Iranian border authorities will not stamp entry and exit visas onto the passports of foreign visitors to the country, the semi-official Fars news agency has reported, citing the government spokesman Ali Rabie.
Speaking at a news conference on June 19, Mr. Rabie said: “President Hassan Rouhani has ordered immigration authorities at all of the country’s international airports not to stamp passports of foreign visitors with entry and exit visas.”
The measure aims to accommodate foreign visitors who fear that having their passports stamped by the Iranian immigration and border control may significantly lower their chances of getting a U.S. visa.
“The new scheme will make it much easier for people to travel to Iran,” Rabie explained. “We aim to roll out the scheme at all of the country’s international airports soon.”
The government experimented with an electronic visa program at the recommendation of Iran’s Tourism Organization in 2014, but dropped the idea after a few short months.
The director of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Ali Asghar Mounesan reintroduced the scheme in October 2017. The Foreign Ministry, police, and security forces have approved the plan, which will go into effect soon.
Under the scheme, immigration officers at all international airports will refrain from stamping the passports of foreign visitors with entry or exit visas when they arrive and leave Iran — which means that there will be no evidence of them ever having been in the country.
The director of the Foreign Ministry’s Passport and Visa Office Mojtaba Karimi has, however, said that the electronic visa scheme had nothing to do with efforts to boost tourism.
Mr. Karimi said: “We stopped stamping entry and exit visas in the passports of foreign tourists at Tehran airport in January 2018. A few months later, we implemented the scheme at Shiraz and Mashhad airports. All international airports have been using the system since September of last year.”
“Nowadays, most foreign visitors to Iran use the online electronic visa application forms. There is no need to stamp visitors’ passports with entry and exit visas any longer,” Karimi added.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]