Umrah Travel Update: February 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 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.
On 30 December 2021 (and continuing as at the date of this article), the Saudi authorities have reimposed social distancing measures at the two holy mosques (also known as the Haramain). Due to the reapplication of such precautionary measures by the Ministry of Interior, it is a mandatory requirement to wear a mask in the Haramain.
Immune people (read more about COVID vaccination below) from ages 12 and above can visit the Haramain from Saudi Arabia and around the world. Children under the ages of 12 whether immune or not are at this time not allowed to enter the Haramain or its courtyards.
Please see the below guidance on how on to perform Umrah (correct at the time of publishing).
- Starting from 9 February 2022, all visitors to Saudi Arabia must have a negative PCR test or negative antigen test within 48 hours of departure. Please note you can not use NHS services for such tests, and these must be booked through private medical companies.
- 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. SIM cards can be purchased at the arrivals area at major airports (Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah etc.).
- Download the Eatmarna application and book your Umrah slot (you can also use this app to book a visit and salaam of the Prophet peace be upon him’s blessed 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 four 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 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.
Vaccination Requirement for Umrah Visa:
- Mandatory requirement to have had the 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 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
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. Only those aged 12 years and above and have had two doses (three doses if it has been eight months since your 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?
With an eVisa you are entitled to 1 Umrah every 10 days.
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 or Salaah (Prayers). Certain hotels can also issue you Umrah permits, but please check with them before booking.
What are the restrictions to touch the Ka’abah, Hajr Aswad (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’abah, Hajr Aswad (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.
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?
- Valid Passport with at least 6 months validity on your return date
- NHS COVID vaccine certificate
- Negative PCR or antigen test (taken no longer than 48 hours from departure)
- Muqeem vaccine/arrival registration certificate
- 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.
🎥 – Watch our recent Umrah Webinar Online
Learn how to perform Umrah with an interactive Q&A
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.
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.