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Regulations on umra visit

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  • Regulations on umra visit

    I recently delivered a lecture at The World Haj and Umra Conference in London. I will try and insert some of the salient power point slides in this thread.

    To try and be succinct about this subject is impossible. Hence, I shall try to present salient points only.

    I will start with VISAS and how they are issued.


    This is triggered when an overseas based business requests entry into KSA to negotiate a business with a Saudi interest.

    The overseas business person sends his/their passport details to the business in KSA. The KSA party than "sponsors" an invitation which is processed by the Chamber of Commerce and subsequently approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The approval is transmitted to the consulate in the visitor's country electronically. The sponsor than sends a copy of the invitation to the party.

    The visitor, let's assume is based in UK, than produces verifiable business registration documents with his passport and pays the fee for the business visa online to Enjaz Bank in KSA and which generates a string of numericals and barcode. This fee can be paid by the person concerned online or engages an approved agent in UK to process on his behalf.

    The documents goes into the consulate and a business visa is issued with a duration (single or multiple entries) of six months to the applicant. This is the case for all countries except USA where the visa is valid for five years.

    The invitee must apply for his visa from the country of his original nationality. If he is a UK citizen temporarily resident in another country than his application will not be accepted in the country he is in temporary resident.

    His line of business must be same as the one of his sponsor. A UK business in the trade of clothing cannot get a visa for someone in KSA in ironmongery trade. I, as a travel agent, cannot get a business visa to do business with a catering firm in KSA.

    The Business Visa allows him to visit any part of KSA and, if he is a muslim, perform an umra too on that visa but not perform Haj.


    This category is limited to those who have immediate blood relatives in KSA. The KSA resident must get a sponsor letter processed by his "KAFEEL" or employer and approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    The UK resident must submit papers/documents to support his visitor visa application and submit the passport for visa after paying appropriate fee online to Enjaz Bank in KSA.

    The application must be processed in the country of his permanent residence.

    The visit visa is valid to travel to any part of KSA and includes performance of an umra but not haj.

    The consulate than issues a "single" entry visa.


    The Saudi government organises Haj by involving its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior Ministry, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Haj, Ministry of Transport, Governers of Makka and Madina and the Municipalities of Makka and Madina.

    Ministry of Haj delegates the authority of quota allocation and logistics to seven Field Services.

    The Field Services for Muslim Europa and Turkey is the one that deals with the whole of Europe, Americas, Australia and New Zealand and the small island countries spattered around in that part of the world.

    Haj Quota is allocated on the basis of a formula devised on proportionality of percentage of muslims in individual countries of the world.

    United Kingdom has a quota of 24,600 per year and is allocated to around 84 licensed Haj companies. If one or more haj company is blacklisted temporarily or permanently than their quota is lost and not allocated to the other existing ones. No new companies have been registered since last 15 years and no increase in quota allocation has been granted in that period either.

    So, if company "A" in UK with a quota of 450 is blacklisted than there will be 450 less hujjajs from UK that year.

    Due to the Haram development, the current Quota has been reduced by 20% globally. In UK's terms, the 24,600 is reduced by 20% which effectively brings down the total to around 20,000 since past two years.

    An aspiring Hujjaj can apply for haj visa, through an approved Haj licensed agent from his own country of permanent residence. If he is a UK national than his visa must be applied for in UK only. If he has permanent residence right in another country than he can apply for haj visa through a local licensed haj agent if there is no specific quota or "bar" in the adopted country.

    For example, a UK citizen residing in Canada or America and vise versa, can apply for haj from those countries. However, if he is permanent resident in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India etc, he would not qualify and, in that case, he has to apply from UK through a UK licensed agent.

    EEC nationals can benefit from this only if they can provide proof of residence in another EEC country. For example, a French citizen permanently residing in UK can apply for haj visa from UK if he has the proof of residence in UK such as a utility bill in his name. A driver's license or bank statement is not accepted.

    Haj agents must have all of his hujjajs staying in one accommodation unless he has registered different or multiple housing. All of his hujjajs must arrive in KSA on the stated dates in his contract with the ministry of haj or after but never before the specified date and must be in the accommodation in the stated cities agreed in the contract.

    Every year a Haj agent has to renew his license and get a Card Munazzam issued after submitting a series of documentations legalised and verified by Foreign Office, Arab Chamber of Commerce and the Saudi Consulate.

