Working in Iran

Expats will find that working in Iran comes with a variety of opportunities and challenges. After Saudia Arabia, Iran is home to one of the largest economies in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Due to the country’s relative isolation from global financial markets, Iran was able to avoid recession during the global financial crisis. However, it has suffered from international sanctions imposed against it as a result of its nuclear programme.

Industries in Iran

Economic activity in Iran is fairly diverse. The country’s economy is characterised by a large hydrocarbon sector, small-scale agriculture and service sectors and a significant state presence in the manufacturing and financial sectors.

Oil and natural gas are its most vital natural resources, with Iran ranking second in the world in terms of natural gas reserves and fourth for proven crude oil reserves. Prior to the introduction of sanctions against Iran in 2014, oil accounted for around 80 percent of the country’s export revenues. Many expats moving to Iran do so to take up lucrative employment packages in the oil and gas industries.

Beyond the oil and gas sector, other important industries in Iran include textiles, sugar refining, food processing, and the production of cement, building materials, iron, steel and machinery.

Finding a job in Iran

Most expats who relocate to Iran for work do so with a contract already in place. Reputable companies operating in Iran tend to headhunt their expat employees and entice them to move to Iran with the promise of a lucrative employment offer. Often people working for a company in their home country or elsewhere in the Middle East will find that they are transferred to Iran to work within the same company.  

Expats intending on working in Iran will need to ensure they have a valid work permit. In most cases, this is arranged through the expat’s employer, which acts as their sponsor in Iran. The process should be started at least two months before an expat moves to Iran to accommodate any unexpected delays.

Expats who do not have an employer who can to assist them through the process of obtaining a work permit should consider using the services of a recognised visa company. The Iranian authorities may request interviews with expats before a visa or work permit is granted. 

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