Send an article  |  Print   |  ../file-system/small/pdf   |   RSS   |  

HAJJ FAQ


Hajj means a specific journey to Makkah during the designated month of DhulHijjah, for the performance of Pilgrimage as an act of worship to Allah (Glory be to Him) alone. A Muslim performing Hajj is in total obedience to Allah (Glory be to Him) through physical and financial involvement. Below information clarifies many questions related to Hajj & Umrah.

 

Table of Contents

 

Visas

Where do I go to get a Hajj visa?

The application form is available from your nearest Saudi Consulate. But it is advisable to appoint a licensed travel agent, who will arrange a visa, as well as your travel and accommodation and anything else you may need to perform the Hajj. The travel agent will send your application form to the Saudi Consulate.

 

What do I need for a Hajj visa?

You must comply with all the following requirements:

  • The applicant must have a passport valid for at least six more months and acceptable both for entry to Saudi Arabia and entry to the next destination; the passport should have at least two empty visa pages adjacent to each other.
  • Each applicant must submit one recent passport size color photograph with a white background. The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly. Side or angled views are NOT accepted. (Some travel agents require two color photos, one for the visa application and the other for the group identification card).
  • The applicant must submit a completed application form filled in with black ink pen or printed; the form must be signed and stamped by the authorized travel agency.
  • The Mahram should write on the application forms complete information on his spouse and children or any relative with whom he is traveling. He should also provide copies of marriage or birth certificates.
  • Women are required to travel for Hajj with a Mahram. Proof of kinship must be submitted with the application form. Any woman over the age of 45 may travel without a Mahram with an organized group, provided she submits a letter of no objection from her Mahram authorizing her to travel for Hajj with the named group. This letter should be notarized.
  • The applicant must be in possession of a non-refundable roundtrip ticket with confirmed reservations.
  • The applicant must submit proof of vaccination for meningitis and ACYW135. For infants and children up to 15 years of age, a vaccination report is required for polio as well as meningitis. Children over 15 years of age should present the same vaccinations requested for adults. The certificate of vaccination should have been issued not more than three years and not less than 10 days prior to entering Saudi Arabia.
  • Each pilgrim should submit two certified checks or cashier checks payable to 'Unified Agents Office' in Jeddah for pilgrimage services (guides, Zamzam water agents, tent accommodation in Mina and Arafat and transportation costs). These checks should include the name and the passport number of the pilgrim and date and place of issue. Each applicant must pay the appropriate fees. Pilgrims have the option to submit one check combining both fees. Children between the ages of seven and fifteen should only pay half of the amount. Children under the age of seven do not need to pay. Please check with the Saudi Consulate in your country for correct charges.
  • Applicants who are not nationals of the country they are applying from should submit documented proof of legal residence status. Passport authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reserve the right to return (at his or her own expense) any pilgrim who has provided wrong or false information about their residence.
  • No applicant under the legal age of eighteen will be granted a Hajj visa if not accompanied by his family.
  • If the applicant has converted to Islam, an Islamic certificate must be presented which must be notarized by an Islamic Center.

 

Can children accompany me on Hajj?

Children can accompany their parents. When applying for a visa, you should include their names in your passport and attach their birth certificates. Children and women under 45 should be accompanied by a Mahram (a male relative).

 

Do I have to pay for the Hajj visas? If yes, how much does it cost?

The Umrah and Hajj visas are free.

 

For Hajj you need to pay two checks to cover the cost of guides, Zamzam water agents, tent accommodation in Mina and Arafat and transportation costs. Please ask your nearest Saudi Consulate about the current level of these charges.

 

Hajj visas are free and are issued from Mid-Shawwal until 25th Dhual-Qa'dah of each year.

 

Hajj visa is for Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.

 

Hajj visas are not valid for work or residency.

 

Hajj visas are not issued to individuals. Each applicant for a Hajj visa must apply through a licensed travel agency, which must present the Consulate with copies of "Accommodation Contacts" and a letter from the Ministry of Hajjin Saudi Arabia confirming that the travel agency has duly completed all requirements to qualify to assist pilgrims.

