Etiquette and Customs in Iran

Etiquette and Customs in Iran that you should know about them. Iranians have many beautiful customs and traditions. They are close to extended family members, and they have great respect for the elderly and are very hospitable to foreigners. These traits remain highly visible parts of Iranian etiquette. The most important things in Iranian culture are:

Loving God

Loving Iran

Loving family



The core concept in Persian culture is called Tarof (or taarof). It is based upon acknowledgment of other people. It shows humbleness and respectfulness. For example, it is always polite to let others through a door before you, or say “No, after you.” The word to use in this scenario is ‘Shoma befarmayeen’ (please go ahead).

Another situation in which you can come across this phenomenon is while paying at a restaurant. Everyone in the group will offer to pay the bill. The appropriate word here to use is ‘nemishe’ (not possible), and of course, denying offered food and saying, “Oh, no thank you.” (in Persian: na merci) when you really do want some is customary. Most likely they will insist a second time and that time you should act humbly and accept their offering.


In Iran, people have two different identities, the first, “Zaher” (the public display) is in front of strangers, people dress very formally and conservatively, and do not accept compliments (tarof). The second is “batin” (private) which would be visible at home with family and close friends. People will dress in a much more casual way and speak less formally – Iranians can feel free to be themselves.

Greeting Etiquette

At a social gathering, greet the oldest people first, as age is highly respected.

In formal situations, only shake hands with people of the same gender, whereas informally Iranians kiss three times on each cheek. After shaking hands, put your right hand on your chest to show respect.

Don’t extend a handshake to a female if you are a male or vice versa. Any physical contact with the opposite gender is forbidden. Shaking hands with children are considered very respectable.

In a formal scenario, address people by their title and their last name.

Visiting local people

It is customary for Iranians to bring a small gift when visiting an Iranian household or if it’s a special occasion. Sweets and flowers are popular gift choices and always apologize for the inadequacy of the gift (taarof).

Another lesser known fact is that when entering a room, it is customary to clear your throat or say any phrase to announce your arrival. This is particularly important if there are women in the house.

When it comes to etiquette when visiting people, it’s best to keep an eye on your host’s actions and follow suit. For instance, if he leaves his shoes outside the door when entering a room, remove yours at the door as well.

Dining etiquette

Iranians take their dinner very seriously and have many customs to go along with it. They take pride in their food and usually prepare much more than necessary to help demonstrate their wealth. If you are an important guest, you are most likely to be situated at the head of the table and served first when the food comes out. When eating, to show respect, make sure you finish your food. It is considered very rude to leave food on your plate in an Iranian’s home. Another way to avoid being perceived as rude is to make sure you try a little from all the dishes served, and try not to look at someone else’s meal.

Lastly, if you are a vegetarian, Iranian food is probably not for you. Meat is in almost every dish, so it could be a little difficult not to offend your hosts.  One other thing, at the meal time it is very rude to clean or blow your nose so be aware of this matter because Iranian consider it very offensive.

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