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Is Iran Safe?

Iran has a heightened risk of civil unrest, political tensions, and terrorism, which could disrupt travel plans. Petty crimes like bag-snatching are common in crowded areas. Strict cultural norms require modest dress and behavior, especially for women. Medical facilities outside major cities are limited, so travelers should pack sufficient medications. Obtaining reliable transportation can be challenging, and road safety standards are lower than in Western countries.

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Safety & Security

Iran is generally safe for travelers who exercise reasonable precautions, but there are some risks to be aware of. The threat of terrorism and civil unrest exists, particularly in border areas. Petty crime like pickpocketing and scams targeting tourists also occurs in major cities and tourist areas.

  • Terrorism: While large-scale attacks are rare, terrorist groups like ISIS have carried out attacks in the past, often targeting government and security forces. Remain vigilant in crowded public areas.

  • Civil Unrest: Political protests and demonstrations can turn violent without warning. Avoid all protests and follow media reports.

  • Petty Crime: Crimes like bag snatching, pickpocketing, and scams targeting tourists are common in major cities like Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz. Remain vigilant and don't carry valuables.

  • Violent Crime: While uncommon for tourists, disputes can escalate quickly. Avoid confrontations and exercise caution, especially at night.

  • Scams: Common scams include taxi overcharging, tour guide scams, and fake police officers demanding bribes. Only use official taxis and guides.

Travelers should register with their embassy, monitor local media, and follow the advice of local authorities regarding any emerging risks or threats. Exercising common sense precautions can help mitigate risks.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Iran should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has a decent healthcare system, medical facilities may not meet Western standards, especially outside major cities.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Some travelers may need additional vaccines like hepatitis B, rabies, and meningitis.

  • Air Pollution: Major cities like Tehran experience high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory issues. Those with asthma or other respiratory conditions should take precautions.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Diseases like malaria, leishmaniasis, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever are present in some regions. Use insect repellent and take antimalarial medication if recommended.

  • Food and Water Safety: Avoid tap water and only consume bottled or purified water. Be cautious with street food and ensure proper food handling and preparation.

  • Medical Facilities: While adequate in major cities, medical facilities may be limited in rural areas. Travelers should have comprehensive travel insurance and consider medical evacuation coverage.

Natural Disasters

Iran is located in a seismically active region, making earthquakes a significant natural hazard. The country experiences frequent tremors, with occasional major quakes causing widespread destruction and loss of life. Earthquake preparedness is crucial for travelers, including familiarizing themselves with safety procedures and identifying secure shelters.

  • Earthquakes: Iran lies along major fault lines, making it prone to seismic activity. Major quakes have struck cities like Bam (2003) and Kermanshah (2017), resulting in casualties and infrastructure damage.

  • Flooding: Seasonal rains and snowmelt can lead to flash floods, particularly in urban areas with poor drainage systems. Travelers should exercise caution during wet seasons and heed local warnings.

  • Sandstorms: Iran's arid climate and proximity to deserts make it susceptible to dust storms, which can disrupt visibility and air quality. These storms are more common in central and eastern regions.

  • Extreme Temperatures: Parts of Iran experience extreme temperatures, with scorching summers and freezing winters. Travelers should take precautions against heat exhaustion and hypothermia, depending on the season and region visited.

While natural disasters cannot be entirely avoided, staying informed through official sources, heeding local advisories, and exercising caution can help mitigate risks during travel in Iran.


Transportation in Iran can be a mixed experience for travelers. While public transportation options like buses and metro systems exist in major cities, their reliability and safety standards may vary. Taxis are widely available but negotiating fares can be challenging for foreigners.

  • Road Safety: Iran has a high rate of road accidents, often attributed to reckless driving and poor road conditions in some areas. Exercising caution and defensive driving is advisable, especially on highways and rural roads.

  • Public Transportation: Major cities like Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz have metro systems and bus networks, which can be a convenient and affordable way to get around. However, overcrowding and lack of English signage can pose challenges for foreign travelers.

  • Taxis: Taxis are plentiful in urban areas, but haggling over fares is common practice. It's recommended to agree on the fare before starting the journey or use ride-hailing apps like Snap and Tap30 for more transparency.

