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Country Guides for The Middle East

Iran

Iran Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar. A group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq over disputed territory. Over the past decade, popular dissatisfaction with the government, driven by demographic changes, restrictive social policies, and poor economic conditions, has created a powerful and enduring pressure for political reform.

Source: CIA World Factbook

The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in the Middle East depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Israel, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.

Travelers’ diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.

Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of the Middle East, should take an antimalarial drug. Travelers to some areas of Iran, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, and Yemen may be at risk for malaria. There is no risk of malaria in Bahrain, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Chloroquine is the recommended antimalarial drug for Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

Travelers to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

In Oman, the risk of malaria is in the Musandam Province only; because the risk is very limited, no antimalarial drug is needed in this area.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

There is no risk for yellow fever in the Middle East. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Meningococcal vaccine is required for pilgrims to Mecca for the annual Hajj. However, CDC currently recommends the vaccine for all travelers to Mecca, including those traveling for the Umra.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who have not completed the series.

All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Don’t eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Don’t share needles with anyone.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Large-scale demonstrations have taken place in various regions throughout Iran over the past several years as a result of a sometimes volatile political climate. U.S. citizens who travel to Iran despite the Travel Warning against such travel should exercise caution throughout the country and especially in the southeastern area of the country. American citizens should avoid travel to areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

Iranian security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

CRIME INFORMATION: Major crime is not a problem for travelers in Iran, although foreigners occasionally have been victims of petty street crime. In view of possible thefts, passports, disembarkation cards and other important valuables should be kept in hotel safes or other secure locations.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy. If you are the victim of a crime while in Iran, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. The staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. These pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.



Source: U.S. Department of State

mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast

Source: CIA World Factbook

Iran's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in this country provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Should you decide to travel to Iran despite the current Travel Warning, a passport and visa are required. The Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan is located at 2209 Wisconsin Ave. N.W, Washington, DC. 20007; tel 202-965-4990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99, fax 202-965-1073, 202-965-4990 (Automated Fax-On-Demand after office hours). Their Internet Website is http://www.daftar.org (click on "English"). U.S. passports are valid for travel to Iran. However, the authorities sometimes confiscate the U.S. passports of U.S.-Iranian dual nationals upon arrival.

U.S.-Iranian dual nationals have been denied permission to depart Iran documented as U.S. citizens. To prevent the confiscation of U.S. passports, the Department of State suggests that dual nationals leave their U.S. passports at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas for safekeeping before entering Iran, and use their Iranian passports to enter the country. To facilitate their travel if their U.S. passports are confiscated, dual nationals may, prior to entering Iran, obtain in their Iranian passports the necessary visas for the country which they will transit on their return to the U.S., where they may apply for a new U.S. passport.

Alternately, dual nationals whose U.S. passports are confiscated may obtain a “Confirmation of Nationality” from the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland, which is the U.S. protecting power. This statement, addressed to the relevant foreign embassies in Tehran, enables the travelers to apply for third-country visas in Tehran. Dual nationals finding themselves in this situation should note in advance that the Swiss Embassy would issue this statement only after the traveler's U.S. nationality is confirmed and after some processing delay. Dual nationals must enter and leave the United States on U.S. passports.

All Iranian nationals, including American-Iranian nationals, should have an exit permit stamped in their passports. The stamp is affixed to page 11 or 13 of the Iranian passport when it is issued and remains valid until the expiration date of the passport. Iranian nationals residing abroad are exempted from paying exit taxes if their stay in Iran does not exceed four months. All Iranian nationals living permanently in Iran are required to pay the exit tax upon departing Iran.

Moreover, minor children (under the age of 18) of Iranian citizens must have the father's permission to depart Iran, even if the mother has been granted full custody by an Iranian court. Even the non-Iranian wife of an Iranian citizen (who obtains Iranian nationality through marriage and must convert to Islam) requires the consent of her husband to leave Iran. In case of marital problems, women in Iran are often subject to strict family controls. Because of Islamic law, compounded by the lack of diplomatic relationships between the United States and Iran, the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran can provide very limited assistance if an American woman encounters difficulty in leaving Iran.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child’s travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Iran is 3.5 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Iran would be 8:30 pm

The unit of currency in Iran is the Iranian rial (IRR).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

Traveled to Iran?

If you have visited this country recently and have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions to share with other travelers, we'd love to hear from you! Share your travel experiences and we'll post them on our website.

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Other Travelers' Experiences in Iran

"Visited Iran October 2004 - warm wlecome from Iranian people. As as woman I had to wear Hijab and keep legs and arms covered. It was difficult finding the right outdoor outfit. Many wonderful places to visit food very good encountered no health problems or felt in anyway intimidated. My husband accompanied me and I guess this made it easier. Islamic men respectful but do not shake hands with a woman who is not a relative so don't be offended. It was very hot 40C+ so drink pleanty of bottled water I drank tap water and was fine. Try to visit Isfahan, Yazd and Shiraz coaches AC and cheap internal air travel also very cheap.
Look forward to my next visit have a great time."

"I've been to Iran 5 times, each time staying 6-9 weeks. Beautiful place, friendly people, good food. I had no problems and, in fact, found that the people were delighted to talk to an American. Hejab is necessary for women. Wear pants or a long skirt, a light-weight cotton long-sleeved shirt/tunic/jacket, and a scarf and you'll be fine. Definitely see Esfahan and Shiraz."
- Cathy , Houston, TX,