Umrah 2024: Everything You Need to Know About Umrah This Year

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This article is reviewed regularly by Wego’s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated March 2024

As is well-known, the Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam. Prior to the pandemic, millions of Muslims travelled to Makkah from around the world to visit the Great Mosque of Makkah (Masjid al-Haram) and perform various religious rituals.

However, in addition to this Ibāda (the act of worship), there is also the Umrah or the “minor Hajj,” which similarly necessitates Muslims to make their way to the Holy City and complete a set of rituals.  

Saudi nationals, expatriate residents, and foreign pilgrims have been able to perform Umrah following last year’s successful Hajj season. But what about Umrah 2024? Will there be any fresh restrictions and guidelines from the Saudi authorities? Stay updated with Wego for the latest developments.

When is Umrah 2024?

While it is considered ideal for performing Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan, the minor Hajj may essentially be performed at any time of the year except during the Hajj season.

However, Umrah has to be performed subject to the rules and regulations implemented by the government of Saudi Arabia.

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Umrah 2024 news

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced a new regulation prohibiting pilgrims from undertaking multiple Umrah journeys during the sacred month of Ramadan. This measure aims to alleviate overcrowding during this peak period for Umrah, ensuring that all pilgrims have the opportunity to perform the rituals comfortably.

According to the ministry’s statement, permits for more than one Umrah pilgrimage will not be granted during Ramadan. This restriction is intended to manage congestion and facilitate a smoother experience for all pilgrims during this significant time.

The Nusuk application system will enforce this regulation, rejecting permit requests for additional Umrah journeys during Ramadan with a notification stating “Issuance of the permit failed.” The ministry highlights the numerous benefits of performing Umrah during Ramadan.

Emphasizing the importance of obtaining permits through the Nusuk application, the ministry underscores the necessity for pilgrims to adhere to their designated time slots for performing the rituals. Although there is no option to change appointment times on the Nusuk app, pilgrims can delete their appointments ahead of time and reschedule based on availability, as explained by the ministry.

Umrah requirements 2024

The following are the latest Umrah requirements as per the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Umrah online booking

As of now, it is mandatory for Umrah pilgrims to book their slots for Umrah through the Nusuk or Tawakkalna apps.

Umrah age requirements

Saudi Arabia has stipulated the minimum age requirement for Umrah pilgrims. Children aged 5 years old and above can obtain an official entry permit to perform Umrah. However, the children should be accompanied by their parents and must obtain proof that they are not infected or have made contact with COVID-19 patients if they wish to enter the Grand Mosque.

Umrah testing requirements

All foreign pilgrims are now allowed to enter Saudi Arabia for Umrah without having to provide a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result before departure to the Kingdom. All travellers arriving on visit visas must have medical insurance to cover any COVID-19-related treatment costs during their stay.

Please note that the Umrah insurance costs have dropped by 63 per cent. Hence, the price of Umrah medical insurance has been reduced from SAR 235 to SAR 87

Tawakkalna App 2023: How to Register on the Saudi COVID Information App

Umrah vaccine requirements

Although Saudi Arabia has largely lifted the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for Umrah pilgrims, it is highly recommended that each pilgrim confirm with their Umrah operator/agency for the latest vaccination requirements pertaining to Umrah. This is to ensure a smooth and hassle-free Umrah journey, as well as to protect the health and safety of all individuals involved.

Apart from the COVID vaccine, there are a few more vaccine requirements foreign pilgrims have to pay attention to before their arrival in Saudi Arabia:

Yellow Fever vaccine: All foreign pilgrims arriving from countries or areas at risk of yellow fever must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate showing the person was vaccinated at least 10 days and no more than 10 years before their arrival.

Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine: All foreign pilgrims have to be vaccinated against meningitis at least 10 days and no more than 3 years before their arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Polio vaccine: All foreign pilgrims from polio-endemic countries and re-established transmission countries have at least received one dose of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). The dose must be taken at least 6 weeks before their arrival in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the arrivals will have to present their proof of vaccination upon arrival and will also receive one more dose of OPV on their arrival.

Seasonal Flu Shot: The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia recommends all foreign pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before their arrival in the KSA. Pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with underlying health conditions are highly recommended to take the Seasonal Flu Shot before their arrival.