    The agent opens a "new bank account" and transfers money from his bank from the country he operates from into the bank in Saudi Arabia. He than contracts with Hotels and pays deposit. He registers with several directorates in KSA and pays proportional fee reflecting his quota. He than contracts witha licensed catering firm in Makka and Madina if he intends to serve meals to his hujjajs. He pays a deposit to the Field Services proportional to his quota which the Establishment has power to use should the agent fail to meet his obligation to his hujjajs and the Field services intervenes to correct the failure. Otherwise the deposit is refunded once haj is over.

    The Field Services than issues me with the number of "bar-codes" or haj stickers which I adhere in my hujjaj's passport prior to submitting the passport for haj visa with the saudi consulate.

    There is a series of electronic process involved beginning with the application for a new card munazzim to the issue of haj visa.

    For example. I have 350 quotas. In my contract with the ministry of haj I have registered my travel plan to begin with Makkah and ending with Madina. My arrival date in Jedda is 25 October and my hotel in Makkah is Dar Eiman. My visit to Madina is 12 November and my hotel is Al Sufra.

    Since last year, a new rule on contract with hujjajs has been introduced by the Saudis. This obliges a haj agent to issue a contract to his hujjaj which covers the full travel plan and its cost. It specifies almost all part of the journey in detail which both the hujjaj and the haj agent must sign and copies provided to the Saudi consulates and to the Field Services Establishments.

    In this case I and my group cannot arrive in Jedda before 25 October. I can arrive anytime thereafter. Half of my group or less or more can arrive 25 October and remaining later. I must go to Makkah and stay in Dar Eiman. I cannot change my hotel under any circumstances unless that hotel had been shut down by the authorities for whatever reasons.

    I cannot serve meals to my group if I had not stated so in my contract. If I do and I get caught than I will be blacklisted. If even just one of my Haji arrives before 25 October I will be blacklisted.

    I cannot take my group to Madina before Haj if I had not contracted that beforehand. I cannot take my group to Madina on 11 November.

    I must bring my group back home from Madina and cannot return back to Makka. The only allowance I have is to extend our stay in Madina beyond the specified date but that too is more out of default than by design.


    Like the logistics of Haj, Umra License is also controlled by the Ministry of Haj, in conjunction with all the parties, involved in Haj. The difference between Haj and Umra is that there are no Field Services involved. Instead, the work is delegated to Umra Companies owned and based by ethnic Saudis. In addition they have the Transport Syndicate which licenses Taxi companies to carry umra visitors from point to point such as from Jedda airport to Makka etc.

    When the Umra Visas were introduced, some 18 years or so ago, there were 141 Umra companies registered in KSA. Thereafter a steady decrease began due to banning of the companies. Last year, there were around 46 Umra Companies in KSA. For our purpose, they are known as UO.

    All UO's must renew their license every year. They have to sign up with the MoH's rules and regulations and deposit a minimum of 1 million Saudi Riyal as a guarantee. The Umra law were in 19 pieces of articles and sub articles when it was originally introduced. There are now over 30 articles and sub articles.

    The Umra companies have the license to contract with agents all over the world. These are called EA's or external agents such as myself. An external agent provides an annual bank guarantee of 100,000 to 200,000 Saudi Riyal depending on which Umra company (UO) he chooses to contract with. This guarantee is used by the umra company if the EA defaults in any of his obligations of the contract.

    The MoH has further introduced a monetary penalty of Saudi Riyal 50,000 per mutamir on the UO which the UO subsequently uses on his EA if a mutamir is found to be without a proper umra package or overstays his visit.

    The MoH has required, since introduction of the Umra license, that a visit cannot exceed 15 days and that a mutamir arrives and leaves under full services and observation of the UO. However, they did not implement that law properly until the Haram development began.

    Umra process involves the pilgrim, the licensed agent of the pilgrim, the UO, The data procesing company (MOKHA) whose website and system is used by the UO and EA to process the passport data leading to a MOFA, Sejel Bank which charges the fee to process the data and triggering the Mofa, The Automated Umra System which is the nerve centre of all electronic traffic that links the EA, UO, Transport Syndicate, MoH, Hotels, Apartmental buildings, Civil Defense, Municipalities, Airliners and all concerned ministries.

    By introducing the Automated System, everyone concerned can follow a pilgrim from the time of his arrival on specific airliners and embarkation ports, taxis used, transfers, checking in hotels and checkouts and departures.

