If you’re planning a trip to Iran, it’s important to understand how to handle money and exchange currency. Iran’s currency is the Iranian Rial (IRR), and while it’s possible to exchange foreign currency in Iran, the process can be a bit confusing. To help you navigate the ins and outs of money and exchange in Iran, we’ve put together this updated guide that covers everything you need to know about exchanging money, official and market exchange rates, where to exchange money, required documentation, and the best currencies to bring. With this guide, you can make informed decisions about handling money and ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip to Iran.
What is Iran’s currency?
In Iran, both rial and toman are used as currency, but toman is the more common term used in everyday transactions. The toman is a unit of currency that is equal to 10 rials, meaning that 1 toman is equal to 10 rials. However, due to the large number of zeros on Iranian banknotes, prices are often quoted in tomans instead of rials to simplify transactions. For example, a price of 50,000 rials would be quoted as 5,000 tomans.
Regarding prices, Iran is a relatively cheap country compared to other countries in the region. However, prices may vary depending on the city and area in which you are, as well as depending on the time of year and tourist demand. It is advisable to have a general idea of the prices before traveling to avoid being ripped off or paying more for the products or services you purchase.
Can I use my bank card to pay for goods and services in Iran?
It is important to note that due to economic sanctions imposed by US, access to the international financial system is restricted in Iran. This means that tourists cannot use international credit cards (Mastercard, visa, debit …) in the country.
As a result, the one and final option for tourists is to carry enough cash in major currencies such as US dollars or euros to exchange at licensed exchange offices or banks.
However, some high-end hotels and restaurants may accept credit cards, so it’s a good idea to carry a credit card as a backup.
Official exchange rate VS Market exchange rate
In Iran, there are different exchange rates that are used for different purposes, and it can be confusing for tourists to understand which rate to use.
Official exchange rate: The official exchange rate is set by the Central Bank of Iran and is used for government transactions, such as importing goods or paying for government services. This rate is usually lower than the market rate.
Market exchange rate: The market exchange rate, also known as the free-market rate or the black-market rate, is determined by supply and demand in the open market. This rate is generally higher than the official rate and is used at exchange offices.
Where to Exchange Money?
There are several places where you can exchange money in Iran, including banks, exchange offices, and hotels.
Banks are the most reliable but they offer the official exchange rate that is lower.
Hotels may also offer currency exchange services, but their rates can be less favorable.
Exchange offices, also known as “sarafi” in Persian, are the best option offering the highest exchange rate, but it’s important to use reputable ones to avoid scams. You can find reliable exchange shops in the city center of each city. In Shiraz those are mostly located on Zand Street, and Mollasadra Street. In Tehran, you can find exchange shops at Grand Bazaar, Ferdowsi Square, Valiasr Street and Enqelab Street. And in Isfahan those are mostly on Chaharbagh Abbasi Avenue, Imam Hossein Square, and Jolfa Street.
What documents are required to exchange money in Iran?
To exchange money in Iran, you’ll need to present your passport and a photocopy of it to the exchange office or bank. Some exchange offices may require additional documentation, such as a visa or a hotel reservation.
What currencies are better to bring to Iran as tourist?
Some foreign currencies are accepted in Iran, including US dollars, Euros, British pounds, Omani rial, Iraqi dinar, and Canadian dollars. As a tourist, it’s generally recommended to bring US dollars or Euros to Iran. These currencies can be easily exchanged for Iranian rials at official exchange centers or banks, and they are widely accepted in major cities, tourist areas, and hotels.
However, it’s important to note that the exchange rates for foreign currencies in Iran can be volatile and subject to fluctuations.
Can I exchange money at IKA airport?
While it is possible to exchange money at the IKA International Airport (IKA) in Tehran, it’s generally not recommended as the exchange rates at the airport are often less favorable than those at exchange offices or banks in the city center.
If you need to exchange money upon arrival in Iran, it’s better to exchange a small amount at the airport for immediate needs such as transportation or food, and then exchange the rest at a reputable exchange office or bank in the city center. Alternatively, you can withdraw cash from an ATM using your debit card, although some international banks may block transactions in Iran due to economic sanctions.
Read more: Easy transfer from the IKA airport
Exchanging money in Iran can seem daunting, but with the right information and precautions, it can be done safely and efficiently. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience, it’s important to use reputable exchange offices or banks, check the current exchange rate, and be aware of any fees or restrictions before exchanging your money. By following the above-mentioned guidelines, you can enjoy your trip to Iran without worrying about currency exchange issues and focus on making the most of your travel experience.
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