Most tourists wonder about what is illegal in Iran, what are the cultural norms and codes of conduct.
Here are the most important things tourists shouldn’t do in Iran:
#1 Don’t Bring alcohol or drink alcohol in Iran
Due to the restrictions imposed by the Islamic government in Iran, food and drinks should be Halal. Therefore, it is illegal to bring alcohol to Iran. If you carry alcoholic drinks with you at the airport, the police will take it from you. There’s a slight chance that you might even be fined. You may find alcohol behind closed doors, but it’s good to know that drinking alcohol in Iran is forbidden and can cause you trouble.
#2 Don’t step forward to shake hand with the opposite sex
Shaking hands is common in Iranian culture, and many warmly shake your hand. But remember not to step forward to shake hands with the opposite sex. In this case, follow the people’s lead and welcome them if they bring their hands forward, otherwise just exchange greetings and keep your hand by your side.
#3 Don’t forget to bring a lot of cash with you
As we explained in “Handling Money in Iran”, it is impossible to use the international bank system in Iran due to U.S. sanctions. Therefore, your VISA card and Mastercards are useless when traveling in Iran. So remember to bring the money you need in cash or use tourist debit cards.
#4 Don’t wear shoes in private indoors
If an Iranians invites you to their home, do not enter the house in shoes unless your host allows it. In Iranian culture people usually take off their shoes before entering the house so that the house stays clear of contamination. It is also good to mention that you will find specific sandals in toilets of every household which you can wear to use the bathroom. Just don’t forget to take them off once you’re out!
#5 Don’t throw used toilet paper inside the toilet
The Iranian type of toilet paper is thick and does not dissolve in the sewage system of toilets. So always be careful not to throw the toilet paper in the toilet and use the wastebasket.
#6 Don’t check you PayPal account
While traveling in Iran, do not check your PayPal account if possible. Due to sanctions against Iran, the Iranians are unable to access international bank accounts. If Iranian IPs are identified by foreign banks, they may trace your account and eventually suspend it. If you have to check your PayPal account, do so after connecting to a VPN.
#7 Don’t bring drones to Iran or take picture of government buildings
Iran has strict rules for filming and photography with a drone camera. Even for Iranian citizens using drone camera requires a license. So if you like your drone, don’t bring it to Iran because it will probably be taken away from you at airport customs and it might also cause lots of trouble. It should be noted that while photographing city buildings, pay attention to the prohibited photography signs. Some of these buildings are government places and taking photos of them may bring you trouble.
#8 Don’t wear shorts
Many people think that clothing restrictions in Iran are only for women and men can dress as they like. But it’s good to know that to travel to Iran, you will have to avoid bringing your shorts during summer as it’s forbidden to wear them in public and urban places. It’s okay to wear a T- shirt and you can also wear shorts on the beach. But never walk around the city in shorts.
#9 Don’t ride the unofficial taxi
In Iran, taxis are either private or shared with other people. Share taxis have specific routes and you can easily travel with them at a reasonable price in the city. Registered and official taxis are green and yellow. But unofficially, any car can be a taxi in Iran! This is common among Iranians, and with the specific attitude of taxi drivers, people can distinguish them from ordinary cars. But as a tourist, it’s best to use official taxis to be safer.
#10 Don’t show affection in public
It is not common in Iranian culture for couples to show affection in public. Although this culture is quickly changing, in the past decades, showing affection outdoor and in the public has been one of the cultural taboos of Iran. It’s ok if you hold hands to greet with a hug and kiss on the cheek but you’d want to avoid anything more than that.