For more information on vaccines needed for Umrah, check out our dedicated article.

Umrah Vaccine 2024: What Pilgrims Need to Prepare This Year

 

Umrah vaccine registration

An individual’s vaccination status will first need to be registered on Saudi Arabia’s muqeem portal at least 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia Muqeem Arrival Registration: Rules and Procedures for Travel to Saudi Arabia

The vaccination certificates are required to be attested by the official health authorities from the origin country of travellers. This can be the Ministry of Health or an authorized health authority. The original certificate needs to be carried upon travelling to or from the Kingdom.

Please note that all information will be verified prior to boarding and at the entry points. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in entry prevention and other legal consequences.

Umrah quarantine requirements

In line with Saudi Arabia’s latest Umrah entry requirements, no quarantine will be necessary for foreign pilgrims who have been fully vaccinated with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen.

For arrivals who have received one dose of the following vaccines will be subject to institutional quarantine for 3 days and must submit a PCR test certificate after 48 hours from the date of institutional quarantine.

  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Covaxin

Social distancing and mask-wearing

The Hajj and Umrah authorities have lifted the social distancing measures in the mosques, you are still advised to wear masks in crowded places for your own safety.

Umrah requirements for women’s attire

Women pilgrims are allowed to wear clothing based on their preferences. However, the Saudi authorities have set certain requirements regarding women’s attire that must be followed. During the pilgrims, women had to wear wide and loose clothing that covered their entire body. Furthermore, any decorative elements in the clothes are not allowed. As long as these conditions are fulfilled, there are no further restrictions regarding the attire for women.

Mahram not required for female pilgrims

As per an announcement made by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, it is now permissible for a woman to perform Hajj or Umrah without a mahram. Moreover, according to the announcement, “trustworthy women or secure company” will be able to accompany them instead.

Allowing women to perform Umrah without the condition of a mahram provides convenience to women eager to perform the minor pilgrimage. Security has also been reinforced throughout the Kingdom, in all means of transportation and at the ports to provide women with security and protection. Moreover, strong infrastructure has been established in legislation, including the anti-harassment system.

Case in point, surveillance cameras are obligatory in vital areas, including airports, border crossing ports, the Grand Mosque, the Prophet’s Mosque and others. These facilities guarantee women’s safety as they do not have to worry about performing their pilgrimages without a mahram or male guardian.

What type of visa is needed for Umrah?

Foreign pilgrims may apply for either the Umrah visa or the Umrah e-visa to embark on the religious journey.

Umrah visa

As per the previous announcement from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, pilgrims coming from the UK, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bangladesh, and Malaysia can now register for a visa by submitting their facial and fingerprint details through a smartphone app called the Saudi Visa Bio app. Procedures for issuing Umrah visas electronically will be completed based on biometric details before a pilgrim’s arrival in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

Applicants can scan their passports to confirm their identity, then submit a full-face picture from the front camera and scan their fingerprints.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia also extended the validity of the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 days. This new arrangement allows pilgrims to move about freely within Saudi Arabia without any restraints.

Moreover, pilgrims do not need another tourist visa to travel across the kingdom and can move easily between Makkah and Madinah, or any other city around the kingdom, by train, bus or car during their stay.

According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, pilgrims are encouraged to contact an approved tourism company or agency in their country of residence to obtain the service package, complete the visa requirements, and book an appointment for Umrah and prayer in the Ar-Rawdhah Ash-Shareefah.

Umrah Visa: How to Apply For Visa to Perform the Pilgrimage?

Alternatively, pilgrims may also arrange their Umrah trip directly through any of the approved platforms listed on the Maqam portal.

Visit visa for Umrah in 24 hours

Umrah seekers outside Saudi Arabia can apply for their Umrah visa individually, with the issuance time taking up to 24 hours. As mentioned, Umrah seekers may apply for the e-Visa through the Maqam portal.

Personal visit visa

According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Saudi Arabia, Saudi citizens can invite their friends to the Kingdom to perform Umrah with the “Personal Visit Visa”.

