The Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, is the fifth pillar of Islam and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity in the world. For those Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah, the Hajj is a once in a lifetime duty that is the peak of their religious life.
Today, more than 2.3 million Muslims of every age and nationality, from every corner of the world, are welcomed in Makkah for Hajj, a five-day pilgrimage that takes place from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar. Pilgrims follow the order of ritual that the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, performed during his last pilgrimage.
Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage to the Two Holy cities which can be taken at other times of the year.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, with the support of his government and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, gives priority to the care of the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah and of pilgrims to these holy sites.
Since King Abdulaziz reunited Saudi Arabia in 1932, there has been a constant programme of development in Makkah and Madinah to improve worship, health, transport and housing facilities for pilgrims, enabling greater numbers of Muslims to perform the Hajj. Funds from the Kingdom’s annual budget are allocated exclusively for this purpose. The Ministry of Pilgrimage, in conjunction with other government agencies, oversees the annual logistical challenge of preparing for the Hajj and supports projects in the Kingdom and abroad that promote Islam’s role in the community.
An essential component of the development of Makkah and Madinah has been the expansion of the Holy Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. At the time of Saudi Arabia’s unification in 1932, the Holy Mosque could accommodate 48,000 worshipers and the Prophet’s Mosque 17,000. Today the capacity of the Grand Mosque in Makkah is over four million and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah 600,000.
Work is continuing on the expansion of the mosque and facilities for pilgrims so that more Muslims can undertake this important ritual. One of the major aims of Vision 2030 – the Kingdom’s plan for the future – is to increase the capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million per year.
Currently the number of Muslims carrying out Hajj in any one year is carefully regulated with the aim of preventing overcrowding and protecting pilgrims’ safety. A quota system is in place to ensure that all Muslims are given an equal opportunity to perform Hajj. Last year 19,000 British Muslims undertook Hajj.
If planning to undertake Hajj, it is important to apply early and to avoid being affected by fraud by only using authorised Hajj and Umrah travel companies and tour operators.
Visa process and requirements
The Consular Section of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London has the honour to inform all Pilgrims that all Hajj and Umrah visas are free of charge. Hajj and Umrah visas are not valid for work or residency.
• One application form duly completed and signed by the applicant.
• Two passport-sized photographs.
• The passport should be in order and valid for at least 6 months.
• Visa applications should be dealt with only through an Umrah visa services agents
• A meningitis immunisation certificate. (Pilgrims must have their immunisation at least ten days before travelling)
• Children aged one year and over and traveling on a parent’s passport must have their photograph affixed to the passport and endorsed by the authority concerned. Their photograph must also be affixed to the application form.
• All women and children should be accompanied by a mahram, (husband, father, uncle, adult son, brother or nephew). The accompanying mahram must be at least 17 years old.
• All non-UK passport holders must have permanent residency in the UK.
• Lodging of passports: from 9.00 am until 11.00 am Monday to Friday (9.00 am to 10.30 am for agents)
• Collection of processed passports: from 3.00 pm until 4.00 pm Monday to Thursday, and on Friday from 2.00pm until 3.00pm.
• Last day for acceptance of Umrah application form is the 15th of Ramadan. For Hajj visas, acceptance of applications will commence on the 15th of Shawwal and the last day for acceptance of applications is the 25th of Dhul Qadah in accordance with the Hijri calendar. Please check regulations at the beginning of each season.
• Visa validity starts from the date of issue.
• Please complete the form in BLOCK CAPITALS, BLACK INK only.
• For any other enquiries, please contact the Consular Section.
Hajj and Umrah pilgrims are asked not to take into Saudi Arabia any pictures, posters or written material of a political nature or for propaganda purposes. They should also respect the rules, regulations and customs of Saudi Arabia.
Pilgrims and Umra performers are asked not to take into Saudi Arabia any pictures, posters or written material of a political nature or for propaganda purposes. They should also respect the rules, regulations and customs of Saudi Arabia.