Updated 25th July 2021
The Saudi Hajj Ministry has announced that the new Umrah season will start for international pilgrims from the 1st of Muharram, which is the 9th of August 2021.
The requirements are expected but also I feel sad as they take us quite a few years back in terms of how easy it is to now issue and go for Umrah under the new regulations.
The new Umrah regulation for issuing Umrah visas for international travellers is pretty easy.
- You will need to have your Umrah visa issued by a reputable and accredited agency by the Ministry of Hajj.
- You will need to have your vaccination and certificate
- Only above 18 will be allowed to perform Umrah. This means no families with children.
Certain countries that are not only on the Saudi red list will be able to fly direct. There will be some countries like Lebanon, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia and Egypt, that will require 14 days in another country prior to entering Saudi.
This was actually a requirement for those from the UK when they were on the Saudi red list. The best option for keeping up to date with country requirements will be the Saudi Airlines website which I find to be most reliable.
There will probably be some sort of quarantine even if you are vaccinated or a test once you land in Saudi, as this is currently the rule even for vaccinated residents and visitors. At the moment they still need to have a test on arrival.
It is not clear at the moment if you will need to go with a group just to issue your visa via a reputable agent. I am sure this will be made clear closer to the time.
At the moment visiting the Haram you will need to book it on an app and select a specific time. I am sure that this will still be the case with international visitors but they will probably make more slots available.
You can read here my husband’s experience of performing Umrah with similar booking systems a few months ago.
Currently, Saudi tourist visas are not allowed to enter the country so you cannot visit that. The expiry of these visas is currently frozen as well.
Currently, the only direct flight from the UK to Jeddah is with Saudi airlines 3 times a week and economy tickets are around £500 return. British Airways stopped flying directly to Jeddah for the time being, they only fly to Riyadh.
BA might reconsider if Umrah opens again for their winter schedule, which I really hope is the case.
If the regulation is open to going as an individual pilgrim for Umrah then be mindful that booking a ticket via Turkey for example will invalidate your requirement as they are on the red list. So if you want to make sure you don’t have any issues upon entry direct flights from the UK, for the time being, will be the best option.
We will of course update this article as always with any new information we receive and keep it up to date.
OLD regulations if you want to see the difference.
Millions of Muslims have been eagerly anticipating the Umrah visa rules and regulations surrounding the November 2020 opening of Saudi Arabia.
If you are a regular reader on MuslimTravelGirl.com you know I always say that you should wait for the Umrah rules to be announced and the dust to settle before making reservations and paying money.
This time the system for Umrah is even more complicated and the current conditions and everything going around the world don’t think it will be smooth sailing.
Please note this is for the new Umrah regulations of the Umrah season-opening in November with a limited number of pilgrims, there is NO news on the Saudi tourist visa all we know is that we will have more about it in January!
**You can read below my husband’s experience of doing Umrah with the new rules**
Umrah starting November 1st 2020 and Going Forward
Or maybe I should say going backwards because currently, the rules indicate we just went back to group Umrah and Umrah packages only via an agent. As of now, there are not more DIY Umrah for the foreseeable future.
This is indeed happy news for the agents who lost business due to the tourist visas but also not very surprising considering the current climate the need for track and trace.
Saudi Arabia is preparing to open up gradually with 25,000 pilgrims and eventually open for all. Saudi has done a good job with Hajj so they definitely don’t want to not make a success of this.
Who can go for Umrah from November 1st?
Pilgrims between the ages of 18 and up to 50 years old can apply to go via a registered agent. Please make sure your agent is reputable to avoid getting scammed as I feel this will open such an opportunity.
Do you need a PCR Test?
You definitely need a PCR test issued max 72 hrs prior to landing in Saudi Arabia. Such tests cost about £170 to £250 for 24 hrs turnaround. You will also need a Fit to Fly Certificate!
Quarantine is required
You will book a package with your agent for a three day quarantine period in your hotel with full board. Your transport will also be scheduled with them to take you from the airport to your hotel and then Makkah and Medinah.
The maximum group size for Umrah is 25-50 people and they will need to have their own lead on the ground as well. This is of course normal and expected considering there are plenty of logistics and things to make sure are happening during this time.
You cannot cancel or change your dates
Because the application is done online and to make sure that everything is accurate you cannot cancel or change your booking for Umrah package in short notice. Agents will need to enter your names and details into an app 24hrs prior to you travelling. Things will be stricter this time around.
Booking slots for Masjid Al Nabawi and Al Haram
Your agent will have to register your intention on the I’tamarna app for when you visit. You don’t have to worry about this but it is a requirement.
Can you Book an Umrah package for November 2020 and December 2020?
As these new rules are hot of the press many agents still don’t have prices as hotels are starting to price up their rooms and agents their itinerary. There are many wheels to oil to get this going but hopefully, things will start flowing on from November 1st which is the official opening date of the International Umrah pilgrimage.
As I always say please wait for a little before booking your Umrah just so the rules are clear and any mistakes are ironed. I know many people want to visit for Umrah but a couple of more weeks won’t be a dealbreaker.
Can you go for Umrah on your own?
Currently, you cannot go for Umrah on your own, you will need to book via an approved agent in your country that will make sure all the rules and documents are in tact.
This of course means prices will probably also go higher than they were before due to the competition and the extra admin work and on the groundwork required.
***Here is my husband’s experience doing an Umrah with the new Covid restrictions and rules. The apps you need and the way it is done on the ground.***
Tourist Visa for Saudi Arabia is not open
As I mentioned above the tourist visa is not open for the time being, we have no news on how this will be implemented but the Ministry has announced that we will know most likely in December for an opening of the tourist visa in January.
I know Saudi is keen to open up to tourists and they are preparing for it but how this will play in terms of Umrah and tourist is yet to be seen. They are developing the country and it looks like they are going smartly about it but opening up slowly with testing and quarantine to reduce the risk and spread.
This is good for everyone involved since you do want to feel safe while visiting as a tourist or as a pilgrim.
Are there country restrictions?
Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any country restrictions but of course, with the situation around the worse becoming worse and the UK most likely going into lockdown of a sort this can change within a day as we have seen in the past seven months.
All plans are fluid and it will be interesting to know how this will impact the Umrah season and if people need to change their bookings.
As always we at MuslimTravelGirl are monitoring the situation and will update you as soon as we have new information.
For all those planning to go for Umrah with the new regulations in 2020 or 2021, may Allah SWT make it easy for you.
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Make sure you read first the Ultimate Guide on How to Do a DIY Umrah here.
- Can you get an Umrah visa after Ramadan
- The best time to book your Umrah for maximum money-saving here
- For transportation from Makkah to Medina you can find our guide here.
- For a DIY Umrah Package with Rihaala which is also ATOL protected check our post
- For cheap hotels, you can find some of our best options here.
- For the best hotels in Makkah or Medina check out the list here.
- For DIY Umrah packages with flights check out the ones we have made ready for you.
We also have a new project coming up on DIY Umrah and how to save thousands every time you go for Umrah. This is for those who want more in-depth information and travel tips that can help them save extra.