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Hajj and Umrah Pilgrimage

Before booking your travel, check the 'Entry Requirements' section of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) guidance for the latest rules you will need to comply with to enter Saudi Arabia.

Hajj

Hajj is an Islamic religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia attended by 1 to 3 million pilgrims annually before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The dates for Hajj 1443H/2022 are 7 to 12 July.

Hajj begins on the 8th day of Dhul Hijjah (the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar) and ends by the 13th day. The date of Hajj is 11 days earlier each year because the Islamic calendar is 11 days shorter than the calendar used in the western world.

Umrah

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year. Umrah can be:

  • combined with Hajj (called Umrat al-tammatu) or
  • taken independently of Hajj (called al-Umrat al mufradah)

Saudi Arabia Hajj and Umrah Regulations

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health Advice

Every year, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) issue:

Hajj and Umrah can be physically exhausting. The KSA MoH have advised the following people are exempt from Hajj and Umrah religious duties:

  • those who are over 65 years
  • those with a severe health condition such as heart, kidney, liver or lung disease
  • those with cancer or a terminal illness
  • those with conditions causing confusion or affecting memory, including dementia

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

On 9 April 2022, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced 1 million pilgrims, both foreign and domestic will be able to perform Hajj this year (1443H/2022) and that:

On 06 June 2022, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced opening of an electronic portal for pilgrims from Europe, America and Australia to register for 1443H/2022 Hajj season.

Vaccines

The MoH KSA issue a list of mandatory vaccinations needed to obtain entry visas for Hajj and Umrah which include:

Meningococcal Meningitis

  • this needs to be administered within the last 5 years and at least 10 days prior to your arrival in Saudi Arabia
  • you will need a vaccination certificate which clearly details the date and type of vaccine you received

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Other vaccines

Before travelling to Hajj or Umrah it is recommended that you are up-to-date with routine vaccines for life in the UK, including:

You should also get any travel vaccines recommended for travel to Saudi Arabia.

If you think you may need vaccines or boosters, you should arrange a travel health risk assessment at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. If your trip is sooner, remember it is never too late to seek advice.

Before you Travel

Travel Insurance

You are should purchase comprehensive travel insurance before travelling:

General Health

Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage involves walking many miles and can be strenuous, even for the fittest individual:

  • improve your overall mobility and fitness by increasing physical activities at least 4 to 6 weeks before you travel

You may benefit from having a general health check-up with your GP or specialist to ensure you are in good health and any known health conditions are stable before you travel.

Consider having a routine dental and/or eye health check-up and complete any urgent treatment before travelling.

If you want to delay your period (menstruation) during Hajj, this can be done by taking hormonal medication:

  • discuss this with your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist at least 2 to 3 months in advance of your pilgrimage

Travelling with Medication

If you take prescribed medication, make sure you have enough supply to cover the duration of your trip, and a little extra supply to allow for unforeseen delays.

  • keep all medicines in their original packaging in your hand luggage along with a printed copy of your prescription
  • ask your GP for a letter listing your current medicines for immigration purposes
  • be aware some medicines, such as morphine-based drugs, might be restricted in Saudi Arabia.

For further information see the travelling with medicines page.

First Aid Kit

You should take a first aid kit with you.

  • see the First Aid page for information on what items and medication you should include in your first aid kit
  • make sure any sharp items are placed in your hold luggage to comply with airport security

During Travel

Accidents and Injuries

Accidents and injuries, such as slips, falls, stampedes and road accidents are common during the Hajj pilgrimage due to millions of pilgrims moving from one ritual place to another at the same time. To protect yourself, consider:

  • taking extra care when walking alongside busy roads, or close to heavy traffic
  • wearing comfortable, protective footwear when walking to avoid injuring your feet
    • this is particularly important if you have diabetes or any condition causing poor circulation.

See the Accident Prevention page for further information.

Climate Related Health Risks

Temperatures can be greater than 30°C during the day in Saudi Arabia even during the winter and cause:

  • sunburn,
  • sunstroke
  • heat exhaustion, heat stroke
  • dehydration

Arriving in the country a few days early will allow you to acclimatise to the heat before undertaking Hajj. To avoid high daytime temperatures, you may be able to perform some rituals in the evening. Be aware that temperatures can fall at night, particularly during winter months.

It is important to:

  • rest whenever possible
  • keep yourself well hydrated using safe drinks
  • seek shade where possible (consider using an umbrella to create shade)
  • use a protective sunscreen, factor 30 or higher
  • bring warm bedding / clothing for night time

See the Sun Safety and Heat and Humidity pages for further information.

Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory infections, such as flu (influenza) and Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread easily between people in crowded areas. Meningococcal meningitis is also spread through sneezing, coughing or direct contact with respiratory secretions.

Food and Water precautions

Consuming food and water which contains germs (such as viruses or bacteria) can cause illnesses such as travellers’ diarrhoea and are common in pilgrims during Hajj. Diseases such as hepatitis A and typhoid are also spread through food and water.

Wash your hands frequently to reduce your risk of becoming unwell from diseases spread by food and water, especially before eating and drinking and after using the toilet.

If you have underlying health problems, you may be at increased risk of complications from travellers’ diarrhoea.

Diseases spread by mosquitoes and other insects

It is important to try and protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects, as they can spread diseases such as dengue fever or leishmaniasis.

Blood-borne Virus Transmission Associated with Shaving

Unclean razor blades can transmit blood-borne viral infections, including HIV and hepatitis B. To lower your risk, you should:

  • avoid sharing personal razors or shaving blades with other people
  • only use officially licensed barbers at designated centres and avoid street barbers
  • ask the barber to wash their hands before shaving you
  • check the barber is using a new disposable single use razor; or ask them to use your personal razor
  • avoid all other kinds of razors, including the ones which the blade is changed after every shave
  • dispose of razor blades safely after use in designated containers

When you return home

If you have symptoms, including fever, cough and/or shortness of breath within 14 days of returning home from Hajj, call your GP or NHS24 on 111 (out of hours) and inform them of your recent travel.

Resources

Further Information

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