Iranian Visa

This is how to get an Iranian visa in Istanbul. Again, this is for British citizens, and it may vary for other nationalities, but this should help.
To get to the Iranian Consulate, walk up the hill from Sultanhamet tram stop, take the first major right and walk down the hill – the Consulate is on the left.

The easiest way to apply is online through an agency such as www.iranianvisa.com – indeed, if you go to the consulate and ask to apply for a visa, you will be directed to this website instead. To apply online you will need the relevant information and a scanned copy of your passport. The application takes however long it takes – mine took 3 weeks, but it was the end of Ramadan. If you are lucky enough to be granted a visa, you will be emailed a code, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran will fax an approval to the consulate in Istanbul.

You then need to go to the consulate with this form filled in. You will be given another form and told the fee and to get things photocopied. For British passport holders the fee is 95euro, or you can ask to pay 125euro for the same day service.

Fill in the additional form, get photocopies of the additional form, the info page on your passport and the Turkish visa in your passport, pay the fee at the bank across the road from the consulate, and go back to the window in the consulate.

Hand everything across including two passport photos, and wait for an hour if you paid the extra, or return the next day if you didn’t pay the extra. Obviously throughout the process give sensible answers – probably not a good idea to tick the box for “politics” where the form asks for your reasons for visiting for instance…

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Don’t Panic! visas are a-coming

Had a few concerned emails recently of the “are you still alive” variety. Don’t worry, I’m fine, and making bureaucratic, although not geographic, progress. I arrived in Istanbul 3 weeks ago. That’s how long it takes to get approval for an Iranian visa, which came through today. I’ll pick it up tomorrow morning and apply for the Indian visa in the afternoon. I should have that by Friday. In the mean time I can work out how to get a Pakistani visa.
Pakistan aren’t issuing visas in Turkey to non-residents of Turkey. The options are:

  • Apply in Iran (crazy, going into Iran with no way of exiting in the direction I want)
  • Mail my passport to London so my brother can pick up the visa there then mail it back
  • Wait and hope my contact here can pull some strings (more on that later)

Anyway, now I’m making some progress with the bureaucracy I should start preparing the bike and things for the upcoming stage, which will be much tougher than the leisurely jaunt through Europe!

Iran Resources

Well, I’ve spent most of the morning on the Internet researching and trying to reassure myself about Iran, and the South Eastern part the FCO says “don’t go to”, which you have to go to to cross by land into Pakistan. Here is a bit of a compendium of resources I have found, which I’m documenting as much for my own reference, as for my friends and family to be reassured/scared, and for other travellers looking for information. I’ll update this post if find any more.
First, this is what the FCO has to say about Iran – to sum up, it’s basically safe except for the SE, from Kerman to Bander Abbas.

Next, as I blogged before, Andrew and Friedel, two Canadians cycling around the world, have an excellent resource on cycling in Iran generally.

Mark Beaumont did the route by bike on his record breaking round-the-world bike ride. This page of his online diary has the posts about this part of Iran.

Mark mentions that he did the same route as and got lots of information from a couple cycling from London to Delhi. Here’s their experience.

Then, of course, there is the LonelyPlanet ThornTree forum on Iran. A lot of the posts are about different parts of Iran, but have a flick through, and there are a number of posts on the border crossing.

Finally (for now), there’s a guy travelling around the world trying to find a home. He has written an account of travelling over the Iran/Pakistan border crossing by public transport.