Saudi Arabia Umrah Visa
It has become highly convenient to apply for a Saudi Arabia Umrah visa or e-visa. Here's all the information you need on the Umrah e-visa.
What is Umrah?
Umrah is one of the main reasons Muslims worldwide seek a visa to visit Saudi Arabia. It is a pilgrimage Muslims perform very frequently. There is no set time of the year in which one can perform Umrah, so pilgrims can make plans whenever they want, except for the period in which Hajj occurs. For an Umrah pilgrimage, travelers visit the Holy city of Mecca. A series of rituals Muslims are required to perform to complete an Umrah.
What is Umrah e-Visa?
Muslims worldwide eagerly look to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia. However, for a very long time, there was no specific visa available for Umrah pilgrims. With the new electronic visa policy, the government of Saudi Arabia has made it easy for travelers to visit the Kingdom by applying exclusively for an Umrah visa. This new policy was implemented in September 2019, and nationals of a wide range of countries are eligible to apply for an Umrah e-visa if they meet the requirements.
Previously, travelers could apply for a hajj visa only, but in the past few years, the government has been offering special Umrah e-visas for the convenience of pilgrims. Muslims can undertake Umrah at any time of the year, and there are no specific application dates for an e-visa. They don't need extensive physical screening at Saudi Arabian embassies or consulates, bear never-ending travel expenses and stand in queues at banks to pay visa fees.
The new e-visa system allows aspiring pilgrims to apply for a visa from their offices, homes, or even traveling without worrying about anything. With this travel document, pilgrims can enter the country and perform the Umrah pilgrimage to complete their religious rituals whenever possible. Mostly, applicants want to perform Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan as during this month, performing Umrah is akin to completing Hajj per their religious beliefs.
Required Documents for Umrah Visa
The office of the Minister of Hajj and Umrah announced an online visa policy for pilgrims in 2019. Umrah visitors can quickly get an e-visa independently without involving a third-party travel agency to obtain visa approval.
First of all, you must prepare some documents before submitting an online visa application. This includes:
- An eligible country's passport with at least six months of validity left after arriving in KSA.
- Financial means to pay the Saudi Arabia visa fee online, such as an online payment card.
- An active email ID.
- A recent passport-sized photograph taken against an all-white background. (The photograph should be colored and display the applicant's full face directly facing the camera).
- A non-refundable round or return ticket.
- A certificate of vaccination for meningitis taken no more than three years ago and no less than ten days before entering Saudi Arabia.
- A certificate for Islamic Center or a mosque as evidence that the application is a Muslim. This requirement is for those who have converted to Islam and do not have a Muslim name.
Requirements for Women and Minors
Women should be accompanied by their husbands, and minors or children should be accompanied by their fathers or legal guardian. Proof of relation is necessary for couples for both the Umrah and Hajj visas. This may be a birth certificate or a marriage certificate. The certificate should show the couple's names, and in the case of children, it should display the names of both parents. Another compulsion is that the husband/Maharam should travel in and out of Saudi Arabia on the same flight as their spouse and kids.
Please note that females above 45 can travel without a male companion/spouse called Mahram if she is traveling in an organized group and has submitted a notarized No Objection letter from her Mahram. The letter must display authorization for her independent travel with the named group.
Umrah e-Visa Validity
The validity of an Umrah e-visa is around two weeks or 14 days. However, if performing the Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan, it is necessary to leave the kingdom before the last day of the month, regardless if you have stayed in the country for two weeks or less.
Saudi Umrah Visa Processing Time
Under normal circumstances, the Saudi Arabia Umrah e-visa takes around 5 to 10 days to arrive. The visa processing time depends on your nationality.
Umrah e-Visa Fees
You have to pay a visa fee and service fee to get a visa online. The Saudi Arabia visa fee is dependent on the applicant country and the type of visa also depends on the processing time.
Who needs a Visa to Saudi Arabia?
Citizens of four countries can travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia visa-free. This includes Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and the UAE. Nationals of all other countries will have to apply for a visa to enter the KSA. They can apply online for an e-visa, which can be done at any time of the year and from anywhere in the world.
