Is Iran a dangerous country

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Current

Arrests and rejections of persons with German-Iranian citizenship

Unnecessary travel by people who also have Iranian citizenship is strongly discouraged.
In the past, German-Iranian dual nationals were arrested several times and often for no comprehensible reasons, most recently in October 2020. Iranian authorities treat persons who have Iranian citizenship in addition to German citizenship in all legal issues like persons with exclusively Iranian citizenship. Further detentions of people who are also Iranian citizens cannot be ruled out. Refusals upon entry and exit also occur without the reasons for this becoming known. Consular support options are considerably limited or even impossible, see also Security - domestic political situation and Entry and customs - German-Iranian dual nationals.

  • If in doubt, clarify with the responsible Iranian diplomatic mission abroad whether you are an Iranian citizen before you start your journey.
  • If you have Iranian citizenship, check the necessity of your travel.
  • Note the detailed information under Entry and customs.

COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic as well as adverse effects on public life.

Before unnecessary, tourist trips to Iran will warned.

Epidemiological situation

Iran is classified as an area with a particularly high risk of infection (high incidence area), as the country is severely affected by another wave of COVID-19 infections.
The Iranian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide up-to-date information and detailed figures.

entry

Iran does not currently issue tourist or pilgrim visas; other types of visas are not affected by this restriction.

For travelers who have stayed in Botswana, Brazil, Estonia, France, India, Iraq, Ireland, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Pakistan, Zambia, Slovakia, South Africa or the Czech Republic for more than four hours within two weeks prior to entry , an entry ban applies.

When entering via Tehran's International Airport (IKA), a health certificate in English including a negative PCR test must be presented. Certificates in other languages ​​must be certified by an Iranian diplomatic mission abroad. The test result must not be older than 96 hours upon entry. Entry for foreigners is not possible without a certificate with a negative PCR test. Children under the age of eight are exempt from submitting a negative PCR test. All travelers must also fill out the "COVID-19 Self Declaration Form" before or during the flight. This declaration is available online or from the airline.

Upon arrival, travelers can also be asked about their health and if they have symptoms of COVID-19, they can be examined by a doctor. Another COVID-19 test can be ordered and carried out by the Iranian authorities. Self-isolation will be ordered until the result is available. If the test result is positive, a rigorous control of the contact persons and, if necessary, takes place. further binding instructions are issued by the Iranian authorities. All costs incurred are to be borne by the travelers. The procedures can change at short notice. Different handling is possible at any time. For more information on health checks at Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA), call the local hotline +98 21 5100 111.

The land borders with Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are currently largely closed due to the pandemic. Entry here is not possible for Germans. The Iranian authorities responsible for crossing the border provide information on the exact entry requirements and test obligations.

Transit and onward travel

When leaving the country, temperature measurements and medical examinations can take place. Travelers must confirm on a form that they are free of COVID-19 symptoms. This can lead to delays at the airport.

Land borders remain largely closed.

Travel connections

There are restrictions on air travel. Transit flights by some international airlines as well as direct flights to various European destinations are carried out. There may always be changes to the flight plan at short notice. Direct connections to Germany are currently only offered by Lufthansa and Iran Air.

Restrictions in the country

It can happen again and again - especially before Iranian public holidays - that travel restrictions within Iran are introduced at short notice. Vehicles with license plates from other provinces will then not be allowed to enter the affected provinces. Vehicles with license plates from the affected provinces are not allowed to leave them. These restrictions are usually announced through the media a few days in advance. Such measures currently apply to all provinces in the “orange” and “red” categories (including Tehran).

In addition, there is currently a driving ban for private cars and public transport in all cities between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Taxis also run after 10 p.m. An identification document may be required for access to public facilities and services as well as local public transport. In addition, controls and temperature measurements can be carried out at provincial and city limits. If an infection is suspected, quarantine measures or hospitalization can be ordered. A negative PCR test may be required for domestic air travel. The respective airlines provide information. In everyday life, restrictions on opening times and services are currently to be expected, especially in regions classified as “yellow,” “orange” and “red”. Tehran is currently also affected by this. Facilities for essential living needs such as supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open. In the “red” regions, tourist and excursion destinations are partially closed. Camping in public parks is strictly prohibited.

