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Umrah Update: November 2021 – eVisa or Umrah Visa?

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 30 September 2021, the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah announced that it would be increasing the number of pilgrims performing Umrah daily to up to 100,000, an increase of 30,000 to the current capacity and 60,000 worshippers will be able to pray at Masjid Al Haram.

From 17 October 2021, the Saudi Authorities eased the precautionary health measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID and to operate the two holy mosques at full capacity. (i.e. one can pray shoulder-to-shoulder and there is not a need to maintain social distancing in salaah. However, face masks must be worn at all times when inside the Haramains).

At the time of writing only guests who are 18 years and above may perform Umrah from outside Saudi Arabia.

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

Pre-Departure

  • Provide a negative PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours of departure
  • Download the Tawakkalna application before departure and register on arrival in Saudi Arabia. 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.
  • Download the Etamarna Application and book your Umrah slot. (You can also use this app to book a visit and salam of the Prophet’s grave, prayer in the noble Rawdah and salah in Masjid Al Haram Makkah)
    Link to Download Eatmarna App: Google Play App Store
    Note: You can only have 4 active permits at any one time. Booking of Salaah in Masjid Al Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque) is not required. At the Prophet’s Mosque you will need to display your COVID vaccine status on the Tawakkalna app to gain entry. Hence it is important to have a smartphone with data on you at all times whilst in Saudi Arabia.
  • You MUST register your vaccine status at via the Quddum portal: 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.

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 four vaccines currently recognised:
    • 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.
  • 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 will 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 two holy mosques, 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.
    for more info click here
  • 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.

Generally speaking, the Umrah Visa is issued as part of a package which may include flights, accommodation, transportation, ziyarat tour etc.

The Umrah company will also book you Umrah slot and issue you with a wristband for ease of access into Haram. You won’t need to present your Tawakkalna app in this circumstance for entry into Haram for Umrah or for salaah.

Are there age restrictions on who can perform Umrah?

All ages can enter Saudi Arabia. However, only those aged 18 years and above and have had two doses of the COVID vaccinations are currently allowed entry in to the Two Holy Mosques (Haramains) to pray Salaah (daily prayers) and to perform Umrah. There is no upper age limit.

How many Umrahs can I perform?

It is our understanding there is currently an abundance of slots available to perform Umrah therefore due to it being low season you may be able to get one or more Umrah Permits a week, however this depends upon how busy Makkah is and heavily dependent on the seasonality, hence during holiday periods there may be limited slots available and you may have to be patient and wait a few days, a week or even a fortnight to obtain the relevant permit for Umrah or Salaah via the Etamarna App.

For those on 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 or Salaah (Prayers).

Certain hotels can also issue you Umrah permits, but please check with them before booking.

Can I perform Nafl Tawaf?

Nafl Tawaf is allowed for those on Umrah visa on the 1st floor of Masjid Al Haram from Saturday until Wednesday only. You will need to present your Umrah wristband.

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 wheel chair. Furthermore, special electronic carts are available to rent when performing Sa’ee.

My Etamarna App does not work, can I just enter Haram without a valid permit?

No, you will require a valid permit for Umrah and for each salaah (Masjid Al Haram, Makkah). Entering the Haram for the purpose of Salaah without a relevant permit will result in a violation which will cost you a 1,000 SAR fine; performing Umrah without a relevant permit is also a violation which will cost you 10,000 SAR.

https://twitter.com/security_gov/status/1456356316348358663?t=obRBTT0NHY6IhXD1dJdRzw&s=19

Do I need a permit for Salaah in Masjid Al Nabawi (Prophets Mosque, Madinah)?

You do not need a permit for salaah at the Prophets Mosque, however you wil be asked to show your COVID free status via the Tawaklana App or a valid wrist band issued by your Umrah company.

Can I wear Ihram on board my flight?

Please confirm with your tour operator before travel as to whether or not you can wear the Ihram as this will be dependent on whether or not you are flying directly to Jeddah or another airport.

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. Negative PCR test (taken no longer than 72 hours from departure)
  4. Muqeem vaccine/arrival registration
  5. eVisa.
  6. 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


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