The government of Saudi Arabia has announced the prices and rules for applying for a visa for Umrah pilgrimage for the 2019-2020 season. Additionally, applications for an Umrah visa for the coming year are now open.
Umrah is an Islamic religious pilgrimage to Mecca and can be completed at any time of the year. This is in contrast to the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, which must be undertaken on specific dates according to the Islamic calendar. Hajj is compulsory for all able-bodied Muslims at least once during their lives.
Unlike the Hajj pilgrimage, which takes a few days, Umrah can generally be completed in a few hours, and consists of two key rituals. Tawaf consists of the act of circling around the Ka‘bah, the building at the centre of the Great Mosque, while Sa’i involves walking between the Safa and Marwah hills on the Mecca site. The pilgrimage is usually concluded with Halq, a partial or complete shortening of the hair.
What Is the Cost of the Saudi Umrah Visa?
The Saudi government have announced that the price of the Umrah visa for Saudi Arabia is now around 300 SAR (US $103).
It was also recently revealed that the previous fee for repeating Umrah within the same year of 2,000 SAR (US $533) no longer applies. Pilgrims are now able to make the journey as many times within the same year without paying additional visa fees.
However, the rules of applying for an Umrah visa state that is first necessary to make accomodation and travel arrangements for Saudi Arabia before the visa can be issued.
As it is necessary to make these bookings first, the initial cost of submitting an Umrah visa application for each person, including children, can be closer to around 1,210 SAR (US $323).
It is also currently necessary to apply for a visa for Umrah through an approved travel agency. Applicants are required to provide the agency with details of the accomodation and travel bookings so they can submit a visa application on their behalf.
The government has been planning to introduce an electronic visa application for Umrah for some time to make it easier for pilgrims to apply, but the online system has yet to be implemented.
The New Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa for Umrah
Although a dedicated online visa application for Umrah has yet to be made available, Saudi Arabia has recently launched an online tourist visa which eligible nationalities are also able to use to complete Umrah. The new visa marks the first time foreign citizens are able to visit the country for purposes of tourism.
Travelers from any of the 51 countries for which the electronic Saudi visa is now available are able to submit an online application form, which only takes a few minutes to complete. Successful applicants receive an approved eVisa via email, meaning there is no need to visit an embassy to apply.
An approved tourist eVisa for Saudi Arabia is a multiple-entry travel document valid to enter Saudi Arabia for 90 days from the date of issue. This means that it is possible to use the visa to complete an Umrah pilgrimage and explore the country for a holiday during the visa validity.
Those eligible for the online visa are not required to apply through an agency and can complete and submit the application themselves. This means the price of the tourist visa is also lower than the initial cost of applying for an Umrah visa.
For more worldwide visa information, visit onlinevisa.com.