With US-Iranian relations in flux and reports of shifting politics within Iran, it’s no wonder that Americans question whether they can or should travel to Iran these days. To get the latest, we spoke with Jessica Silber, one of our Iran experts, to learn more about visiting Iran as an American.
Can Americans travel to Iran?
Yes, Americans can travel to Iran. The visa process remains intact. It still takes about three months to obtain a visa, and Fantastic Iran Travel will walk you through the process. For curious travelers who want to learn more about the visa procedure, our Iran visa FAQ is a good place to start.
Regulations for American travelers also remain intact: Americans (and our British and Canadian counterparts) must travel on a confirmed tour with a qualified guide at all times and must respect Iran’s laws, such as observing hijab and abstaining from alcohol. If you have any questions about what’s permitted, please ask!
Perhaps most importantly, our guests continue to rave about the warmth and hospitality of Iranians they meet. Our April Treasures of Persia group trip is about to go out full, and we’re so excited for this group of travelers to get to know those kind, everyday Iranians.
What’s going on in Iran politically and how does this affect American traveler safety?
In late 2017 and early 2018, Iranians rallied to protest unpopular economic policies and, more broadly, the theocratic regime. This public dissent provoked a response of pro-government demonstrations. As a rule, we advise our guests to keep away from gatherings and demonstrations when traveling. While these demonstrations are out of the ordinary for Iran, our security firm does not feel they pose a significant risk to American traveler safety.
In fact, our security consultants assess the majority of Iran as low-risk—the same level of risk as Sweden. (Some areas, like the border with Afghanistan, have higher risk assessments).
What makes Iran such a special place to visit?
We could go on and on about the exquisite architecture, impressive archaeology, and astounding UNESCO World Heritage Sites there are to see in Iran, but I think our guests say it best, sharing stories of warm interactions and insightful conversations. Carol A., for example, reported: “Fantastic Iran Travel’s Iran was one of the most astounding trips of all. The people were warm and welcoming… I came back with a whole new view of America’s relationship with Iran. This is an important trip.”
After guiding our group trip in October, longtimeFantastic Iran Travel’s trip leader Sylvie Franquet sent this update: “We all had the most wonderful trip in Iran. We saw such wonders of landscape, architecture, and history, but what those traveling with me remarked most on was the kindness of the Iranian people. Whenever Iranians noticed that we were mainly an American group, they came up to have a chat, to welcome us, to ask if were well received, and to ask what we thought about their country. It is remarkable to compare the image that the media projects of Iran in the West with the experience one has once there.”
What makes Iran travel so meaningful is the dialogue it sparks between two cultures that have historically feared each other. This trip gives both Iranian hosts and American travelers an opportunity to treat each other with kindness and represent their countries well.
What advice do you have for US travelers in Iran?
If you’re fortunate enough to travel to Iran, I think it’s more important than ever to be open-minded and respectful ambassadors for the US—although being open-minded and respectful is good advice for any traveler, or any citizen, anywhere! This may sound extremely simple, but there’s no reason to over-complicate it. While there’s a lot of animosity in the world, I’ve been consistently impressed by the compassion and curiosity of our guests who visit Iran, as well as the Iranian people who greet them.