In addition, from April 2022 onwards, the Government of Saudi Arabia further relaxed its visa policies. Anyone with a valid US, UK, or Schengen visa/residence permit can visit the Kingdom and perform Umrah without applying for an Umrah visa separately.
All other candidates must apply for an Umrah e-visa 3 to 6 days before their intended departure date. Remember that a limited number of Umrah visas are issued given the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the government announced facilitating one million Umrah pilgrims annually, and international pilgrims will be prioritized. It is worth noting that every eligible country is issued a specific number of pilgrims, which is also called the pilgrim's quota.
Umrah e-Visa Eligible Countries
Citizens from the following countries can apply for an Umrah eVisa:
How to Apply for an Umrah e-Visa?
The process of e-visa application is as follows:
After submitting the e-visa application, you have to wait for its processing. If approved, the visa will arrive in your email inbox. Take a printout as soon as possible and save its digital copy on your mobile phone.
Unified Hajj-Umrah Visa
Traditionally, pilgrims needed a separate visa for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. Now, you can benefit from a unified Hajj and Umrah visa introduced by the Saudi Arabian minister of Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Benten. According to the ministry, the newly launched unified visa showcases the kingdom's desire to increase the number of pilgrims arriving in the KSA by ensuring an easy and convenient application process. The Hajj visa was previously valid for a limited period of 4 Dhu Al-Hijjah to 10 Muharram, and the Umrah visa was issued for 15 days during the Umrah season. Pilgrims could not use the same visa for Hajj and Umrah.
However, the new visa system allows them to use a simplified electronic system to apply for Hajj and Umrah visas. They must apply through a licensed travel agent, and the Ministry of Hajj in the KSA must be provided with a letter confirming that the travel agent qualifies to assist pilgrims. The unified Hajj and Umrah visa is only issued to Muslims intending to perform the religious pilgrimage. Those who want to visit KSA for tourism purposes should apply for a tourist e-visa.
Covid-19 Vaccination Requirements for Pilgrims
Before March 2022, the Saudi Arabian government required all travelers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The government only accepted the following vaccines that the KSA approved, including Moderna, Spikevax, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
But from March onwards, the government lifted almost all of the pandemic-related restrictions on travelers, including proof of vaccination, quarantine, and other requirements. The Saudi Arabian government has issued new rules for foreign pilgrims intending to perform Umrah in 2022. Non-vaccinated individuals can enter KSA to perform Umrah if they can prove they were not infected with the virus or haven't come into contact with an infected individual.
However, a PCR or rapid antigen test is no longer required when arriving at the KSA. Travelers also don't need to quarantine anymore upon arriving in the country. Social distancing and mask rules are also lifted. However, in the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrims must wear masks indoors, ensuring social distancing.
Important Points to Consider
After arriving in the KSA, please download and register on the country's approved apps. There are two apps that you must install and register to.
Tawakkalna app: It is a mandatory requirement. The app works in the KSA only. It contains all important records, including vaccination data. You must show this record when entering any hotel, restaurant, or mosque.
Etmarna app: You will link this app to the Tawakkalna app. It is essential to use this app to get prayer permits.
Remember that the Saudi Umrah e-visa is granted only for performing an Umrah and not for Hajj or to find employment.
Frequently asked questions
You can use it to perform Umrah. The electronic or e-visa Saudi Arabia is launched to enhance international tourism. Umrah e-visa is issued solely for performing Umrah, but you can also perform an Umrah on your tourist e-visa. But, an e-visa is not valid for performing Hajj.
Though you can use your tourist visa to perform an Umrah, there is a difference between the two visa types. For instance, with a tourist visa, you can enter multiple times in KSA, and its stay validity is longer than the Umrah e-visa.
You can only perform Umrah with this visa and visit Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. You cannot visit any other city apart from these. Otherwise, you may be arrested, fined, or deported.
All visa holders must have insurance coverage for their entire stay in the kingdom. But, this won't necessarily be arranged by the pilgrim. In December 2019, the Saudi Arabia Ministry for Hajj and Umrah announced an agreement with the Company for Cooperative Insurance, covering all visa holders. The insurance policy will be linked to the pilgrim's passport. It will allow them access to public/private hospitals and sufficient coverage in case of accidents, flight cancellations/delays, repatriation or death, and unforeseen disasters.