citizens.

Americans living or traveling in Iran are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website,, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Iran.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the U.S. Interests Section to contact them in case of emergency. 

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