New Zealand Embassy Tehran, Iran
General advice for NZ travellers to Iran
Travel advisories, risk levels and safety advice can be found on the Iran travel advice page of the New Zealand Government's SafeTravel website.
Given the recent demonstrations held in Iran following the presidential election, we strongly encourage all New Zealand travellers to Iran to visit the Safe Travel site and register online.
The following advice has been updated following the post-Election demonstrations. In particular we would draw New Zealand travellers' attention to the need to bring sufficient cash (in US dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros) as electronic transactions are not possible in Iran, and also to avoid photographing official (armed/uniformed) personnel and government installations.
Iran tips for New Zealand visitors
- New Zealanders require a visa to enter Iran. These are issued by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran which is located at 151 Te Anau Road, Roseneath, Wellington. The Iranian Embassy's postal address is PO Box 14 733, Kilbirnie, Wellington. They can be contacted by telephone on +64 4 939 4536, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting their website.
Local laws and customs
- Photography of official (including armed/uniformed) personnel and facilities (including police, military and other governmental installations) is strictly prohibited. Many such installations are difficult to identify so great care should be taken with photography in all areas. Armed or uniformed personnel should never be photographed, nor should the demonstrations or political rallies currently happening throughout the country. Accidental or deliberate photography near a military installation may lead to be arrest and detention on espionage charges, which can carry the death penalty.
- Islamic law is strictly enforced in Iran. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religion at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (called Ramazan in Iran - to be observed in August-September in 2009 - during which the public consumption of food, drink and smoking during daylight hours is prohibited) or if you intend to visit religious areas.
- Local Islamic dress codes are enforced by law in any public place (including hotels and restaurants). Men should wear long trousers and women must wear hejab, or modest dress, covering their heads with a headscarf, wearing trousers (or a long skirt) to cover their legs, and a loose, non-form fitting long-sleeved tunic or coat that reaches to mid-thigh or knee. Full Islamic dress, such as chadors are not generally required, except at some sacred sites. It is important for women, and girls over nine years of age, to carry their scarf and coat in their carry on luggage as you will not be allowed to disembark from the aircraft if you do not conform to the Islamic dress code.
- The import, sale, manufacture and consumption of alcohol in Iran is strictly forbidden.
- Relationships between non-Muslim men and Muslim women are illegal, as is adultery and sex outside of marriage. Opposite-sex couples staying together in hotels may be asked to provide evidence that they are married, such as a marriage certificate.
- Homosexual behaviour is illegal under Iranian law and can carry the death penalty.
- Penalties for importing and possessing drugs are severe. Many convicted drug traffickers have been executed in recent years.
- The importation of any form of pork product is banned. Bags are inspected at the airports to enforce this ban.
- Women's lifestyle magazines and all forms of erotica and pornographic material - whether in magazine, DVD or other formats - are forbidden.
- Iran does not recognise dual nationality. If you are regarded as an Iranian national under Iranian law, you will be required to enter and depart Iran using Iranian travel documents. This may apply if your father is Iranian, or if you are married to an Iranian man, even if you do not consider yourself to be Iranian. In such cases the New Zealand Embassy has no legal right (and very little ability) to assist should you find yourself in trouble with the authorities.
- No foreign credit or debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Diner's Club, American Express etc.) will be accepted in Iran. Automatic teller machines are not able to issue local currency debited to foreign accounts using the Plus or Cirrus transfer systems. Travellers' cheques are not widely accepted. Banks may not be able to arrange transfers of foreign currency electronically. Therefore we strongly advise New Zealanders visiting Iran to bring sufficient cash (in US dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros) to cover the duration of their stay.
- Petrol is rationed, and visitors will need a ration smartcard to be able to purchase petrol in Iran. New Zealand travellers planning to travel by road should obtain a tourist smartcard at the border.
- English is not as widely spoken in Iran as in many other countries. It pays to brush up on Farsi (Persian) using a phrase book before you arrive, or alternatively make arrangements with an Iranian guide, to help prevent misunderstandings arising from language difficulties.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at the New Zealand Embassy in Tehran if you have any questions which are not answered by the tips above.
Further useful information on topics from Iran's electrical power plugs through to currency denominations can be found on the Lonely Planet Iran pages.