The benefits of the personal visa are as follows:

  1. apply for several guests at the same time
  2. enter Saudi Arabia once or multiple times
  3. can be issued for one or multiple trips
  4. perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s mosque
  5. visit religious sites and historical monuments
  6. touristic trips to all Saudi regions and cities

Please note that the Saudi Arabia single entry personal visa is valid for 90 days, and the visitors can stay for 90 days. However, the multiple entry visa is valid for 365 days with a 90-day stay.

Family visit visa

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has recently announced that pilgrims who have a Saudi citizen or a resident expatriate relative can obtain a family visit visa for Umrah. To create the visa, the relatives residing in Saudi should apply through the Foreign Ministry’s official website. The visa holder should then book their Umrah appointment using the Nusuk or Tawakklana Services before heading to the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Umrah visa on arrival

Pilgrims from certain countries can also obtain visas on arrival for Umrah. The countries that are eligible for this visa include the United States, the United Kingdom, various European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Brunei, and China. This visa allows the pilgrims to enter Saudi Arabia through sea, air, or land ports with a 90-day valid duration. The application for the Umrah visa on arrival can be processed through the official visa platform.

Can I perform Umrah using a tourist visa?

Yes, you can. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allows visitors holding Saudi tourist visas to perform Umrah. Henceforth, citizens of 49 countries eligible to apply for the Saudi electronic visa can now perform Umrah in the Kingdom by securing their visas online at the Visit Saudi Arabia website or immediately upon arrival at airports.

Citizens who qualify to apply for the Umrah visa by using tourist visas include holders of US, UK and Schengen visas. The visas of such applicants shall be valid and should bear an entry stamp from the issuing country.

The system allows eligible applicants to obtain a tourist visa, valid for a period of 12 months, upon arrival at one of the Saudi airports without the need for prior application, and the visa holders will be allowed to visit the cities and regions all over the Kingdom.

Furthermore, family visit visa holders from different nationalities can also perform Umrah by booking an appointment through the Nusuk application via their relatives in the Kingdom during their visit to the Kingdom.

To perform Umrah on a tourist visa, some of the requirements include:

  • travellers must obtain comprehensive health insurance, which includes coverage of treatment costs for Covid-19 infection, accidents resulting in death or disability, expenses due to flight delays or cancellations, and other matters.
  • proof of residence and employment
  • a return ticket
  • a bank statement proving financial stability
  • an itinerary
  • complete personal information.

Please note that travellers who wish to perform Umrah from nations other than those currently qualified should apply for visas at the Kingdom’s embassies in their respective countries.

Once the Hajj season is over, performing Umrah on a tourist visa does offer its own advantages, such as a longer stay period, permission for multiple entries, and the freedom to choose your own hotel for Umrah.

Here are our top picks of hotels in Makkah and Madinah that you can book to ensure suitable accommodation:

Makkah Tower Hotel

© makkah-hnt.com

Set in the heart of Makkah overlooking the Masjid al-Haram, the Makkah Tower Hotel offers a range of excellent rooms and suites set in a prime location. Enjoy a host of premium amenities, including excellent dining and majestic views from the panoramic glass lifts.

Rating: 5*

Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk

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Pullman ZamZam Makkah

© pullman-zamzam-makkah.com

The Pullman ZamZam Makkah hotel is an iconic 5-star hotel that regularly welcomes Umrah and Hajj pilgrims with Hijazi hospitality. The hotel provides pilgrims with partial views over the ever-inspiring Kaaba and the Masjid Al Haram. Amenities include an excellent in-room dining experience featuring international and oriental specialities and facilities for the disabled.

Rating: 5*

Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk

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Conrad Makkah

© hilton.com

Umrah pilgrims will definitely be able to take advantage of the hotel’s close proximity to both the Masjid al-Haram and the Kaaba. Conrad Makkah features a fusion of contemporary and traditional Islamic architecture and a range of dining options serving Arabic and international cuisine, a fitness centre, and light-filled meeting spaces.

Rating: 5*

Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/3-minute walk

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Hilton Suites Makkah

© hilton.com

Set in the heart of Makkah, Hilton Suites Makkah is just steps away from important religious sites, historical landmarks and popular attractions, such as the Kaaba and the Holy Mosque. Guests may enjoy the convenience of easy access to the Umrah sites along with access to shopping and dining at Jabal Omar Mall. Hilton Suites also feature a prayer hall with views of the Grand Mosque.

