Being a Muslim It is one’s biggest dream to visit Saudi Arabia for Hajj & Umrah or to explore the prophetic city and the places mentioned in the holy Qur’an and Islamic History. But in order to get started you need to take the first step first which is getting your visa done to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many people book their Umrah trip through travel agencies and companies but there are so many Muslim travelers who want to go to Umrah or Hajj or they want to visit Saudi Arabia on their own, and they look for different solutions for Saudi Visas. So, This guide is all about getting you a Saudi Tourist Visa from anywhere in the world.
The Saudi Visa isn’t complicated to get but there are a few steps to acquire a visa properly. The Ministry of Tourism of KSA offers different types of visas, including tourist visas & Umrah visas on their website. The service is available for residents of many countries around the globe. Getting a Saudi visa used to be complicated in the past but recently in 2019 when the Ministry of Tourism started online visa services it is now way more accessible and it is a matter of just an hour or two. You can apply online and get it done very quickly but before you get your visa let’s understand the difference between Umrah & Hajj Visa and Tourist Visa.
Note: This article has different sections the first section is dedicated to understanding the types of visas offered by Saudi Authorities and what are the requirements and application process for them. The second part of the article is dedicated to other important information regarding these visas, Umrah, and traveling in Saudi Arabia. We only covered 4 major visa options which are given to travelers visiting the Kingdome.
1. Understanding The Saudi Hajj Visa
If you are planning to visit Saudi Arabia for the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj and wish to embark on this spiritual journey to Mecca, obtaining a Saudi Hajj Visa is crucial. This hajj visa is specially granted to eligible Muslims worldwide, allowing them to perform the prescribed rituals during the designated Hajj season, which lasts from Mid-Shawwal until the 25th Dhual-Qa’dah of each year. To ensure a smooth pilgrimage experience, make sure to apply for the Saudi Hajj Visa through government-approved Hajj tour operators and fulfill the necessary requirements. Here are the steps and requirements to get your Hajj Visa
- Contact an Authorized Hajj Operator: Contact a government-approved Hajj tour operator in your country. They will guide you through the visa application process and assist with the necessary arrangements for the pilgrimage.
- Submit Required Documents: Prepare all the necessary documents, including a completed Hajj Visa application form, a valid passport, and any other documents specified by the Hajj operator.
- Visa Application Processing: The authorized Hajj operator will process and submit your visa application to the Saudi government. The visa allocation is subject to the quota set by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
- Wait for Visa Approval: The processing time for the Hajj Visa may vary due to the high demand during the Hajj season. Be patient while waiting for the visa approval and keep in touch with the Hajj operator for updates.
- Receive the Hajj Visa: Once your Hajj Visa is approved, you will receive the visa document from the Hajj operator. The visa may be an electronic visa linked to your passport or a visa sticker placed in your passport.
- Prepare for the Pilgrimage: After obtaining the Hajj Visa, the Hajj operator will provide further instructions on the pilgrimage journey. Make spiritual preparations and be ready to embark on the sacred journey to Mecca during the designated Hajj season.
Required documents for the Hajj Visa
- Letter from a Host (Travel Authorization): Official invitation or confirmation of visit from a host in Saudi Arabia.
- Hotel Reservations or Proof of Lodging: Documented proof of accommodation arrangements during your stay.
- National Identification Card or Birth Certificate: Identity and citizenship verification.
- Valid Passport Details Scan: Scan of valid passport with sufficient validity and blank pages for visa endorsements.
- Bank Statements Proving Financial Capability: Evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel expenses.
- Departure Ticket: Proof of planned exit from Saudi Arabia within the allowed visa validity period.
- Recent Passport Photo in Color: Passport-sized color photo meets specific identification requirements.
Note: Getting the hajj visa is something important and it might involve a lot of complications it’s not something you can do yourself online easily as the number of applications for the hajj visa is so high. Therefore, It’s always recommended to get your visa process done with an authorized Hajj Operator. May Allah help you get your Hajj visa soon and without any complications. Ameen.
