Umrah, a religious pilgrimage to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia can be performed all-round the year except during the Five days of Hajj. Pilgrims who are not residents of Saudi Arabia will need to apply for an Umrah visa, a legal travel document allowing you to visit the country for the purpose of making the Umrah pilgrimage. The Ministry of Hajj & Umrah provides the Umrah visa for free but it does not permit the bearer to reside or work in Saudi Arabia. To start your pilgrimage, you must apply for the visa through a licensed Umrah travel agent. You will also need to submit a number of travel documents with your application, including a passport, photographs, air tickets, etc.
When to Apply for Umrah Visa?
Umrah Visa services are resumed as soon as the Hajj operations end. Usually, it starts at the beginning of the Islamic month of Muharram and the last day for acceptance of Umrah visa applications is 15th of Ramadan.
Umrah Visa Fee
- The Umrah and Hajj visas are free but pilgrims have to pay administration charges for visa services.
- Pilgrims who want to visit Makkah for Umrah for the second time in the same year or the next year will have to pay an amount of SR 2000 per person as Umrah visa Repeater Fee to the Saudi government. A gap of 2-3 years is required to avoid this fee. For example, if you went for Umrah in Hijri year 1438, you need to visit Makkah for Umrah in 1441 to avail zero visa fee.
[ Also Read: What to Do Before Leaving for Umrah? ]
How to Prepare for Visa Application?
- Fill out your 3-page Umrah visa application form by providing the personal information and signing a document stating that you won’t bring alcohol or narcotics to the country. You can download the form here. Print a copy or fill out by hand in black ink.
- Get vaccinated against Meningococcal Meningitis as you need the medical certification to enter Saudi Arabia for Umrah. Please ensure that you receive the vaccination at least 10 days before the entry or your application may get rejected. If you already have received this vaccination, ask your doctor to provide written proof signed by a physician. The date of vaccination should not exceed more than 3 years prior to the date of entry to Saudi Arabia. If travelling with children under 15 years of age, you’ll need their vaccine certification against polio as well as meningitis.
- In the case of a woman, you will need to obtain a legal proof that you are travelling with your Mahram – husband, brother, father, son, etc. If you are a women under 45 years of age entering Saudi Arabia for Umrah, you must be accompanied by a Mehram. While applying for Umrah visa, you will also need to submit a copy of your marriage license (in case travelling with husband) or birth certificate (in case of travelling with father) to prove your legal status. Women of 45 years of age or above can travel for Umrah unaccompanied by their husband or a male companion as Mahram, as long as they travel with an organized group or a family. They will need to show a letter of “no objection” from their Mahram, permitting them to travel.
[Also Read: Suggested Packing List for Your Umrah Trip]
Umrah Visa Requirement
(1) A completed original Umrah visa application form. You must read the statement written at the end of the application form carefully and sign it.
[Note: If you have a non-Muslim name, you should submit a certificate from a Mosque or an Islamic centre stating the fact that you are a Muslim.]
(2) One recent passport size colour photograph with a white background should be attached to the application form. The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly.
(3) Must carry passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of submission of the application form.
(4) Must have confirmed and non-refundable airline ticket. Your departure from Saudi Arabia should be within two weeks from the date of entry. (Applicable for 15 days visa)
(5) Women and children must be accompanied by husband/father or a male relative (Mahram). Proof of relationship is required (a marriage certificate for a wife, a birth certificate for a child indicating the names of both parents). The Mehram must travel in and out of Saudi Arabia on the same flight as his wife and children.
[Note: If you are not a citizen of the country from where you are applying, a valid residency permit must be submitted along with the application.]
(6) A vaccination certificate against Meningococcal Meningitis should be attached. You must carry the vaccination certificate on your entry to Saudi Arabia.
[Also Read: How to Perform Umrah – Step by Step Umrah Guide]
Procedure to Apply for Umrah Visa from the UK
- Contact a licensed Umrah travel agent as you can secure your Umrah visa through a licensed travel agency from the UK that has permission from the Saudi government for distribution of visa. You can apply for your Umrah visa through I’timaar, an ABTA, IATA, ATOL and SAFI certified travel agency in the United Kingdom approved by the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah, Saudi Arabia. Contact one of our Umrah travel agents for more information.
