I'm hoping to travel to Iran in the next six months and I'm aware that it's difficult to access "western" banks via ATM networks, bank transfer, etc.

But do the sanction even apply to countries that are "friends" with it in that part of the world?

I have friends in Kuwait, Georgia, and Armenia, who might possibly be able to help me get a bank account in their country or send me money after I get to Iran.

Is anything like this possible?

Yes yes I know I can carry huge amounts of cash in dollars or euros from my previous country and change it to a huge amount of Iranian cash after I arrive. I suppose I'm the only person in Stack Exchange who feels no qualms carrying large amounts of cash across border crossings I've never experienced before and around a country I've never experienced before for an unspecified period of time.

  • Why not get cash on your last stop before Iran?
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:05
  • (+1) Not what you are asking and I can easily see why it might not be practical for you but AFAIK US dollars and euro banknotes can be exchanged in Iran. Might be useful to know for other people.
    – Relaxed
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:15
  • Here is says you can take in unlimited dollars with you. Won't that be enough ? travel.stackexchange.com/questions/30513/…
    – DumbCoder
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:45
  • @JonathanReez: I intend to travel for a month. Why do you not feel concerned about carrying large sums of cash around multiple countries and border crossings? Jan 27, 2015 at 13:48
  • 1
    I'm expecting at my level and style of travel that for one month if I take $700 I'll have a bit to change back when I leave, emergencies aside of course. But I didn't want to include that and make the question less useful for others. Jan 27, 2015 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


Even if Iran's neighbouring countries have good relations with Iran, the question is whether the banking system in the neighbouring countries is liable to the sanctions.

Cash withdrawals through ATMs between different banks are handled through interbank networks, many of which exist as standalone networks within a country (as the Wikipedia article linked to indicates). Cross-country / multi-region transfers are handled by interbank networks run by Visa Plus, MasterCard Cirrus, or other products from Visa / MasterCard that talk directly to their respective networks without going through an interbank network.

The main interbank networks and card providers are all run by Visa and MasterCard (primarily, except for regions such as China where UnionPay used to be monopoly until recently). So for you to be able to use ATMs from a country with friendly relations with Iran, you'll need a bank that issues cards for its own country not on an American-owned network like Visa / MasterCard as well as on a card network that works in Iran.

According to the page on Iran's banking system (Shetab), it's an in-country network but with mutual agreements with banks in UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and China. This means theoretically it may be possible to get bank accounts in one of these countries with a card that works in Iran, but there are caveats highlighted above that you need to watch out for and YMMV. Your safest option is to check beforehand with any prospective bank whether their cards will work in Iran.

  • Great work! So I should look into Kuwait and China! Jan 28, 2015 at 2:29
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    @hippietrail I think this means you need to open a bank account connected to Shetab in a country like Kuwait and transfer your money to it so that you can withdraw it via ATMs in Iran. If you couldn't open a bank account in one of those countries, I think your best option would be to bring cash with you. Make sure you read this answer too. Also note that you do not need to bring huge amount of money with you. Iran is a relatively cheap country for foreigners.
    – B Faley
    Oct 19, 2016 at 8:45

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