2. Understanding the Saudi Umrah Visa:
Umrah, (عمرة), sometimes referred to as a ‘minor’ pilgrimage, consists of carrying out a set of rites in the precinct of Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. It consists of four essential practices and can be carried out at any time of the year. To perform Umrah securing the Umrah Visa is essential for travelers coming to Kingdome. Here’s a detailed guide on obtaining the Umrah Visa and the necessary steps to follow:
- Choose a Licensed Umrah Travel Agency: To begin the process, select a tour operator or a reputable travel agency experienced in organizing Umrah packages. The can help you with the Umrah application process as they are well-versed in the requirements and procedures.
- Check Visa Eligibility: Ensure that you are eligible for the Umrah Visa. Typically, the Umrah Visa is granted to Muslims from around the world, except for citizens of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as they have different entry requirements.
- Prepare Required Documents: Gather all necessary documents for the Umrah Visa application. Commonly required documents include a passport and other documents.
- Complete the Application Form: Obtain the Umrah Visa application form from your chosen Umrah operator or travel agency. While applying for an Umrah, make sure you carefully fill out the form with accurate and up-to-date information. Any discrepancies or errors may lead to delays or rejection of the visa application.
- Book Flights and Accommodation: To get your visa you must have purchased non-refundable flight tickets. Also as part of the Umrah, book your flights and accommodation well in advance.
- Submit the Application: Submit the completed application form and the required documents to your Umrah operator or travel agency or on the website in case of eligibility for an E-visa. They will process the application with the relevant Saudi authorities.
- Wait for Approval: The processing time for Umrah Visas booked with travel agencies can vary, so be patient while waiting for visa approval. In the meantime, use this period to make preparations for your journey and learn the steps to perform Umrah.
- Receive the Umrah Visa: Once the visa is approved, you will receive your Umrah Visa either electronically or physically, depending on the process followed by authorities in your home country.
Required Documents for The Saudi Umrah Visa
The documents required for an Umrah visa are mostly the same for all countries but depending on your country’s authorities you may require some additional documents. These are the following documents to apply for their Umrah visa:
- A valid passport with sufficient blank pages for visa endorsements and with a six-month validity period (from when you apply for the visa).
- Two recent passport-sized color photographs with a white background.
- A certificate of vaccination against certain diseases as per Saudi Arabia’s health regulations.
- It’s essential to carry Evidence of a relationship between female pilgrims under the age of 45 years and their ‘mahram’ (partner/brother/father).
- Purchased non-refundable return flight tickets.
- Health insurance may also be required for COVID-19.
3. Understanding The Saudi Tourist Visa.
If you’re someone who is eager to explore the wonders of Saudi Arabia and its cultural treasures, the Saudi Tourist Visa is the first step which the doors of Kingdome for you. It gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the mesmerizing beauty and culture of Saudi Arabia. The Tourist is also available to all other travelers of all religions and countries, but they can’t visit the holy places with it. But if you’re a Muslim Traveler you can perform your Umrah as well as you can explore historical sites, enjoy the natural wonders, or experience the Arabian cities, You can do it all by getting your Tourist Visa. Here’s a short guide to help you through the visa application process:
- Check Eligibility: Ensure you are eligible for the Saudi Tourist Visa by visiting the official Visitsaudi website. Verify if your nationality is on the list of eligible countries, as the list may vary over time. If you don’t find your country on the list you may go with the process by local authorities.
- Gather Required Documents: Prepare the necessary documents with accurate and up-to-date information before you start the application process.
- Choose Application Method: Decide whether to apply online through the official Saudi Arabia tourism website or use an authorized travel agency for assistance. The online method can only work for the eligible countries others will have to follow the process with their local authorities.
- Pay Visa Fee: The Saudi Tourist Visa fee varies based on your nationality and visa type. Payment can typically be made online with a credit card or other acceptable methods. You may expect to pay 300 Saudi Riyals for the visa.
- Submit Application Submit the completed application form with all required documents and fill in the terms and conditions correctly with updated information.
- Await Visa Processing: Once submitted online, wait for the authorities to check and process your application. For the tourist visa online it takes 24 hours but the processing time may vary in case of an offline method in your home country.
- Receive Visa Upon approval, you will receive a Saudi Tourist Visa. You will be informed via mail and It could be an electronic visa linked to your passport or a visa sticker placed in your passport.
Required documents for the Saudi Tourist Visa
- Valid passport with at least six months validity from the intended entry date and sufficient blank pages for visa stamps.
- Two recent passport-sized color photographs with a white background.
