After experiencing the whole nightmare of Visas in Tehran, Iran, here is a little guide on getting these key items completed as stress-free as possible;
We extended our 10 day visa an extra 20 days, obviously when getting the Letter of Invitation (LOI) it is better to add additional days just in case it is needed, add additional common cities to the itinerary, even if you don’t plan on visiting them. Nobody ever checked our itinerary, I don’t even think there is a way to check it.
Secondly, if you do need to extend your visa, it isn’t recommended to do it in Tehran, from what I have read it is a lot easier to do it in any of the touristy cities, Shiraz, Yazd or Esfahan. Tehran is extremely crowded with Afghani and Turkmens sorting out their visas.
Now if it comes to extending in Tehran, it should take one day, and it may even take the same day, if you are unlucky like us, and go after Nuorez (the Persian New Year holiday), try four to five days.
The visa extension office has three rooms, on entrance;
- the first room on the right is for photocopies, passport photos, and bag/phone storage and body-search for females,
- the second room on the right is the bag/phone storage and body-search for males, and
- the main room on the left is for form collection, initial form screening and form submission.
The steps are very straight forward;
- Purchase the two copies of paper work for about 1000 Rial each, they may even ask you to photocopy one form yourself, if they do, fill it in first.
- Photocopy your Iran visa (the Iran visa needs to have the entry date visible) and photo copy your passport both of these twice.
- Purchase passport photos if needed (40,000 Rial), important, women must be wearing a headscarf in the photos.
- Pay 300,000 Rial at the Melli bank located walking distance, important, this bank does not change USD.
- Once you have all of the above items, take them to the initial form screener at the entrance to the main room, he will let you know if everything is okay, staple it all, and then direct you to the next window (window 5 in our case).
- At the next window you will be directed to speak to the senior approver, he simply confirmed the number of days extension and signed the forms. I am guessing he may ask another questions related to the extension.
- Take the signed form back to the window and submit it, if it is not very busy you may be asked to wait while it is processed, for us we were given a ticket and asked to come back in five days.
- Collect the passport after the required waiting period, important, it doesn’t look like you can collect on behalf of someone else, we watched a man get rejected trying to collect his wife’s, even though he had the ticket.
- Visa extension office (N35 43.519 E51 26.754)
- Approximate location of Melli bank (N35 43.547 E51 26.636)
This is as straight forward as it gets. Make sure you have organised a Letter of Invitation (LOI) previously and have the reference number. We used StanTours who were extremely easy to use.
Note there is an Uzbekistan Embassy and Uzbekistan Consulate in Tehran, all given addresses are usually the Uzbekistan Embassy, but you need to go to the Uzbekistan Consulate.
Opening times are 9:30am to 11:30am, but if there is a long queue, it will stay open till everyone is finished processing, we arrived at about 11am and it stayed open till 12pm.
Items you need;
- Two passport copies
- Two completed Uzbekistan visa application forms,
- Two passport photos,
- Your passport,
- $60 USD,
- A copy of the LOI reference number (optional, but recommended)
On arrival press the third button on the intercom and let the person know you are here for a visa, the first thing they will ask is if you have an LOI. They will open the gate and let you through, or if there is a queue ask you to wait, make sure you workout who is at the end of the queue and make any people arriving after aware of your queue position.
The embassy does not do photocopying, photocopying is sometimes available in the street newsstands and should cost 1000 Rial.
- Uzbekistan Consulate (N35 48.267 E51 28.534)
Turkmenistan Transit Visa
The most frustrating visa to obtain. It takes five days to complete, but they do not take your passport, if you hand it in on Sunday, it will be available the following Sunday, not Thursday.
There are two parts, and I would strongly recommending doing it this way,
- Apply for authorisation in Tehran,
- Collect transit visa in Mashhad five days later.
The reason is, nobody wants to be stuck in Tehran (or Mashhad) for five days, you will also most likely use the border crossing near Mashhad. Once submitted in Tehran, follow the Caspian sea for five days, Dizin for skiing, Gorgon for amazing forests before reaching Mashhad to collect the visa and onwards travel to Turkmenistan.
Apply for authorisation in Tehran
Items you need;
- Uzbekistan visa photocopy
- Iran visa photocopy (the entry date stamp does seem to be a requirement)
- Passport visa photocopy
Again photocopying is not available.
Arrive at the Turkmenistan embassy Tehran, as early as possible, opening time is 9:30am to 11:30am, but they may open earlier. Submit the paperwork and inform them you want express service, pickup from Mashhad and confirm when it will be available.
- Turkmenistan Embassy Tehran (N35 48.269 E51 27.148)
Collect transit visa in Mashhad five days later.
In Mashhad you will need to arrange the visa application, for 20,000 a photocopying shop will fill in the form, make photocopies of your passport, if needed take passport photos (for an additional cost) and staple is all together. They say an Uzbekistan photocopy is not required, which makes sense as they should have the details when you submitted it in Tehran, but it doesn’t hurt to take it.
Arrive at the Turkmenistan embassy in Mashhad as early as possible, whilst it opens from 9:00am to 11:30am, a line can start as early as 8:00am. Submit $55 USD in pristine notes, the form and your passport, and with any luck you shall receive the transit visa there and then.
Note you can chose between the either the Bajgiran-Ashgabat or Sarakhs-Saraghs entry, but you will always receive the Farab-Karakul exit.
- Turkmenistan Embassy Mashhad (N36 17.049 E59 35.958)
- Approximate location of copy shop for forms (N36 17.056 E59 35.875)