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Iran - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to Iran due to the volatile security situation, the regional threat of terrorism and the risk of arbitrary detention.
Canadians, particularly dual Canadian-Iranian citizens, are at risk of being arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained. Iran does not recognize dual nationality and Canada will not be granted consular access to dual Canadian-Iranian citizens. Canadian-Iranian dual citizens should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran.
Sistan-Baluchistan and the border with Afghanistan - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the province of Sistan-Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan, and to within 20 km of the border with Afghanistan, due to ethnic conflicts and the risk of kidnapping and terrorist attacks.
Border with Iraq - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the area within 10 km of the border with Iraq, due to ongoing conflict in that country and cross-border ethnic conflicts.
Safety and security
On January 3, 2020, an Iranian military commander and Iraqi paramilitary leaders were killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport.
The incident has led to increased tensions in the region. There is an increased threat of attacks against Western interests and of terrorist attacks in general. Violent demonstrations could occur. The security situation could worsen with little warning.
Some airlines have cancelled flights to Iran. Contact your airline to see if the situation will disrupt your travel plans.
If you are currently in Iran:
- be very cautious
- review your security measures
- avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings
- monitor local media
- follow the instructions of local authorities
There is no resident Canadian government office in the country. The ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance is extremely limited.
Canadians in Iran may be closely watched by Iranian authorities. Seemingly innocuous behaviours, such as the use of cameras in public places, travel beyond well-established tourist attractions or casual interactions with Iranian friends, may be misinterpreted and may lead to investigation. Canadians, particularly dual Canadian-Iranian citizens, may be arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained. Canadian-Iranian dual citizens should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran.
Sistan-Baluchistan and border with Afghanistan
Sistan-Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan, is regularly affected by ethnic conflicts and there have been kidnappings of foreign tourists. Bandits in Iran’s border areas with Afghanistan and Pakistan are usually involved in drug trafficking and use kidnap operations to secure the release of group members from prison. Terrorist attacks may also occur in this province.
If you decide to travel overland to Pakistan and Afghanistan despite this warning, travel only on main roads and in organized groups, and avoid travel after dark.
Border with Iraq
The province of Khuzestan borders Iraq and is regularly affected by ethnic conflicts. There have been a number of kidnappings of foreign tourists.
Iran’s border with Iraq is usually closed. It can be opened on a case-by-case basis; however, to allow the passage of certain foreigners or to give refugees access to containment camps located on the Iranian side of the border.
For more information, read our Travel Advice and Advisories for Iraq.
Other border areas
The borders with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are open only to citizens of those countries. Foreigners travelling in sensitive border areas (namely Azerbaijan, Baluchistan, Iraqi Kurdistan and Khuzestan) often attract the attention of local security forces, which can result in short periods of detention.
There is a threat of terrorism. Attacks have targeted foreign interests, Iranian government establishments, military parades and religious sites and events. Potential targets can include embassies, hotels, places of worship, government interests and visibly Western businesses and interests. Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times because the security situation could deteriorate rapidly and without notice.
Violent crime affects both Iranians and foreigners. Petty theft, such as purse snatching and burglary, occurs. Do not show signs of affluence. Ensure personal belongings, passports and travel documents are secure, and carry a photocopy of your passport’s identification page at all times.
Four-wheel-drive vehicles are often targeted by thieves.
Watch for fraudulent plainclothes police officers, who may ask to see foreign currency and passports. If you are approached, politely decline to cooperate but offer to go to the nearest police station.
In mid-November 2019, violent demonstrations took place throughout Iran. The Internet was shutdown nationwide for several days. Security forces used excessive force, including live ammunition, against demonstrators to put an end to the demonstrations. Political, social or economic events could trigger further unrest in the future and demonstrators could likely be met with a similar response by the Iranian authorities.
Political demonstrations and gatherings occur, and can become violent. People near demonstrations have been assaulted or killed by security forces. Incidents of political unrest may occur with little warning.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Women have been physically and verbally harassed.
Canadian and Canadian-Iranian women have been stranded in Iran or mistreated by an Iranian husband or a male family member.
Road conditions are good in cities, and the highway system is relatively well developed. Hire cars with a driver familiar with local conditions as driving standards are poor. Driving at night can be dangerous; the streets are poorly lit and some motorists drive without using headlights. Motorists regularly ignore traffic lights, traffic signs and lane markers, and almost never yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
In the event of a car accident, remain at the scene until authorities have made an official report.
Hire only official taxis from agencies or hotel-based companies, and always pre-negotiate the fare. Most taxis do not have meters, and foreigners are often overcharged.
