The Hajj to Mecca is the holiest pilgrimage for the followers of Islam. The pilgrimage follows the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad, when he travelled from Medina to Mecca and cleansed the Kaaba, in 632 AD. In fact, almost 2.4 million Muslims from around the world travelled to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj in 2018, according to the figures published by Statista.
Hajj occurs between the eighth and thirteenth day of Dhul-Hijjah, which is the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar cycle. Taking part in this journey is mandatory for all able-bodied Muslims with the financial means to do so.
Another holy pilgrimage for Muslims is the Umrah. Umrah is a recommended but not mandatory pilgrimage. It can be performed at any time during the Umrah season and can be completed within a few hours.
To travel to Saudi Arabia for these pilgrimages requires a visa, unless you are a citizen of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman or the UAE. Earlier, a separate visa was provided for the Hajj and Umrah. However, the kingdom has simplified the process unifying the two into a single multiple entry visa. The visa allows you to stay for up to 90 days in Saudi Arabia, within a one-year period.
The basic requirements to obtain this visa include:
The applicant must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the completion of the intended trip. The passport must contain at least two blank pages for the entry stamps. The passport must be acceptable for entry into Saudi Arabia as well as in the next destination.
The applicant needs to submit one passport-sized photograph of themselves. The photograph needs to be coloured and taken against a white background. It is important that the applicant is looking directly into the camera when the photo is taken, since any angled or profile pictures are not accepted.
The applicant needs to fill in and submit the visa application form. The form needs to be printed out or fill and signed in black ink. Also, the signature and stamp of the authorised travel authority is required on the form.
Complete information about the applicant’s wife, children, or any other relative travelling with the Mahram must be provided in the application form. Copies of the birth or marriage certificates for these travellers is also required.
It is mandatory for women to be accompanied by a Mahram (male guardian) for Hajj. Only women who are older than 45 years are permitted to travel without a Mahram or an organised group. However, women travelling as part of an organized group also need to provide a letter of no objection from their Mahram.
The applicant will need to submit proof of having purchased a confirmed round trip ticket.
Every pilgrim needs to submit two certified cheques or cashier's cheques, payable to “Unified Agents Office” in Jeddah for pilgrimage services. These cheques must also include the passport number and name of the pilgrim, as well as the time and place of issue.
Proof of vaccination for ACYW135 as well as meningitis needs to be submitted. For infants and children under the age of 15, a vaccination report for meningitis and polio is necessary. For children older than 15 years, the vaccination requirements are the same as that for adults.
For the citizens of 49 countries that are eligible for the Saudi electronic tourist visa, the process of applying for the Hajj or Umrah visa has become extremely simple. They can complete the entire process online, via the official Saudi Arabia visa website. For citizens of other countries, the application needs to be submitted through a licensed travel agent. It is mandatory that the travel agency provide a letter from the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia, confirming that they have fulfilled all the requirements needed to assist pilgrims.
This pilgrimage visa is provided free of cost. However, you will need to pay for other services, accommodation and transportation. Pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah also need to pay a visa fee of SAR 300.
The government of Saudi Arabia has also cancelled the fee required for those repeating the Umrah pilgrimage. Earlier, those repeating Umrah within a three-year period were required to pay a fee of SAR 2,000.
Yes, children can travel with their parents for Hajj. The names of the children must be included in the parent's passport, when applying for Hajj. It is also mandatory to attach their birth certificates.
Here are some things to keep in mind while travelling to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage:
In case this is your first time travelling to Saudi Arabia or you are looking for a completely stress-free way to go for Hajj and Umrah, use the services of a reputed and reliable agency, like Rapid Visa. We will take care of all your visa needs and ensure a completely hassle-free experience.