Your Hajj and Umrah visa is one of the most important documents that you will need to legally enter Saudi Arabia and enjoy a successful pilgrimage. Travelers aren’t permitted to apply for the visa independently, so you will need to work with a Saudi-approved travel agent to apply. Prepare the following paperwork in advance because your agent will need it to complete the visa application:
If this is your second Umrah in a two-year period, you may need to pay an added fee. There is also a fee that every traveler must pay to secure the Umrah visa. You will need to submit two checks to cover your Hajj visa fees. Your travel agent will know the current rates and procedures for covering these fees. Each person is limited to one Hajj visa in a five-year period.
From this list, you can see that you need to make your travel arrangements and secure your passport prior to applying for the visa. The Saudi government wants to know when you are scheduled to leave the country and where you will stay. Working with a travel agent capable of making all arrangements in the proper order will ensure that you receive fast authorization and are well prepared for a comfortable trip.
Separate visas are issued for Hajj and Umrah, so don’t assume that you can apply for an Umrah visa and participate for Hajj pilgrimage. You are also limited to three cities when securing an Umrah visa: Jeddah, Medina, and Makkah. If you want to visit other cities, you will need to plan these excursions in advance, securing special permission with a different visa from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government may deny your request for an extended visa.
The Hijiri calendar is used to set the expiration dates for all Saudi visas, so make sure that you understand the day that your visa will expire. It’s important that you leave Saudi Arabia before that date because authorities can detain you and order you through deportation hearings if you overstay your visa. They may also charge large amount of fines if you overstay, so getting the visa expiration date wrong is a costly mistake.
While Umrah visas are typically good for 30 days, you’re only permitted to remain in Saudi Arabia for a maximum of 15 days. Once your visa becomes valid, you must take your trip within the 30-day window before expiration. This gives you plenty of time to perform the required rituals and then see the sites or enjoy a brief vacation with family or friends. There are specific dates by which you must leave Saudi Arabia when traveling with a Hajj visa, and your travel agent will know the cutoff date.
In addition to your visa, you will need to secure the following prior to leaving for your trip:
The Saudi Ministry of Health releases information about required vaccinations for all Hajj and Umrah participants. You will need to present the vaccination certificate when entering the country, and it is on you to make sure that you obtain up-to-date information and receive the proper vaccines from your primary care doctor at home.
You should receive the identification card and wristband from your travel agent once your trip is officially booked. Make sure that you have it in hand before departing for your trip. The same goes for your Hajj permit. It’s illegal to participate in Hajj without this permit.
While you’re securing your passport, Hajj and Umrah visas and other required travel documents, consider these safety travel tips offered by the U.S. Department of State:
Hajj and/or Umrah will likely become one golden highlight of your life, but some advance preparation to secure the proper Hajj and Umrah visa and permit is essential. Use the information on this page to plan a successful trip that will prepare you for your journey ahead.