Hygiene rules

The Iranian authorities continue to call for people to avoid social contact and travel as much as possible, to take personal hygiene and protective measures and to avoid public transport. There is a general mask requirement in all public places, in closed rooms and in local public transport. In the future, the police should take stronger action against violations, penalties for violating the requirements have been announced.

  • Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations (distance, hygiene, everyday mask) and also follow the instructions from local authorities. Fines can be imposed for violations of the hygiene regulations.
  • In addition, ask your airline about the transport regulations.
  • Consider leaving the country early or temporarily, even if there may be waiting times for available seats due to limited flight connections. Check changes in the flight schedule and other questions about the mentioned flight connections directly with the airline.
  • Pay attention to the validity of your visa. If your visa expires during your stay in Iran, please contact the responsible immigration police in good time for an extension. If the visa has already expired, inform yourself before leaving the Iranian immigration police whether any fines have to be paid in order to receive the exit visa required for the departure.
  • For departures, be at the airport well in advance of departure, as delays in controls and check-in can be expected. Please find out in advance whether your airline requires the submission of a current negative COVID-19 test result.
  • Find out about detailed measures and additional information from the Iranian government.
  • Health information is available in English on the hotline +98 992 158 2247.
  • Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
  • When returning to Germany, please note the valid entry restrictions such as registration, proof and, if applicable, quarantine regulations, inquire about the current conditions of carriage at the relevant company or your tour operator, and if you are entering from a risk area, contact the health department of your stay or Place of residence. Further information is available in our continuously updated info box on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.

security

From trips by people who have both German and Iranian citizenship due to arrests and rejections for no apparent reason strongly discouraged, see entry and customs - German-Iranian dual nationals.

Travel to the east of the province of Kerman and Sistan-Balochistan as well as to the border areas with Pakistan and Afghanistan is strongly discouraged.

From trips to the border regions with Armenia and Azerbaijan will be advised against.

Travel to the rest of the country, including the Kurdish areas in northwestern Iran, is currently not recommended.

terrorism

In Iran, especially in minority regions, incidents with a terrorist background occur irregularly. The Iranian authorities have for some time increased the general security measures in the border area with Iraq and Pakistan, but also in the capital Tehran.

There is a considerable risk of kidnapping and attack in the east of the province of Kerman and in the province of Sistan-Balochistan and generally in the border areas of Iran with Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially in the triangle between the cities of Zabol, Bam and Chabahar. The situation is more stable in the port city of Chabahar itself. (Partial) travel warnings have been issued for Afghanistan, Iraq and the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders on Iran.

In June 2017 there were attacks on the parliament building and on the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran, resulting in deaths and injuries. Attacks have also taken place in other parts of the country in recent years. Most recently in 2018 in the cities of Ahwas and Chabahar, and in 2019 on a Revolutionary Guard bus near the city of Zahedan.
So far, however, attacks have not been directed against foreigners or tourists.

In the province of Sistan-Balochistan (southeast, border with Pakistan / Afghanistan) there are regular conflicts between Iranian security forces and armed groups. Freedom of movement is restricted and there are increased security and personal controls. Foreigners were repeatedly detained in the region and subjected to lengthy interrogations. In some cases, onward travel was only possible with an Iranian police escort. This happened against the background of armed attacks on Iranian security forces in the region, which have occurred frequently for years.

In the province of Kurdistan and the province of West Azerbaijan, which is also inhabited by Kurds, there have been repeated attacks against security forces, local representatives of the judiciary and the clergy. In this context, security forces have stepped up their crackdown on Kurdish separatist groups and controls with checkpoints.

According to Iranian sources, since 2015 there have been repeated arrests of people who are connected to the so-called Islamic State and who are alleged to have planned terrorist attacks in Iran in the province of Khuzestan and in other parts of the country, including Tehran.

