Want to backpacking to Iran? Easy visa requirements!

By | June 9, 2020


If you want to travel to Iran, no need to bother thinking about visa requirements. Indonesian passport holders can get a visa after arrival, or visa on arrival. The cost is not too expensive with easy requirements as well.

Although Iran seems to be a closed country and often has problems with western countries, how to obtain a visa is very, very easy. For Indonesian passport holders, it is permissible to apply for a visa upon arrival aka visa on arrival. Most other countries in the world are also given similar facilities, except for passport holders in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Citizens of these countries are required to apply for a visa before arrival, and must be accompanied by a local tour guide wherever they travel while in Iran. Wow, it’s so troublesome, isn’t it?

But still, the super tight conditions do not apply to RI passport holders. Well, it turns out there are advantages to not having an RI passport. As citizens of the Republic of Indonesia, in addition to being granted visa on arrival facilities, we are also not required to join tour packages and be accompanied by local guides. Want to backpack alone or in groups, no need to apply for permission. Anyway, after the passport is stamped with an Iranian visa, we can travel alone as much as we want.

Then what are the requirements to get this visa on arrival? No need to be complicated, the condition is just a ticket home and lodging reservations for the first day. Lodging that is booked also does not have to be expensive. Hostels that charge USD7 per night are also not a problem.

It is quite difficult to get information about visas on arrival for Indonesians via the internet. Although many blogs provide information about this, I was unable to get clear information from the official website of the Iranian government. That is why, before buying a plane ticket to Tehran, I decided to first contact the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta via telephone number +62 21 31931378. I was also a bit alarmed because before that the Indonesian government revoked the visa on arrival facility for Iranians who were going to visit Indonesia. It is possible that the Iranian government will respond to this action by revoking the visa on arrival facility for Indonesian citizens.

Fortunately, there is no change in policy. The information I received from the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta was the same as those circulating on the internet, namely the RI passport holder could apply for a visa on arrival at Imam Khomeini Airport, Tehran with a duration of 30 days.

Because of my domicile at that time in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I decided to contact the Iranian Consulate in Jeddah. Who knows, there might be differences in treatment for Saudi resident permit holders. Understandably, at that time Saudi relations with Iran were heating up. Some time later, Saudi-Iran relations are increasingly tenuous due to the case of the burning of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. The Iranian Consulate in Jeddah was forced to close.

Fortunately, this incident did not affect Indonesian citizens living in Saudi. Indonesian citizens living in Saudi Arabia continue to get visa on arrival facilities with a duration of stay of 30 days.

Regarding this visa on arrival, the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta only gave information. They did not recommend that I apply for a visa on arrival. While the Iranian Consulate in Jeddah recommends it to provide convenience for us. After being told the purpose of my arrival was only for backpacking with a stay of less than 15 days, they suggested using a visa on arrival only. The process of applying for an Iranian visa through their consulate in Jeddah takes 10 days, so it is quite long and complicated.

Certainty about a visa on arrival for an Indonesian passport has been obtained, the next challenge is to provide proof of certainty of this information to airline officials at airport check-in. This is important, because not all airport staff are familiar with Iran and understand their visa on arrival policies. In order not to be complicated at check-in, I printed information from the internet explaining Iran’s visa on arrival. So if you ask questions, I just need to show the printed paper. If they still don’t believe me, I will give the Iranian consulate’s telephone number in Jeddah or the Iranian Embassy’s telephone number in Jakarta. I will invite them to speak directly with the embassy staff.

However, this complexity did not occur. The Oman Air airline check-in clerk at Jeddah airport apparently had a good understanding. When I said I would apply for a visa on arrival, he immediately checked on his computer. It appears that Oman Air airline staff already have data on visa requirements for all countries. After the officer checked my return ticket, without further questioning I was immediately allowed to leave.

The next process also went very smoothly. After landing at the Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, I immediately went to the visa counter to arrange for a visa on arrival. On my flight from Muscat by Oman Air flight, there were only 4 passengers who applied for a visa on arrival. One person from Indonesia is me, a backpacker girl from Australia, and 2 fathers from Korea and Oman. Because there were only 4 people who applied for a visa on arrival, the process was very fast, less than 15 minutes.

We were only told to fill out a very simple form, then go to the payment counter to pay the visa fees, which amount varies for each country. Korean men and I were required to pay 45 Euros, while the Australian girl was required to pay 65 Euros. So, for RI passport holders the cost is cheaper. So, feel lucky to have an RI passport!

Oh yes, for airplane passengers coming from Europe and Turkey, the process for applying for a visa on arrival can take much longer due to the hectic queue of tourists who will apply for this visa. A backpacker from France told me that he had to wait up to 2.5 hours to get a visa. Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran is also usually very crowded at midnight and early morning. So if you want the visa on arrival process to run fast without a lot of queuing, choose Middle Eastern airlines such as Oman Air and Qatar Airways whose planes land in the afternoon or evening. Guaranteed the queue is quiet, as I experienced.

Although Iran is still embargoed by western countries, Imam Khomeini’s international airport in Tehran is quite busy and the building is also classy. Tehran has direct flights to major cities in the world such as Milan, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, and others. Because of the fairly easy access and the easy process of getting a visa, it’s no wonder that many backpackers have visited Iran. While in Iran, I often meet backpackers girls from China and other Asian countries who travel alone. Come on Indonesian travelers, don’t want to be outdone by backpackers from other countries!

Back to the topic, so after various formalities to get a visa completed, the next step is to pay an insurance fee of USD15 at the counter that has been provided. International insurance policy holders who of course have to apply also in Iran are not required to buy this insurance package.

The visa is wrong, the insurance is also done, the next step is the immigration process. I confidently stepped into the immigration department and was greeted with a smile by a handsome officer. After looking through my passport, the immigration officer asked, “Are you Muslim?” Then I answered yes. “Shia?” He asked further. “No,” I answered again. Perhaps because seeing the expression of my astonishment was questioned like that, the immigration officer immediately explained that he only intended to record the number of Shiite pilgrims coming from Asian countries, there was no other purpose.

Oh, apparently that’s all for it. Well, finally my passport was given a arrival stamp and I officially entered the country of Iran. How nice!

This article has been edited following the current Iran visa policy. RI passport holders can also apply for an Iranian visa through their embassy in Jakarta. It costs less, which is 20 euros. However, this visa application cannot be represented, making it quite difficult for those who live outside Jakarta. The processing time is 4 days, and the requirements are also more stringent than visa on arrival. But for those of you who have time to take care of it, or want to complete visa affairs before landing in Iran, can consider this option.

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