Bringing Your Car to Iran – New Import Rules for 2023

Bringing Your Car to Iran - New Import Rules for 2023

If you’re an Iranian national living abroad or a foreign investor looking to bring your car to Iran, some positive customs changes are making the process easier in 2023.

Iran recently updated its rules on temporarily importing foreign passenger vehicles into the country. These new directives aim to support tourism, business, and nationals overseas while simplifying cumbersome import procedures.

This article originally appeared on Tehran Bazaar. The site is a reader-supported publication. Consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.


Importing foreign cars into Iran has always required navigating complex bureaucracy. Restrictive permit processes, short validity periods, and bans on certain countries of origin have made the experience frustrating. But revised customs regulations effective this year are now enabling more flexible imports.

Iranians living overseas, foreign travelers, investors, and free zone residents can all temporarily import passenger vehicles more freely. The key changes reopen the door for temporarily bringing even US-made cars into Iran.

Let’s examine precisely what Iran’s 2023 temporary import rules allow for passenger vehicle imports.

New 5-Month Limit for Iranians Abroad

Previously, resident Iranians abroad could only secure a 2-month car import permit extendable to 5 months total if approved. Now customs regulations automatically grant a 5-month no-objection certificate off the bat.

To qualify, Iranians must simply prove residence overseas for three consecutive months before import.

This lengthened validity helps nationals visiting Iran more conveniently have their own vehicle.

Non-Resident Travelers Also Get 5 Months

Foreign travelers to Iran also benefit from the 5-month temporary import allowance. The days of short 2-3 week permits are over. Tourists can drive their own cars in Iran for up to five months from all countries of origin.

For non-resident Iranians and foreign visitors alike, the expanded 5-month period provides ample time to explore Iran by car.

New Options for Foreign Investors

The biggest change relates to foreign investors who can now import vehicles for their business activities in Iran. Subject to approval, qualifying investor applicants can bring foreign cars for up to five years.

The 5-year allowance applies to investors registered under Iran’s Foreign Investment Promotion & Protection Act. With $300K invested capital, one car is permitted. At $600K investment, investors can temporarily import up to three cars duty-free.

The extended 5-year limit and relaxed restrictions aim to incentivize business and foreign capital flows.

American Cars Now Allowed

In a major shift, no country of origin is excluded under the new rules. This opens the door for temporarily importing American-made vehicles.

Previous bans had prohibited GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla and other US automakers since 2016. But the latest customs directive lifts this restriction.

US cars still account for only a sliver of Iran’s auto imports. But the changes provide welcome flexibility for Iranian-Americans and other US-based nationals and investors seeking to bring vehicles.

Free Zones: 1-Month Permit Unchanged

For Iran’s various free trade zones, the same 1-month import allowance for passenger vehicles remains unchanged. This temporary rule helps those with business activities in these zones.

The shorter 1-month period aligns with the nature of free zones. But fast 5-day turnarounds on permit extensions aid longer imports.

Outlook for Imports in 2023

Iran’s updated temporary import rules bring tangible improvements for many seeking to drive foreign cars in the country. With lengthy 5-month permits now available upfront and country bans lifted, navigating the import process is far simpler.

The streamlined regulations should allow more expatriates, tourists, and foreign investors to have their own vehicles in Iran through 2023 and beyond. But with sanctions still hampering trade, restrictions will persist.

For now, taking advantage of Iran’s relaxed import framework makes bringing foreign cars an attainable proposition this year. Those eager to drive their own vehicles for business or leisure should consult with knowledgeable auto import specialists to begin the process.