Trans Eurasia travel

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Contrary to popular belief, Iranian officialdom is fairly relaxed about what foreigners take into and out of the country; at airports, your bags probably won't be searched at all. However, it is strictly forbidden to import alcohol, drugs and pornographic material into Iran; if supplies are found in your baggage you, your companions and your sponsor will suffer. You are allowed to import, duty-free, 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars, and a 'reasonable quantity' of perfume.

Be careful with books, journals and newspapers which may be confiscated, particularly if they contain pictures of women wearing makeup or without a headscarf.

You should have no trouble bringing in your laptop, smartphone, shortwave radio, iPad and video equipment if it doesn't look professional. Visitors are supposed to declare cash worth more than US$1000. In practice, few do and the authorities aren't really interested. A reasonable amount of jewellery for personal use, a camera and five rolls of film, a pair ol binoculars and a walkman can be taken into the country without any problem as long as you leave with them again. The exact number of films taken in per person is rarely checked but be aware that there is an official limit of five rolls.

If importing your car temporarily, you will need a current international driving licence, a camet de passage, car registration, third party insurance (valid for Iran), a nationality badge, a red warning triangle and spare parts. As secondhand cars change hands in Iran for almost the same price as a new car, Iranian customs officials will not believe any story of theft or vehicle write-off unless you have proof. They will assume you have sold it and fine you accordingly.

Export Restrictions
Officially, you can take out anything you legally imported into Iran, and anything you bought, including handicrafts other than rugs up to the value of US$160 (hang on to your receipts), as long as they are not for 'the purpose of trade'. Many traders will undervalue goods on receipts issued to foreigners. A 'reasonable number' of rugs can be exported with no limit on value.

You can also take out 150g of gold and 3kg of silver, without gemstones. If you want to exceed these limits, you will need an export permit from a customs office. Officially you need permission to export anything 'antique' (interpreted as items over 50 years old), including handicrafts, gemstones and coins. In case of food, the rule is rarely enforced although caviar and large quantities of pistachios can be difficult to get past customs. The export of carpets and antiques, on the other hand, is very strictly controlled and can be done only if you are in possession of the right documents, it is recommended to buy these items in shops that have an export licence and can take care of shipping them abroad.

No more than IR200.000 in Iranian cash is allowed to be taken out of Iran. Sanctions mean that in theory you can't take more than US$100 worth of goods purchased in Iran into the USA.