Iran-Iraq border crossing

By Joan Torres 23 Comments Last updated on April 20, 2023

Iran Iraq border

Despite all the rumors, after the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum, the Iran-Iraq border is open to tourists and, actually, it is a pretty quick border to cross.

This guide will show you all the steps to cross it successfully.

How to cross the border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan

Border crossings are always exciting and the Iran-Iraq border was, definitely, no exception.

Being the place where some of the largest amounts of oil in the world go through, at the border, you will find, literally, hundreds and hundreds of trucks full of petrol, going mainly towards Iran.

However, despite being such a sensitive spot, the authorities will not give you any trouble, especially on the Iraqi site, which is totally controlled by the Kurds and not the Iraqi government.

Related content:

Click here to read all my articles about Iran
Click here to read all my articles about Iraq

Iran Iraq border crossings
The customs – Iran side

Iran-Iraq border crossing – Which borders are open?

The only borders which are certainly open are those connecting with Iraqi Kurdistan.

The others might be open to the locals but not to foreign travelers and, in any case, you need to be in possession of an actual Iraqi visa, which is very difficult to get, apart from quite a few security concerns.

These are the open borders:

Piranshahr – Haji Omran

On the Iranian site, this border is more convenient for those who are in Tabriz and the surrounding area. On the Iraqi side, it is 154km from Erbil and, on the way to the border, you pass by Rawandiz, a popular tourist destination within Iraqi Kurdistan.

Bashmaq – Penjwen

On the Iranian side, this border is physically closer to Tehran and very convenient if you are already in Iranian Kurdistan. On the Iraqi side, it is very close to Sulaymaniyah, the second largest city.

I crossed from Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan at Bashmaq, so the guide will focus on this border.

Iran-Iraq border map

This is where the 2 open borders are located:

Things you need to know before crossing the border

Visa for Iraqi Kurdistan

Most nationalities, including Europeans, Canadians, Australians, the USA some countries in Latin America and Asia can get a 1-month free visa on arrival.

Other nationalities need to go through a very tedious process. For more information, contact the embassy in your home country.

For more information, read my Useful tips for traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan

Visa for Iran

If you enter Iran overland, you can’t get a visa on arrival but you need to get it through the embassy. For this, you should first get an authorization code from a reliable local company and then present it to the embassy.

I recommend the guys from 1stQuest, who provide this service for only 29€ and it only takes 1-2 working days.

Moreover, the readers of this blog can get an additional 5% discount. 

My voucher code: ATC-QST

PS: Note that this code can be used whenever you want, as many times as you want, to purchase other services like travel insurance for Iran, and booking hotels and domestic flights within Iran, among other stuff. 

Is crossing the border safe?

There are no security concerns when crossing this border.

Iran is absolutely safe and Iraqi Kurdistan has been safe and stable for quite a couple of years now. For more information, read: Is it safe to travel to Iraq?


When I crossed, I was a little bit concerned that they would find my drone, as it is forbidden in both Iran and Iraq, but they didn’t even check my luggage. They just stamped my passport and I was good to go.

Money exchange

I didn’t see any exchange office at the border itself but you can change money on the black market in the nearest towns.


The border opens every day.

border of Iran Iraq

Iran-Iraq border crossing at Bashmaq

I crossed it from Iran, so if you are coming from Iraq, you just need to do the reverse.

Step 1 – Go to Sanandaj

One of the largest cities in Iranian Kurdistan. You can get there by bus from pretty much any important city in Iran. I personally came from Esfahan, on a 12-hour bus and paid 450,000IR, but you can also come straight from Tehran.

Step 2 – Shared taxi to Marivan

At Sanandaj’s bus station, there are local shared taxis going to Marivan, the nearest border town. There, you can exchange money and get some food. The taxi costs 170,000IR per person, and it is a 127-kilometer journey.

both Iraq and Iran border this country
On our way to Marivan

Step 3 – Shared taxi to the border

At the center of Marivan, there are shared taxis to the border. The price is 25,000IR per person.

Step 4 – Go to the customs

The taxi will drop you 1 or 2km away from the customs. Some taxi drivers will want to take you there but I recommend you walk, as you will be passing through all the petrol trucks.

Step 5 – Iranian customs

For me, it took a little longer than expected, around 1 hour, basically because I crossed soon after Iran implemented an e-visa system, so they were a little bit confused by my Iranian visa, as it was on a separate piece of paper, but the visa extension was in my passport.

Step 6 – Iraqi customs

Super quick, perhaps less than 10 minutes. They checked my nationality, made a few jokes about Spain, smiled and I was already in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iran border with Iraq
Iraqi customs

Step 7 – Go to Sulaymaniyah

Right next to the customs, there are taxis which go straight to Suleimaniyah but they are expensive and cost 50,000ID (41USD).

Alternatively, you can walk for one kilometer and you will see shared taxis going to Penjwen, the closest village to the border. The price per person is 2,000ID (1.60USD).

In Penjwen, you can get on a bus to Sulaymaniyah (4,000ID – 3.40USD) or take a local shared taxi (7,000ID-5.88USD). I personally hitchhiked all this part. It was very easy and we even stopped on the way for lunch.

As you can see, crossing the Iraqi-Iranian border is extremely simple. If you have any more input/concerns to add, let us know in the comments section.

More information for visiting Iran

Don’t forget to check our travel guide to Iran.

As well as all our Iran articles:


Hi Joan! Hope you’re doing well, and let me thank you for this very useful article (like most of your articles here btw!).
I’m gonna traveling to Iran very soon with VOA and was thinking to do this border crossing and explore a bit of Erbil and the surroundings, but I would like to return to Iran again by land and continue my journey to the south. Does an Iranian VOA allow us (EU citizens) to leave Iran to visit Erbil and come back again by land or do I need a specific multi-entry Iranian visa for this purpose?

