Moving to Iran

Expats moving to Iran will find a country born out of a rich and tumultuous history. Iran became a unique Islamic republic in 1979 when the monarchy was overthrown by religious clerics.

Most expats in Iran come from other Middle Eastern states. Many can be found working as senior management professionals in the abundant state-owned oil and natural gas sectors. Expats tend to be located in Iran’s capital, Tehran. This city is also the political, cultural, industrial and commercial centre of the country.

There are lots of exciting activities for expats living in Iran. Popular activities are hiking and skiing in the Alborz mountains and relaxing by the Persian Sea. Expats can also delve into Iran's rich history, culture and architecture.

While Persian, know as Farsi locally, is the official language of Iran, English is commonly spoken in business circles. Expats should always bear in mind that Iran is a culturally strict Islamic country. Women should dress modestly both as a sign of respect to the local culture and to avoid unwanted attention.

Iran is much safer than most expats assume. However, safety and security are concerns for expats travelling to and living in Iran. Due to strained relations between Iran and the West, and regular spates of protest in Tehran, Iran can feel politically volatile for many expats.

The British Foreign Office and the US Department of State warn their citizens against travel to Iran as there have been incidences of foreigners being kidnapped. Expats in Iran are advised to maintain a low profile and to stay well away from any mass gatherings or political protests.

There are a number of international schools in Iran to serve expat populations. There are also some good private hospitals in Tehran. The general standard of healthcare in Iran may not meet the standards that most expats are accustomed to. It's paramount that those moving to Iran have a comprehensive health insurance package.

Ultimately, while expats might be enticed to move to Iran for career progression, it's not a decision to be taken lightly. Considering the volatility in the region and Iran's international standing, expats living in Iran are likely to feel more restricted than they would in their home countries, especially as some of their freedoms will be curbed.


Fast facts

Population: 81 million

Capital city: Tehran

Neighbouring countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan

Geography: Located in the Middle East, Iran lies to the south of the Caspian Sea and north of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The country's mountains enclose several broad basins, or plateaus, on which major agricultural and urban settlements are located. 

Political system: A hybrid system guided by Islamic ideologies that feature an elected president and parliament with an assembly of experts, who appoint a supreme leader. 

Major religion: Islam

Main languages: Persian (Farsi) is the official language of Iran but English is widely spoken in business circles

Money: Iranian Rial (IRR)

Tipping: Not expected. A small tip is always appreciated, however, as wages in the service industries in Iran are low. 

Time: GMT+3.5

Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Three-pin rectangular blade plugs are common, but two-pin plugs are also used.

Internet domain: .ir

International dialling code: +98

Emergency numbers: Ambulance 115, fire brigade 125, police 110  

Transport and driving: Traffic drives on the right-hand side.

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