Sidewalks on main roads in urban areas may be obstructed by cars. Sidewalks are rare in residential areas.
Trains are comfortable and punctual, but service is limited and slow.
In September 2019, Iranian authorities specifically called for the seizure of Canadian assets and vessels.
Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the disputed islands of Abu Musa and Tunbs. Iran and the United Arab Emirates both claim sovereignty over the islands and the waters are patrolled by the military. Foreigners navigating Iranian waters have been arrested and detained.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
General safety information
Carry identification with you at all times. Leave a photocopy of your travel documents with a relative or a friend at home.
In an attempt to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which originated in China, some governments have implemented special entry restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify if your destination’s local authorities have implemented any specific entry and exit restrictions related to this situation.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update – Public Health Agency of Canada
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Iranian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Canadians can verify this information with the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Iran.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Iran.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Pilgrimage visa: Required
Press visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Overstaying your visa may lead to detention, imprisonment and fines and you will be required to remain in Iran until the situation has been resolved.
The application process for an Iranian visa can be long. It should be started well in advance of your date of travel. One of the following third parties must submit a tourist visa application on your behalf:
- a travel agency or tour guide
- an organization
- a relative or another sponsor in Iran
You can obtain a business visa, which is valid for 72 hours, at any point of entry. The host company must contact the Passport and Visa Department of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to your arrival to complete the necessary paperwork.
Your passport may be confiscated in business disputes.
Under Iranian law, dual Canadian-Iranians citizens must enter and exit Iran using their Iranian passport. When returning to Canada from Iran, they must present to Canadian officials the passport they used to leave Canada.
If you enter Iran with a transit pass issued by an embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran abroad, it may take up to a year to obtain an Iranian passport to exit Iran or return to Canada.
Iranian immigration authorities have confiscated the foreign passports (including Canadian) of Iranian dual citizens.
Iranian authorities sometimes insert an observation in Iranian passports limiting the bearer to one trip to Iran per year. Dual citizens using an Iranian passport to enter Iran should take note of this limitation, as it is strictly enforced: those who have exceeded this limitation have been prohibited from leaving Iran. This situation seems more likely to occur when dual citizens have not completed their military service in Iran.
Dual Canadian-Iranians who have obtained their Canadian citizenship after being accepted as refugees in Canada may have their Iranian passport seized at a port of entry and be prohibited from leaving Iran for a year.
See Laws & Culture for more information on dual citizenship.
Canadians have been denied entry into Iran because their passports bore an Israeli visa, an Israeli border stamp or an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel, which would indicate the traveller entered from Israel.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has identified this country as no longer poliovirus-infected but at high risk of an outbreak. Polio can be prevented by vaccination, which is part of the routine vaccines for children in Canada.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring
Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
- In this country, dengue fever may occur sporadically. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal
Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly.
Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
Cases of locally-acquired Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have been reported in this country.
MERS is a viral respiratory disease caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).Some people infected with MERS-CoV experience no symptoms, while others may experience mild flu-like or more severe pneumonia-like symptoms. Some cases can result in death.
Eat and drink safely, and avoid close contact with animals, especially camels. If you must visit a farm or market, make sure you practise good hygiene and wash your hands before and after contact with animals. There is currently no vaccine to protect against MERS.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
The quality of medical care varies and is generally not up to Canadians standards. Major hotels frequented by foreigners have access to English-speaking doctors.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
The work week is from Saturday to Thursday. However, many private companies and government offices are closed on Thursday as well as Friday.
Iran is under international and Canadian sanctions. While these sanctions do not prohibit travel to Iran, they could be relevant to your travel.
Non-residents require an International Driving Permit to drive in Iran.
Illegal or restricted activities
Possession, use or trafficking of drugs and alcohol is forbidden. Convicted offenders can expect very severe penalties, including capital punishment.
People who challenge the Islamic faith or attempt to convert Muslims to another religion may be condemned to death.
Avoid public displays of affection between two people of the opposite sex, especially between a non-Muslim man and a Muslim woman.
Those who engage in sexual relations outside of marriage are subject to severe penalties, including death.
The laws of Iran prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Convicted offenders can face corporal punishment, imprisonment or the death penalty.
Magazines and DVDs with sexual or explicit content are forbidden.
Photography of government and military installations—such as ports and airports and their surroundings—is strictly prohibited. Such sites are not always identifiable. Refrain from taking pictures whenever you are not at a recognized tourist site. When in doubt, ask for permission.