 

Documents required for Hajj visa

  • The applicant must have a passport with a validity of at least six (6) months and acceptable both for entry to Saudi Arabia and entry to the next destination; the passport should have at least two empty visa pages adjacent to each other.
  • Each applicant must submit one recent passport size color photograph with a white background. The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly. Side or angled views are NOT accepted. (Some travel agents require two color photos, one for the visa application and the other for the group identification card).
  • The applicant must submit a completed application form filled in by pen using black ink or printed; the form must be signed and stamped by the authorized travel agency.
  • The Mahram (the male relative) should write his complete information on the application forms of his spouse and children or any relative with whom he is traveling. He should also provide copies of marriage or birth certificates; if these documents were issued outside the country he is applying from, he should then provide copies translated and notarized by a certified translation office.
  • All women are required to travel for Hajj with a Mahram. Proof of kinship must be submitted with the application form. Any woman over the age of 45 may travel without a Mahram with an organized group, provided she submits a letter of no objection from her husband, son or brother, authorizing her to travel for Hajj with the named group. This letter should be notarized.
  • The applicant must be in possession of a non-refundable roundtrip ticket with confirmed reservations.
  • The applicant must submit proof of vaccination for meningitis and ACYW135. For infants and children up to 15 years of age, a vaccination report is required for polio, as well as meningitis. Children over 15 years of age should present the same vaccinations requested for adults. The certificate of vaccination should have been issued not more than three years and not less than 10 days prior to entering Saudi Arabia.
  • Each pilgrim should submit two certified checks or cashier checks payable to 'Unified Agents Office' in Jeddah for pilgrimage services (guides, Zamzam water agents, accommodation in Mina and Arafat and transportation costs). These checks should include the name and the passport number of the pilgrim and date and place of issue. Each applicant must pay the appropriate fees. Pilgrims have the option to submit one check combining both fees. Children between the ages of seven and fifteen should only pay half of the amount. Children under the age of seven do not need to pay.
  • Please check with the Saudi Consulate for current fees.
  • Applicants who are not nationals of the country they are applying from should submit documented proof of legal residence status. Passport authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reserve the right to return (at his or her own expense) any pilgrim who has provided wrong or false information about their residence.
  • No applicant under the legal age of eighteen will be granted a Hajj visa if not accompanied by his family.
  • If the applicant has converted to Islam, an Islamic certificate must be presented; this needs to be notarized by an Islamic Center.

 

General Guidelines

  • Travelers must carry vaccination certificates with them for inspection by the Saudi Authority at port of entry.
  • No food products are allowed into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • The last day to enter the King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah for the purpose of Hajj is 4 Dhu'l-Hijjah of each year.
  • Upon arrival, pilgrims shall hand their passports to the custody of the Unified Agents Office representatives to enable the latter to complete all travel formalities to Makkah and Madinah.
  • In the event that pilgrims lose their passport, they should immediately report the loss to the same office appointed to take care of them during Hajj. Applicants must obtain a report from the the Unified Agents Office in which the loss of passport is mentioned.
  • All pilgrims must leave the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after Hajj no later than the 10th of Muharram of each year. The rules and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia forbid any pilgrims from staying in the country after the completion of Hajj.

 

General guidelines for travel agencies

Travel agents must provide the consulate with Residence, Tawafa, and transportation contracts. They also must provide the unified contract that verifies the general services provided to pilgrims. This contact must include the name of the organizer, the code given to him by the Ministry of Hajj, and the number of visas he's allowed to get. He also must provide the consulate with a letter from the Ministry of Hajj's office in Makkah. All these documents should arrive at the consulate before hajj visas are issued.

 

Passports will be returned if the information submitted is not compatible with the information sent electronically by the Ministry of Hajj. The Embassy reserves the right to inform the Ministry of Hajj about travel agencies that submit inaccurate or incomplete information.

 

Travel agencies should affix on each passport a sticker showing the agency's name, address and telephone number.

