|TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR IRAN
All Cypriot citizens should take precautions for personal safety and avoid large public gatherings and demonstrations. You should review your security arrangements carefully and remain vigilant, especially in public places.
Photography near military and other government installations is stricktly prohibited.
Safety & Crime
In general Iran is a safe country with few reported security incidents involving foreigners. However, as in any country, normal, common-sense security precautions should be taken with valuables and your personal safety. Visitors should keep their passports separate from other valuables and maintain personal security awareness.
All Travelers to the border areas with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq are
strongly advised against. No letters of recommendation for obtaining visa from the Embassy of Pakistan in Tehran will be issued by the Cyprus Embassy unless the applicant will travel to Pakistan by air.
Crime is rare in Iran but the visitors are advised to be circumspect and careful. Women in particular should be careful when traveling at night and are advised to use reputable means of transport.
The country has a variety of hospitals, medical centers, private clinics and doctors. The pharmacies provide medicines or their substitutes. The hospitals and doctors expect to be paid in cash.
The road system is good but at the same time is undergoing modernizing and improvements. All Cypriots can drive with their Cypriot driving license in Iran up to six months. After this period they are required to apply for an Iranian driving license.
Local Customs, Code of Behaviour
In Iran, which is an Islamic Republic, local customs and standards of behaviour differ from those with which Cypriots are familiar, though there are some common trends stemmed from similarities between the two countires. Iranians pride themselves on their hospitality to visitors. The following tips relating to customs and etiquette may prove useful:
- Certain business etiquettes, should be observed during interaction with Iranians. Although officials of the Islamic Republic are not allowed to wear a tie, it is very common for visitors to do so although proper business attire need not include a tie. Women must adhere to the Islamic dress code referred to below. It is important to note that most officials will not shake hands with a member of the opposite sex, especially in public. The same is true for private citizens who are particularly religious.
- When visiting an Iranian household for the first time or on a special occasion, it is customary to bring a small gift. Gifts should also be offered when visiting an Iranian home for a meal. Flowers and/or sweets or pastries are popular gift choices.
- On arrival at an Iranian home or a business meeting, visitors are served tea often with pastries and followed by fruit and possibly nuts. As it is considered impolite to refuse what is served, visitors should accept the items offered, even if they do not intend to consume them.
- The official working week is from Saturday to Thursday. Most businesses are closed on Fridays.
Islam sets strict rules governing relations between men and women and these should be respected at all times. These and other Islamic standards should be adhered to not only to ensure culturally appropriate behaviour, but also because they are often legal requirements in Iran.
The importation and consumption of alcohol is strictly banned. Penalties are severe and could include corporal punishment. Pork and pork products are forbidden and, like alcohol, their import is illegal.
Men and women do not shake hands and physical contact between men and women who are not related should be avoided.
Swimming and all forms of outdoor sports are subject to Islamic rules. Mixed bathing is prohibited and public beaches and most sporting facilities are segregated.
Islamic Code of Dress
Attire for men is similar to that in Cyprus. However visitors should note that shorts should not be worn outside the house and garden. Ties are acceptable although worn rarely by Iranian men. Tracksuits (but not short ones) are also acceptable.
In most private residences, women can dress in normal western clothes. In public, however, covering of the body and hair is mandatory. This consists of a long-sleeved, non-form fitting coat (rupush) and a headscarf (rusari). This outfit must be worn all year round regardless of temperature. Scarves should be large enough to cover the head and to tie under the chin. Although most Iranian women wear the chador (black sheet held under the chin, draping over the head and body) or rupush and rusari, in practice a range of outfits is considered "acceptable". "Acceptable" outfits may include a coat and scarf in winter (knee-length is acceptable if worn over pants or jeans), or a long loose dress or shirt worn over long loose skirt or pants with scarf in summer. All colours and styles are generally acceptable.
