Have you ever wondered how to get an Iranian visa in Uzbekistan? Perhaps not, which is understandable and not surprising. But for a handful of travellers it might well be exactly what they’ve been trying to find out. I know first hand how difficult it can be to find up to date and relevant information about applying for visas for the Silk Road countries. With that in mind here is my first hand experience of how I applied for an Iranian visa in Uzbekistan.
I have to admit I approached the process of applying for an Iranian visa with a little trepidation as the process is notorious for being a little mysterious, slow, unpredictable and overall difficult. While researching I’d read many accounts of the MFA simply not replying to applications for the necessary authorisation to dodgy agencies who were meant to help navigate this process instead taking people’s money and then not responding to emails!
So, let’s back up! What is actually required to apply for an Iranian visa? Well first of all it’s important to remember that visa application processes often change and it’s worthwhile checking with the nearest embassy for the most up to date information specific for that embassy.
At the time I applied (August 2014) all visa applicants needed to be ‘approved’ by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Tehran. Once approved the MFA sends an authorisation code to the Iranian consulate nominated by you
As an Australian/Commonwealth passport holder I was advised by Stantours (an agent specialising in Central Asia travel) it would increase my chances of approval if they supplied me with an invitation and assisted me in applying for my authorisation code.
I applied for the invitation/authorisation in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in late August 2014 with the help of Stantours. I found Stantours to be very professional, responsive and extremely helpful. I was able to pay the agency fee charged by Stantors (USD55) in person at Celestial Mountains Tour Agency at 131 Kiev St, Bishkek. This meant I didn’t have to try and factor in any bank fees, etc and simplified the process. An added bonus!
As I mentioned when applying for authorisation you need to state which embassy you will collect your visa from. As I’d been advised the process could take two to three weeks for the code to be sent to me I listed Tashkent, Uzbekistan as that was where I was expecting to be in three weeks time. But instead of taking two to three weeks I was emailed the code after two business days of applying!!
After travelling some more in Kyrgyzstan I travelled into Uzbekistan via the Fergana Valley and arrived in Tashkent on a Sunday evening. First thing Monday morning I made my way to the Iranian embassy located at Parkent 20, Tashkent (taxi here is best as it’s a bit of a walk from the nearest metro station). I arrived just before 9am but they let me in straight away.
I’d made sure I’d brought not just a printed copy of my authorisation code but also a colour copy of my passport information page. I handed this to an embassy staff member who then called over a colleague who flicked through my passport, contemplated it for some time and asked me a few questions like ‘what did I do for work’, ‘was I travelling alone’ ‘was I travelling overland or flying to Iran’. After some more contemplation he smiled and then said ‘okay’.
I was then given a form to fill in with the usual visa questions. I completed this and gave them two passport photos (make sure you’re wearing a headscarf in the photo, ladies!!).
The visa processing time was usually one week and cost 70 euro but for 105 euros the visa could be processed in a day or two. As I had other visas to organise I opted for the express processing time. I was then given another form and told to go to room 107 of the National Bank of Uzbekistan near the metro top Hamid Olimjon to pay the application fee.
I took a taxi (ie. just a random car who stopped and agreed for a price to take me) to the bank. I found the room I’d been directed to. After they checked the form and my customs declaration form everything was stamped multiple times. I was then shown to a cashier where I paid the 105 euros.
With the stamped form I went back to the Iran embassy and left my passport there for processing. I was told to call at 4pm to find out when the visa would be ready. At 4pm I called the Iranian embassy and was told my visa was ready.
Out of all the visas I applied for this was by far the most straight forward and easy!!
I was so happy it had been processed so quickly and even happier to have a visa for Iran!
Stay tuned for my coming posts about my solo travels in Iran.
Helpful Info / Facts
The Iran Embassy in Uzbekistan is located at Parkent 20, Tashkent
Opening Times: 9am to noon, Monday to Thursday.
An Authorisation code is required from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Tehran. I had a very positive experience using Stantours to obtain my authorisation code and would recommend them.
Visa Processing Time: usually one week at a cost of 70 euro / Express Processing: one to two days, cost 105 euros (NB: fee applicable for an Australian passport, I understand the fee is different depending on the nationality)
Make sure you bring euros into Uzbekistan to pay the visa fee as euros can be difficult to come by once in the county, and when paying the fee at the National Bank of Uzbekistan the bank staff will ask to see your customs form completed at the time of entry into Uzbekistan which declares all the case you bring into the country. To read more about entry requirements and the customs form declaration for Uzbekistan visit my post ‘Unique and Unusual Uzbekistan, A Destination Guide’.
Visa is usually valid for 3 months from the day you receive it. Meaning you need to enter the country within three months of receiving the visa.
Visas are issued for a maximum stay of 30 days (Regardless of the length of your planned visit I recommend applying for the whole 30 days to allow for flexibility).
Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and travellers with any evidence of visiting Israel.
For more comprehensive information I recommend www.caravanistan.com, an excellent resource full of information on the visa process for Iran (and other Silk Road and nearby countries!!). Their forum is also full of helpful info and tips.