When travelling abroad one of the most important aspects to consider is how you will be dealing with your funds. Due to political reasons, some countries around the world do not allow the capability of effortless international transfer of money or the use of credit cards. Iran is one of those countries and in being so; goingIRAN has prepared some good-to-know information to allow travellers to visit with ease of mind.
Being isolated from the global credit and debit system, Iran’s banking and financial system is something all travellers should plan and prepare for before arriving. Relative to its neighbours in the Middle East, Iran can be one of the most inexpensive countries to visit and explore. The following is a guide of key points foreign travellers should know about Iran’s banking system and currency.
Iran’s national currency is the rial. All official banknotes are expressed in rials. Although when making purchases or discussing money in a conversation, you will not hear the word rial being said even once! It is very important to know this is, because people in Iran, generally and informally, use toman when verbally discussing money. Toman is an expression of currency; referring to an amount in the official rials with one zero taken off. For example, something that costs 50,000 rials will be said to cost 5,000 tomans. Use of the word toman became popular many years ago. As the currency depreciated, people preferred to use a smaller number when speaking of money. More so, nowadays it has even become very common for people to shorten this number even further; for example something that costs 5,000 tomans can also be referred to as 5 tomans. Both 5,000 tomans and 5 tomans mean 50,000 rials.
It is also good to note that in written deals, such as contracts or banking transactions, the rial will always be stated, as it is the official and formal currency. The majority of the time, in shopping malls, stores and bazaars, tomans will be used however a rare few still like to use rials to mark their prices. Be sure to double check with sales person to be sure about the price.
The Iranian rial (IRR) is shown by rls in short form (Example: 50,000 rls.). Currently, there are eight different official banknotes and one cheque being used: 500,000 rial cheques and 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500 rial banknotes. There are also 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500 and 250 rial coins. Other than the coins, all official bank notes are printed with both Farsi and English.
CREDIT, DEBIT AND GIFT CARDS
All major international credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are not accepted in Iran, due to the current political sanctions. Travellers’ cheques are also not accepted. Note that due to the sanctions and unavailability of transferring money from bank to bank, internationally, you must bring all of the money you need with you in cash. Luckily, there is no limit for importing foreign currency into Iran. Exporting currency, however, is limited and dependant on the amount that was declared upon entrance.
However, although carrying cash is common in Iran, you do not have to carry your entire budget with you wherever you go. For carrying larger sums of money, you may wish to obtain an Iranian credit or debit card at a local or even a tourist bank. Iran has a very widespread network of ATM machines which travellers can use to their favor. You can also use your Iranian credit, debit or gift card in most shops as most of them have POSE machines (credit/debit swipe). It is also good to note that it is the formality for the sales person or shop keeper to ask for your 4-digit passcode when swiping your card to make a purchase. It does not mean that they are invading your privacy or financial security!
All major currencies such as US/Canadian dollar, euro, British pound…etc. are all widely accepted and easily traded. Although, in order to get the best deal it is ideal to convert your money at one of the numerous currency exchange shops you will find. Alongside the currency exchange shops and banks, you may also come across some street vendors that urge you to trade your money with them. Do not get lazy and always take the safest choice, which is a currency exchange shop or bank. It is generally recommended to use rials when shopping, eating or exploring in Iran. It is also good to note that the exchange rate of the rial is always fluctuating, so it is also important that you keep up-to-date with the exchange rate, online or through currency exchange storefronts to avoid any surprises.
Visitors from smaller countries whose currency is not very common, although it is highly unlikely, it is recommended that you bring your cash with you in the form of a major currency just to be sure it is accepted everywhere in Iran.
Shopping is usually a very fun and memorable experience for visitors. Iranian shop keepers almost always enjoy serving and dealing with foreign visitors and are generally honest people in their dealings. Having said this, it is still common for shoppers to bargain on prices in bazaars and shops to lower their prices, so if you are anywhere outside of a shopping mall and feel like you have a different opinion on the value of something, name your price! Also, remember to always be aware if the price you are being quoted is rials or tomans.
When eating out, every country has its own certain etiquette. In Iran, tipping is not very common. Seldom restaurants have a 10-15% gratuity included in their prices, and some high-end restaurants, in Tehran, may expect a 10-15% gratuity on the total. Having said that, for the majority of the time any tip you leave behind is always a nice surprise. At the airport, it is also customary to tip an employee that helps you carry your luggage.