If undertaking sporting activity in public (such as tennis or jogging), the rupush and rusari need to be worn over a tracksuit. Women skiing must wear a loose fitting jacket, sweater or skirt of some kind which covers up the shape of the body down to the knees. Head scarves must be worn at all times.
Iran is +3:30 hours ahead of GMT and half an hour ahead of Cypriot Standard Time depending on summer / winter daylight saving in each country. In March 2006, Iranian daylight savings time was cancelled.
The official language is Persian (Farsi), written in a script derived from Arabic. English is not widely spoken outside hotels and airlines.
Shopping, obtaining taxis and other everyday functions generally require a basic knowledge of Farsi.
Shi'a Islam is the official religion. Visitors need to be sensitive to and respectful of Islamic values to avoid offending local sensitivities. This includes respecting Islamic dress requirements and other rules.
In areas of religious significance (e.g. mosques and shrines), non-Moslem foreigners may not be permitted to enter, or, if allowed entry, will need to dress suitably (women may be required to wear the full chador, which is provided at the entrance of such places). Some mosques, particularly in the religious cities of Qom and Mashad, are closed to non-Moslems. Foreigners can enter sometimes but should attempt this sensitively and in the company of an Iranian.
Religious occasions in Iran include the month of Ramadan. The timing of Ramadan varies annually and throughout this month fasting is observed during daylight hours when all restaurants are closed and both eating and smoking in public are prohibited. Visitors should be respectful of Ramadan and all other Moslem religious occasions. There are several other important religious occasions including Ashura, the period of mourning for Imam Hossein, the timing of which also changes annually.
Banking and Currency
The currency is the Iranian Rial (IRR). The "Toman" (10 rials) is the monetary unit commonly used. Prices are usually quoted in Tomans. The official exchange rate is approximately IRR 22,000/ to one Cyprus Pound.
Credit cards and travellers cheques cannot be used. Visitors are advised to bring US dollars or EURO in cash. All notes should be in good condition and USD should be dated after 1996. There are no ATMs linked to foreign banks.
Tourists should avoid currency exchange touts offering to change hard currency at black market rates. Such activity is illegal and currency should only be changed at authorised offices and banks.
Tehran is currently serviced by two international airports: the Mehrabad Airport and the new Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA). All airlines are scheduled to be moved to IKIA in the near future. Mehrabad is approximately 17km from the Embassy (30mins to 1 hr) depending on the traffic. A one-way taxi journey costs approximately IRR 80,000. IKIA is approximately 65 km from the Embassy (1 - 2 hours) depending on traffic. A one-way taxi journey costs approximately IRR 120,000.
Cypriots in Iran are under the jurisdiction of Iran and should respect and obey the laws and regulations of the country. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a severe offence. Strict sentencing is also imposed for possession and use of narcotics. Homosexuality is a penal offence.
Cypriots require a visa to enter Iran. Visa applications should be lodged well in advance of the date of travel to the Embassy of Iran in Nicosia. Even though, Cypriots can obtain a visa at the Iranian aiport for a stay of seven days, it is advised to obtain it in advance from the Iranian Embassy. In Nicosia all passports must be valid for a minimum period of six months after arrival. You should make sure that your travel documentation is in order and check the expiry date of your visa before travelling. In case of intending to stay in Iran more than the period of your visa, it is absolutely necessary to extend your visa well in advance before the expiry of your visa, otherwise you will not be able to depart and you will be obliged in order to settle the matter and paying a penalty.
Diplomatic Representation of Iran in Cyprus
The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is located at 42, Armenias St. Acropolis-Nicosia.
Diplomatic Representation of Cyprus in Iran
The Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus is at the northern part of Tehran.
Address: 328, Shahid Karimi, (ex. Bouali), Dezashib, Tajrish. Tehran
Tel: 00981-21-22219842 0098-21-22201240
September to July the Embassy is open on:
Sunday-Wednesday: 08:00 a.m. to 04:30 p.m., and
Thursdays: 08:00 a.m. to 02:00 p.m.
The consular section is open to the public Sunday to Thursday from
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. throughout the year.