 

In the case that a travel agency wishes to submit any question or complaints to the Ministry of Hajj, they could do so through the company or agency they deal with in Saudi Arabia or through the official routes in their country.

 

Umrah Visas

Where do I go to get an Umrah visa?

You should apply for your Umrah visa through an approved Umrah travel agent.

 

What do I need for an Umrah visa?

You will need the following:

  • A completed original Umrah visa application form. The statement written at the end of the application form must be carefully read and signed. (To obtain a visa application form by post, send a large, self-addressed envelope to your nearest Saudi Consulate.)
  • If someone has a non-Muslim name, he or she should submit a certificate from a mosque or an Islamic center stating that the applicant is a Muslim.
  • One recent passport size color photograph with a white background should be attached to the application form. The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly. Side or angled views are NOT accepted.
  • Passports should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of submission of the application form.
  • Confirmed and non-refundable airline ticket. Departure from Saudi Arabia should be within two weeks from the date of entry.
  • Women and children should be accompanied by husband/father or a male relative (Mahram). Proof of relationship is required (a marriage certificate for a wife, a birth certificate for a child indicating the names of both parents). The Mahram must travel into and out of Saudi Arabia on the same flight as his wife and children.
  • If a woman is 45 years old or older, she is allowed to go without a Mahram if she travels with an organized group or family and submits a notarized No Objection Certificate from her Mahram.
  • If the applicant is not a national of the country he/she is applying from, a valid residency permit must be submitted with the application.
  • A vaccination certificate against Meningococcal Meningitis should be attached. The certificate of vaccinations should have been issued not more than three years and not less than 10 days prior to entry to Saudi Arabia and it should be valid for three years. The vaccination certificate must be with the applicant on entry to Saudi Arabia.
  • Umrah visa is valid for 30 days only. This does not mean that you can stay in Saudi Arabia for 30 days. Within these 30 days you should perform Umrah, making sure your departure from Saudi Arabia is within two weeks of the date of entry.
  • The visa for Umrah in Ramadan cannot exceed the last day of Ramadan. You should leave Saudi Arabia by the end of Ramadan and cannot have Eid-ul-Fitr there.

 

Do I have to pay for these visas? If yes, how much do they cost?

The Umrah and Hajj visas are free but you will still have to pay for services you get in Saudi Arabia.

 

Health Matters

Do I need any kind of vaccinations?

Hajj and Umrah visitors must have certificates for the following vaccinations before entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

 

Meningococcal Meningitis

  • A certificate of vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis is required from all visitors from all over the world arriving for the purpose of Umrah or Hajj.
  • The certificate must have been issued not more than three years and not less than ten days before arrival to Saudi Arabia.
  • The responsible authorities in the country from where the visitor comes must ensure that vaccination has been carried out as follows:
  • Adults and children over the age of two years must receive the vaccination against meningococcal meningitis with the quadrivalent vaccine (serogroups A,C, Y and W135).
  • Children between 3 months and 2 years of age must be given two doses of the A vaccine with a 3-month interval between the two doses.
  • It must be ensured that all visitors from countries in the African meningitis belt have been vaccinated in their countries, not more than 3 years and not less than 10 days before arrival. This should be documented on the vaccination certificate. Visitors from these countries will be checked at entry points to ensure that they are vaccinated. Suspect cases shall be isolated and preventive measures will be taken in respect of their direct contacts. If the authenticity of the vaccination certificate is felt to be questionable, revaccination is to be carried out. Chemoprophylaxis will be administered to all visitors from these countries to lower the carrier rate among them.

 

Yellow Fever

All travelers arriving from countries known to be infected with yellow fever (as shown in the World Health Organization [WHO] Weekly Epidemiological Record) must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate in accordance with the International Health Regulations. In the absence of such a certificate, the person will be vaccinated upon arrival and placed under strict surveillance for 6 days from the day of vaccination or the last date of potential exposure to infection - whichever is earlier. Health offices available at entry points will be responsible for notifying the appropriate Director General of Health Affairs in the region about the place of residence of the visitor.