- Completed Saudi Tourist Visa application form, which can be obtained online or from authorized travel agencies.
- Duly filled application form
- Proof of accommodation (hotel, residence, etc.) for the applicant’s duration of stay in Saudi Arabia
- Applicants must be 18+ If not then he/she must be accompanied by a legal guardian
- Roundtrip ticket and travel itinerary
- Complete personal information, including the applicant’s home address in the country
4. Understanding Saudi Transit Visa
Saudi Transit Visa: The new Saudi transit visa allows travelers transiting through Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and explore the country during layovers or stopovers. It is available for those who have booked flights with either Saudi Arabia or FlyNas, the budget carrier of the country. It is a great option that makes Umrah more accessible and affordable. Here is more about the Saudi Transit Visa.
Transit Visa Requirements:
- The residence period is 96 hours, and its validity is 90 days from the date of issuance.
- The visa is not extendable, and only one stopover is allowed per visa.
- Valid passport with at least 6 months validity.
- A ticket with Saudi Airlines or FlyNas for an onward journey.
Steps to Book the Transit Visa:
- Select your international departure and arrival destinations.
- Choose flights with a layover time of up to 96 hours.
- Apply for the stopover visa while purchasing the ticket on the Saudi Airlines website.
- Prepare personal photos according to specifications before filling out the form.
- Pay the fees for the ticket and visa in one step on the Saudi Airlines website.
- Receive an email with the issued visa and insurance for the duration of your stay in Saudi Arabia.
Things to keep in mind:
- The visa application process should be completed within 90 days of the flight date to ensure validity.
- The process of issuing the transit visa if a ticket is booked through a third-party website.
- The process for obtaining the free accommodation provided for 24 hours.
- Confirmation on whether the transit visa can be issued 90 days prior to the flight date.
The difference between an Umrah Visa and a Tourist Visa
For travelers looking whether looking to perform an Umrah or to the prophetic cities and discover its rich cultural heritage and captivating landscapes, Saudi Arabia offers two types distinct types of visas for travelers with different purposes. While both visas can you to get entry into Saudi Arabia, they serve different purposes and have specific requirements of their own.
- Umrah Visa: The Umrah Visa is specifically designed for Muslims who wish to perform the Umrah pilgrimage. To apply for the Umrah Visa, individuals must be Muslims and take help from licensed travel agencies or approved Umrah operators. The Umrah Visa is usually valid for a short period of 14 days but it may vary as well. The Umrah Visa is for individuals intending to perform Umrah only along with exploring some places. Pilgrims are suggested to complete the trip within the allotted time frame.
- The Tourist Visa: The Tourist Visa, on the other hand, is open to travelers of all nationalities who want to visit Saudi Arabia for exploration, and tourism such as the country’s historical sites, natural wonders, and cultural attractions. Travelers can book their E-visa or tourist online if they are from eligible countries. It offers multiple entries in the kingdom and it allows tourists to stay in the country for up to 90 days.
In conclusion, while both the Saudi Umrah Visa and the Saudi Tourist Visa allow entry into Saudi Arabia, they are completely different. And Yes, you can perform Umrah with a tourist visa, and it also has several advantages compared to an Umrah visa. For example, you can stay for a longer duration, and you get multiple entries with it. It is essential for travelers to understand the purpose and requirements of each visa type before planning their journey to Saudi Arabia.
A dedicated Umrah visa is always a better choice if you’re going with the intention of Umrah because it has Umrah-related facilities and training, and some experienced people to help you with your Umrah experience. There will less distractions of managing and booking hotels on your own and taking an Umrah trip can keep you busy doing the important ritual rather than something else. In my opinion take an Umrah visa if you don’t intend to stay in the kingdom for long, take a tourist visa only if you can plan your Umrah accordingly, and then explore other places.
Umrah with Saudi Tourist Visa, Things to know.
Can I perform Umrah on a tourist visa?
If you have the same questions then the good news is “Yes, you can perform Umrah on a tourist visa if you are a Muslim traveler. However, please note that the rules may differ from those for an Umrah visa. Make sure to check the specific requirements for Umrah on a tourist visa before planning your trip”. here are a few more requirements and things to keep in mind:
- Tourist Visa: If you’re going for Umrah on a tourist visa you obviously have to acquire a tourist visa first, it’s crucial to note that the rules may differ from those for an Umrah visa. Make sure to be aware of the distinctions before proceeding.
