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Umrah Travel Update: Ramadan 2022

The resumption of Umrah for pilgrims from other countries started on 10 August 2021 as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to ease coronavirus restrictions.

On 5 March 2022, the Saudi authorities lifted most of the precautionary measures which came in place during the COVID-19 pandemic in preparation for Ramadan 2022. This includes the removal of social distancing in all mosques in Saudi Arabia including Masjid Al Haram and Masjid Al Nabawi (together known as the Haramain).

Please see the below guidance on how on to perform Umrah (correct at the time of publishing).

Pre-Departure

Download the Tawakkalna application (Google Play or App Store) before departure and register on arrival in Saudi Arabia within 8 hours of arrival.  To use Tawakkalna in Saudi Arabia you will need an unlocked smartphone and mobile data services. Obtain a local pay as you go sim card with call, text and data allowances on arrival at the airport in Saudi Arabia with sufficient credit balance to avoid the hassle later if you need to top up. SIM cards can be purchased at the arrivals area at major airports (Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah etc.).

Download the Etamarna application and book your Umrah slot, this app can also be used to book prayers in the noble Rawdah and nafl tawaf.
Link to Download Eatmarna App: Google Play or App Store

Booking of salah in the Haramain is no longer required.  At the Haramain, you will need to display your COVID vaccine “immune status” (confirming you are fully vaccinated) on the Tawakkalna app to gain entry. Hence it is important to have your smartphone on you at all times whilst in Saudi Arabia.

You MUST register your vaccine status at https://muqeem.sa/#/vaccine-registration/home before arrival and after obtaining your tourism visa with Umrah. The site is available in Arabic and English. Read more about COVID vaccination below.

PCR / Antigen Testing

Submission of a negative result of PCR test or Rapid Antigen tests for the Corona Virus before departing to the Kingdom are no longer required.   However some non-direct flights may well require you to have a PCR or Rapid Antigen tests 48hrs-72hrs before departure, so always check with the airline and plan ahead.   

Vaccination Requirement for Umrah Visa:

Mandatory requirement to have had Meninigits ACWY Jab at least 10 days before arriving in KSA.
Check with your GP if you are up to date with all other vaccinations before travel along with any medications you may need for existing conditions (make allowances to take extra medication in case of delays on your return leg or you test positive for COVID and have to quarantine).

COVID Vaccinations Requirement for both Umrah & Tourism Visas:

All visitors arriving in Saudi Arabia with a valid tourism visa must provide evidence of a full course of one the vaccines currently recognised by the Saudi authorities:

  • Two doses of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines; or
  • A single dose of the vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson.

Guests who have completed two doses of the Sinopharma or Sinovac vaccines will be accepted if they have received an additional dose of one of the four vaccines approved in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

IMPORTANT: If it has been more than eight months since your second dose of the COVID vaccines mentioned above, you must get the booster shot to maintain the “immune status” on the Tawakkalna app.

All doses must be completed 14 days or more before the date of departure.

The airline will check your vaccination status at check-in so ensure you have a copy printed off from the NHS App, or request a letter from NHS confirming the same a few weeks prior to departure via: https://www.covid-status-letter.service.nhs.uk/ .

The airline may also check your COVID status on your return leg at the departing airport, so keep this document safe during your travels!

If you are not vaccinated

Unvaccinated travellers of any age must undertake a five-day period of institutional quarantine in a designated hotel.  Quarantine will be lifted upon a negative PCR
result on the fifth day after arrival. However, you will NOT be permitted entry into the Haramain, nor will you be able to perform Umrah.

Travelers are advised to book the quarantine package through the airline on which they are arriving.

For your convenience, you should check the current entry requirements with your chosen airline before purchasing a ticket.

What type of Visa do I need for Umrah?

There are two options currently available, one is to go for the traditional Umrah Visa and book via an approved Umrah Agent, and the other is to obtain the new tourism e-Visa.

e-Visa (Tourist Visa)

Have valid tourism visa obtained BEFORE arrival and select “With Umrah” option.
Visa on arrival remains suspended for health and safety reasons.

e-Visa is valid for 1 year from date of issue, and you can stay for up to 90 days with multiple entry.