 

Make sure you take your vaccination certificates with you to Saudi Arabia.

 

Where do I go if I am ill? Are there any hospitals in Makkah?

There are many hospitals which provide free healthcare for pilgrims.  There are also some private, fee-charging hospitals.

 

Are over-the-counter medicines available in Makkah? Where do I buy them?

Most over-the-counter medicine is available at pharmacies in Makkah. If you are used to a particular brand of medicine or if you take prescribed medication, it is recommended you bring adequate supplies of these.

 

Disability

What are the facilities for disabled pilgrims?

The Hajj is physically demanding and should be undertaken only by those who are fit enough to perform the rites. The Holy Quran makes it clear that only those who are physically and financially able are under an obligation to perform Hajj.

That said, there are many disabled Muslims who wish to perform Hajj and, if adequate preparations are made, many can fulfil their wish. Below, we give some guidance but it is imperative that any disabled person thinking of performing Hajj should consult in detail with their travel agent before making any bookings.

  • Airport: There are facilities for the disabled at Jeddah airport. Your travel agent should ensure the airport staff are advised of your needs in advance.
  • Transport in the Kingdom: Buses are not equipped to handle wheel-chairs. Disabled pilgrims must ensure that they or their carers have made arrangements with private taxi firms for transportation in the Kingdom, either through your travel agent or though your service provider in the Kingdom.
  • Hotels: In general, hotels are not equipped for the disabled, with the exception of some of the top hotels. Again, it is crucial that you check with the hotel before booking, to explain your needs and to ensure they can be met.
  • Houses: Houses are not generally equipped for the disabled.
  • Grand Mosque in Makkah: The Grand Mosque is well-equipped for the disabled. It has escalators and ramps to enable wheelchairs to move easily from one level to another. Wheel-chairs are provided free of charge in the Grand Mosque but, if you need to ask someone to push your wheelchair, the pusher will charge for his service.

 

General Safety Instructions

In general, how can I keep safe at Jamarat?

For your own safety and that of others, please observe the following instructions when proceeding to the casting of the Jamarat:

  1. Adherence to the schedules designated for you by the Mutawwif.
     
  2. Adherence to the lanes designated for proceeding to the Jamarat and returning therefrom.
     
  3. Avoid pushing your fellow pilgrims and proceed quietly and calmly.
     
  4. Do not carry personal effects.
     
  5. Do not walk against the direction of the traffic.

 

Travel to the Kingdom

How do I choose a travel agent?

Choosing a right agent is the most important aspect of planning for your Hajj. There are two types of tour guides: authorized licensed agents and sub-agents. Authorized licensed agents are companies or groups who hold their own licenses from the Saudi authorities. Sub-agents are those who use the name of the agents to get the visas. These sub-agents simply get their people together, take their passports and go to the agent who gets them the paperwork to get you into Saudi Arabia. After that the main agent is not necessarily aware of who you are, so you have no protection if you are let down.

 

You should choose an authorized licensed agency, recognized by Saudi Arabian authorities. Obtain a list of authorized licensed agencies in your country from the Saudi Arabian Consulate. Below are examples of questions that you should ask your agent:

  1. Do you hold your own license or are you a sub-agent?
     
  2. If sub-agent, what is the name of the main licensed agent?
     
  3. Are you responsible for the accommodation or is it the main agent?
     
  4. What is the package dates?
     
  5. Are these dates firm and have you booked the seats?
     
  6. Which airline are you using?
     
  7. Is it a direct or indirect flight?
     
  8. Will there be someone accompanying the group?
     
  9. Can I have a leaflet advertising your package?
     
  10. What type of accommodation will you provide and has it been booked?
     
  11. Can I have details of the accommodation in writing? I need to know the quality of room, number of people sharing and its distance from the Haram.
     
