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Saudi Umrah & Tourist Visas 2019

Saudi Umrah & Tourist Visas 2019

In order to breakdown the current option of acquiring an Umrah Visa, we will start by documenting the timeline since the start of the new Umrah Season of 1441H.  

[1] Repeat Umrah Fee Cancelled (8th Sept 2019) 

On September 8th 2019,  Arab News reported that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman has ordered a Royal Decree cancelling the repeat Umrah Fees of SAR 2000 during a three year period. 

This news was well-received as this would mean that repeat Umrah goers would no longer have to pay around £450 per person for repeating their Umrah.   However, this fee was replaced by a standard SAR 300 Umrah visa fee for ALL Umrah pilgrims regardless of whether they were traveling for the first time or they were repeat pilgrims. 

In the days that followed, several Umrah agencies reported that they were being levied additional charges for tax, health insurance, and transportation costs, pushing the true cost of the Umrah visa to anything between SAR 500 and SAR 600 (£110 – £130).  

Why the discrepancy in Umrah Visa prices?  

In order to generate such visas, they must be done using an OTA (Online Travel Agency) or Umrah booking engine.  This caused further issues, as there was only a handful of agencies at the time whose system was able to generate the e-Umrah Visas.  To add further complexity not all hotels were listed.  Therefore, pilgrims who had booked a “DIY Umrah package” i.e their own flights/accommodation/transportation and were looking for Umrah visa only, subsequently were being offered the Visas between £150-£250 (This costs depended on whether Pilgrims wanted to keep their existing Hotel bookings or not.  It is why we have always advocated that people book via Licensed Hajj & Umrah agents so as to avoid paying more when new Hajj/Umrah rules are implemented back in Saudi Arabia!).   Those who had booked via Umrah agents found that the cost of their Umrah package had gone up and they were either offered a refund or had given the option to pay the additional costs.  

[2] Saudi Arabia launches Tourist eVisa (26th September)

On September 26th, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made an announcement to start issuing Tourist eVisas for 49 countries which would be issued online.  With this visa Muslims could also perform Umrah and the system went live on 28th September 2019.   

Key basics for the eVisa:

  • Saudi Arabia e-visas are available to nationals of 49 countries including the UK (you can find eligible countries here)
  • E-visas are valid for multiple entries over the course of one year
  • You can stay up to 90 consecutive days, and up to a total of 180 days in a year
  • The entire e-visa, including mandatory medical insurance, will cost you 463.44SAR, which is approx £100.00 
  • Can perform Umrah (Must be a Muslim) 

Apply for the eVisa Online via the official Saudi Tourism Website: https://visa.visitsaudi.com

Options

  1. If you are a seasoned Umrah traveller, and know what you are doing, then the DIY option of booking your own hotel, flights, transportation and applying for a Saudi Tourist eVisa would be the preferred option for you.
  2. If however, you wish to take away the hassle of travel arrangements, then consider booking with a Licensed Umrah agent who will be able to offer you a tailor-made Umrah package based on your needs or a guided tour with a group.  (NOTE: Always check the company has a valid ATOL (Air Travel Organisers License) and a  valid contract with a Saudi Umrah Company that is authorised by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj or a reputable sub-agent who can confirm the same).  

The information provided is correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.  It is provided as a guide only.  You are advised to carry out your own checks.  

Source: Saudi Gazette - Umrah Visa Fee 2019 Infograph

 

Source:

[1] Repeat Umrah Fee Cancelled (8th Sept 2019) 
https://www.arabnews.com/node/1551561

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/577054/SAUDI-ARABIA/SR300-for-multiple-visa-with-one-year-validity

[2] Saudi Arabia launches a Tourist Visa (26th Sept 2019)

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/578331/SAUDI-ARABIA/Tourist-visa-within-7-minutes-for-49-countries-from-Saturday 

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/578574/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-tourist-visa-allows-visitors-to-perform-Umrah

Read More on Consumer Rights/Package Travel Regulation:
https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/is-my-holiday-protected/new-package-travel-regulations

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/my-package-holiday-has-been-changed-or-cancelled

 

 

 


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