For those not looking for info on collecting an Iranian VISA I would suggest skipping this entry.
After reading a few blogs/reviews, I decided it would be easier/worthwhile paying an agency to get my VISA. I found key2persia the least painful (Iranian visa had too many negative reviews, I also have a travel friend who is currently struggling dealing with them). It took approx 4 weeks from the time I initially contacted key2persia until receiving my authorisation code enabling me to collect my visa. My experience was as follows:
1. I Completed the form online including an itinerary listing mode of transport and chosen hotel (I just fudged one using LP). My only mistake her was making a 21day plan, not 30days (which is the max time you can have). This meant my trip to Iran was now limited to 21 days, sad face. Should have thought about that one a little more…. (don’t get too anal about this, you can always modify it later easily, up until the point where your authorisation code is issued).
2. The agency got back to me and requested a scan of my passport and also gave me bank details to deposit 30euros into (German bank account)
3. Once the money was cleared, they submitted my paperwork to the Iranian Government.
4. 2 weeks or so later I heard back from the agency and they issued me an authorisation code in order to collect your VISA from my nominated Iranian Embassy (selected in my original application). You can change your collection point after the number has been issued for 15euros (bit of a wank but I don’t think there is any other way).
5. I visited the Iranian Embassy in Istanbul for collecting my VISA (wear long pants! And cover your head if you are female!). Their website said working hours are 8am – 4pm (I know it sounds too good to be true), I turned up at 1.30pm on a Wednesday (hoping this was right after lunch) to a sign which stated office hours 8.30am to 12.30pm. It looked closed, so I knocked on the door and was told to come back in 2 hours by the voice coming out of the speaker. After returning exactly 2 hours later, the same voice told me they were closed and I should come back tomorrow; this resulted is me getting a little upset with the man. Not disrespectful, just let him know they he is a cunt! He told me between 9am and 12pm. For anyone planning to use the Istanbul Iranian Embassy, get there at 8.30am, will be much easier.
6. I came back the next day at 11am (slept in) and was greeted by an open embassy, yay! I collected a ticket from the man at the door, waited for approx 30mins (amazing!), was given a form and told my visa would take 3 days (Friday=holiday) and cost 70euros. I told him I wanted it urgently, and it suddenly became 105euros and would be ready by 1pm. Hectic! I filled out the form (which was the same as the key2persia one), paid the bank across the road, ran back, and lined up behind half a dozen people. When I got to the front (at 12.15pm) the man told me it was too late and I could not have my VISA today. I kicked up a stink and suddenly it was possible again. I walked out of the embassy with my VISA at 12.40pm (fucken amazing).
7. I’d say all that my 30euros got me (key2persia) was a single sided letter which was attached to my application, I honestly believe that’s the only reason everything went so sweet. Cheers guys!