  • For the border regions to Iraq and Pakistan, always pay attention to the current situation in the neighboring countries and the applicable partial travel warnings.
  • Refrain from traveling to the east of the province of Kerman and to Sistan-Balochistan as well as to the immediate border areas to Pakistan and Afghanistan entirely.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips to the Kurdish areas in the northwest.
  • Use the air route to travel to the port city of Chabahar.
  • Be especially vigilant in busy locations and on special occasions.
  • Please note the worldwide safety information.

Domestic situation

There are always politically motivated rallies in Iran, which can lead to a large number of security forces. Internet services, especially social media and telephone networks, can be temporarily switched off.

In particular, people who also have Iranian citizenship are subject to an increased risk of being arrested for no apparent reason or of being refused entry and exit. Iranian authorities do not recognize dual citizenship, but treat Iranian dual citizens as if they were exclusively Iranian citizens. The German embassy is not informed about incidents with dual nationals and is not given consular support if they are detained.

  • If in doubt, clarify with the responsible Iranian diplomatic mission abroad whether you are an Iranian citizen before you start your journey.
  • If you have Iranian citizenship, check the necessity of your travel.
  • Do not make film or sound recordings of demonstrations and the surrounding area, of police officers / security forces and public buildings. This can be seen as espionage.
  • Do not express your political opinion in front of strangers and new acquaintances.
  • Follow the current political situation during your stay.
  • Find out about current developments in the local media or in your accommodation.
  • Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people in large areas.
  • Currently avoid the border area with Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • Follow the instructions of local security guards.
  • Be especially careful about the following dates:
    - February 11th - Revolution Day
    - November 4th - Occupation of the US embassy
    - November 29th - Attacks on the British Embassy
    - December 7th - so-called student day

Border regions with Armenia and Azerbaijan

Due to the military clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, occasional ricochets on the Iranian side of the border cannot be ruled out. The border with Azerbaijan is not clearly visible everywhere.

  • From trips to the border regions with Armenia and Azerbaijan will be even after the last military conflict between the two countries ended advised against.

Land mines

In the areas on the Iranian-Iraqi border (especially in the western Iranian provinces of Kermanshah, Khuzestan, West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and Ilam), landmines are to be expected as a result of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). In the past, there have been repeated incidents that often ended fatally. Uninhabited areas should be avoided in these regions, and paved paths should not be left under any circumstances.

  • Avoid uninhabited areas in the border region with Iraq and never leave the paved roads. There is a risk of land mines.

crime

The crime rate is generally low by international standards, but pickpockets and handbag thefts occur again and again, especially by motorcyclists driving by. Cell phones are also snatched in this way as they drive past, both on the street and out of vehicle windows.

There are con artists who carry out identity checks as alleged security officers. Instead of giving the valuables back after they have been "checked", they keep the things and thus disappear.

Vehicle thefts typically affect those with all-wheel drive such as off-road vehicles.

There have been isolated incidents of sexual harassment in the past, particularly in crowds and remote areas.

  • Avoid traveling at night or alone in remote areas.
  • Be particularly vigilant in large crowds such as at airports, train stations, in the subway, on the bus and watch out for your valuables.
  • Keep your money, ID, driver's license, flight tickets and other important documents as safe as possible in the hotel's safe.
  • Always carry a copy of your passport and e-Visa with you. Keep your passport and visa in a safe place during the day.
  • Take only the cash you need for the day and no unneeded valuables.
  • Keep windows and doors closed when driving and give preference to pre-booked taxis over those on the street.
  • As a woman traveling alone, do not stay in deserted areas, e.g.far away from the regularly frequented hiking routes in the mountains. Avoid crowds.
  • Find out about the Iranian concept of “taroof” - do not accept every politely meant offer of hospitality without understanding what is behind it.
  • Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances. Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.

Nature and climate

Iran lies in a seismically very active zone. Earthquakes of varying magnitude can be expected in most parts of the country. The climate is continental dry with mild winters with the exception of the mountains in the north. Only on the Gulf Coast is it hot and humid. Avalanches and landslides can occur in the mountains. Be careful, especially in the winter season. Persistent heavy rain, as most recently in spring 2019, can lead to widespread flooding and disruption to travel. In some parts of the country, dust and sand storms can occur all year round.

