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Issuance of Rial Payment Cards for Foreigners

Date: 23 March 2023


It has almost become impossible to imagine handling daily transactions without using bank cards. The outbreak of coronavirus and its consequent restrictions, especially in using cash highlight the significance of using bank cards more than ever.

In an instruction announced by the Central Bank in March 2021 on How to Issue Riyal Payment Cards for Foreign Natural Persons, a bold attempt was made to solve this problem for foreign nationals holding valid residency documents.

The foreign natural persons subject to this Instruction shall either hold a valid residence permit or identification documents such as a special residence permit (for those entering Iran based on cooperation programs with international experts and entrepreneurs) asylum residence permit, or Amayesh card (the residence permit assigned to Afghan nationals).

According to this Instruction, each credit institution may grant only one Rial payment card with a specific expiration date to foreign natural persons over the age of 18. These cards have certain purchase limits for foreign natural persons based on their residency situation. As such, the daily purchase limit for those who hold an asylum residence permit or Amayesh card is 150 million Rials but for foreign natural persons with a special residence permit or a valid residence permit, this amount is the same as the limits set for Iranian nationals.

Also, the credit institution shall specify the validity period of the Riyal payment card in accordance with the provisions for the issuance and renewal of payment cards, and based on the residency status of the foreign natural person. The validity period for foreign natural persons who reside in Iran is until the expiration date of their identification document. For foreign natural persons who do not reside in Iran, this period is until the expiration date of their passport. Moreover, for foreign natural persons with nationality of visa-free countries, this period shall not exceed three months from the date of their entry to Iran.

In order to obtain this Riyal payment card, natural persons must have or create an account as a corresponding deposit account to the credit institution. In case the foreign natural person fails to fulfill its obligations after the issuance of the Riyal payment card, the credit institution shall cancel the bank card in accordance with the provisions of this Instruction.

This Instruction was ratified in 7 Articles and 5 Notes in the 40th meeting of the Commission of the Central Bank for Regulation and Supervision of Credit Institutions and in accordance with the regulations notified by the Supreme Council for Combating and Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.