Have COVID 19 insurance. This insurance is included in all new tourism visa issues.
If you are entering on a previously issued tourism visa, you will need to pay an additional fee of SAR 40 at the airport on arrival to cover insurance for any COVID-19 related medical expenses.

Apply for the eVisa here

For more info visit: https://www.visitsaudi.com/en

Umrah Visa

Your Umrah company will obtain an Umrah Visa for you which is valid for 90 days from issuance and you are allowed to stay a maximum of 30 days on single visit only.

In most circumstances, the Umrah Visa is issued as part of a package which may include flights, accommodation, transportation, ziyarah tour etc.

Are there age restrictions on who can perform Umrah?

All ages can enter Saudi Arabia.

However, only those aged five (5) years and above and have had two doses (three doses if it has been eight months since the second dose) of the COVID vaccinations are currently allowed entry in to the Haramain to pray salaah (daily prayers) and to perform Umrah. There is no upper age limit.

How many Umrahs can I perform?

As of 5 March 2022, the Saudi authorities have removed the ten-day waiting period between Umrah permits.  Thus, a new Umrah permit can now be issued immediately after each Umrah.

There is no limit on the number of Umrah you can perform with an Umrah Visa. We advise you to obtain a wristband from your Umrah company, which will give you ease of access to Haram and to performing Umrah. This is particularly useful for those who are not tech savvy as you do not need to use the Etamarna booking App to book Umrah.  Certain hotels can also issue you Umrah permits, but please check with them before booking.

What are the restrictions to touch the Ka’bah, Black Stone, Prayers in Hateem and Mataaf?

Entry to Mataaf is only allowed for pilgrims carrying a valid Umrah permit and for the purpose of tawaf only. There is a restriction in place to touch the Ka’bah, black stone and prayers in the Hateem as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.

Can I perform Nafl Tawaf?

Nafl tawaf (i.e., not part of an umrah) is now allowed on the first floor only of Masjid Al Haram. You can book your time slot through the Etamarna app. Please note as it is only permitted to be performed on first floor it can take approximately one hour to complete.

Are there concessions for those with mobility issues?

Special lanes have been created for wheelchair users to perform tawaf in the mataf area with ease in their wheelchair. Furthermore, special electronic carts are available to rent when performing Sa’ee.

Can I wear Ihram on board my flight?

Please confirm with your airline before travel as to whether you can wear the Ihram as this will be dependent on what type of Visa you have i.e., eVisa (Tourist) or Umrah visa.

The current policy being implemented by Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) only permits Umrah visa holders to board the flight with Ihram to go directly to Makkah.
Tourist eVisa holders are expected to travel to other destinations before they are allowed to perform Umrah.

It is also worth noting that there is no Ihram changing facilities on board the flights and the Salaah area on board Saudia is currently closed due to COVID restrictions.

What travel documents do I need to carry?

  1. Valid Passport with at least 6 months validity on your return date
  2. NHS COVID vaccine certificate
  3. Muqeem vaccine/arrival registration certificate
  4. eVisa
  5. eTicket/Airline Ticket/Boarding Pass

Tip: Print out a couple of copies of each document above as you will need them
when you fly out at departure and on your return. Store copies on your smartphone /
cloud storage for easy retrieval and leave copies with your close friends/family.

Travel to England from another country during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check what COVID-19 tests you need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Remember to complete the Passenger Locator Form before arriving at the airport as this will save you hassle at check-in.

What’s the latest UK Government Travel Advice to Saudi Arabia?

Please bookmark and visit the link below for the latest FCDO travel advice to Saudi Arabia. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia

Hajj 2022

As Umrah rules begin to relax, can I strat to book my Hajj Package?

NO – It is too soon to book Hajj packages for this year.   We advise you to wait for official announcements by the Saudi Authorities which will be published on our website and social media feeds.  However you should start to prepare by ensuring that you have had all your doses of the COVID vaccinations and researched your Hajj tour operator.  Do not make any deposit payments at this stage.    

Previous Updates

Shamim Ali

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