The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued new advice, warning British-Iranian dual nationals to avoid all but essential travels to Iran. British citizens are not directly affected by this advice, but should take it in to consideration when planning their trip. You can read the relevant part of the travel advice below.

Risk factors

The Iranian security services are wary of foreign nationals and especially dual nationals. You will increase your likelihood of being detained if you take part in any/some/all of the following –

  • If you are a student and are undertaking research in Iran.
  • If you are travelling independently (ie, not as part of a tour).
  • If you are in Iran during times of heightened political tensions, such as during protests or around the time of terrorist attacks.
  • If you behave in a way that cannot be obviously explained.
  • If you travel to remote areas.
  • If you are present in crowds and protests.
  • If you associated with people of interest to the authorities, such as activists, artists, dissidents, lawyers, aid workers, journalists, or politicians.
  • If you take photographs outside of major tourist sites.
  • If you act in a way that is contrary to mainstream Iranian interpretations of Islam.

The Iranian authorities do not recognise dual nationality – if you are detained, your embassy will not be granted consular access. Your embassy will be limited in what they can do to assist you while you are in detention. Trials in Iran can be extremely flawed, with the accused not receiving what would be considered a fair trial. Prison conditions can be extremely harsh.

Authorities have previously warned that the Iranian authorities might consider you to be an Iranian citizen, even if you do not. If you have an Iranian parent or are married to an Iranian citizen, you might be considered Iranian.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

The FCO’s update is in part related to the case of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained in Iran since April 2016. She was recently released for three days before being returned to the notorious Evin prison. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was visiting family with her infant daughter when she was detained and accused of running “a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran”. She has always denied the charges.

Travel advice

From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The FCO advise British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran (except for areas where the FCO advise British nationals against all travel, as set out on the Summary page of this advice).

British nationals, in particular dual British/Iranian nationals, face greater risks than nationals of many other countries. The security forces may be suspicious of people with British connections. The risks are likely to be higher for independent travellers or students than for people travelling as part of an organised tour or business people invited by the Iranian authorities or companies. If you have links to any organisation perceived as being anti-Iranian, either within Iran or elsewhere, you may be at even greater risk.

There is a risk that British nationals, and a higher risk that British/Iranian dual nationals, could be arbitrarily detained in Iran. In such cases the FCO has serious concerns that the subsequent judicial process falls below international standards. The Iranian authorities don’t recognise dual nationality for Iranian citizens and therefore don’t grant consular access for FCO officials to visit them in detention. If you’re a British-Iranian dual national and you are subsequently detained in Iran, the FCO’s ability to provide consular support is extremely limited.

Any behaviour that doesn’t have an obvious explanation can put you at risk, no matter how innocent you believe it to be. This may include travel off the beaten track, being present near crowds or sensitive sites, having contact with Iranians who are of interest to the authorities, taking photographs (except in major tourist sites), or behaviour that could be perceived as contrary to official Iranian interpretations of Islam. The threat to travellers is likely to be higher if there’s any national unrest, terrorist incident or an increase in tensions between Iran and the international community.

You should consider carefully the risks of travelling to Iran. If you choose to travel, you may wish to keep a low profile.

The Iranian authorities have in many cases failed to meet their international obligations to notify embassies when foreign nationals have been detained. If a dual-national is detained the Iranian authorities won’t notify the embassy as they view dual nationals as Iranian citizens. Even if requested, adequate consular access to foreign nationals isn’t always granted and is never granted for dual-nationals. You should therefore keep in close touch with family or friends back home.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iran

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