Iran (Islamic Republic of)

History of Relations | Diplomatic Representation | Travel Info | Health Requirements | Climate Info | Currency Info | Trade Info | Visits and Meetings | Agreements | Interest Groups/ Organisations

History of Relations

Prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, South Africa and Iran maintained formal relations at the level of Consulates-General as well as good relations in the fields of trade, science and technology, defence, medicine, energy and mining. After the revolution in that country, Iran severed relations with South Africa in February 1979 and imposed a total trade boycott against South Africa by the promulgation of an Act in the Majlis (Iranian Parliament).

The new Iranian government also supported the South African liberation movements.

Between 1979 and 1994 South Africa and Iran maintained reciprocal Interest Sections under the protection of the Swiss Government.

In June 1993 the Iranian Representative in Berne, Ambassador Mohammed Reza Alborzi, informed the South African Ambassador that the Iranian Government was considering re-establishing contact with South Africa on a wide front.

Iran lifted all trade and economic sanctions against South Africa in January 1994 and stated that this was the first step in the progressive normalisation of relations between the two states. On 16 February 1994 the Iranian Embassy in Berne informed the South African Embassy that Iran was desirous of establishing diplomatic relations with South Africa.

Ambassador Mohammed Sharif Mahdavi was the first Iranian Ambassador to South Africa after the resumption of diplomatic relations. In turn, Ambassador Moosa Moolla was the first South African head of mission in Tehran after the resumption of ties.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in Iran

H E Mr V M Khumalo
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

Iranian Representation in South Africa

H E Mr M Agha Jafari
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Travel Info

Visa requirements for South Africans

South African passport holders have to be in possession of a valid visa before entering the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The following conditions apply:

Visas should be applied for at the Iranian Embassy in Pretoria (See address under Iranian Representation in South Africa above)

Applications for business visas take up to 15 working days to be processed;

A 15 working day period is required to process applications for visas to Iran for non-business purposes;

Visas issued are valid for a single entry for a period of three months from date of issue;

The visa fee for a single entry visa is R200 for private passport holders. This fee is waived for private passport holders on official visits to Iran only on authorisation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Health requirements

It is not required that South African citizens, residing in South Africa, be immunized against diseases before visiting Iran.

For further information go to Travelers' Health.

Climate and clothing

The climate is one of great extremes with hot summers and cold winters. The high altitude of much of the country results in temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius and below. More temperate conditions are found around the Caspian Sea.

The country is mainly hot and dry in summer (May to October), around 30-40 degrees Celsius, and cold and dry in winter (October to March), 0-15 degrees Celsius.

Dress is conservative. Standard dress for Western women in Iran tends to be a full-length skirt, or long-sleeved shirt and trousers (jeans are allowed), worn underneath a loose-fitting, below the knees, black or dark blue coat. A large, plain, dark headscarf should cover the hair and neck and socks should cover visible parts of the legs.

Men must wear full trousers, not shorts, preferably with long-sleeve shirts.

Usual business attire is a suit and tie and is expected to be worn at meetings and receptions.

Cool light-weight clothing is necessary during summer; warm clothes are needed in winter.

For up-to-date weather information click here.

Currency Info

The monetary unit is the Iranian Rial (IR).

It is advisable to travel with USD bills (post 1990). American Express, other credit cards and travellers cheques in Dollars are not accepted.

For current exchange rates click here.

Air Links

There are no direct flights between South Africa and Iran. Airlinks are via Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Istanbul. Emirates Air and Turkish Airlines could be used from these destinations.


There are four main hotels i.e. the Homa (ex-Sheraton), Esteghal (ex-Hilton), Azadi (ex-Hyatt) and Laleh (ex-Intercontinental). A number of modern hotel apartments are available.

Videos and literature

VHS and Pal Secam. Videos need to be cleared by the authorities to ensure that they are not immoral according to Iranian standards. This can be done at the airport.

Care should be taken not to take books, magazines and CDs into Iran which could be regarded as offensive to Islamic morals.


Sensitive areas such as the airport and military installations may not be photographed. Historical and cultural sites may be photographed.

Time difference to South Africa

In the Iranian summer, 2.5 hours ahead of South African time. In winter, 1.5 hours ahead of South African time.


Iran's official language is Farsi which is spoken by more than half of the total population. Other languages spoken are Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Baluchi and Turkmeni.

English, French and German are used in business circles.


The majority of Iranians are Shi-ite Muslims and a small minority are Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews and Bahai's.

Hours of Business

Banks are open from 09:00 to 16:30 - Saturdays to Wednesdays. On Thursdays from 8:00 to 11:30. (Iran has 11 official banks)

Shops are generally open 09:00 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 21:00 Saturdays to Thursdays.

Government offices are generally open from 08:00 to 16:00, Saturdays to Wednesdays.

Banks, shops and government offices are closed on Fridays as it is a Muslim religious day.


Oil production and agriculture including forestry and fishing. Industry including mining, construction, manufacturing and power.


Principal trading partners

Germany, Japan and Italy

Primary Exports

Oil and gas, carpets, animal skins, hides, metal ores, shoes, cement, caviar, casings, textiles, motor vehicles.

Primary Imports

Food and live animals, beverages and tobacco, raw materials (except fuel), mineral fuels, lubricants, animal and vegetable oils and fats, chemical products, paper, textiles, iron and steel, machinery and motor vehicles.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

No Information

Bilateral Agreements

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at 012 351 1000.

Trade Statistics

Most common products sought from South Africa include chemicals, equipment and tools, steel and automotive parts. Iran's major export to South Africa is crude oil.

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and Iran, visit the website of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa.

Interest Groups and Information

No Information



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