Doing Business with Iran

Basic data
Capital Tehran
Population 85,871,730
Language Farsi (Persian)
Religion Shia Islam; Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are also officially recognized
State system islamic republic
Head of State Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Head of government President Ebrahim Raisi
Currency name Iranian Rial (IRR)
Time shift +hours (the transition to winter and summer time differs by a few days compared to the Czech Republic, the days are different each year)
Economy 2021
Nominal GDP (billion USD) 1,185.10
Economic growth (%) 2.5
Inflation (%) 43.4
Unemployment (%) 9.9

Iran, with its full name the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian Jomhuri-je eslami-je Iran), with its more than 85 million inhabitants and an area of ​​almost 1.65 million km 2 belongs toamong the 20 largest countries in the world. In addition, it is the 4th largest country in Asia and the Middle East by area and the 2nd most populous country in the Middle East in terms of population. As can already be seen from the official name of the country, in Iran the political system is closely connected with religion, specifically with the state and dominant one, which is the Shiite Islam of the Twelve Imams. According to official statistics, over 90% of Iranians believe in it (according to the latest estimates, however, more and more Iranians consider themselves atheists, Zoroastrianism is also on the rise, and about 40% of the population actually believe in Shia). Politically, the country is ruled by the Supreme Leader. The head of government is the president. Power is traditionally divided into executive, legislative and judicial, while in all areas the clergy and also members of the so-called Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which were originally created to defend the Islamic Revolution and as a counterweight to the army, have a privileged position.

Iran has the fourth largest reserves of oil and the second largest reserves of natural gas. It also has rich reserves of copper, zinc, coal, iron ore, precious metals and gems. Due to the sanctions applied by the UN, the EU and the US against Iran due to doubts about the peacefulness of its nuclear program and human rights violations of varying intensity for more than thirty years, the performance of the Iranian economy is rather weaker. GDP per inhabitant is only around 13-14 thousand. USD. In addition, Iran is struggling with high inflation (officially around 40%, especially in the case of some commodities 90-150% in real terms), lack of currency and growing poverty of the population. It does not have access to a number of modern technologies, e.g. airplanes, cars, but also the transport, energy and mining infrastructure are therefore very outdated and in poor condition. Electronics, appliances and IT components are expensive and scarce goods. Iran is also cut off from the international banking system. Nevertheless, it has developed self-sufficiency in many fields and, for example, in the field of construction or metal processing, it is among the leaders in the region of the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition, Iranians are among the most educated nations in the world, more than 70% of the population has a university degree for a long time, Iranian doctors and engineers are especially world-renowned and in demand, but recently also IT experts.

Certain misunderstandings may arise regarding the Iranian currency – the rial. As a result of inflation, Iranians got used to calculating prices in so-called tomans, with one zero removed from the rial. In 2021, however, the government decided to create the so-called new toman, which is four zeroes shorter than the rial. The plan is that the new toman will completely replace the rial in the future (not yet specified). For now, however, it is possible to meet all three values, i.e. both the rial, the old toman and the new toman. It is therefore always necessary to ask for the price to be converted to rials. It still represents the main accounting unit and also the only official physical money, i.e. banknotes and coins.

The future of Iran’s economy largely depends on the outcome of the Vienna talks on renewing the JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear deal already concluded with Iran by Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and the US, with the US withdrawing from the agreement in 2018). What is at stake is a significant reduction in sanctions, which would primarily allow Iran to resume foreign trade in energy and mining, but also in many other industrial fields. However, the restoration of the banking connection with Iran does not depend only on the lifting of the relevant sanctions. Since 2020, Iran has been on the FATF blacklist (the main reason is the refusal to adopt legislation limiting the financing of terrorism), especially Western banks, but apparently also many companies, which is why, even in the case of sanctions reduction, they do not consider cooperation with Iran. Iran’s participation in the SWIFT system is also not expected.

So the opportunities for Czech companies remain limited for now. During the period of validity of the existing anti-Iranian sanctions, certain forms of cooperation can be established, e.g. in the water management and waste industry, healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, agriculture, food industry, electrical engineering and processing industry. If sanctions are reduced, opportunities could reopen, especially in the mining industry, energy, transport and infrastructure renewal.


Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)

  • information on phone numbers: 118
  • international telephone exchange: 9212
  • flight information: 199
  • state taxi service: 133
  • police: 110
  • firefighters: 125
  • accident reporting: 197, 6692 6666 (Tehran)
  • medical emergency: 123, 115
  • 24-hour pharmacies: 191

Iran international dialing code: +98

Prefixes to some cities:

  • Tehran 021
  • Mashhad 0511
  • Esfahan 0311
  • Shiraz 0711
  • Tabriz 0411
  • Kerman 0341

Important web links and contacts

  • MFA of the Czech Republic:
  • Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tehran:
  • Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
  • Government of Iran:
  • President of Iran:
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader:
  • Iranian Ministry of Industry, Mining and Trade:
  • Iranian Government Economic News, News:
  • IRNA (Official Press Agency):
  • FARS News Agency:
  • Iran Chamber of Commerce and Mines:
  • Central Bank of Iran:
  • investment in Iran: /
  • Iran Trade Promotion Organization (similar to PaulSourcing):
  • Customs administration/statistics and information:
  • National Database of Tenders (in Farsi only):
  • Iran International Fairs:
  • Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran:


The Ten Commandments for Doing Business with Iran

The PaulSourcing agency has prepared ten recommendations for doing business with Iran for Czech entrepreneurs interested in business relations with Iran.