  • Keep track of weather reports regularly and stay away from river banks during heavy rain.
  • Always stay on the designated paths and slopes and do not leave them. Think about the danger of avalanches and landslides in the mountains.
  • Always observe prohibitions, signs and warnings as well as the instructions of local authorities.
  • Familiarize yourself with earthquake behaviors. These are provided by the fact sheets of the German Research Center for Geosciences.

Travel info

Infrastructure / traffic

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

International flights from Tehran are handled by Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA) outside the city. The centrally located Mehrabad Airport (THR) is only used for domestic flights.

The infrastructure in the country is good. The inner-Iranian flight network is tight, all major cities in the country can be reached by plane. The rail and bus connections, including night trains (sleeping wagons), are comparable to European standards.

The road network is well developed.

Within the cities, it is advisable to use taxis (also via apps from private transport service providers such as “snapp” or “TAP30”) or the metro.

The number of road deaths in Iran has remained consistently high for years. The behavior of many road users is unpredictable.

Many vehicles are poorly maintained (lights, brakes, tires, seat belts are often not available), which represents a high risk of accidents.

Iranian petrol stations usually only offer petrol and super in lower quality and with a low octane rating. Diesel is only available at a few petrol stations and only outside the major cities, as no private diesel vehicles are driven in Iran. The quality of the diesel is often poor and some filling stations refuse to sell it to private foreign drivers. As a rule, a separate fuel card is required, which should be purchased when crossing the border.

  • Be especially careful as pedestrians and drivers in large cities.
  • When driving, especially at night, watch out for bumps to reduce speed.
  • It is essential to pay attention to signs indicating restricted military areas, even if certain roads are shown as passable on maps. This applies in particular to the Semnan - Mo’Alleman - Jandaq route through the Dasht-e Kavir desert.
  • Avoid the restricted areas in the border region with Iraq and in the province of Kurdistan.
  • Go on desert tours exclusively in organized groups of several off-road vehicles and in the company of a local guide. Bring adequate supplies of water, food, fuel and spare parts.

Driver's license

Driving in Iran is possible for up to six months with a German driver's license.
The international driving license is only valid in connection with the national German driving license.

Boat excursions / special features in the "Strait of Hormuz"

On boat excursions off the west coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and into the “Strait of Hormuz”, it is strongly recommended to avoid the waters around the islands of Abu Moussa, Greater Tumb and Lesser Tumb. The three islands are claimed by both the UAE and Iran and are shown on the nautical charts as belonging to the respective territory. Foreign boat crews who have approached the islands from the UAE side have been arrested by the Iranian side on charges of "violating Iranian territorial waters and illegal immigration" and sentenced to prison terms.

  • Avoid independent boat or ship trips on the Strait of Hormuz due to the politically very sensitive situation.

Special instructions on behavior

Be sure to respect the applicable laws and moral values, especially the Islamic dress code, see also Criminal law.

Photograph and film restrictively and only with the permission of the people who are recorded.
Tourists have cameras removed and temporarily arrested on suspicion of photographing public buildings or demonstrations.

Foreign nationals have already been contacted because of the communication on current political issues via telephone, social media and the like. with their homeland indicted and convicted, see also Criminal law.

Many websites, apps and especially social media such as Facebook and some e-mail providers are blocked in Iran and can only be used via VPN.

Iranian citizens have been banned from contact with numerous Western organizations and media since the beginning of 2010. In addition, they were asked not to have any contacts with foreigners, foreign embassies or organizations working with them “beyond the normal range”.

  • Do not send photos or travel reports with reference to current political developments. The same applies to SMS and phone calls.
  • Be aware of the monitoring of the technical communication channels.
  • Be prepared for blocked access to many foreign websites and apps.
  • Be aware of the risks that exist for Iranian providers of "couch surfing".
  • Please note that in the past German nationals who organized their accommodation in Iran via social networks on the Internet were checked by the Iranian authorities and asked to leave the country immediately or were prevented from doing so.

Ramadan

The date of the Islamic month of fasting varies from year to year and is not the same as the dates in the Arab world.

During this time of religious reflection, Muslims are required to fast, i.e. they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and other sensual pleasures such as perfume from sunrise to sunset.

