Travel Insurance To Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran, or Persia, as it was formerly known, is one of the Middle Eastern countries. The official language of Iran is Persian, making it unique to the majority of other Arabic speaking Middle Eastern countries. Iran is often overlooked as a destination of choice for travellers - due to the political unrest and safety concerns in the region - but you may want to rethink these assumptions.
Iran has been described as an extremely welcoming country ¹, with Iranians being some of the friendliest and most hospitable people you will find in the Middle East. If you’re lucky enough, you may even be invited for a home-cooked meal by a friendly local on the street. And don’t be surprised if they offer you their couch to sleep on - they would much rather you stay with them, than in a hotel.
The reality is, however, that Iran is subject to violent protests and demonstrations - with the Smartraveller website advising a “High degree of caution” when travelling to Iran, and a “Do not travel” advisory for the areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
You will need to ensure you have a good travel insurance in place for your trip to Iran, and being aware of the precautions that are advised.
1. Why do I need travel insurance for Iran?
Official requirement: In 2011 it became a requirement to have adequate travel insurance with your visa, to gain access to Iran ². Please note: You require a visa to travel to Iran - you can apply for a 30-day tourist visa on arrival, should your stay be less than 30-days. You can contact the Embassy of Iran for further information regarding your visa requirements. You will not be granted access to Iran if you already have an Israeli stamp in your passport - if this is the case, you will need to get a new passport if you wish to travel to Iran.
Medical assistance and emergencies: Day-to-day medical assistance is not hugely expensive in Iran, however, should you be hospitalised or need emergency medical assistance - you might find the bills rack up quickly. Ensure you have travel insurance that covers you for any medical expenses - including 24/7 emergency assistance - and emergency evacuation - should you need it.
Pre-existing medical conditions: Not all travel insurance providers offer cover for pre-existing medical conditions. Should you need medical assistance in Iran, for a condition you are currently receiving treatment for - you will need to be covered. Choose an insurer that offers this as an option - or chat to your insurer about adding this on to your cover.
Road travel cover: You can drive in Iran with an Australian drivers license, together with an International Driving Permit (IDP) - which should be obtained in Australia before you leave. The roads in Iran can be extremely dangerous, with a high rate of road accidents. Public transport is limited, so the need for a rental vehicle is high. Ensure you have sufficient travel insurance cover for any excess incurred due to a road accident. The use of a motorcycle or scooter is not always covered by insurance - check with your insurer beforehand if you are covered for this - or consider adding it as an extra to your insurance.
Cancelled or delayed flights: There is always a possibility of your flight being cancelled or delayed when travelling. Your travel insurance should cover you for any expenses incurred due to your flight being cancelled or delayed - including additional accommodation fees.
Theft or loss of personal belongings: Petty crimes are a reality in Iran in the popular tourist areas. There is also a possibility of losing your travel documents or passport - make sure you are covered for the loss or theft of personal belongings - should you be subject to this.
2. Who should I contact in the event of an emergency in Iran
Keep all relevant contact details readily available - should you be in an emergency.
These should include:
Your travel insurers details: We have made our four insurers details available for you.
The local emergency services in Iran: Dial 125 for a fire emergency - dial 115 for a medical emergency - and dial 110 for any crime related emergencies.
Tips for staying safe in Iran:
Stay away from the borders: It is highly advisable to stay at least 10 kilometres clear of the areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Avoid protest action and demonstrations: Monitor the news for any developments regarding political development in Iran - where protests and demonstrations might occur. You can sign up for alerts and updates for Iran through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Listen to authorities: If there is any warning against political unrest or terrorism - always take the advice of local authorities for staying safe.
Respect the locals: Iranians, being the friendly people that they are - take great interest in foreigners and their views on Iran, and the Iranian culture. They are interested in how the world views them as a nation, and in particular - the negative views that a lot of people seem to have of them. It would serve you well to engage with their culture - and to really learn about them as a nation, and what they are like. If you show them genuine respect - you will in return, receive their respect - and enjoy partaking in the Iranian culture, and all that they have to offer.
