Iran Travel Information
GMT +3.5 (+4.5 March to September)
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are standard (Plug types C and F).
The official language of Iran is Persian, also known as Farsi. English is mostly spoken and understood by businessmen.
There are a few health risks to consider when travelling to Iran. Basic vaccinations recommended for all travellers include MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) updates, as well as polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, varicella and annual flu vaccines. Those intending to engage with animals or those going to rural areas should consider a rabies vaccine. Malaria is a risk in some parts of the country, and cholera outbreaks occur. Yellow fever certificates are required for those arriving from an infected country in Africa or the Americas. Do not drink tap water, including ice in drinks, and food precautions should be taken. Healthcare in the cities of Iran is good, but is generally insufficient in rural areas. Travellers are advised to have full medical insurance and to consult with their medical practitioner prior to travel.
Although there are many circumstances where a small tip is expected, it is unlikely that a waiter will be hovering around expectantly after delivering the bill. It's worth remembering that helpful Iranians probably deserve some extra appreciation to supplement their meagre wages. In most cases, tipping is an optional reward for good service. Fares in private taxis are always negotiable.
While there have been no major bombings since 2008, travellers should exercise safety precautions throughout Iran and pay attention to media warnings and cautions, especially while in the country. In the south-eastern region, Westerners have been victims of criminal gangs often involved in the smuggling of drugs and other contraband. Crime is relatively low in the cities, but there have been an increasing number of robberies by young men on motorbikes who snatch items from pedestrians.
Anti-Western sentiment among certain elements of the population has resulted in violent demonstrations outside foreign representations based in the country, such as those against the British Embassy in 2011. However, in 2015 the British Foreign Office rescinded its warning against tourist travel in Iran and has since made efforts to reestablish a British Embassy in Iran. Travellers are advised to avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings. Travel within 60 miles (100km) of the Afghanistan border, six miles (10km) of the Iraq border, and 30 miles (50km) of the border of Pakistan is considered unsafe.
Dual Citizens should carefully consider their journey to Iran because the government has been known to detain American-Iranian and British-Iranian citizens in particular, refusing to acknowledge dual citizenship. It is best to avoid all political activity and some travellers could be profiled because of their political affiliations in their home country.
Because Iran is predominantly Islamic, dress is extremely conservative and travellers should take care not to offend codes of dress and behaviour, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. During this time, foreigners are not expected to fast, but must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public. It is always best to err on the side of caution; behaviour that would be regarded as innocuous elsewhere can lead to serious trouble in Iran. The possession and consumption of alcohol and drugs is strictly forbidden.
Contact between non-familial members of the opposite sex is forbidden and punishable by law; it's best to follow the lead of locals and it's easy to remain respectful of these traditions with this in mind. Female visitors from the age of nine years old and up should wear headscarves in public, cover arms and legs and wear loose fitting clothing and male visitors are expected to dress modestly. They should also avoid looking into men's eyes too much, as this could easily be interpreted as an attempt to seduce.
Iranians are incredibly hospitable and guests should expect to be offered plenty of food and drink when visiting- although it is not necessary to keep eating food, it is important to accept some. It is customary for a guest to bring a small gift to their host; sweets, pastries, tea or other such gifts are always appreciated.
Travellers should be aware that homosexuality and adultery are crimes in Islam and are punishable by flogging and even death. Unmarried couples of the opposite sex travelling together should be discreet in public. Photography near military and other government installations is strictly prohibited; if caught taking photos or with photos, travellers may be detained and face serious criminal charges, including espionage, which carries the death penalty.
Many Iranian businesspersons speak English, but a translator will save both time and money should English language communication prove difficult. Here, business is based on the ability to effectively create personal relationships; clear plans and presentation are also essential. Iranians are polite and conservative in their manner and the same respect is expected in return.
Exchanging business cards is normally restricted to senior business figures and it is advisable to have, in Farsi, a translation of details on the alternate side. Appointments should be made and punctuality is expected for business meetings, but visitors may be kept waiting by local businesspersons or government officials. Dress is formal and conservative and though Iranians do not wear ties, it is not negative for foreigners to do so. Women should dress modestly and cover their hair.
Business gifts are quite acceptable and the same hospitality found in Iranian homes extends into the business environment. The concept of separating work and family is not rigid in Iran and in fact, many businesses are family run. Hence, familial value systems may enter the work place. In other words, it is important to consult your legal department as to the boundaries of your relationships with potential partners, including the giving and receiving of gifts and bureaucratic favours- a common currency in Iran.
Friday is the Muslim holy day when everything is closed, and most businesses also close on Thursday; prayer times are also observed throughout the workday. During Ramadan, business hours may be shortened.
The international dialling code for Iran is +98. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Although roaming is compatible with some international mobile service providers, it is far cheaper to buy a SIM card in Iran for the period of your stay.
Duty free allowances for visitors to Iran include 200 cigarettes (or the equivalent in tobacco products) and a reasonable amount of perfume/cologne for personal use. Alcohol is prohibited. All cameras and currency should be declared upon arrival. Medication should be in its original packaging with a signed letter from your doctor explaning your condition and the need for said medication.
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