Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Iran Visa for Indians

This has been my most expensive visa as yet and it took me a while to get it stamped on my passport. If you are looking to travel as a tourist to Iran, the below steps will help you with your visa processing.

Do note that as of Mar 31, 2014, Iran has stopped issuing visa on arrival to Indian citizens irrespective of whether you fly in or do a land crossing. All Indian citizens have to apply for a visa in advance from within India or in some cases from an embassy outside of India.

Iran Tourist Visa for Indian Citizens
Pre-Authorization Letter
To apply for a visa from India, we need a pre-authorization letter from the ministry of external affairs in Iran. To get this, you either need to have a local contact within Iran or you will have to go through a recognized travel agent in Iran. I went through Touran Zamin, a tour operator who came heavily recommended on the various online platforms.

To start with you have to fill in their visa form, which includes your personal details, your passport details, your trip details, your rough itinerary and the location of the consulate where you wish to apply for your visa. Do ensure that you explicitly mention the type of visa (tourist, business, student, etc.) and duration of stay (10 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc.) very clearly in this form. Once Touran Zamin puts this information in the pre-authorization letter, this cannot be changed while you apply for the visa at the consulate.

Once you have sent your form, you receive an acknowledgement from Touran Zamin saying that someone will get in touch with them soon. About 24 hours later, I got a mail from them asking me to make a wire transfer of 35 Euros to their bank account. I made the payment as requested and in 3 days, I get an email that had the copy of the pre-authorization letter from the ministry of external affairs, Iran. In this email, they also mentioned that I can call up my consulate 3 days later to check for receipt of original authorization letter. Three days later, I called up the consulate and they confirmed receipt.

Once you have the pre-authorization letter, you can visit the consulate on any working day to apply for your visa. You should try and visit the concerned consulate within 30 days from receipt of the pre-authorization letter. Prior to visiting, you need to get your documentation in order.

Required Documentation
1) Original Passport with at least 2 blank pages
2) 2 passport size photographs (normal Indian size will do) with white background
3) Completed and Signed Visa form that you can download here
4) A medical test report showing that you don’t have HIV or Hepatitis B
5) Visa Fees
6) A letter to the Consul General either from your company or self briefing about your trip objective and itinerary

Visa Fees
A Normal Tourist visa (takes 3 days to process) costs INR 2640
An Urgent Tourist visa (takes 1 day to process) costs INR 3960 (50% more)

Visa Types
Single Entry or Multiple Entry are available options for the tourist. I opted for the single entry tourist visa. This visa is valid for a period of 3 months and is good for a single entry wherein I can stay in Iran for a maximum of 30 days. I can enter by air, train or by road. 

Should I go in-person or through travel agent?
I went in-person, but you can also go through a travel agent.

Which consulate should I apply from?
You can pick a consulate that is closest to you. Iran Consulates are present in New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. I opted for Hyderabad as it is closest to me.

Amount I spent to get this visa (in INR)
Pre Authorization Letter: INR 3600 (includes wire transfer fees)
HIV and Hepatitis B medical test: INR 650
Urgent Visa: INR 3960
Flight to Hyderabad: INR 3000
Train ticket from Hyderabad to Bangalore: INR 800
Rough cost of food at Hyderabad: INR 1000

Total Money spent on visa: INR 13010

Feedback on Hyderabad Consulate
The Hyderabad consulate is located in the Banjara Hills area and is a very good place to apply for the visa. The consular section personnel are very friendly and help you with all the required documentation. There is hardly any crowd too.

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