Again, great article, Joan, thank you for sharing!
A few weeks ago I put this as my “Plan B” in case Syria doesn’t go well, and thought about crossing in the south. I see that you have only two entry points into Iraq and they are in the north.
Two years ago I traveled thru Iran and heard about people crossing in the south, by the ports in the Persian Gulf, I will keep on researching but having in mind what you posted here, since you did it last year.
Being to Baghdad working in-n-out and have not much interest for that place, my intentions are to reach the first cities in the world, the cradle of civilization in the south, Ur, Uruk, etc.
Read here that you mentioned there is visa on arrival in those two entry points in the north for certain nationalities, how can you make sure it is still the case nowadays?
Thank you again, Joan!
George G.

Hey George, that is because those 2 entry points get you to Iraqi Kurdistan a region which has its own immigration rules and they give visa on arrival. 100% it works. on the other hand, I understand that you want to visit those cities and have been to Baghdad but it not possible to visit the Arab Iraq nowadays on a tourist visa unless you go on a tour. However, you have been there and you may have some contacts, so if you have a close friend, they may be able to help you with the LOI.

….. my last question to you, Joan, once inside Iraq through Kurdistan, can you move freely around the country?

Exciting article Joan!
I just came back from Kurdistan where I spent 2 months, covering different issues (I’m a reporter).
Are you sure the trucks were carrying oil TO Iran? Is it not the other way round? I saw much gazoline smuggling coming to Iraq and I’m writing on this issue – that’s why I’m asking.

Hi Joan!
Im in Kermanshah right now in Iran and im thinking about going in Irak Kurdistan instead of Armenia and Georgia. Im a hitchhiker too. So i can go to thz border and the visa is for free for sure? How much days do you think i should stay there? Thank you!

Hi! Very glad to know your website which is very useful for me. I have some questions related visa Irag for traveller like me. I check that now I can get visa Irag online, is it right?. If I possess an evisa of Irag, can I cross to Irag from the border between Irag and Iran? I ask about that because I’ve have an experience in Nepal and India. They are not allow me across the border from the Nepal to India although I had evisa India before. They forced me taking a flight to get to India with evisa for the first arrival. How about Arag?
Thanks very much. I am really appreciated for your help.
Tu Nguyen

Hi there, this border refers to Iraqi Kurdistan border, and visa is available on arrival but only for certain nationalities, mostly EU, North America, Australia and high GDP Asian countries. There’s no evisa for Iraqi Kurdistan

Hi Joan!

I crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan at the Mariwan-Penjwen border today after midday. Very easy, not a single person in the line when I arrived at customs to exit Iran.

The only thing is I was directed to a window to the left on the IK side of the passport control where all my details were recorded on paper. I was queue cut but I was asked to pay a fee of 3,000 dinar (a bit over €3). Not sure if this was necessary or the guys at Passport Control even looked at my sheet but no problem.

Control was quick as could be and I think the whole process including both sides took about 20 minutes altogether making it the quickest crossing I’ve ever done.

One other thing: a man martialling the green taxis (that ferry people to the Iran exit) told me that I would have to pay about 2-3 million Rial to cross. I asked him why and he said “why did you think the crossing is free? Maybe there is another rule for foreigners.” He also said that for Iranians at least the price increases by $10 each time they cross. To be clear this seemed unrelated to taxis, but was to be paid to Iranian officials upon exit. Just an FYI to not worry about this and not pay it to anyone, as you just don’t need it.

Thanks for the content man we all appreciate it!

thanks for your feedback man, much appreciated. Yeah, I never heard of anyone paying to cross that border, and I am even surprised that they made you pay the 3000ID. Maybe rules have changed?

Hello, thank you for this very informative article. I will probably have more questions later on, but for now I have a question in regards to moving between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan. I plan on going to Iran next year March (visa free for 30 days by flying into Teheran as an Australian passport holder). I also hope to maybe spend a week or so in Kurdistan, specifically Erbil and maybe Sulaymaniyah. I think getting into Kurdistan should be fine, but I was wondering if you know anything about coming back to Iran. I suppose I will need a visa getting back into Iran (since it is a land border crossing), but do you know if there is anything else I need to be aware of?

Hey Joe! Good to know you are going to Kurdistan 🙂
Yes, you would need a visa, and you should obtain it at the consulate in Erbil. Otherwise, you can always fly. I am not sure about the average price for a flight ticket from Erbil to Tehran but take into account that getting a visa costs around 100€, including the visa code + embassy fee. You can check my visa guide for more details:

Im gonna travel to kurdistan im from mongolia my country not on list visa on arrival. What if im just going to mariwan border is it possible to get visa there. Or is there kurdistan consulate in tehran. Give me advice please

Are you sure the border is open to Iran from Kurdistan even during corona? For tourists? You have any information on usa citizens getting tourist visas ?

Hola Joan. Estoy alucinando con tu web. Y muhy contento de haberla encontrado,
Mi intencion es ir a Arabia Saudi en moto, ¿es posible desde Iran cruzar Irak a Kuwait, para luego pasar a Arabia, o incluso Iran – Irak – Arabia?
Mil gracias por tu ayuda,
Sigo leyendo todo lo que publicas.

Hola Carlos,
Puedes pasar de Irán al Kurdistán iraquí, pero no al Irak árabe. De momento, no te dejan cruzar de Kurdistán a Irak árabe, pero esto cambiará en los próximos meses, ya que por primera vez, puedes conseguir un VOA a la llegada a Irak, pero por ahora, no se sabe bien si también lo da por frontera terrestre.

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