- Reviewed: 29 January 2024, 10:12 NZDT
- Still current at: 26 February 2024
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If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.
Do not travel
Do not travel to Iran due to the potential for violent civil unrest, the risk of arbitrary arrest or detention and the volatile security situation in the region (level 4 of 4).
New Zealanders who are currently in Iran, including dual nationals, are strongly advised to consider leaving as soon as possible.View Larger Map Close/Open map
In 2019 and 2022, violent protests occurred throughout Iran resulting in a large number of arrests, injuries and deaths.
Since 2022, there have been protests over social restrictions throughout the country. Many protesters and by-standers have been arrested and detained in the security response, including foreign nationals.
Political developments and tensions both within Iran and the region, as well as international events and sanctions against Iran all have the potential to trigger demonstrations and result in civil unrest. Protests may occur at Western and Middle Eastern embassies and UN missions in Iran.
New Zealanders in Iran are advised to avoid all demonstrations, rallies and large public gatherings as they could turn violent with little warning. Keep a low profile and monitor both local and international media to stay informed of developments that may have the potential to impact on your security. You should leave any areas where police or security forces are deployed as your presence alone could be misinterpreted, leading to your arrest and detention.
Risk of Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Travellers in Iran are at risk of arbitrary arrest or detention, including New Zealanders. There has been a recent increase in the number of foreign nationals being arrested.
You may be at greater risk if you undertake activities that could attract the attention of local authorities, such as study or academic activity, travel beyond well-established tourist areas, taking photos outside of major tourist sites, being near crowds or sensitive sites, having contact with Iranians of national interest or any other behaviour that could be perceived to be anti-Iranian or that could cause religious offence. If you choose to travel against our advice, we strongly suggest that you do not put your travel or other plans on social media.
It is illegal to use drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles without authorisation. It is also illegal to photograph military or government sites, critical civil infrastructure and public protests.
Dual nationals are at an even higher risk of arbitrary arrest or detention. This is because Iran doesn't recognise dual citizenship/nationality. Under Iranian law, Iranian dual nationals must enter and exit Iran on their Iranian passport. If you're a dual New Zealand/Iranian national, it is highly unlikely the New Zealand Government would be informed of your arrest or granted access to provide consular assistance to you. See our advice for travelling as a dual citizen.
In all cases of arbitrary arrest or detention in Iran the ability of the New Zealand Government to provide consular assistance to New Zealanders is extremely limited. We can't guarantee consular access, or that you’ll have access to legal representation, if you're detained or arrested in Iran.
Terrorism is a threat in Iran, including in Tehran.
- On 3 January 2024, at least 90 people were killed in a terrorist attack targeting a commemoration for the deceased former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps General Suleimani in Kerman, southeast Iran.
- On 13 August, 2023, one person was killed and 8 wounded in a terrorist attack at a Shia Muslim shrine in the Iranian city of Shiraz, southern Iran.
- On 26 October 2022, 15 people were killed at a Shia Muslim shrine in Shiraz, southern Iran.
A terrorist attack could happen anywhere and at any time, including those places frequented by foreigners. In recent years, there have been a number of attacks, bombings and kidnappings in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, usually targeting police, security forces and religious sites. The security situation within 10km of the Iran-Iraq border is also extremely dangerous. Possible targets for attacks include embassies, hotels, places of worship, government interests, military parades and locations, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, public transport, airports and identifiably Western businesses and other interests.
Due to the threat of terrorism, New Zealanders are advised to be security conscious at all times and exercise particular care in public and commercial areas. The security situation could deteriorate rapidly and without notice.
Drug-traffickers and bandits are active in areas of Iran near Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Sistan va Baluchestan Province and Kerman province east of the city of Bam. Violent incidents occur regularly in these areas and there have been kidnappings of foreign tourists.
Petty theft and street crime such as pickpocketing, burglary and bag snatching also occur in Iran. Thieves in passing vehicles have snatched bags from people walking on the street or through open car doors and windows. We advise New Zealanders to be alert to their surroundings at all times and take steps to safeguard and secure their personal belongings. As victims of robbery are often targeted due to their perceived wealth, it is advisable to avoid wearing or displaying items that appear valuable, such as electronic devices, cameras and jewellery. Only use pre-booked registered taxis, preferably through your hotel.
There have been reports of robberies by fake police officers, usually in civilian clothing. Politely ask to see their ID and request the presence of a uniformed police officer before complying with any requests.
Border Areas/Local Travel
The Iranian authorities regard border areas as particularly politically sensitive. The border with Iraq is usually closed. New Zealanders in Iran should be aware of and adhere to any travel restrictions and care should be taken not to cross any borders inadvertently.
Many areas of the Caspian Sea and Gulf are also highly sensitive, in particular the waters around the islands of Abu Musa and Tunbs in the southern Gulf which are militarily patrolled. Foreign nationals have been detained for entering waters near these islands without express permission from Iranian authorities.
Many areas in the Gulf are sensitive because of security issues and territorial disputes. There are reports of vessel inspections, detentions and arrest. Piracy remains a threat and mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautionary measures in these waters. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.
Travellers who intend on entering neighbouring countries by land should be aware of possible taxes, import charges or levies at these borders. Some countries also have minimum money entry requirements – travellers may need to prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves. You should check requirements with the Embassy or Consulate of the country to plan to visit.
General Travel Advice
Military tensions between Iran, the US and other countries in the Middle East are ongoing. Avoid any demonstrations, marches and processions, Do not visit military sites, noting these may not be clearly marked.
Do not watch or photograph demonstrations, military and government facilities or security personnel, as this is strictly prohibited and could lead to your detention or arrest. As military and government installations are often difficult to identify, and are commonplace throughout Iran, camera use is best avoided outside of well-known tourist locations. When in doubt, ask for permission.
Remain vigilant and exercise a high degree of personal security awareness at all times. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for the latest developments.
Travellers often have difficulties accessing funds in Iran. International debit/credit cards are not accepted anywhere in Iran, and there are no ATMs or money transfer services accessible for travellers in Iran. Travellers are advised to carry sufficient hard currency on them, including emergency funds (Euros being the most widely accepted foreign currency in Iran), to meet the needs of their travel for the duration of their stay in Iran. The Ministry cannot assist with the transfer of funds to New Zealanders in Iran, or advance cash to New Zealanders in Iran.
Iran is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced. New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Iran to avoid offending local sensitivities. Iran has strict codes of dress and behaviour. Women are required by law to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothing covering their arms and legs. Some religious sites have additional dress requirements.
A non-exhaustive list of illegal activities in Iran includes: close contact between unmarried men and women, homosexual acts, religious proselytising, importing pork or western materials, acting in a way considered to offend or challenge Islam and possession, use or trafficking of alcohol or drugs. Penalties for these activities can be severe, including the death penalty and corporal punishment.
You should carry a photocopy of your passport identification page and visa at all times. Keep your original passport separate and in a safe place.
Iran lies in an active seismic zone, and is subject to regular and sometimes major earthquakes. Familiarise yourself with general safety procedures in the event of an earthquake.
New Zealanders in Iran should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place, and confirm that the policy covers Iran and includes provision for medical evacuation by air. The restrictions on transferring funds to Iran may make it difficult to pay costs relating to travel insurance claims (such as for emergency medical treatment).
New Zealanders in Iran are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The New Zealand Embassy Tehran, Iran
See our regional advice for the Middle East