Current business situation
If you are considering commercial or other dealings with Iran we recommend that you familiarise yourself with the operation of sanctions and obtain independent legal advice before making commercial decisions with respect to Iran. Please refer to the DFAT website for updates on Iran Sanctions.
The Australian Government is implementing changes to Australia’s sanctions on Iran in line with our international obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. Austrade is currently assessing the implications of these changes for Australian business and this page will be updated with further information shortly.
Detailed information on the export of defence and dual-use goods can be accessed from the Department of Defence’s Defence Export Control Office.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides advice for business travellers and tourists going to Iran. This is regularly updated and should be checked before planned travel.
Although visitors usually have no problem travelling just with English, a few words of Arabic can be immensely useful. The most common greeting in Iran is ‘salaam alaykom’ (peace upon you), the correct reply is ‘wa alaykom as-salaam’ (peace upon you also).
When meeting someone in a business context make sure to always shake hands, it is a sign of courtesy and respect. For male visitors, before shaking a woman’s hand wait to see if they extend their hand, if they do not, simply nod your head and smile. When doing business in Iran stick to formalities and once a relationship has been established, addressing them by their first name can begin.
Men should be smart and conservatively dressed, a suit is standard and often expected although wearing a tie is not a necessary. Whether conducting business or just visiting, women should wear very conservative clothing that covers arms, legs and hair and when in public most women cover their hair with a scarf. In recent years the government has become more relaxed in what clothing they are willing to tolerate. Many women will now be seen wearing makeup, jeans and scarves that barely cover the hair. However as a foreigner it is best to dress extremely conservative, particularly when doing business.
Appointments and meeting should be made in advance and confirmed by telephone and in writing. A few days before the meeting or prior to arriving in Iran it is important to telephone again to confirm the time and place for the appointment. Business hours are from Saturday to Thursday, 9.00am to 5.00pm, with lunch usually taken for an hour at around 1pm. Friday is a holiday and no business will take place on this day. There are a few key periods to avoid when trying to conduct business in Iran. ‘No-Rooz’ is the major holiday for Iranians and is a New Year celebration falling around the 21st of March. During this time all offices, businesses and most shops will close for two to three weeks. Ramadan, the month of fasting, is another time to avoid business in Iran.
Setting up in Market
Companies and individuals with dealings in Iran should be aware that Australia has comprehensive trade sanctions in place, which imposes certain restrictions on financial dealings, trade and technical assistance, as well as travel controls. Before setting up in the market business should familiarise themselves with Australian and UNSC sanctions and seek independent legal advice. The Minister for Foreign Affairs may grant a sanction permit authorising the supply, sale or transfer of goods, which would be needed to conduct most business in Iran.
Banking and finance
The government has been moving towards liberalising the banking sector, although progress has been extremely slow. Foreign banks have been operating in Iran’s free-trade zones since 1998, however the banking sector is dominated by state-owned banks.
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines
IRI Customs Administration
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
News and media
Please note: this list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only.