  12. How many people are in the group and how many helpers will we have?
     
  13. Do you provide the food in Makkah and Madinah?
     
  14. Do you provide the food in Mina?
     
  15. Do you provide our own transport to and from Mina?
     
  16. Are we taking a sheikh/imam with us?
     
  17. Do you and your helpers speak Arabic?
     
  18. How will you organize the Tawafas?
     
  19. Is the sacrificial animal (qurban) included in the package?
     
  20. How will you organize the stoning of Jamarats?
     
  21. What kind of accommodation will there be in Arafat?
     
  22. Do you provide the food in Arafat?
     
  23. How do we travel from Makkah to Madinah?
     

How do I get to Saudi Arabia?

All pilgrims have to enter the Kingdom (i.e. pass through passport control) in Jeddah or the Holy City of Madinah.

 

All pilgrims flights from abroad must be direct to Jeddah or the Holy City of Madinah.   Pilgrims are NOT permitted to fly through Riyadh or any other Saudi Arabian airport "in transit" on their way to Hajj.  They MUST fly direct to Jeddah or Madinah airport.

 

There are land and sea inlets for receiving pilgrims in the central, eastern, northern, western and southern regions of the Kingdom.

 

Among the land inlets are: Halat Ammar, Jadidat Arar, Al Ragei, Salwa, King Fahd Causeway, Al Khadra, Al Tewal, Elab and Al Wadeah.

 

Among sea inlets are: Jeddah Islamic Sea Port, Yanbu Port and Dammam Port.

 

Most pilgrims travel by air to Jeddah and then travel by bus to Makkah via the Jeddah-Makkah expressway.

 

Are there direct flights to Makkah?

No. There isn't a civilian airport in Makkah. The nearest civilian airport is in Jeddah.

 

How do I get to Makkah?

Once you arrive in Jeddah and your documents are checked, you will travel to Makkah by bus. These buses are provided by the local transport companies through the General Cars Syndicate.

 

How long does it take to travel from Jeddah to Makkah?

The distance between Jeddah and Makkah is about 50 miles. If you go by taxi it may take about one and half hours. It will take longer by bus. Taxis from Makkah to Madinah cost about SR 50-60 per person.

 

I've heard my passport will be taken from me. Is this true?

Yes. Once you have gone through customs and immigration, travel coupons for internal travel in Saudi Arabia will be attached to your passport and you will be escorted to a bus to travel to Makkah. At this point your passport will be taken away and will be kept by the mutawwif (a guide assigned to you by the Government). It will be given back to you at Jeddah airport on the day you return home. You will be given a photo-ID card by your mutawwif in place of your passport. You will also be given a tag (a rubber bracelet which will identify you to the mutawwif in case you get lost) and a Hajj security badge.

 

Make sure you carry the ID card and wear your bracelet at all times and take care of them.

 

It is also advisable to carry with you notarized copies of your passport.

 

Forbidden Imports

What things should I NOT bring to Saudi Arabia?

You are not allowed to bring any perishable or uncanned food in large quantities.

 

You must not bring alcohol or drugs into the Kingdom. The punishments are severe and can include capital punishment.

 

Travel and Accommodation in the sacred Places

Where do I stay in Makkah?

Your accommodation should be arranged by your authorized licensed agent. There are different qualities of accommodations, from four star luxurious hotels to rooms through to apartments you share with others. Your agency should give you details of the hotel where you will be staying. If you are sharing, your travel agency should also let you know how many people will share your room.

 

How do I move around Makkah. Is there public transport?

Travel within Saudi Arabia is highly restricted. Pilgrims' travel will be limited to the cities of Makkah and Madinah, to the tent cities of Mina and Arafat and to Muzdalifah. Inter-city travel will require the pilgrim or his travel agent to inform the Tawafa Establishment office 24 to 48 hours before departure. Pilgrims travel by buses provided by the General Cars Syndicate, using one of travel coupons given to them by the Tawafa Establishment. Buses are of different standards and are allocated on an availability basis. Pilgrims can also travel by taxis at an extra cost to them.

 

How long is the distance between Makkah and Mina?

