The Iranian visa The Iranian embassy in Tbilisi
The Iranian embassy is where the Lonely Planet says it is, except not completely correct. Number 8 on Chavchavadze Avenue is the football stadium. Walk past it for a bit untill you reach the Iranian flag on your left. As a Dutch citizen I am allowed one month and can enter within 3 months. No double entrée is given. Get the authorization code on http://touranzamin.com/en/
This is how it works: you first must get an authorization code. I got this at Touran Zamin. It’s very straight forwarded and easy. With this code you can pick up the visa at any Iranian embassy you have chosen. The code costs €35 for me as a Dutch citizen, the visa itself €50. However, some nationalities (such as Danish) don’t need an authorization code at all.
Make sure for a clean visa
I’d asked for an entrée of three months so I would be able to enter the country in time, given the fact that I am on a bicycle and in Georgia. However, a pity the consul forgot this little detail and gave me one month only. On my request he changed it, by hand, and literally all the police, guards and check post military men doubted the authenticity of my visa. All police suspected me of having done that myself thus the visa would be long run out of validity. I had many long talks and even a 4 hour interrogation. So be sure your visa is clean of any handwritten scribbles.
Luckily the handwriting on the visa did not make matters worse at border posts or the extension office.
Don’t lie, just hide
Apparently, taking your bicycle to Iran and cycle around is not what they want, who ever they are? When I needed advise on cash money -which I had forgotten to take with me- I contacted the same people as where I got my visa from. They told me to leave the country as soon as possible! They did not know that when I applied for a visa I was going to travel by bicycle and they would have never given me an authorization code if they would have known. Somehow they seem to be punished for visa given to people on a bicycle, as how the man from Touran Zamin, told me. He pressed on further and advised me to leave the country as soon as possible, get on a bus and leave, leave, leave. Of course, I didn’t. But my advise is not to tell you are on a bicycle.
Extend your Iranian visa
I tried to extend the visa a week before the end date, because I was close to an Alien Affair Office, in Tabriz. They told me to come back a week later, as extensions are only given one day before the end date on the visa. If you are traveling on your own, apply for the visa on your own, it can save you a lot of trouble! They wanted to give me a week only and I had to talk long and plead a lot to have a one month extension. I did not hold back information, as I needed another month, and told them I was on the bicycle. You need a copy of your passport and one from the visa page, another veiled photo, a draft from a nearby bank, and if you are unlucky a statement from your hotel that proofs you stayed there. The address of the Tabriz Alien Affair Office is mentioned in the Lonely Planet and still located at the same spot (sorry for this lack of information). I left the country through Bandar Lengeh by ferry, which took hours and of course, was ended with another suspicious interview. My luggage was not checked.
The Kurdish Iraqi visa
As a Dutch citizen I got a 15 days visa for free at the Ibrahim Khalil border coming from Silopi in Turkey. You enter a large building, hand over your passport and within a few minutes a stamp is issued. To make sure what the Arabic writing is saying, I ask how many days I was issued. Fifteen days are just enough to enjoy a slow pace and a lot of family gatherings. I took the Zakhu, Duhok, Amedy, Barzan, Shanidhar, Kaliapan, Soran, Choman and Haji Omaran route which went via the stunning Hamilton Road. I left the country with an over stay of one day but that didn’t matter for the immigration official. The exit, however, was much more tight. My handlebar bag was thoroughly searched through, as well as myself, though I think it was more of a curious matter than anything else.
Getting to the Iranian border from Haj Omaran towards Piranshahr is straightforward. As a woman you get priority and there was not much hassle for me. I went quickly through, without having the panniers searched through.
I went to Iraq Kurdistan and Iran at the end of 2013