  1. Prepare cash, visa and insurance Due to the ongoing problem with money transfers and the impossibility of doing business in US dollars, it is necessary to travel to Iran with cash at this time. Credit or debit cards issued outside of Iran will not work here. Before your arrival, you must obtain a visa or a so-called reference number, based on which you will collect the visa at the airport. The fee is 70 to 80 euros.The reference number can be arranged by your business partner or travel agencies. The fee for such a service is around 20 euros. At the airport – before passport control itself – you will need to prove your travel insurance. If this is not recognized, you will have to pay for it directly at the airport at a cost of approximately 14 euros for one month.
  2. Apply English You will fully apply English in Iran, but knowledge of the local language is always a plus. Catalogs in English are perfectly fine, but if you have a Persian version, your business counterpart will be pleased. But try to avoid mistakes in translations, which unfortunately often happens when translating from Czech to Farsi.
  3. Take an older colleague , Iranians, or as they prefer to call themselves, Persians, strongly respect family ties, where older members of the family have the main say. So it is very credible when your delegation includes a senior experienced professional with the necessary insight and experience. When traveling to Iran, women can be part of the team, but if you are dealing with the government, then the team leader should be a man.
  4. Choose appropriate clothing It is necessary for women to avoid inappropriate clothing. Shoulders and hair must be covered, legs must be covered with pants or leggings up to the ankles, and coats that extend past mid-thigh. When greeting and saying goodbye at official events, women’s hands are usually not shaken. It is also good to know that sexual intercourse between unmarried partners is a crime and it is illegal for unmarried couples to live together in an apartment or hotel. If you are also taking your girlfriend on a business trip, book two rooms to accommodate both of you.
  5. Expect a flexible time Arranged meetings can be canceled or moved by Persian partners significantly more often than in European conditions, or the meeting sometimes does not take place even without prior notice. However, it is usually the case – especially nowadays – that the Persians rush their counterparts to make a trade or business partnership happen as quickly as possible. The perception of time is much closer to the European one than it is, for example, in Arabia.You rarely get a definite promise in Iran that your partner will definitely meet you in three weeks at 10:30 a.m.If he is interested, he will respond to your meeting proposal and confirm it if he can. So should you buy tickets or not? Yes, but expect that you will often fine-tune the meetings operatively on the spot. At that moment, the Iranian partner often does not really know what exactly he will do that day. It is necessary to show great flexibility on your part, to have in reserve more options for filling your trip.
  6. Use smartphones and the Internet It is important to know about prioritizing the latest communication channels, which include e-mail, mobile phone, but especially smartphone Internet applications. This is especially important due to the relatively young business community – roughly 30 percent of the population is under the age of thirty-six. The second reason is that mobile internet is relatively cheap in Iran. So communication can be started by e-mail, but other individual questions are often solved via mobile applications.However, only written communication is not enough. It is always necessary to check with your partner by phone whether he has received the catalogs or the offer, ask his opinion, talk to him. As soon as you find out that the partner’s offer is interesting, it is often necessary to visit the partner, because business is created here based on the creation of trust during a personal meeting. It cannot be assumed that a trade will occur on the basis of one visit. It is necessary to take into account that the Persians are tough and capable traders.
  7. Take with a grain of salt quick interest Iranians act relatively quickly and with the appearance that everything is already ready and waiting only for you. This is mainly due to the fact that now is the time for them to get the best possible dealerships. On the one hand, such an approach confirms the potential of your product, but on the other hand, it does not mean that your person will be able to sell this product.
  8. Tolerate meeting interruptions During the meeting, it may happen that your local partner interrupts your meeting by taking care of other matters, including, for example, a phone call with your brother. In most cases, however, personal meetings are conducted in European style.
  9. Send an employee with decision-making authority Company representatives must come on business trips to Iran who have such a position in the company that they are authorized to make decisions directly on the spot and answer the partner’s questions without references to the need to first consider and discuss it in the company in the Czech Republic. Otherwise, it gives the partner the legitimate impression that only a representative was sent and that the corresponding partner did not come to the meeting.
  10. Mention Persian culture At the beginning of any new business relationship, it is always good to mention a few words about Persian culture and education, because Iranians are, without exaggeration, a proud nation, and such a tidbit can help facilitate the transaction. Therefore, we recommend that you read some basic information about the history and culture of Persia before traveling to Iran.


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