Playing music loudly in public, including in cars, is prohibited by law.
All luggage is subject to search upon arrival to and departure from Iran.
It is prohibited to import alcohol or pork products.
Declare all foreign currency upon arrival to avoid difficulties.
Iran is an Islamic theocratic republic. A conservative interpretation of Islamic practices and beliefs is closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Men should not wear shorts, and women should cover their head with a scarf and cover their arms and legs.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2020, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around April 23.
Former Muslims who have converted to other religions have been subject to arrest and prosecution.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Iran. Dual citizens sometimes have their passports confiscated and may be denied permission to leave Iran, or encounter other problems with Iranian authorities.
If you are a dual Canadian-Iranian citizen, Iranian authorities will consider you a citizen of Iran and will refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
Canadian-Iranian dual citizens should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
Male Iranian citizens aged 18 to 34 are required to perform military service, unless exempt. This requirement also applies to dual Canadian-Iranian citizens, even those born in Canada. Dual Canadian-Iranian citizens aged 17 years or more will not be allowed to leave Iran without first having completed their military service.
Marriage and divorce
Canadian women married to Iranian citizens who register their marriage with the Iranian authorities automatically become Iranian citizens and are treated as such by Iranian law, even if they travelled to Iran on a Canadian passport with an Iranian visa. Iranian immigration authorities often confiscate Canadian passports, particularly those of women who intend to reside in Iran. Women who are considered to be Iranian by marriage must have their husband’s permission to travel and to leave Iran, even if they intend to use their Canadian passport.
Canadian or Canadian-Iranian women married to Iranian citizens in Iran and divorced in Canada cannot use their Canadian divorce certificate for official purposes in Iran unless it is first authenticated by Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa and properly sanctioned in Iran by a court of justice. A Canadian divorce certificate that is not sanctioned by an Iranian court would automatically be void in Iran, meaning that the divorce would not be recognized under Iranian law. Therefore, in Iran, an Iranian woman would still be considered to be married to her husband.
In order to avoid any difficulties in Iran related to a Canadian divorce, women should consult both a Canadian and an Iranian lawyer before travelling to Iran.
For more information, see Marriage Overseas and Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide.
Custody of children
Under Iranian law, children of divorced parents—even children born in Canada—are under the sole custody of their father, regardless of what a Canadian court may decide. Therefore, if such children are travelling with their mother in Iran, they may encounter great difficulty in returning to Canada. Women in such situations should consult both a Canadian and an Iranian lawyer before travelling to Iran.
In the case of divorce or the husband’s death, an Iranian man’s foreign-born wife may renounce her Iranian citizenship. However, the couple’s children will irrevocably be Iranian citizens, and will have to enter and leave Iran with an Iranian passport.
Guardianship of children under the age of seven usually goes to the mother and is automatically transferred to the father when the child turns seven. In rare cases, Iranian courts may grant legal custody to the paternal grandfather or to the mother if a court determines that the father is unsuitable to raise his children. Women can only gain custody under these circumstances if they hold Iranian citizenship and are residents of Iran.
Even if a woman is granted custody of her children, children under the age of 18 still need permission from their paternal grandfather or the court to leave the country. Such permission is also required for other activities involving legal decisions, such as applying for a passport.
Canadian children of Iranian fathers
Canadian children whose father is an Iranian citizen face difficulties while in Iran. Under Iranian law, children of a male Iranian national, including Canadian-Iranian citizens, are the sole custody of their father. Children require their father’s permission to leave Iran.
Iran is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
The currency is the Iranian rial (IRR). The economy is exclusively cash-based. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are not accepted in Iran. Automated banking machines exist only for local banking by Iranians. Bring sufficient cash, preferably in U.S. dollars or euros, to cover all expenses. Note that U.S. banknotes used must be in crisp condition.
Natural disasters and climate
Iran is located in an active seismic zone and is at risk of earthquakes.
Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in public and private buildings.
Earthquakes could disrupt public transportation, health and telecommunications services as well as overland travel.
Dust storms and sand storms may occur in some areas.
During the rainy season, flooding, including flash flooding, can occur. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable, due to mudslides and landslides. Bridges, buildings and infrastructure may be damaged.
- Keep informed of regional weather forecasts
- Monitor local media for the latest updates, including those on road conditions
- Stay away from areas that are prone to flooding
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 110
- medical assistance: 115
- firefighters: 125 / 123
There is no resident Canadian government office in Iran. The Embassy of Canada to Turkey in Ankara has consular responsibility for Iran.
Ankara - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Turkey in Ankara and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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