Is it Safe to Travel to Iran: What Americans Need to Know
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 Linda de la Torre, one of our Iran experts, to learn more about visiting Iran as an American.
Can Americans travel to Iran?
Iran has been issuing visas to American citizens since the country reopened for tourism in 2021. Normally, it takes about three months to obtain a visa, and GeoEx 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!
The countrywide unrest that has afflicted Iran over the last several months has declined in frequency and intensity, and we remain apprised of any issues as they arise. Our local colleagues have hosted a few small groups of Americans in spring 2023 without incident and with very positive reviews. From their perspective, it is very much business as usual and they have no security concerns from their side that would impact seamless trip operation.
Our guests are accompanied by a guide on custom trips, and both a guide and GeoEx trip leader on group departures. You are well cared for on these well-supported itineraries.
Perhaps most importantly, our guests continue to rave about the warmth and hospitality of Iranians they meet. Learn more about travel to Iran and check out Iran luxury tours for upcoming small group and custom trips to Iran, and plan your trip to get to know those kind, everyday Iranians.
How does GeoEx stay informed about travel to Iran?
In addition to being advised by our private security firm, we take into account the travel advisories of the US Department of State, as well as those of other governments, and the updates from our trusted colleagues and guides on the ground in the countries where we operate. We’re quickly informed of any changes and have a carefully constructed safety net to respond if necessary.
Our security consultants assess the majority of Iran as medium-risk. (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: “GeoEx’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 2021, longtime GeoEx 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.
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