The distance between Makkah and Mina is 8 kilometers (5 miles). Depending on traffic it could take anything between 2 to 4 hours. It may be better to walk the distance sometimes.

 

How long is the distance between Mina and Arafat?

The distance between Mina and Arafat is 14.4 kilometers (9 miles).

 

Where do I stay in Mina?

Mina is a well-organized tent city, with sectors and a secure precinct. Each tent can house between 20 to 40 people. Each tent has air conditioning unit and several power points. There are separate cooking areas and there are toilets with showering facilities in each precinct. Your travel agent should organize your accommodation in Mina.

 

Sacrificing

  • If I need to sacrifice an animal, how do I arrange it?
  • Booths around Makkah and Mina have been set up by the Islamic Development Bank to facilitate buying coupons for slaughtering and distributing sacrificial animals.
  • During Hajj, the sacrifice can be made in Mina or Makkah, after the stoning of the largest Jamarat. The sacrificecan be done by your agent on your behalf.
  • The types of animals which may be sacrificed are camels, cows, sheep and goats.
  • A sheep or goat can be sacrificed on behalf of only one person; whereas, a cow or camel can be shared by seven people.
  • The age of the goat or sheep should be at least one year, the cow two and the camel at least five.
  • It is forbidden to sacrifice sick, crippled or wounded animals.
  • The sacrifice should be performed on the 10th of Dhu'l-Hijjah but it is allowed to sacrifice up until the dusk of the 13th.
  • The pilgrim should say the following Du'aa when slaughtering the animal: "In the name of Allah and Allah is the Greatest. O Allah! This is from You and for You." The animal should be turned on its left side facing the Kaaba, but this is not a strict rule and is recommended practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
  • The one performing the sacrifice should eat a part of the meat and a portion should be distributed to the needy and the poor. The butcher should not be given any part of the animal in lieu of his wages, as it is meant for charity.

 

Food and Drink

Is the drinking water safe?

You may either drink bottled mineral water or drink from water fountains available for drinking throughout the holy sites. Use of boiled or sterilized water is not a must. Zamzam water is always safe.

 

Is the food safe? What foods should I avoid?

Avoid eating exposed food and meat from the counter. Make sure you eat cooked meat and fish, preferably hot. Cook vegetables and eat peeled fruit. Also always boil the milk.

 

Language

What languages are spoken in Saudi Arabia?

Arabic is the main language of Saudi Arabia. English is spoken by some professionals.

 

Do the Hajj guides speak English?

If your agent is good, he should provide guides who speak English.

 

Mobile Phones

Can I use my mobile phone/cell phone in Saudi Arabia?

You can use mobile phones to keep in touch with your group and also to phone home. SIM cards, only valid for a month, are available over the counter in most phone shops in Makkah and Madinah. Before leaving, make sure your phone can accept any SIM card, as opposed to being tied to a network.

 

Getting Lost

What do I do if I am lost? Where do I go for help?

If you are lost, there are "Pilgrim Assistance Booths" set up all over and they will help you to find your hotel, tents, etc. Make sure you have your ID card and your ID bracelet with you at all times.

If you are traveling with a group, it is advisable to agree on a well-known location/landmark to gather in case somebody gets lost.

 

Lost Property

Where do I go if I lose my passport?

Your passport will be taken from you after you enter Jeddah by the Unified Agents Office representatives, so that the latter can complete all travel formalities to Makkah and Madinah.

 

If you lose your passport, you should immediately report it to the same office appointed to take care of you duringHajj (Field Service Group, FSG). You should obtain a report from the Unified Agents Office in which the loss of passport is mentioned.

 

It is advisable to carry with you notarized copies of your passport.

 

If my money is stolen where do I go for help? How do I report the crime?

Report any crime to the police and your Tawafa Establishment.

 

See also

Mutawwif; Saudi Arabia; Tawaf; Makkah; Madina; Masjid E Haram; Masjid E Nabwi;

 

References

http://www.hajinformation.com/main/t.htm

3640 Views
Correct us and Correct yourself
.
Comments
Top of page