Last updated: 28 Feb 2020



Iran is located in the Middle East, bounded by Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, Iraq and Turkey. The centre and east of the country is largely barren desert with mountainous regions in the west. Tehran, the capital, is essentially a busy and modern city, but the best of the old has been preserved.

See a magic carpet at the Rassam Cultural and Art Foundation of Carpets in Tehran, which includes a carpet weaving school, and the Carpet Museum of Iran, whose oldest carpet is 450 years old.

Tehran is the country's capital and main hub. Mashhad is one of the holiest cities in the world, as it's the site of the Imam Reza Shrine. Isfahan is another major city and its Naghsh-e Jahan Square has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

See the several stunning mosques and the ruined citadel in the city of Kerman, in the southern desert region.
Official Name: Islamic Republic of Iran
Local Name: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
Historial/Former Name: Persia
Capital:  Tehran (IKA & THR)
Currency:  Iranian Rial (IRR). Prices are sometimes quoted in Toman. One Toman is equal to ten Rials.
Language:  Persian (Farsi). Turkic, Kurdish and Arabic are also spoken. English may be understood.
Dialling code from SA:  + 98
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +3½ (1½ hours ahead of South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: From 22 March to 22 September: UTC / GMT +4½ (2½ hours ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2020: 

Jan 29; Feb 11; Mar 8, 20-23; Apr 9; May 14, 24, 25; Jun 17; Jul 31; Aug 8, 28, 29; Oct 8, 16, 17, 25; Nov 3

Side of the Road: Right
Best time to go:  March to May and September to November
Best For: Archaeological Sites, Architecture 
Plugs:  230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the round two-pin type.
Drinking Water: Mains water is chlorinated, but visitors may prefer bottled water. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities in the cities, but less so in the rural areas. Visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: As a predominately Islamic country, dress should always be conservative: men should wear long pants, and women should keep their arms, legs and head covered and wear loose fitting clothing.  Women should also avoid looking into men’s eyes directly.  Couples walking together should be married, and non-married couples should be cautious. The Revolutionary Guard will stop pedestrians and couples to ensure that Islamic law is being upheld. During Ramadan, smoking, eating and drinking in public are prohibited between sunrise and sunset.
Local Offences / Laws: Homosexuality and adultery are illegal, and are punishable by flogging and death. Military and government installations should not be photographed. It is always best to avoid behaviour which could be construed as suspicious and to ask permission before doing something which could be deemed offensive, as these can be considered crimes. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: Check the local political situation before travelling. There is an anti-Western sentiment, and visitors are advised to avoid political demonstrations.  Avoid the areas around the Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan borders.  Credit cards may be accepted, but should not be relied upon. Cards issued in the US may not be usable. ATM’s do not accept international cards.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Iran without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
Importing alcohol is illegal.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited items include alcoholic drinks, narcotics, gambling devices, weapons and ammunition, explosives, counterfeit goods, anti-Islamic publications, and publications, photos and films considered to be against the religious and national dignity of Iran. Restricted items include animals, fish, plants, medicines (other than those prescribed for personal use), and telecommunications equipment. 
Prohibited Exports: All prohibited imports are also banned from export, along with antiquities and cultural artefacts. The export of gold is restricted to 150g and the export of silver is restricted to 3kg.

Issuing Authorities

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
245 Melk S, Middel Str, Muckleneuk,Brooklyn, Pretoria 0181
PO BOX 12546 Hatfield 0028
Tel: 012 001 0555
O/hrs: Mon-Fri 0900 – 1200 (Submissions & Collections)

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SA Representative

SA Embassy
No 5 Yekta Street, Vali-E-Asr Avenue,
Tajrish, Tehran
Tel: (0098-21) 2270 2866/7/8/9
Fax: (0098-21) 271 9516

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio
  Malaria Risk