We only got the Iran visa in the second attempt.
The most important information in advance:
The Iran visa can be applied for on the go and picked up at any Iranian embassy.
The system provides for a so-called e-visa application, which must then be picked up and paid for in the embassy in the same way.
You will not be able to get an entry stamp on your passport since October 2018, as the visa is printed on an extra A4 note stamped (similar to that of Israel). This means that it is easy to travel to the USA afterwards.
The visa costs 50 € for Germans (and probably all Europeans), is valid for 30 days from entry, you have 90 days to enter the country and entitles you to one-time entry. According to online reports in Iran, it can be extended quite easily up to two times by another 30 days.
A digital photo of the passport (800 x 600 pixels, max. 240 kB), a digital passport image (400 x 600 pixels, max. 500 kB) and international travel insurance are required.
We have proceeded as follows:
1. We first tried to apply ourselves via the official e-visa service of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://e_visa.mfa.ir/en/.
2. When uploading images, make sure that the passport image has a resolution of exactly 400 x 600 pixels and is not larger than 240 kB and that the image from the passport has a resolution of exactly 800 x 600 pixels and does not exceed 500 kB.
3. As an address in Iran, we have chosen any hotel in Tehran.
4. After you have submitted the application, you will receive an e-mail with a link that needs to be confirmed. After this click you will be rewarded with another mail.
5. In one of the two mails now hangs a PDF with the (RN) registration number.
6. From now on, the status of the application can be tracked online, after about 3 to 5 days it should switch from waiting for verification in accepted or waiting for issueing.
7. For us, the status has not changed for 25 days and has remained constant in waiting for verification. After 30 days, the application will probably be cancelled if you have not picked up your visa by then.
8. Since we thought we had to go next to the embassy we chose in the application, in our case the Iranian embassy in Tbilisi, we went there. The embassy is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. In front of the embassy was always a large grape of Iranians trying to immigrate in Georgia or with similar concerns. In order to get to the Iranian embassy in Tbilisi, we had to push ourselves quite hard towards the door and shout to the doorman that we were there for a visa as soon as he opened the door, then we were usually let in after 10 minutes and waved through. Arriving at the main building of the embassy, we learn from a very disinterested clerk (at the left counter area) who looks in his computer that our applications have been rejected. Reason: we should please use an agency for the application.
9. Back at the hotel, we search for agencies and get a tip from Lewin, a cycling friend who is a little ahead of us. The agency our choice is called key2persia, which even has a WhatsApp number and so everything can be clarified quickly. As a result, this will result in an extra cost of USD 35 per visa application.
10. In order for the agency to register with us, we have to be canceled in the computer system by the e-visa application. Unfortunately, only the “friendly” staff in the embassy can do this. So the next day go back and tell him, please cancel our application. A click on his computer (which he could have done a long time ago and would have saved us an annoying journey) and all of a time our online status changes from waiting for verification to rejected. Luckily, you have free wifi in front of the main building of the embassy and can control it immediately.
11. In the next step, we filled out the agency’s online form and paid via PayPal. Within a few days we finally had our confirmation.
12. Now again to the embassy with all the documents, again the clerk and this time we get a note with which we drive to the next TBC bank (about 3 km away and again huge queues).
13. There it turns out that you can’t pay the €50 visa fees in the bank with a credit card, but you have to withdraw the amount in Georgian Lari at the bank’s vending machine and then pay the €50 fees at an extremely bad exchange rate. If you can’t expect a bank to accept a credit card payment, it’s just a big banker… Shit on it, we just pay about 3 € extra. At the request of the embassy officer, we still copy our passports on the way back to a Xerox store nearby.
14th. Arriving at the embassy, the employee receives our documents and says only casually that the visas may be ready tomorrow, even though the embassy is still open for two and a half hours… Grrr…
15th. Luckily, we meet another travel couple there, who are stuck in the same procedure. They also have to come back, because their application was not canceled by the good man the first time.
So if your application is stuck in the system and has been waiting for verification for weeks, tell the embassy employee immediately to cancel the application if he informs you that you are rejected.
16. So, now we can go to the really quite distant message for a fourth time the next day. When we arrive, the clerk (the same unfriendly person) asks us to sit in the waiting room and only starts working on our documents at that moment. We suspected that, so as a precaution we went back quite early. After a few minutes, however, he was ready and handed us a DIN A4 sheet and told us that this was our visa, we must not lose it.
17th. Online we check the status of our application and the visa is deemed to have been issued, about which we will also be informed via e-mail. In the event that the sheet is lost before it is stamped at the border, it can also be reprinted at any time. Overjoyed, we hold the visa in our hands and are looking forward to Iran.
We have learned from several other cyclists with whom we are in contact that all their applications have also been stuck in the system or rejected, even though they have applied for it at different embassies. So they all eventually turn to an agency. On the Internet you will find quite different experiences about the self-requested e-visas. For some, it seems to work, but then there are always periods when everyone is rejected or stuck in the system. So, try your luck at roulette!