Be flexible: Remain flexible with your travel plans if there be any disruptions or cancellations that occur. Your travel insurance should cover you for any expenses incurred due to travel plan disruptions.
Threat of terrorism: There is always the possibility of terrorist attacks in Iran. Monitor the news for any signs of terrorism - avoid possible targeted areas, such as embassies, Western hotels and businesses, and places of worship - where possible. Check with your travel insurer beforehand for whether you are covered for emergency evacuations or not. Not all insurers offer this as an option when there has been advance warning against travelling to Iran.
Remain vigilant: Avoid travelling at night, and stay clear of dimly-lit areas. Petty crimes such as bag snatching and scamming are quite common in areas around Iran - always keep your belongings close at hand and don’t hand over any personal belongings to anyone claiming to be policemen - rather go straight to the local police station for assistance.
Travel light: Avoid travelling with visible jewellery and other valuables that criminals could be drawn to.
Women travelling alone: If you are a woman travelling alone or with other women, take extra care to avoid unwanted attention and harassment.
3. What vaccinations are required for Iran?
It is advisable to receive the relevant vaccinations for traveling to Iran, to avoid contracting any viruses prevalent in Iran. This includes a yearly flu shot. Your travel insurance will not cover you for any medical expenses incurred, should you not be correctly vaccinated.
Some vaccines to consider before you travel to Iran:
Hepatitis A and B
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
4. Travel tips for Iran
Have a picnic: Picnics are very popular in Iran. Wherever wherever there is a patch of grass - or even a concrete slab - the Iranians will roll out a Persian carpet (literally) for a picnic. If you’re lucky enough (and look hungry enough), you will be invited to join a family for a picnic.
Iranians aren’t Arab: Iranians are not Arabic - they are Persian - you should greet them in their local dialect, which is Persian (or Farsi). Learn a few basic words to help you communicate with the Iranians - this will show respect for their culture.
Carry cash: Iranian ATMs do not support Australian cards, and you cannot use credit cards to pay your way - they are a cash-only country. A lot of Iranians will only accept Euros as opposed to Dollars - it’s advisable to carry both if you can. You will get great value for your money in Iran - with a small budget, you can do quite a lot.
Be safe when crossing the road: This is probably one of the most frightening things to do in Iran, with motorists driving fast and impatiently at all times. If you want to cross the road, you can’t wait for a gap - there won’t be one - play dodge with the cars and go as fast as you can. This is when you will want to make sure you have travel insurance cover - in case of an accident.
Follow the dress code: All women should wear a headscarf when in Iran - together with modest attire that covers your body - to show respect to their Islamic culture - and men should avoid wearing shorts in public.
Internet usage: While the internet is accessible in Iran - some websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked. In order to access certain websites, you will need to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) ahead of time to use them.
Using the toilet: Firstly, toilets are referred to as a WC in Iran - be sure to request that and not a toilet. Western toilets are a luxury, with squat facilities being the norm in most hotels, homes, and restaurants in Iran. Make sure you carry your own toilet paper - this is not always provided outside of private homes, and in many hotels.
Stay sober: Alcohol is very rarely available in Iran - so if getting drunk is on your list of things to do - you can forget it. If you are caught drinking, you could face a heavy fine, or even jail time.
Go barefoot: It’s Iranian culture to take off your shoes before entering a building.
24-hour Australian Consular Emergency Helpline
1300 555 135
+61 2 6261 3305
+61 421 269 080
No.2, 23rd Street
Khalid Islambuli Avenue
Phone: (98 21) 8386 3666
Fax: (98 21) 8872 0484
Emergency phone numbers
Fire: Dial 125
Medical emergencies: Dial 115
Criminal issues: Dial 110
¹ “15 Things You Should Know about Iran and its People”, Travel Geekery Know Before You Go, accessed on 31 August, 2018. https://www.travelgeekery.com/iran-and-iranians/
² “Travel Insurance in Iran”, Iran Traveling Center, accessed on 31 August, 2018. http://www.irantravelingcenter.com/insurance-in-iran/
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