From Astara (Azerbaijan) to Astara (Iran).
Cooking time; From 2 hours to whole day.
Difficulty; 2/5 (paying) 3/5 (freelance) 5/5 (freelance on friday afternoon)

Dish introduction

Well, you are in front of a challenging dish, is not to take it lightly, and it’s this kind of food that it can either be good an easy or dead difficult depending on who knows what. Our experience is rather hard, but we did learn a lot by cooking it, like better don’t crossing it on friday. So just put on your apron, and get ready for some good saucing!

Ingredients

  • Carnet de passage.
  • Passports.
  • Visa of Azerbaijan with the entry stamp
  • Visa of Iran not expired.
  • A paper with a barcode that they gave you at the Azerbaijan entrance border.
  • 4-8  manats (local money) and 41 dollars in cash .
  • May the force be with you on Fridays.

Method

-1st Step; Exiting Azerbaijan

  • Is not an easy entrance to spot, a concrete arcade in bad conditions serves as the entrance and is easy to miss. Mostly because it really doesn’t look like a border, more like some kind of industrial area under construction.
  • Some guy not uninformed is gonna ask you the passports and you will have to pay an entrance fee. Should be 4 Manats for a small car and 8 for a big truck (not possible to bargain). They do accept dollars too, and in exchange, they will give you a signed paper.
  • After this first weird check, you have to carry on even if it looks like you are going nowhere, another guy and his fence made out of a cone is gonna stop you, ask for the passports and do a quick look in your van.
  • Once you had pass the cone, you will finally get to the main building, they will demand your passports and the barcode, they do take their time to check the papers.
  • Now big surprise, they are gonna make you pay 40$ for a road tax!!! You will have to go to the bank and cash it there plus and extra dollar that we still don’t know what it is for.
  • With the paper form the banck and back to the main building you are ready for the most accurate passport check we ever see, it might take 20 min for the guy to accept that you are the same that in the picture.
  • Just to compensate, a very quick vehicle check, and you are good to go.
  • Right at the end the last control where they ask you the passports and the barcode again. They probably ask for some cigarettes, but at that point you don’t need any favor, and they might become handy for the stress after the hole border.

-2nd step; Welcome to Iran.

  • The first thing you have to do is to make a choice, you either pay 30$ to a guide that is gonna make the paperwork for you, or you go freelance. We are gonna tell you how to do it freelance (cheap thrills).
  • In the first building you will find already plenty of people waiting and smiling at you, DO NOT give them any papers, or the Carnet de passage or even less you passport. Otherwise, they are gonna take them from you and do some paperwork. They will not give it back to you unless you pay them.
  • So get out of your vehicle, and go to the small counters, they are gonna check your passport and your Carnet, but they are not gonna stamp any of both.
  • Get your papers back and you will be able to proceed, before entering completely there is another passport and vehicle check and they will hand you a card (credit card size), and you will have to keep it until the exit.
  • The guards might guide you but because there is this little mafia they are not too helpful (due you did not pay). So even if the road is completely destroyed and the landscape looks like a destroyed and an abandoned place, just carry on in the left side, in front of the first big curve there is the entrance to get to the transit office.
  • Is there where they should stamp you Carnet de passage. (If it is Friday afternoon you may have some trouble to find someone who is willing to work and do that simple movement).
  • Next step is to carry on by the bumpy road until you get to the end of the border, there is an office at the far left, where they should fill in your Carnet de passage details in one of this ridiculously big books,
  • At the center there is another small office where they will stamps your passport, after a quick check in your vehicle.
  • And the last, but not least, at the right, there is another little office where you have to hand your credit card size card, and 30000 rials (a bit less than 50 cents of euro.
  • You can exchange money at the same border, and the rate is not to bad.

Tips to make this dish a bit more digestible

  • Do not try to cross on a Friday afternoon!!! Is the weekend in Iran and everything is closed on the border, if you are lucky you can get through in 6 hours. We talk out of experience! Guess what day we crossed.
  • Forget trying to get car insurance in Iran… or at least we didn’t manage at all, they simply say; Insurance? Drive carefully.
  • Money exchange is better at the Iranian side, but possible in both.
  • Do not leave the border without your Carnet de Passage stamped! You can lose all de deposit back in your country or wait for 7 years to get it back!