Safety in Iran is a concern for expats. There is political tension between Iran and a number of governments outside of the Middle East that causes locals to not always have a positive attitude towards foreigners. Expats should therefore avoid getting involved in political demonstrations. Terrorism is also a general threat in Iran, and travel to the border regions should be avoided.
On a day-to-day basis, expats should guard against petty theft. Foreigners in Iran, as in most countries, are easy targets for muggings because they are unfamiliar with their surroundings. Expats should also be careful when using Iranian roads because the accident tolls are notoriously high.
Finally, it's essential that expats realise they won't enjoy all the same freedoms that they would at home. For example, bringing alcohol into Iran or accessing popular websites that are banned by the Iranian government is illegal.
Crime in Iran
The crime rate in Iran has increased in recent years. Foreigners are often the targets of non-violent petty crime. Men on motorcycles or in cars are known to snatch bags from individuals on the street or through open car windows. Expats are advised to take sensible precautions to protect themselves against such street crime. They should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep their passports safe at all times. It is also advisable to pre-book taxis rather than hailing one on the street.
Road safety in Iran
The rate of road accidents in Iran is high. Care should be taken when travelling by road and crossing the street on foot. Foreigners should avoid driving if possible and instead hire a local driver who will be more familiar with road conditions and driving behaviour in Iran. Anyone involved in an accident, however minor, should remain at the scene until police arrive, and a formal report has been made.
Iranian authorities will occasionally set up informal roadblocks in cities and along major highways. Expats should always carry some form of identification with them to avoid disputes. It is also advised that expats avoid driving at night.
Political tensions in Iran
The political situation in Iran remains volatile, and the country can experience waves of anti-government protests. Demonstrations are heavily policed, and expats should avoid going anywhere near such rallies. International news events can sometimes trigger demonstrations against other countries, and international diplomatic missions have been the focus of such demonstrations in the past.
Border zone safety in Iran
Certain border zones are regarded as being particularly dangerous. Due to numerous safety concerns, many governments advise their citizens against travelling to areas close to Iran's borders with Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The area to the east of Bam and Jask, and the province of Sistan-Baluchestan, serve as the main route for drug traffickers from Afghanistan and Pakistan. This area is notorious for banditry.
Terrorism in Iran
There is a general threat of terrorism in Iran. While attacks are indiscriminate, they do often target places frequented by foreigners. In general, expats should be vigilant and keep security arrangements up to date. There is also a threat of kidnapping in the border areas.
Natural disasters in Iran
Iran is prone to earthquakes. Expats should familiarise themselves with earthquake safety procedures. Flooding is also common in the country, and it leads to many deaths annually.
Are you an expat living in Iran?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Iran. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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