- Nusak App (Previously Eatmarna): For your Umrah journey, you must use the Nusak app. The app serves the same purpose of creating Umrah experiences for locals and tourists. You can download and register on the app using a phone number from abroad. This app allows you to book slots for Umrah and Rawdah before arrival.
- No other apps are required: Unlike other visa types, you don’t need the Muqeem app or the Tawakalna app for Umrah on a tourist visa. But it’s essential to see the updates and follow the guidelines of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
- According to the official statement, a COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all travelers who wish to perform Umrah. And the vaccination for other diseases such as Yellow fever, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, and Varicella, It is highly recommended to get all the vaccines that are due in their country.
- Navigating the Nusak App: The Nusak app is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making the booking process more convenient.
- Please remember that the information provided here is based on the current rules and regulations up to July 2023. Always check for the latest updates from official sources before planning your Umrah trip on the official site of the Hajj & Umrah Ministry or Saudi Tourism.
Traveling & Umrah with Other Saudia Visas
Apart from the Saudi Tourist Visa and Hajj Visa, Saudi Arabia offers several other types of visas to cater to various purposes of travel. These visas cater to individuals seeking employment, education, business opportunities, family visits, personal visits, and more. Each visa type has specific requirements and is granted based on the applicant’s purpose of visit and eligibility. Understanding the various visa options helps travelers choose the most appropriate visa category for their travel needs. But as a Muslim Traveler, you can perform Umrah and travel across the Kingdom if you have any of the following visas.
- Student Visa
- Personal Visit Visa
- Family Visit Visa
- Business Visit Visa
- Premium Residency Visa
- Government Visa
- Diplomatic Missions & Organizations
- Diplomatic & Official Visas
- Companion Visa
- Employment Visa
- Newborn Visa
- Residence Visa
But always keep in mind all these visas have some specific requirements and eligibility criteria for each visa type and it may vary, It’s essential to consult the official Saudi Arabian government websites or authorized visa centers for up-to-date information and guidance on the visa application process. Properly selecting the appropriate visa category ensures a smooth and legal travel experience in Saudi Arabia for travelers with various objectives and goals. For example, if you are already a student or an employee in the Kingdome you can use your existing visa, but in case you’re going for Hajj you need a Hajj Visa, Going for Umrah you better get Umrah, and if you’re going to explore the historical landmarks and places get a tourist visa.
Updated: Visa Waiver for UK citizens (Recently Announced)
Recently Saudi Government introduced the eVisa waiver or EVW system which allows citizens of some specific countries mainly the UK a single entry into the country for tourism, business, educational, or medical purposes. An EVW permits a single entry visit of up to six months. You can get it online from the comfort of your home. But with this eVisa you can’t work within the kingdom. To get this visa you have to pay a government fee of $40 USD. The requirements for this visa are similar to other visas offered by Saudi authorities. You can check the details on the official website of Saudi Tourism. This is a great option for those who want flexibility to visit Saudi Arabia for their Umrah as well as to explore other places.
Conclusion: Saudi Visa Guide 2023
In conclusion, In this guide for Saudi Visa in 2023, we have provided valuable insights and comprehensive information for travelers. Although, the guide shed light on other visa types offered by Saudi Arabia, catering to diverse objectives, including employment, education, family visits, business, and more our main focus was to provide the information for more travelers to specific such as someone who is doing an Umrah or exploring places in Saudia Arabia. Recognizing these visa options allows travelers to make informed decisions based on their travel needs. The guide outlined the step-by-step procedures for obtaining Umrah and Tourist Visas, emphasizing the significance of complying with the requirements for each type.
As you plan your journey to the captivating land of Saudi Arabia, remember to adhere to local customs, traditions, and laws, respecting the country’s cultural heritage. Proper preparation, compliance with visa requirements, and respectful conduct will ensure a memorable and enriching experience in the Kingdom. For the most up-to-date information and specific visa guidelines, it is essential to consult the official Saudi Arabian government websites or authorized visa centers.
May Allah make your travel easy and meaningful, accept your Hajj & Umrah, and provide you with all the rewards of this world and the hereafter. Ameen.