Crossing the border from Iran to Pakistan at Mirjaveh – Taftan: Everything You Need to Know About Overland Border Crossing
The majority of Pakistan’s land borders are open, many overland travelers use the Iran-Pakistan border and safely cross the Taftan and Zahedan border every year.
Here is a guide to the Iran-Pakistan border crossing for anyone who wishes to travel by car, on foot, or motorcycle. However, there’s never been a regular flow of tourists hitchhiking, driving, cycling, and backpacking across this border.
Planning is Important
1: Taftan Border Crossing
If you are crossing by Taftan Border then the trip to Quetta takes almost three days. It will take you one day to reach the border and two days to finally arrive in Quetta. Once you reach Quetta, you will need a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the Home Department of Baluchistan before you can continue your journey. The office is invariably closed on Saturday and Sunday and keep in mind it closes at noon on Friday. So, plan your trip accordingly. Also, try to reach the Pakistan border around the afternoon.
Reaching the border of Iran and Pakistan
Keep in mind, if you are traveling by public transport, you will presumably leave from Bam or Zahedan. You will come across two checkpoints between Bam and Zahedan and two checkpoints between Zahedan and the border. Many people opt to go direct from Yazd as many say accommodation in Kerman is expensive and there isn’t much to see. You may pass through Bam with about four or five police checks. There may be a chance that there is no police escort, no passport inspections and you may never have to step out of the bus for any sort of registration.
You will find a few Hotel options here. To get there you will have to take a taxi/cab from the bus station. Some hotels follow certain rules, for instance, they will call the police when you check out or you will be escorted to the border. Also, you may be taken to the police station first, where your passport will be verified – a normal but daunting procedure. You may be picked up by the Border Patrol (armed men) to usher you to the border. If you are not escorted by the police, you can make your way to the border independently also. Staying at a hotel is one option, but you can also find host families in Zahedan. Additionally, you can hitchhike or take public transport such as a bus. The advantage is that the checkpoints won’t bother you too much. If you are traveling on a motorbike or your transport, the benefit is you normally don’t get an escort and won’t be stopped by every checkpoint.
The Iran–Pakistan Border Crossing at Mirjaveh – Taftan
Crossing the border is not that difficult. Your passport will be checked and stamped at the Iran border. While at the Pakistan border, your passport will be verified and you will be asked to fill out an entry form. The whole process will take approximately an hour or less.
Here you can exchange the currency but need to bargain. Remember, be polite and friendly! The double dealers often prefer Dollars over Iranian Rials. If you are traveling by car or motorbike you can refuel here. Once you cross the border you will be welcomed by the officials (Levies) on the other side. They are administering security in Balochistan’s tribal areas. These people are relatively welcoming and you can communicate with them in both Urdu and English.
Here you are required to sign a paper saying they are responsible for your safety. Also, they will bring you to their compound area where you can stay the night. The facilities here are simple, so you may not have a very comfortable place to sleep. Bring your toiletries and expect simple food. On the Pakistan side, you will be asked to fill out an exit form. On the Iran side your luggage, camera, and laptop will be manually checked. They may ask several standard questions such as, where are you from? Which places are you visiting? How are you going to get around? How long is your stay? Do you anyone there? etc.
Taftan to Dalbadin
The distance between Taftan and Quetta is approximately 600 km and will take two days to reach. On the first day, you will reach a city about halfway through, called Dalbadin. It’s comparatively a comfortable ride. If you are on public transport you may change your vehicle around three times. It will take you nearly six hours to finally reach Dalbadin. The authorities on the way are cooperative, hospitable, and friendly.
Once here, you will be taken to a hotel and won’t be allowed to leave your room to wander about. Remember to bargain. Ask if the amount they quoted/charged includes meals. Don’t expect a fancy stay. There may be power failures, which is a norm. You may find a shop or two near the hotel. Stock up on your supplies if need be. Also, keep in mind the shops may not be open when you are leaving, so make your purchases as soon as you settle in. Additionally, if you are traveling on your motorbike or hitchhiking and want to save money, you can request the authorities if you can find cheap accommodation or sleep at the police station free of charge.
Dalbadin to Quetta
That’s day three if you are going according to the plan with no delays. Fasten your seat belts because this is perhaps the longest ride of your trip. 12 hours approximately! You may change vehicles a dozen times.
The road runs parallel to the Afghan border. The drive into Quetta might be overwhelming and intense since you will have members of the Anti-Terrorism Squad on board.
Arriving in Quetta from the Iran via Pakistan border
The only hotel choice here for foreigners is Bloom Star Hotel, as other hotels do not welcome them. This particular hotel is close to the train station and the Home Office. It’s not very costly, but you can still bargain. The management isn’t very friendly or cooperative. Staying at the Police Station is another option! The police will only either come to escort you to the Home Office for a NOC (No Objection Certificate) and the train station afterward.
