Iran is generally a very safe place to travel. So much travelers describe it as the ‘safest country I’ve ever been to’, or ‘much safer than traveling in Europe’. Violent crime against foreigners is extremely rare. If you do your best to fit in with local customs, you are unlikely to be treated with anything. But courtesy and friendliness that applies to Americans, too. You can stay in the homes of strangers and left bags in restaurants and cafes without any problem.
Western embassies advise their nationals to register on arrival. Especially if you will be in Iran for 10 or more days, or plan to visit remote places.
In general Iran is much safer than many from the West might believe. Most people are genuinely friendly and interested to know about you and your country. So leave aside your preconceptions and come with an open mind. Iran is still a relatively low-crime country, although thefts and muggings have been on the increase in recent years. Keep your wits about you, and take the usual precautions against pickpockets in crowded bazaars and buses.
Ignore the media hype, your chances of facing anti-Western sentiment as a traveler are none. Even hardliner Iranians make a clear distinction between the Western governments they distrust and individual travelers who visit their country.
There are a lot of military and other sensitive facilities in Iran. Photography near military and other government installations is strictly prohibited. Do not photograph any military object, jails, harbors, telecommunication , airports or other objects which you suspect are military in nature.
Travel Risk Map 2019
The 2019 Travel Risk Map, launched by global risk experts International SOS in collaboration with Control Risks. shows the danger level in each country and territory based on the current threat posed to travellers by political violence. (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war). Social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) and violent and petty crime.
Factors such as the robustness of the transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations. The effectiveness of the security and emergency services and the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters are also taken into consideration.
The map lists five categories of risk: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme.
Very few countries manage to make it into the “insignificant” bracket. in Europe, only Luxembourg, Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Greenland are put in this category.
The majority of European countries are deemed low risk. Including the UK; as are Iran, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Uzbekistan in the Middle East.
Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand are all low risk too.
“Extreme” risk countries are almost exclusively in Africa and the Middle East, including Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan , Somalia.
Emergency services are extensive in Iran, and response times are very good compared to other local regions. 110 is the telephone number of the local Police control center. It is probably easiest to phone 110. As the local police have direct contact with other emergency services. And will probably be the only number with English speaking operators.
Other Emergency Services are also available via 115 for Ambulances and 125 for the Fire. And Rescue team (these numbers are frequently answered by the Ambulance or Fire crew operating from them). The international number 112 is available from cell phones, and will usually connect you to the Police. Iran has also “Iran Assistance” an insurance company specializing in international medical evacuation.
While there are few stories of assaults and thefts in Iran, it pays to take the usual precautions. It makes sense, too, that if the economic situation worsens crime will rise. Basic things to be aware of:
- On transport keep valuables, including your passport, money and camera, with you at all times.
- Hotels are quite safe but locking your bags prevents hotel staff going through them and, perhaps, ‘sampling’ your toiletries.
- There is a black market in stolen foreign passports so, unless it’s with your hotel reception. Keep yours strapped to your body.
- If you are to encounter a pickpocket, it will be in a crowded bazaar.
Police & Security Forces
Uniformed police and military are ubiquitous. In cities such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad you’ll find helpful Tourist Police. Usually including an English speaker in conveniently located booths.
Photographing the wrong thing is the action most likely to spark police interest. If you have unwittingly aroused the attention of police for photographing the wrong thing, emphasize you are a tourist and delete the pictures.
Foreigners are expected to carry their passport at all times. But this can be tricky as hotels are also supposed to keep guests’ passports for police inspection. Always carry several photocopies of both your passport’s face page and your Iranian visa. And if you go out of town leave a photocopy at reception and take the passport. If you are stopped, show your photocopies unless you are sure the police are genuine.
On roads near borders your transport is likely to be stopped by police searching for drugs and other smuggled goods.
Is it safe to Visit Iran as a woman?
Yes, it is safe. Several of travelers are females and they have a wonderful time. Not once are they harassing or stopping. They enjoying the new experience of traveling to Iran. But for nightlife Iran not a good place, actually the Iran’s cities doesn’t have many nightly uses.
Iran has state-of-the-art medical facilities in all its major cities. Apart from being up to date with your usual travel vaccinations, no special preparation is needed for travel to Iran.
Tap water is safe to drink in most of the country (and especially the cities). Although you may find the chalkiness and taste off-putting in some areas (mainly Qom, Yazd, Hormozgan and Boushehr provinces). Bottled mineral water (āb ma’dani) is widely available. Also, on many streets and sites, public water fridges are installed to provide drinking water.
In general, Iranians are warm, friendly and generous individuals with a strong interest in foreigners and other cultures. In dealing with Iranians.
Can I drink liquor and eat pork in Iran?
Basically no… It is a Muslim country and you cannot buy or import these items. If you are found at the airport with liquor you will be sent back on the next flight.
Now having said this, what happens in the privacy of homes or clubs can be different. Many Iranians have their own liquor stashes that they either make or import on the black market. I assume the government knows but decides not enforce.
Is it safe to take pictures?
Yes, you can take all kinds of photographs except for police, government buildings, airports, trains and nuclear facilities. A good guide will steer you clear of making any of these photo mistakes. The worst thing that could happen is you would be pulled aside for questioning, disrupting your travel day.
If you want to photograph the locals it is always a good idea to ask permission. Usually they are very willing especially, if you have purchased something from them.