The Iran visa application process consists of two stages:

  • Applying for a ‘visa application reference number’
  • Applying for your Iranian visa

The ‘reference number’ is essentially approval from Tehran that your local embassy is allowed – if they deem your application satisfactory – to issue you with a visa. This is the first stage of your application and can take an extended period of time.

Once you have the ‘visa application reference number’ you can then attend your local embassy to apply for the visa itself and receive the visa stamp. This can usually be turned around reasonably quickly (same-day or up to one week) however you may need to travel to find your nearest embassy as not every country has an Iranian representation.

Iran Visa Application Process

The visa application process varies by nationality and is subject to change without notice. These instructions should be taken as a guide and you are each responsible for checking the requirements for your specific situation. Each stage of the visa application can be a lengthy process so we advise you to submit your details promptly.

Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the end of the expedition and have at least 2 blank pages for your visa. There should not be an Israel stamp in your passport as you will be declined a visa.

You will require a visa application reference number. Secret Compass will submit this on your behalf. Your application will need a good, clear, photocopy of your passport information page, a recent passport photo, a completed visa reference application form and which embassy or consulate you will be visiting to secure your visa. British, Canadian and American nationals will also require an up-to-date CV and a list of social media profiles – these nationalities are not allowed to visit Iran unaccompanied – if you are extending your stay outside of the Secret Compass expedition, you must arrange to be accompanied by a licenced guide at all times.

Once you have received your visa reference number (sometimes referred to as a visa permit – this can be a lengthy process which is dictated entirely by the MFA in Tehran and is wholly out of Secret Compass’s hands) you should contact your nominated embassy/consulate and ensure they have also received it (this should take 3 working days). You can then make an appointment to apply for the visa itself, your reference number is valid for 1 month. At this point you will require the visa fee, your passport, the completed application form (x2) and passport photos (x2) – if you are female, you should provide passport photos wearing a headscarf to cover your hair. The visa stamp is valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

British Nationals:

The Iranian embassy in London issues visas, British nationals are not eligible for the e-visa or visa on arrival services. Once you have your visa reference number, you should contact the embassy to make an appointment for your visa stamp – the consular section is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 1400 and 1700. You will have to attend in person and may be required to provide biometric data.


Canadian Nationals:

Canadian nationals are not eligible for the e-visa or visa on arrival services and there is not an Iranian representation in Canada, most travellers choose to apply for a visa through the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington DC – Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Please contact them directly to discuss the latest requirements.


EU Nationals:

Some EU nationals are eligible for visas on arrival or the e-visa. You will still require a visa reference number and should complete this as discussed above and submit to Secret Compass. Please ensure you carefully check all requirements for your nationality and ensure your visa is of an appropriate length to complete the expedition and any other travel. Secret Compass strongly recommend against visas on arrival as this service has been suspended at short notice before.

Please find the form for requesting an Iranian visa reference number here:

Iran visa reference form template

Please complete this fully and accurately, then email to info@secretcompass.com along with a copy of your passport, a recent passport photo and any supporting documents required by your nationality.

All visa reference applications are processed by the MFA in Tehran – this is a protracted process which regularly takes 8+weeks and updates during this time can be very limited.



Once the MFA approves a visa reference application, they provide Secret Compass with a reference number. This reference number is also sent directly to your nominated embassy who should receive it within 3 working days.

You will need to fill in the visa application form (please see your embassy/consulate website for the specific form, the London Embassy form can be found here as an example). Please ensure that the information you provide on this matches that on your visa reference application form

– When you reach these questions:

1. Name of the individuals you plan to meet with in the I.R. of Iran?

Please use the contact details for Orient Star Tour (the organisation who assisted with visa reference applications)
Address: No 6. corner of 2nd alley, Gandi St. 1517717114 Tehran Iran.
Tel: +9821 88850625-7
Fax: +9821 88786042
Email: info@orientstartour.com

2. Name and address of two of your friends or relatives in Iran?

Please use the contact details for Orient Star Tour (the organisation who assisted with visa reference applications)
Address: No 6. corner of 2nd alley, Gandi St. 1517717114 Tehran Iran.
Tel: +9821 88850625-7
Fax: +9821 88786042
Email: info@orientstartour.com

3. Your address and telephone number in the I.R. of Iran?

Please use Hotel Roudaki’s contact information.
Address : No 12, Shahriar St, Enghelab Ave, Tehran, Iran.
Phone : 021-66706955-56
Fax : 021-66706320
Email : info@roudaki-hotel.com

4. Your business / mailing address in I.R. of Iran?

Please put N/A.

– On the top right hand corner, in black ink and block capitals, write your visa reference number

– Make an appointment with your nominated embassy/consulate

– Attend the appointment with your application forms, a copy of your visa reference approval, passport, passport photos (women must have photos wearing a headscarf) and visa fee along with any other documents your required embassy/consulate requires

– In some instances, you will be provided with a visa the same day, otherwise you can leave your passport and ask for it to be posted back to you (you may be responsible for providing a paid envelope – please check on your embassy/consulate website)

Once your visa stamp has been issued, please make at least 2 photocopies to carry with you on the expedition in a safe place.

The Journal