  • Domestic Flights: For longer distances, domestic flights can be a time-saving option, but delays and cancellations are not uncommon. Booking well in advance and allowing ample time for connections is advisable.

  • Rental Cars: While rental cars are available, driving in Iran can be challenging due to different traffic rules, aggressive driving habits, and potential language barriers when reading road signs. Hiring a local driver may be a safer alternative for some travelers.

Cultural Norms

Iran is an Islamic republic with a rich cultural heritage deeply rooted in religious traditions. As a traveler, respecting local customs and norms is essential to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Code: Iran has strict dress codes, especially for women. It's mandatory to cover your head with a headscarf and wear loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs. Avoid tight or revealing outfits.

  • Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during this period out of respect.

  • Alcohol and Drugs: The consumption of alcohol and drugs is strictly prohibited in Iran and can result in severe penalties.

  • Public Behavior: Public displays of affection between non-married couples are frowned upon. Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands or kissing, in public spaces.

  • Photography: Be cautious when taking photographs, especially of government buildings, military installations, or people without their consent. It's advisable to seek permission before photographing individuals.

  • Religious Sites: When visiting mosques or other religious sites, dress modestly, remove your shoes, and follow the guidance of local authorities. Women may be required to cover their hair and wear a chador (a full-body cloak).

  • Hospitality: Iranians are known for their warm hospitality. Accepting invitations to homes or gatherings is a great way to experience the local culture, but be mindful of cultural norms and etiquette.

Respecting the local customs and traditions will not only ensure a smooth travel experience but also foster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Iran can be limited and may not meet the standards expected in many Western countries. The availability and reliability of emergency services can vary significantly depending on the location within the country.

  • Ambulance Services: While ambulance services are available in major cities, response times can be slow, and the quality of care may be substandard compared to Western standards. In rural areas, access to ambulance services can be extremely limited or non-existent.

  • Fire Department: Fire departments exist in larger cities, but their resources and response capabilities may be limited, especially in remote areas.

  • Police: The police force in Iran is generally present in urban areas, but their responsiveness and effectiveness can vary. Language barriers and cultural differences may pose challenges for foreign travelers seeking assistance.

  • Tourist Police: Some major tourist destinations have dedicated tourist police units trained to assist foreign visitors. However, their availability and capabilities may be limited outside of major cities and tourist hotspots.

  • Medical Facilities: While major cities have hospitals and clinics, the quality of medical care can be inconsistent, and language barriers may pose challenges. Travelers are advised to obtain comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical evacuation in case of emergencies.

It's essential for travelers to research and familiarize themselves with the emergency services available in their specific destination within Iran and to have contingency plans in place for potential emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Iran safe for tourists?

Iran is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised. Avoid areas near borders and follow travel advisories. Dress modestly, respect local customs, and obtain appropriate permits for activities like photography. Terrorism remains a risk, so stay vigilant in crowded areas.

Is Iran safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Iran. Dress conservatively, covering hair and body. Avoid isolated areas, especially at night. Harassment can occur, so stay in well-lit public spaces. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs regarding women's rights.

Is Iran safe for families?

Iran can be a challenging destination for families with children. Adhere to strict dress codes and cultural norms. Ensure appropriate documentation and permits. Avoid areas with civil unrest or terrorism risks. Prepare for language barriers and limited Western amenities.

Is Iran LGBTQ+ friendly?

LGBTQ+ individuals face significant risks in Iran. Same-sex relations are illegal and punishable by law. Public displays of affection can lead to harassment or arrest. The LGBTQ+ community faces widespread discrimination and lack of legal protections.

Do you need a visa to go to Iran?

Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Iran. Visa requirements vary by nationality and purpose of travel. Tourist visas are available but can be difficult to obtain. Check with Iranian embassies for the latest visa policies and requirements.

Can you drink tap water in Iran?

Tap water is generally not safe to drink in Iran. Contamination and poor sanitation can lead to waterborne illnesses. Stick to bottled or purified water, even for brushing teeth. Avoid ice cubes and raw foods washed with tap water.

What is the currency in Iran?

The official currency in Iran is the Iranian Rial (IRR). Credit cards are not widely accepted due to sanctions. Carry enough cash in IRR for your stay, as exchanging money can be challenging for foreigners.

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