Budgeting for Visiting Iran

Budgeting for Visiting Iran
Budgeting for Visiting Iran

Whether you’re a backpacker traveling to Iran, on a budget, or an all-the-frills luxury trip, you’re going to need to plan ahead regarding the handling of monetary units, according to article Money, Cost and Expense in

  Alternative to Wads of Cash

Foreign visitors have little option than to bring the money they require for the duration of their trip in cash.  Upon arrival most banks issue foreigners gift cards that can be used like debit cards, which present a good alternative to traveling around with large sums of money.

  Credit Cards and Travelers’ Cheques

Major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are not accepted in Iran; so one should bring cash or try obtaining credit/gift cards issued by local banks in Iran.

There is a functioning network of ATMs (cash machines) all around the country and card readers even in many supermarkets. One can only use credit cards or gift cards of local (i.e Iranian) banks. It is not possible to exchange travelers’ cheques either.

  Exchange in Seconds

US dollar, Euro, and GBP are all accepted in Iran. The hard currencies can be changed in a currency exchange. There will be no problem finding them all around the country. Things, including the exchange rate can change overnight so one should make sure to check the exchange rate.

The quickest and easiest way to change cash is at an official money-exchange office called Sarafi, where the whole deal is done in seconds, unlike in most banks where half an hour is considered fast. Exchange shops can be found in most cities, usually signed in English. Changing money in an exchange shop is much safer than doing so with a street moneychanger. It is advisable to bring hard currency for exchange purposes.

One should note that sources such as yahoo currency converter show the official rate of currencies (rate in banks only), while most of the money changers apply a higher rate less official

  Rial or Toman?

Iranian money, rials or tomans? Usually, this is what confuses almost every traveller in Iran. Yes, there are two common currencies in Iran. The first and the official currency is Iranian rial (Rls) and the currency people use informally, is toman. Basically, each toman is equal to 10 rials. So, 1,000 tomans equals to 10,000 rials.

Iranians use rials in official deals and use tomans informally. Rials are the printed and tomans are the discussed currencies. So, when buying something at a store, paying for taxi and shopping, one faces tomans, not rials.

When a taxi driver says the price from getting here to there is 500, he means tomans, that is, he should be paid using a 5,000-rial note. Ti make matters more confusing, since there are too many zeros in the bank notes, sometimes people even don’t bother saying 3,000 or 5,000 tomans and prefer saying 3 or 5 tomans! This is why the government is thinking on changing the currency to make purchases more practical.

If they are not falling apart, Iranian banknotes are easy to read as the numbers and names are printed in Persian and English. However, coins are only marked in Persian.

The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided that it is declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival.



Tipping is not a big deal in Iran. In upmarket restaurants, mainly in Tehran, a 5 to 10 percent gratuity might be expected but everywhere else any money left on the table will be a pleasant surprise.

It’s normal to offer a small tip to anyone who acts as a guide or opens a building that is normally closed. If the offer is initially refused, one can persist in making it three times before giving up. It takes time till foreigners adopt with concept of Tarof!