For those who are planning to visit Iran here are some of the social codes which may be of interest to them:

  • Shaking hands with the opposite sex is not common. If you are a man you may shake a woman's hand only if she offers it to you.
  • Men embrace men and women embrace women for the greeting. Opposite sexes do not embrace each other in public.
  • A minimally accepted dress for women is a scarf to cover their hair, a loose long sleeved overcoat down to the knees and trousers.
  • In summer months, linen is a good choice. It is advisable to avoid very bright colours.
  • If offered something by someone, it is common to refuse it first and only when insisted accept it; this is part of the ‘taarof’, which is very common in the Persian culture. Not all offers are serious and you should get a feel of the vibes before accepting an apparent invitation, otherwise you and the host will find yourselves in an uncomfortable situation. A foreign visitor accepted an offer to “Come for tea” by an Iranian family and only after she entered their home did she realize that they were not in a position to have her and it was only a ‘taarof’!!
  • Stretching of legs whilst seated on the floor is considered disrespectful in company of people who are not close friends.
  • Blowing your nose in public is not done.