    In short, Big Brother knows exactly when you arrived and where you are staying or not staying at an otherwise stated hotel.

    The whole process cost money. Depending on the country it involves a large sum of money towards booking of hotels in advance. Umra companies are under obligation to ensure that they have hotel accommodation available to use towards processing the MOFA. That hotel must be licensed and have TASNEEF depending on its ratings as, indeed, an apartment building would also need.

    An EA (like me) using my UO's system when uploading my pilgrim's data, would than use the UO's hotel or building for the stated period of time of his visit (space MUST be available and which is tracked by the Automated System) so as to generate a MOFA. I must also make use of his transport to declare the pick up and transfer from airport to hotels etc and which is again monitored by the Automated System.

    Most Umra companies do not have their own hotels or Transportations. Some have hotels and some have Transportations. For example, Jamjoom Umra company, owned by a large Saudi company (Al Naghi) have a large fleet of coaches. Al Andalus Umra company have a chain of hotels as do Al Ansar Umra company. Dallah have both hotels and large fleet of coaches. Elaf and Dar Eiman have top rated hotels. So, for such companies a MOFA is not too difficult to generate as their EAs sell full package.

    However, UOs who do not have the hotels or transport than contracts with a selected number of hotels and a transport sysndicate to assist them in preparing a package and requires the EA to "buy" the UOs contracted package which may be more costlier.

    The dilemma here is that the Saudi Government have not banned hotels from selling rooms directly to pilgrims mainly due to its membership of the GCC (much similar to EEC) whose citizens are free to enter each GCC countries anytime and book their stay wherever they wished.

    So, whilst the larger muslim countries or countries that have a large muslim population (India) EAs have the ability to organise regular group tours and pre book their own hotels accordingly. The TASNEEF or contract (in this instant only) is transferred to the UO and that practically makes the UO the owner of the space booked by his EA. The pilgrims from such countries neither have the choice nor the need to demand specific hotels as they travel in groups.

    For us, in muslim Europa, such facilities are absolutely impossible because the pilgrims rarely travel in groups other than school holiday periods. Hence, for me to pre book hotels in anticipation and in advance is asking for financial disaster for the UK pilgrim have a diverse budget, need and period of travel.

    For a UK based EA there is no choice but to sell full package in order to protect his own financial interest and his contract.

    Last Umra season there were around 43 licensed umra companies in UK. Each agent must have an IATA license to enter into an umra contract with a Saudi UO. An IATA can be used only once so a specific UK agent can contract only one license unless he has sister or subsidiaries who have their own separate IATA and which allows another contract.

    For a UK EA there are three types of Umra Companies to contract with.

    a) Sell UO's full package and that is the majority of the case.

    b) Contract with an Umra company who will organise all requested hotel bookings and transport.

    c) Contract with an Umra company who will "agree" to accept the EA's own pre booked hotel or the EA's client's own pre-booked hotel which "must" be transferred to the UO. The UO will than get the MOFA and also levy an administration fee for the cost involved in having hotels booking transferred.

    The 14 days rule is from the Saudi government. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allows a period of 30 days to the pilgrim within which he has to enter Saudi Arabia. They also allow a duration of upto 30 days of stay once the pilgrim arrives but that is not a license for them to stay the allowed 30 days period. Rather it is a flexibility directed at the bulk group organisers who often run into difficulties with airliner schedules.

    Then there is an in-direct Quota for all muslim Europa countries as opposed to the larger muslim countries who have a direct quota. The in-direct quota works on the basis of :

    a) What the EA has specified to be his monthly volume of entry in advance. For example 500 every month.
    b) When 500 visas are issued in that month before the month runs out than no further mofas are issued.
    c) When 300 visas are issued well before end of the month and all 300 have entered Saudi Arabia and completed 14 days of stay and not exited than
    the remaining 200 quota will be blocked until the earlier entrants had exit.
    d) If by the end of the month only 400 visas are issued than my quota for the following month would be reduced by 100 as a penalty.

    This is the best I can do to summarise the Umra Process.

    VISA FEE - is the visa free?

    The Visa stamped by the consulate is free. The MOFA is not free. An Umra Visa cannot be issued by the consulate without a MOFA. So, pilgrims pay for the MOFA but not the visa.

