How to Change Foreign Currency at Tehran’s Airports

How to change foreign currency at Tehran’s Airports.

INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVICE BY LIT: AT Living In Tehran, we are not affiliated with any bank, bureaux de change, or financial company. We aim to give fair and honest advice about how to best navigate your time in Tehran. Have questions? You can contact us on our email!

Finding Iranian currency (the Iranian rial or IRR) outside of the country is virtually impossible. It’s a real pain because when you arrive in the country your Visa, Mastercard, Mir and UnionPay cards do not work with the local Shetab card system. Knowing this, you need cash quick as you are not going to make it beyond the airport!

How to change foreign currency at Tehran’s Airports.


Until a time when Iran’s local bank card system connects with foreign systems, there are options at Tehran’s two airports where you can change your foreign currency over.

There are currently a few operating bureaux de change (called Sarafi in Iran) at Tehran airports, where you can change your money from US Dollars, Euros, Emirati Dirhams or other currencies.

There are several banks and reputable money exchangers stationed at the entrance and exit of the Imam Khomeini International Airport ready to provide service to passengers who need cash quick.

Banks at Tehran airport can give rials in exchange for foreign currency, but buyer beware, you will end up with a fist of cash which is something not advised when you are travelling around the country at not the best rates.

Exchange rates at Tehran airports

Saman Bank

Well, like elsewhere in the world, airports do not offer the best exchange rate, but the number of exchanges at the airport are good for small exchanges of less than $100/€100 to get you going and in a taxi to your destination. You can get better exchange rates when you head into the city from places like Ferdowsi Street (the historical currency street) or further uptown in the several bureaux situated around Tehran.

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has now clarified that banks and credit institutions can buy hard currency from foreign tourists as well, foreign transit drivers, foreign business visitors, political missions (embassies) and representative offices of foreign banks in Iran. Meaning you can also exchange your currency at the banks at the airport.

Charge Cards at the Airport

Iranian banks at the airport also offer digitised financial services to foreigners including a foreign ATM which ends up in a charge card for foreigners, we’ve heard Saman and Mellat Bank on the ground floor of terminal 1 also offer these cards.

We advise you change some currency to get your into the city, where taxis are set at fixed rates (you can see the sign above your head outside the main entrance).

Charge Cards from Abroad

There are several digital bureaux operating in Tehran who offer digitized money from abroad. These services work with funds paid into foreign accounts and an equivalent amount paid to a pre-paid charge card from a local account.

These systems include brands like MahCard, Iran Tourist Card, Daric Pay, as above we cannot vouch for these companies and you should understand the risks of pre-purchasing currency online before you arrive in Tehran. Also, at last count these companies do not have representation in the airports, and you would need to bridge the gap between the airport and your place of stay.

Want to know the ‘street’ exchange rate?

There are several different exchange rates in Iran. Yes, we know this makes it more complicated. But you DO NOT want to follow the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) rates as these are only available to specific commercial importers and not individuals. Especially not tourists! Either way, the rate you will get for foreign cash will be more than enough for a visit.

We refer to, for exchange rates as this non-affiliated service based abroad has been operating for several years and covers the bulk of foreign currencies. USD, GBP and EUR are the top free listed on the site here. Bonus, it’s in English!





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