Eating, drinking and smoking in public are also forbidden for non-Muslims during the day.

Exceptions apply to pregnant women, the sick, children and travelers.

  • You can expect restrictions in everyday life (many restaurants are closed during the day, reduced working hours at the authorities) and increased sensitivity in religious matters and in matters relating to the respect for Islamic traditions.
  • Pay attention to the religious feelings of the local population and, even as a non-Muslim, approach fasting with respect.

LGBTIQ

Homosexual acts are punishable (as are sexual acts outside of marriage in general). In some cases homosexual acts are threatened with the death penalty.

Legal specifics

Iranian authorities do not recognize dual citizenship. They treat people who also have Iranian citizenship as if they were exclusively Iranian citizens.

Actions that are punishable according to Western legal understanding are also punished by the courts in Iran. The penalties imposed are often severe and often incompatible with Western legal understanding. The conditions of detention are very harsh.

The death penalty can be imposed for serious drug offenses, murder, armed robbery, serious financial offenses and certain sexual acts (sexual intercourse outside of marriage, same-sex intercourse).

Offenses against the Narcotics Act are punishable by long-term prison sentences for even the smallest amounts and for any type of drug.

The possession and consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

For women (aged 9 and over) and men, the Islamic dress code applies:

The coat for women (called manteau) must cover the female body shape. The hair and neck must be covered with a headscarf. Arms and legs must be covered up to the wrists or ankles. Men must wear long pants, but short-sleeved T-shirts are accepted. However, long shirts must be worn in religious places such as mosques. There are more and more checks on correct clothing, especially in religiously important cities such as Mashhad or Qom, but again and again in Tehran.

Sexual acts out of wedlock and, in some cases, contacts are classified as a criminal offense, just like homosexual relationships. According to Iranian legal understanding, indecent behavior is severely punished. In some cases, sexual acts are threatened with the death penalty.

Police controls must be expected when dealing with Iranian women or men in public.

Conspicuous behavior or the use of technical devices such as conspicuous cameras, GPS devices and drones can quickly lead to allegations of espionage.
The use of VPN networks is controlled; that of an unverified VPN network is a criminal offense.

Just staying near military or nuclear facilities can lead to serious misunderstandings and even accusations of espionage.

Taking photos of public facilities, military areas, airports, ports, security and government vehicles, police officers, security forces or embassy buildings can be viewed as espionage and classified as a criminal offense and subject to long prison sentences.

Violations of the species protection agreement are strictly followed up by the Ministry of the Environment and can be punished with imprisonment of up to three years.

  • Be sure to observe the laws and rules that apply to the relationship between men and women.
  • Be careful with staying overnight with Iranian individuals or families whose address you did not give when applying for a visa or entering the country (especially couch surfing). Both you and your Iranian hosts can be punished with passport revocation and legal proceedings.
  • Refrain from importing or using drones.
  • Do not use VPN services.
  • Be particularly cautious when staying near security objects.
  • Avoid staying in the immediate vicinity of locations of security-reinforced systems in Buschher, Natanz, Qom, as well as the corresponding objects in the vicinity of Arak and Isfahan.
  • Never photograph government or military facilities.
  • Only photograph people (even in crowds) with their express consent.
  • Don't run animals.

Money / credit cards

The local currency is the rial (IRR), but prices are often given in toman (100,000 rial equals 10,000 toman, often spoken as 10 toman). Inquire about which currency is meant before reaching a trade agreement.

Due to the sanctions against Iran, the country is not connected to international payments. Credit cards and other foreign cash cards cannot be used.

There are numerous exchange offices (including at the international airport) and banks that exchange money at the current rate in Rial. Torn or otherwise damaged bills are often not accepted. The bank rate differs significantly from the exchange rate. An exchange of unneeded rial amounts is usually not possible or only possible with a considerable loss of exchange rate.

  • Bring enough cash (rials, euros or dollars) with you for the entire stay. There is no way of withdrawing money or of obtaining it in any other way.

Entry and customs

Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.

Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being informed beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information that goes beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
The customs regulations for Germany can be found on the website of the German customs and via