Since the Iran-US agreement of 2016, Iran has opened up to the world and enjoys more favorable media coverage than in the past.

Thanks to its millennial heritage and culture, the country is becoming a major tourist destination. But this tourist development is limited by the tedious obtaining of the visa.

The subject of the visa for Iran often comes back to the travel agents who sell this destination.

Recently, the fact that any recent stay in Iran prevents the obtaining of ESTA for the United States has been very popular.

Alas, this is a US measure that came into force on January 21, 2016, probably as a political counterpart to the lifting of the economic sanctions of January 16, 2016.

Currently, there are two possibilities for obtaining the Iranian visa.

The visa before departure at the Consulate

The most classic solution is to apply for a visa at the Iranian Consulate before departure. It is a way to quickly cross the border at the airport of arrival.

This possibility also allows tourists to leave with peace of mind in Iran, which has the reputation, yet unfounded, of being a closed country.

The procedure is to be done personally, without intermediary possible (unless the fingerprints are already registered in advance). This process of taking impressions is long to perform, with several hours of patience, because of a consistent queue.
However, since the beginning of 2017, there has been a simplification of formalities by the Iranian authorities, which no longer require the authorization of their Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) to apply for a visa in the country. In addition, the paper form has been replaced by an online form to print.

The visa on arrival
Since 2008, too, an alternative has developed to obtain the visa.

The country's international airports, such as those in Tehran, Mashhad or Shiraz, allow tourists of many nationalities to obtain their visas locally.

For save your time, you must provide a valid passport six months after the planned release date, a passport photo, a certificate of insurance and 75 euros.

This solution avoids taking fingerprints (only requested at the Consulate by reciprocity), but leads to a longer border crossing: between 30 minutes and 3 hours of waiting depending on the flow of travelers and the arrival time . Not nice for tourists, after several hours of flight.

In the case of a group trip, the crossing of the counters may be slightly accelerated (depending on the flow on the spot), by obtaining from an Iranian travel agency a special authorization from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called "visa grant notice", coupled with an advance payment of visas by this agency.

This device has also existed since the beginning of 2017, but its profit remains limited.

Before the trip, it is necessary to perform a tedious procedure with the incoming agency: collecting and entering several information for each participant (passport data, email, phone, family information), scan identity photos one by one, verification of the compliance of authorizations, etc.

For now, obtaining the visa remains relatively complicated. However, will the noticeable easing of the beginning of the year mark the beginning of greater changes?

Towards a simplified visa issuance at the Consulate?
If Iran wishes to further develop its tourism sector, visa requirements should be relaxed while taking into account international agreements.

We can reasonably reject the assumption of a visa abolition for the French in the near future, because of the rules of reciprocity in force and several current geopolitical disagreements between the French and Iranian authorities.

Similarly, if the Iranian government legitimately wishes to study each visa application in detail, as it currently does, it would be difficult for it to deliver e-visas remotely (which prevent a real study of the files) or to significantly speed up the procedure. visas on arrival.

However, an administrative simplification that respects Iran's sovereignty could be achieved by removing the obligation to take fingerprints at the Consulate.

The French could thus travel in this country more easily, obtaining quickly their visa before the departure, even by delegating their requests to their travel agency or other intermediary.

The waiting time at the airport of arrival would be reduced, the procedure to be carried out by the tour operators would be simplified, and travelers would be reassured to go to Iran. No doubt that would encourage the tourists to travel to Iran.

The removal of fingerprinting at the Consulate is eagerly awaited by many tourism professionals. It is up to our diplomats to discuss this development with their counterparts in Iran.