Iran declared safe for holidays as FCO changes travel advice following nuclear deal

Nearly all of the country has been classed safe for UK visitors

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The British Government has declared almost all of Iran safe for travel as international relations thaw following the landmark nuclear deal.

Until today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against “all but essential travel” to most parts of the country of 77.5 million people and designated other areas dangerous in any circumstances.

Although parts of the border with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain off-limits because of bandits, drug trafficking and separatist militants, the rest of the country has been declared safe for travel.

Iranian families riding pedal boats on Chitgar lake in western Tehran

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, did not give a specific reason for the change but said advice for every country was reviewed regularly and “informed by the latest information”.

“Our policy is to recommend against travel to an area when we judge that the risk is unacceptably high,” he added.

“We consider that continues to be the case for specific areas of Iran, notably along Iran’s borders with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

“But we believe that in other areas of Iran the risk to British nationals has changed, in part due to decreasing hostility under President Rouhani's Government.”

The FCO's new travel advice for Iran

The Iranian President presided over the landmark deal on 14 July that saw his country commit to limits on its nuclear programme to calm fears of weapons development, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions worth billions of dollars.

Anti-American and Israeli sentiment has continued at protests in the country but the agreement with six members of the UN Security Council, including the UK, was hailed as a “new chapter” in international relations.

A Taiwanese tourist photographs a man at Persepolis in Iran in 2014

The changing travel advice appears to show it is paying off, although the FCO stressed that risks remain in the country.

Consular assistance for British nationals has been limited since the closure of the British Embassy in Tehran following an attack in 2011.

A crowd of protesters stormed the building and another British diplomatic compound, ransacking offices and stealing or destroying documents, computers, paintings and furniture in a rampage David Cameron called “outrageous and indefensible”.

Protesters storming the British Embassy in Tehran in November 2011

State media claimed the assault was the spontaneous reaction of students opposing the UK’s “anti-Iran policies”, while opposition politicians and some analysts claimed authorities allowed or even directly backed the incursion.

The FCO’s travel advice warns that British nationals still “face greater risk” than citizens of other countries and cautions against being near protests, photographing official or military buildings and journeying “off the beaten track”.

Visitors are warned to respect Iran’s strict interpretation of Islamic law and all local traditions, including not drinking alcohol, dressing modestly and refraining from showing physical affection to unmarried partners or friends of the opposite sex.