My whole life, I have been dreaming of getting my Shenasnameh & Iranian Passport. Iranian laws allow for the wife and children of an Iranian man to obtain citizenship, despite country of residence.
Shenasnameh is an Iranian birth certificate and “life certificate”. All marriages, divorces and children are added into a bearers Shenasnameh, so it is a vital document to have. Ideally one would be obtained at the time of birth, can still be issued at any age with patience and the right documentation. Sadly, there is very little information available online about the process and what to expect. I poured over the few sites that had information dozens of times!
I was determined to visit Iran and see this beautiful and ancient culture for myself, so it was time to get started. A small stack of forms arrived to be filled out in farsi, this is where Dad came in. Form 428-G or 428-B will be required if the applicant is over the age of 18. These forms are not available for download, and must be requested. My Uncle called to request the forms while I was visiting him and was told that only the Father of the applicant could request the forms. I got on the phone to request them and they told me that since my Father was alive, he had to be the one to request them. Dad called the embassy and requested the forms and they were quickly mailed to him. He was told that we would have to get the Shenasnameh first, then get the passport issued when we picked it up. This would be the way every correspondence would work. They would only contact my Dad for information and instructions.
My Dad filled out the 3 forms and I carefully signed my name in farsi. I excitedly gathered my documents and posted my application packet to Washington on April 3, 2014. May 9, 2014 my Dad got a call requesting my Mom’s Shenasnmeh. She had what is referred to as a Shahi-Shenasnameh which is a birth certificate that was issued during the reign of the Shah before the Revolution of 1979. This is no longer considered a valid document, so we did not include it in the application packet. He sent it out that afternoon. June 27, 2014 an envelope arrived containing all of my Dad’s original documents with a refund for $101.00. There was no sign of anything pertaining to my application, so naturally I panicked. I called the embassy in Washington and was assured that this was normal procedure. August 29, 2014 my Dad received a letter requiring me to present myself in Washington D.C. before 10am during opening hours. We loaded up and made the 12 hour drive in a single day.
We booked the Holiday Inn in Georgetown and could not have been happier with the location. We were three buildings away from the embassy, so we just walked. We arrived at the embassy on September 3, 2014 just before 8am. We were told that they begin accepting applications at 7am and start processing applicants at 8am. We were respectively in hijab (headscarf), so we had no issues. We were checked into security and made our way up the marble stairs. The waiting area held no less than 10 chandeliers and had fabric draped on the ceiling tiles.
We were number 10 and I anxiously watched the screen as it slowly ticked through numbers. My Dad casually chatted with other waiting applicants like he didn’t have a care in the world. Finally my number came up and we gave the attendant the letter we had received. We waited about 10 minutes and were ushered into a side room with an interviewer. He asked us questions about seeking a Shenasnameh and Passport and if we planned to visit Iran. The interviewer was very kind and asked me to sign several forms. He had me sign several forms in English as my signature in Farsi was apparently abysmal. They did not ask for the form that we had filled out (form one) for the passport. We were told that everything that was needed was already in my file. The interviewer said we needed to take a photo for the passport, and I pulled out a stack of photos. He was very amused by the amount of documentation that I brought with me. We paid for my documents and were told to return between 2:30-3:00 that afternoon. We decided to check out of the hotel and try a local restaurant recommended by an employee of the Embassy.
We had a gorgeous lunch at Yekta Kabobi. When a member of staff delivered our food, all I saw was an arm lightly dusted in black hair and black sleeves. I never even saw his face , I was so transfixed on my plate of kabobs. I gave my Mom ‘sideeyes’ and calmly said, “I just want to kiss that dude on the mouth.” Mom just rolled her eyes and told me a thank you would be sufficient. After eating everything on that table that wasnt bolted down, we made our way next door to shop their international store before heading to the end of the complex to get some sweet Iranian goods.
We got back to the Embassy at 2:15 and waited to be called. Unfortunately the other 4 people that had been waiting with us in the morning all had issues and were told to return the next day. At 2:50pm I received my new documents and pranced my way out to the well-wishes of the people we passed. Finally – FINALLY I WAS OFFICIAL!!!!!
It took just shy of 5 months from the time my application went out to the day I held the books in my hand. This seems to be an exceptionally quick turnaround, so I will outline the exact steps we took in the hopes that it will help others in a similar situation to get the same – or hopefully better time frame.
*All of our dealings were with the Embassy in Washington D.C. USA – Procedures may vary by country.
Form 428-B (boys) or 428-G (girls) must be requested from the embassy.
*If your father is living, be prepared to have them correspond with him.
Your ORIGINAL U.S. Passport
*You must have a passport before they will accept your application
*I also included a copy of the photo page of my passport
Original “Long Form” Certified U.S. Birth Certificate
*I got 2 from the State of Florida for $18.00 within 10 days by mail
Father’s ORIGINAL Shenasnameh
*Include copy of first four pages of this also
Parent’s Marriage certificate
*2 certified originals were obtained from the local courthouse for $6.00 within 2 days by mail
Contact information of 2 relatives currently living in Iran
*My Dad included a letter with this written larger, as the form was cramped
Mother’s U.S. certified “Long Form” original birth certificate
*from State of Florida downloaded form – 2 for $18 within 2 weeks
2 photos of applicant, and each parent
*I sent 4 of each of us
*Women must wear a headscarf (hijab), but a jacket to fully cover the arms was not required at the embassy. I wore a 3/4 length top with jeans and sandals.
2 fingerprint cards (included in packet) completed by local law enforcement
*be prepared for strange looks when you present these blue cards
*My local police department provided free fingerprinting for city residents.
I also included:
A letter with the application packet thanking them for their time (and apologizing for including more than was needed)
A copy of my marriage license
A copy of my Driver’s License
A copy of my Dad’s US and Iranian passport photo pages
A copy of my Dad and Mom’s Driver’s Licenses
A copy of my Dad’s Iranian national ID
I mailed the entire packet USPS certified mail with tracking.
The letter we received told us to bring the following to Washington
My original US passport
Original Letter from Embassy
Mother’s shenasnameh *if applicable (this was crossed out on mine as my Mom didn’t have a valid one
payment for Shenasnameh and passport
What I took to the embassy ‘just in case’
My birth certificate
My husbands birth certificate and passport
My marriage certificate
6 photos of me
6 photos of my husband, my Dad, and Mom *women wearing a headscarf (hijab)
My Dad’s US and Iranian passports
Copy of my US passport photo page
My Mom’s Shahi-Shenasnameh
My Driver’s License
Copies of my original application and fingerprint cards
My Parents marriage certificate
**** only my photos were used of this packet of extras, but I like to be prepared for anything!
$10 of the original fee was used to return my US passport via FEDEX, as I had an upcoming international trip. The embassy was very accommodating and returned my passport the next day.
MY TOTAL COSTS *May vary in your state. Not including travel expenses.
$110 US Passport
$35 US passport processing fee
$18 – 2 certified Birth Certificates from State of FL (only needed one)
$6.00 – 2 certified Marriage Licenses from Florida County for parents (only needed one)
$9.58 – USPS certified mail to Washington
*$81 – Shenasnameh + $30 shipping – $110 returned – $10 used for US passport return
$62 – Shenasnameh (according to official)
$147 – passport
$3.50 – 123passportphoto for unlimited passport photo (to be printed at home)
Examples of “neutral face” hijab photo for the embassy. This is just a standard scarf wrapped loosely from the ear around the chin and over.
*I am in no way affiliated with these sites or businesses.
Please comment below with any questions or suggestions for those struggling with the process.