Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Iran Primer

Throughout the world, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have proven to be effective institutions for raising awareness regarding issues of public concern, mobilizing citizens into action, and holding public officials accountable for their performance. NGOs have been operating in the Islamic Republic since its founding, focusing on a wide range of issues including public health, development, women’s rights and, more recently, environmental protection. The Ministry of Interior website provides the following issue areas for categorizing NGOs: development, infrastructure development, social affairs, cultural affairs, health and treatment, international affairs, technology, environment and natural resources, ethnic issues, sports and others.

At the most general level, the rights of NGOs to operate are granted in the Iranian Constitution. In the final days of the reformist-oriented administration of Mohammad Khatami his cabinet issued a directive entitled Regulations for the Establishment and Activities of NGOs. The document seeks to clarify the NGO registration process and outline legal parameters for NGOs. As of the date of this publication; those 2005 regulations continue to direct the NGO registration process. This nine-page document is intended to help you understand and navigate the various steps related to establishing a licensed non-governmental organization in Iran under those regulations.


  • Legal Context of Organizations
  • What Rights Do the Regulations Provide?
  • What Are the Criteria for Forming an NGO?
  • What Are the Procedures for Registering an NGO: Step-by-Step
  • What Are Potential Challenges in Registering Your NGO?
  • Looking Ahead
  • Charts
    • NGOs with Licenses to Operate at the National Level
    • Procedures for Registering an NGO Summary Flow Chart