Dear fellow cyclists,
We have been cycling in Europe for six months and are now heading to Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. We have some questions about Iran and are wondering, if some of you have experiences.
1. Cash in Iran
We have read that credit and debit cards are not working in Iran. All money has to been brought in hard currencies.
Our question: Is it possible to get USD (or EUR) at an ATM in Azerbaijan
2. Visa for Iran
Can anybody recommend us where and when to get a visa for Iran?
We have seen that there is a e-visa process. It has to be completed at a
chosen consulate (to get the stamp and also for a possible interview). Possible consulates for us are: Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum,
Tbilisi and Baku. The consulate to chose depends on:
- the time needed to get the reference number after our e-visa application
- whether the visa is directly valid after we got it at the consulate (it means it would be useless to get a visa in Turkey, as it will take us three months to get to the border of Iran...).
Does anybody have experience with these issues?
Thanks a lot for your help and have a safe ride,
Karin and Markus
i have some of the information based on visits to the area over the last 3 years.
Yes, you can commonly and easily get USD in Baku, Azerbaijan via ATM. Elsewhere in Azerbaijan, it may be possible, but I never had the need to find out, but you can exchange local currency for dollars or euros.
International credit cards are of limited use in Iran. Some carpet merchants do deals via external countries such as the U A E, but it’s difficult to carry carpets on a bike...
They do have a national credit card system that foreigners are welcome to use. I heard that this could be arranged at the airport, but I’m not sure about elsewhere. I was fortunate to befriend an extremely trustworthy WS member in Tehran that allowed me to use her spare card. She even used her connections to get me the best exchange rate when I loaded the card. This worked beautifully for me.
in my two visits within Iran, I entered via the airport in Tehran, and easily received a VOA without the e-visa. I have dual citizenship with the USA which is not something I boasted about in Iran, so they were nervous times... But, based on both entries, I’d say it’s all about the money! Be able to document the inclusion of Iran in your travel insurance coverage, or you will be required to buy coverage before you get the visa....
I hope this info helps. Two other tips: if you exceed 10 days in Azerbaijan, you MUST register at hotels/hostels or you will be fined heavily on exit...like $250 heavily!!! You might consider going into Armenia. I loved it there. If you could store the bikes in Tbilisi, you can easily taxi down to Yerevan and back.
good luck! Have fun and be safe, Robert
Thanks a lot for your comments and advice. Very helpful!
Best regards, Karin
No any problem to exchange bucks or euros in Georgia or Azerbaijan. However will be preferer to got US dollars than euros to visit Iran. At that - "fresh" dollars - past 2000 or even 2003. Be careful with that.
You can get iranian visa in Tbilisi or Baku from consulate but it take several days. As far as I know, in Tbilisi it will be easyer and can require 2-3 days for urgent visa. Anyway it will be cheaper than VOA.
About the cash and money exchange;
No ways to use your credit cards but u can get a gift credit card in a bank by paying in Rials the same amount of cash u want in your card plus something for this service. To get the best exchange rate which is now so remarkable in iran avoid banks to exchange and according to the ongoing rules in Iran exchange offices are banned in order to control the rates!! actually getting a good rate is possible in the black market or by exchanging with locals which is more than double of the official rate.
here is some tips about E-visa of Iran which includes the experience of the travelers .
Apply Iran E-visa (use different web browsers if it's not proceeding)
Important to change size of passport photo (approx. 50kb) passport copy (approx. 100kb) and photos for ladies must be with head-scarf
You will receive email partly Farsi and check that it´s not in spam mail folder
You get code to check your status of visa online and if it´s accepted you will get a visa at the ''Place of Issue'' which u have chosen before in the application form
Things that you should know before applying for visa:
Persons who may have dual nationality should announce their nationality based on the travel documents/passport that they wish to carry.
In case nationality printed on visa is incompatible with nationality printed on passport, visa will be null and void.
An applicant may not be granted visa unless his/her passport is valid for at least six months.
Please make sure the photo you wish to upload meets all the requirements. Photo Standard Guide
Please make sure the passport copy you wish to upload meets all the requirements. Passport Copy Standard Guide
Tips about E-visa
It takes more than a couple of weeks until your visa status change to verified
To give it a haste ; go to an embassy with your passport and ask them to submit your applications to the Ministry. Then in next days your application status will change to approved.
Do not leave your E-visa status in “Waiting for Verification” mode. In this case if it's stuck it would be less probable to get a visa via other ways. First go to the embassy with your passport and cancel your application then try other ways.
Do not apply via local hosts in any application forms, in this case you will be rejected. Give an official hotel address in Iran.
E-Visa fee: 50 euro per person