Rating: 5*

Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk

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Jabal Omar Hyatt Regency Makkah

© hyatt.com

Situated at the heart of the holy city of Makkah, Jabal Omar Hyatt Regency Makkah offers visitors and pilgrims alike a unique hospitality experience, blending comfort and convenience in an elegant atmosphere. The hotel is just a one-minute walk from the Masjid al-Haram. The hotel is also readily accessible by road, with seamless connectivity to and from Jeddah, the region’s urban centre and main port city, as well as King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Rating: 5*

Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/2-minute walk

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Umrah permit

While entry to the Grand Mosque no longer requires a permit, Umrah pilgrims still require a permit to perform Umrah and pray in the Holy Rawdah, the chamber where Prophet Mohammed is buried.

Umrah permit through Nusuk App

The Saudi authorities have launched the integrated electronic platform dubbed Nusuk to serve as the new gateway for pilgrims looking to make their way to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and beyond. Additionally, new features and functionalities have also been added to the Nusuk app. Users will be able to apply for an Umrah visa and permit, entry to the Rawdah As Sheerafah, and numerous others.

Nusuk App: What We Know So Far About the New Umrah Booking Application

 

The ministry has also announced that individuals holding tourist visas from GCC countries and Schengen visas are permitted to schedule Umrah appointments through the Nusuk App. This initiative was taken by Saudi Arabia to encourage more Muslims to visit and partake in the minor pilgrimage.

Anyone interested in downloading the Nusuk app may do so at the Appstore and Playstore.

For more details on how you can obtain the Umrah permit, please consult our dedicated article below.

Umrah Permit 2024: All You Need to Know About the Permit for the Minor Pilgrimage

 

Please note that the Umrah permit will be immediately cancelled if:

  • the individual is infected with COVID-19
  • the individual had been in contact with an infected person
  • the visa holder does not enter the KSA 6 hours before the Umrah booking date

Umrah advisory guidelines

Ahead of Umrah season 2024, the Saudi authorities have issued new advisory guidelines for pilgrims visiting the Mekkah:

  • pilgrims should perform Umrah only once in the season so that others, too, get the chance to perform the holy ritual.
  • they should book their Umrah slots online through the Nusuk or Tawakkalna apps. Once booked, pilgrims must stick to the date and time of their appointment.

As per the authorities, a ‘sufficient’ number of slots have been made available for the pilgrims, and dates have been arranged in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

Please note that religious tourists have been allowed to arrive and depart on scheduled flights through any international airport in the kingdom.

Umrah advisory for diabetic pilgrims

Diabetic pilgrims who are planning to perform Umrah are recommended to follow the following set of advice to ensure their comfort and health during the pilgrimage:

  • start the Umrah rituals at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after taking medication and enough food intake
  • take a small break if the blood sugar levels are dropping
  • protect the feet while walking to avoid any potential harm, and wear comfortable socks
  • take the medicines before coming to the Grand Mosque
  • drink enough water
  • use electric shavers instead of razor blades
  • seek medical assistance at health centers if necessary

Umrah safety guide during rainy days

In performing the Umrah pilgrimage during rain, there are several guidelines to ensure the safety of the pilgrims. It is advised for the pilgrims to wear anti-slippery footwear, bring an umbrella, and always pay attention to the weather updates. The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also encourages women to prepare rain overcoats for undertaking Umrah rites at the Grand Mosque.

When the rain starts to fall, pilgrims have to take steady steps as they encircle the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque. They are also advised to remove their socks to avoid slipping. In the case of heavy rainfall, they must complete the circumambulation indoors on the upper floors of the sacred site. If a pilgrim experiences a health problem, they must stop the circumambulation immediately.

Ideal time to perform Umrah

The Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Tawfiq Al Rabiah, has advised the ideal times for the pilgrims to perform Umrah. According to the minister. the ideal time in the morning is between 7.30 AM and 10.30 AM. Meanwhile, for the evening, the ideal time is between 11.00 PM and 2.00 AM. The minister also noted that the least crowded days for Umrah are Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Therefore, pilgrims who are seeking for a more tranquil experience can specifically choose those days to perform the pilgrimage.

 

 

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