Most border crossings are quite unsafe and only open for local travelers, but the two borders accessible for an average traveler are The Taftan-Mirjaveh Border and the Gabd Rimdan Border.
NOC in Quetta
Before you leave Quetta, you need a No Objection Certificate (NOC). You will get one at the Home Department of Baluchistan. Carry your original Identification Card (ID Card) at all times. Foreigners will need to bring their passports. The NOC is free but can take half an hour to three hours to get one. The people at the home office are cooperative and welcoming and paint a positive picture of Pakistan, unlike what the media tells you.
Your NOC is not valid until the next day. Therefore, ask the officials to make it valid for the same day. If in case you miss your train or public transport to Karachi, you will have to stay another day in Quetta. Make sure you go to the train station right after you receive your NOC, to book/buy a train ticket to your next destination.
From here you can head to Karachi. Other options are Lahore and Peshawar via train. The train normally leaves at 11:00 a.m. and the ticket isn’t very costly. It takes about 23 hours to Karachi. Good thing, you can buy food and water at the train station and along the way. The police might escort you (foreigners) to the train station and verify your passport. The escort will accompany you to the Baluchistan state line until perhaps the first station in Sindh. If you are planning to catch a train, try to take an early one. The train ride takes about 24 hours from any main city, but trains are often delayed.
You can either take a train or travel on your transport. If you’re going by motorbike, you can also board the train with your vehicle to avoid the long and strenuous ride. You won’t find any decent place to rest or sleep on the way.
2: Crossing the Gabd Rimdan Border
Many travelers are unaware of is that in recent times another major border crossing between Pakistan and Iran has been inaugurated: The Gabd Rimdan Border.
Located in between the port cities of Gwadar and Chabahar, a trip from Iran to Pakistan by road via the Gabd Rimdan border covers hundreds of kilometers along Balochistan’s scenic and breathtaking Makran coast. Due to its convenient location, the Gabd Rimdan border also provides a significantly shorter and more accessible route from Karachi to Iran and vice-versa. It also requires no NOC since you are not traveling to Quetta from here. From here onwards travelers can explore the beautiful cities of Gwadar and Chabahar on the way. Crossing this border is significantly better and less challenging than the Taftan border, as you can take a taxi or a bus from here.
By car, it will take you approximately one hour to reach the border from Gwadar and two hours from Chabahar. The well-known Makran Coastal Highway connects the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar alongside various natural and touristic attractions. Other options are a public bus that takes you to Karachi directly. If you are crossing the border by private vehicle, such as a car, motorcycle, or bicycle. Chabahar is the closest city about two hours’ drive from the border. Famous for its shopping complex, traditional Balochi food, markets, and stunning beaches.
It is also the gateway to the Iranian Makran coast, which is rich in natural beauty. Chabahar also has an airport and bus terminal with limited service to cities like Shiraz, Kerman, and Zahedan. You may find a bus from the Rimdan border to Chabahar. It is best to have your transport; an acquaintance picks you up. If not, there are opportunities to hitchhike.
Gabd Rimdan Border
The Gabd Rimdan border is open for Pakistani citizens with their passports and valid Iran visas. Iranian citizens with their passports and valid Pakistan visas and residents of Balochistan with valid permits to cross the border. Foreigners with valid visas for both Pakistan and Iran. Once you cross the border and clear immigration to Pakistan, the Pakistani authorities will ask you to travel in their vehicle and escort you to Karachi. If you have your vehicle, they will ship it to Karachi for you. Unfortunately, foreigners are not at liberty to travel and explore Gwadar, Hingol National Park, or any beaches on the way.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind:
- Avoid clicking pictures, and video recordings of the officials (military, police) or border crossing.
- Avoid bribing authorities on the way – military personnel, policemen, a layman, etc.
- It is recommended that solo female travelers and foreigners should find a local male travel partner, particularly on this route, to avoid being taken advantage of. You will find some great, trusted travel companions and tour operators. Remember…in all situations remain calm!
- Purchase food items and essentials before heading out.
- Make sure you have enough food and water, or whatever you may need for a three-day trip. Biscuits or cookies which won’t easily crumble / dry fruits/nuts/trail mix/mouth fresheners/sugar-free gums/candies/chocolate preferably with nuts are some good options.
- Don’t trust tap water everywhere. You may or may not have a chance to stop and shop for basics.
- Along the way, if you are offered water, don’t drink it, unless it’s from clay pots/jars. The water is clean as it is drawn from the town’s well. Consume it at your own risk, because face it no one wants digestive issues on a trip!
- Mirjaveh – Taftan: This border crossing is an extended one, because of the armed escort you need in Balochistan, therefore, the Zahedan – Quetta border crossing is recommended.
- Mand – Pishin: Open for all passport holders, but only on foot / hitchhike. You cannot cross in a vehicle or your car.
- Gabd-Rimdan: At the end of the Makran Coastal Highway, but were rumors about this being close. Officials say it is a valid international border crossing, and sources say the border is open.