- Obtain a passport with validity of at least 6 months after your date of journey. You may need to renew your passport beforehand to ensure that it is valid for the required period.
- As a part of your Umrah visa application, you must submit a colour passport size photograph with a white background where you must be directly facing the camera. A photograph taken with a slight angle or from the side may get rejected.
- Provide proof of non-refundable air travel tickets by purchasing flight tickets that must be confirmed and non-refundable. You will also need to show your travel itinerary while submitting your Umrah application, confirming that you will not stay in the country for longer than the permissible limits.
Lesser Known Rules for Umrah Visa
- Passengers with Umrah visas can only depart Saudi Arabia through Jeddah or Madinah airports. Earlier pilgrims were only permitted to travel within Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah on their Umrah visa in the country. According to new rules, the Saudi government has now allowed pilgrims to visit any place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This decision was taken to promote tourism in the country.
- An Umrah Visa is applicable only for the purpose of Umrah, and one is not allowed to undertake any type of work or vacation on this Visa and in case of a violation, the Saudi authorities take stringent action.
- Passengers holding a business visa for entering Saudi Arabia cannot apply for an Umrah Visa.
- Travellers should ensure they are not barred from travel by any general travelling, airport and airline rules and regulations.
- Children under the age of 18 are not granted Umrah Visa unless accompanied by an elder.
- The Umrah visa is usually issued for 30 days stay in Saudi Arabia but it may get reduced to 15 days by the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah of Saudi Arabia in the months of Shaban and Ramadan. Please consult your Umrah travel agent before booking your flight.
[Also Read: 10 Hidden Secrets of Madina That You Don’t Know]
Procedure to Apply for Umrah Visa from Pakistan
- Pakistani residents follow the same procedure and rules related to visa as discussed above.
- Pilgrims must submit their bio-metrics data at the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) – Tasheel Visa Service Centre.
- Children below the age of 5 years do not need to submit their biometrics data to apply for Umrah visa from Pakistan.
[ Also Read: How to Perform Umrah with Children & Elderly ]
Visa Rules for Hajj
Although the same rules apply for Hajj visa as that for Umrah, here are some of the additional things that you must consider while applying for Hajj visa services:
- Pilgrims must submit two certified checks or cashier’s cheque payable to ‘Unified Agents Office‘ in Jeddah for pilgrimage services (such as guide facility, Zamzam water, tent accommodation in Mina and other transportation costs). These cheques should include the name and passport number of the pilgrim, and the date and place where it was issued. Pilgrims have the option to submit one cheque including the entire cost. Children between the ages of 7 – 15 need to pay half of the amount whereas children under the age of seven are exempted. Please check with your travel agent or Saudi Consulate in your country for the correct charges.
- The last day to enter the King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah for Hajj is 4th Dhul-Hijjah of each year.
- Pilgrims are not allowed to bring food products inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it will be confiscated at the airport.
- Upon arrival, pilgrims shall submit their passports at the Unified Agents Office to complete all travel formalities.
- In case of loss of passport, a pilgrim should immediately report to the Unified Agents Office and obtain a report of passport loss.
- Applicants who are not the citizens of the country they are applying from must submit proof of legal residence status. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia reserve the right to return any pilgrim in case any wrong or false information is provided about the residence.
- All pilgrims must leave the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after Hajj no later than the 10th of Muharram. The rules and regulations of the Kingdom forbid any pilgrim from staying in the country after the completion of Hajj.
[Also Read: What is Hajj and What are its Various Types]
The Penalty for Umrah Visa Violation
Pilgrims staying in the Kingdom after the expiration of visa will be fined an amount of SR 50,000 and can also lead to imprisonment for a period of 6 months before the deportation. If the Hajj and Umrah travel agency fails to report a violation, the fine of SR 100,000 is imposed along with one-year imprisonment for the owner of the company.