Iran Travel Information
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Local time is GMT + 3.5.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European and British style plugs are standard.
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. Travellers are recommended to be vaccinated against polio and typhoid. Malaria is a risk in some parts of the country, and cholera outbreaks also occur. Yellow fever certificates are required by those arriving from an infected country in Africa or the Americas. Tap water should not be drunk, 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.
Travellers should exercise safety precautions throughout Iran, recently there have been a number of bomb attacks in cities in Iran. 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. 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. Increased tension between Iran and the West over the past several years is a cause of concern for American travellers, and the US State Department and British Foreign office have issued warnings against non-essential travel to Iran.
Because Iran is predominantly Islamic, dress is extremely conservative and travellers should take care not to offend codes of dress, behaviour, drugs and alcohol, 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 is strictly forbidden. In recent times a Western businessman was detained on charges of 'being a non-Muslim and having knowledge of a Muslim woman.' 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. They should also avoid looking into men's eyes too much, as this could easily be interpreted as an attempt to seduce. The Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran) continues to enforce Islamic law and has the power to stop pedestrians, check clothing, make sure couples walking together are married and enter people's homes to ensure Islamic standards are being upheld. 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. Travellers may be detained and face serious criminal charges, including espionage, which carries the death penalty.
Most Iranian businessmen speak English and are polite and conservative in their manner. 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. 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. Friday is the Muslim holy day when everything is closed, and most businesses also close on Thursday. 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. +44 for the United Kingdom). Internet cafes are found in major cities and public telephones accept 5-10 and 50 Rial coins and/or telephone cards. Iranian mobile telephone systems are not compatible with those of other countries except for satellite phones.
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.
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