Visa guide for Hajj & Umrah Pilgrims
Top tips to not turn a life-changing religious experience into a nightmare
The annual Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims – and one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam – to be carried out at least once in a lifetime, by physically and financially capable adults. For many, the pilgrimage can quickly change from life-changing religious experience into a nightmare when they are not permitted to perform Hajj or Umrah due to not following the correct visa procedures.
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Recently, The Kingdom reported that hundreds of visitors to the country were rejected entry and sent back from the airport due to not following the correct visa procedures. To avoid such unfortunate incidents, pilgrims must apply the right category of visa through the travel agents registered with the country’s Hajj and Umrah Committees. It is important to note that the newly introduced tourist e-visa CANNOT be used to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah. It only allows tourist to attend concerts and sporting events happening in the Kingdom.
In addition to choosing a correct visa category, proper and complete visa procedures must be followed. All pilgrims travelling for Hajj & Umrah are required to complete mandatory biometric enrollment procedures set by the Saudi government.
Steps to enroll biometrics before leaving on a pilgrimage:
- Hajj & Umrah pilgrims complete their visa application and Enjaz forms through the local travel agents
- Travel agents will then schedule an appointment at the nearest visa services centre authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to submit pilgrim’s biometric information
- Pilgrim visits the centre in person as per the appointment date and time. Registers biometric details along with finger scan and facial image – it all happens quickly within 10 minutes.
Biometric enrollment can be completed locally before flying or at the King Abdulaziz International Airport & the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport. However, Masaar (https://visa.mofa.gov.sa/account/hajsmartform), a portal of Saudi Ministry of Hajj & Umrah, recommends processing biometrics locally to save time and facilitate a smooth entrance to KSA.
Without the right visa and documentations, pilgrims will encounter fines and/or deportation to the home country.