    Similarly, a Haj Visa is also issued free. The Haj Barcode is not free. A Haj visa is not issued without a haj barcode. So, a Hujjaj pays for the Haj barcode but not the visa.
    Last edited by Ismail Simjee; 06-01-15, 02:20 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Regulations on umra visit

    Sajid, Baba, Jenicca, Abu Mubarak or any other MOD.

    Can you consider this thread for "STICKY" please?


    • #3
      Re: Regulations on umra visit

      Originally posted by Ismail Simjee View Post
      Sajid, Baba, Jenicca, Abu Mubarak or any other MOD.

      Can you consider this thread for "STICKY" please?


      • #4
        Re: Regulations on umra visit

        Here is what happens to your passport once you have handed it to a genuine licensed umra agent.

        Assuming you have bought a complete package from him.

        Passport data uploaded on the umra company's "mokha" website. (Gama; Bab ul Umra; Tawaf; Way to Umrah etc) and copied to Automated Umra System.

        Data transferred from EA status to UO status meaning umra company has received data.

        Umra company checks its overall global quota and the quota allocated to the specific EA. If there is quota than the application fails to move forward until quota is lifted.

        Automated Umra system advises whether there is quota or not.

        If no quota in place, Umra company approves data and transfers data and, if it satisfies the qulaifying parameters, passes on to Sejel Bank electronically.

        Sejel Bank charges the UO for the Mofa fee (SR650 each passport). If UO has authorised Sejel to deduct the charges automatically than it does so. If not, the UO issues a voucher, upon receiving Sejel Bank's advise, and pays the money into the bank.

        The bank issues an electronic receipt to Sejel Bank. Sejel Bank informs Automated Umra System.

        Automated Umra system searches for any other conditions before clearing the data back to Sejel Bank.

        Sejel Bank generates MOFA to UO.

        UO releases MOFA to EA.

        EA uploads MOFA data onto the Ministry of Foreign Affair's website.

        The website generates electronic info of the pilgrim and seeks a photograph of the pilgrim which the EA has scanned earlier and reduced the size of the file to under 4KB. Or else, the EA makes use of the Passport Scanner and the software from the private sector which does the work for the EA and loads the info onto the MOFA website.

        MOFA generates an Enumber and barcode.

        EA prints out the Enumber sheet and copies and pastes the barcode on a separate sheet. Each sheet must not exceed 30 barcodes.

        EA attaches the E sheet to the pilgrim's passport and submits all his passorts in a white see through plastic container which must not contain more than 100 passports. EA segregates the United Kingdom passports and the Foreign passports and attaches the barcode sheets to each container.

        The passports must be in serial order reflecting the barcode sheet.

        EA submits the container to the Saudi consulate, London, Mondays to Fridays between 9am to 11am.

        Consulate scans the barcode sheets and generate umra visas in bulk. Consular staff than checks foreign passports for legal status of residence in UK.

        Visas are adhered into the passports.

        EAs collect passports on the afternoon (if ready) of the same day of submission from the consulate between 3 to 4 pm Monday to Thursdays and between 2 to 3 pm on Fridays.

        EA re-visits UO's Mokha and

        a) Feeds in the Visa date and Visa numbers.
        b) Feeds in the Hotel and airliner details.
        c) Prints out Passport Stickers and staples that into the pilgrim's passports.
        d) Prints out the Wristbands and issues to pilgrims.
        e) Issues a Travel Voucher or a Manifest containg the complete Travel Plan of the Pilgrim and
        1) issues to the pilgrim
        2) transmits a copy to UO.

        UO's representative, in Jedda/Madina are alerted of the impending arrival of the pilgrim.

        UO's representative are waiting by the "Tehsiliya's office" at the arrival terminal to take charge of the pilgrim once Tehsiliya has completed his/their arrival details electronically onto the Automated Umra System.

        UO's rep guides the pilgrims to their waiting transport and hands their passport to the driver of the transport who keeps them until pilgrim reaches his/their hotel and hands the passport over.

        Ministry of Haj's officials are normally hanging around and, on occasion, intervenes and demands to see the travel plan from the pilgrims. If pilgrims are found to have arrived without a pre booked package or without a travel voucher or manifest than there is trouble.

        The UO's rep tries to interven and negotiate passage. If pilgrim is in gross default than he is sent off to a 5 star hotel and EA charged for the cost and UO penalised for the fault.


        • #5


          • #6
            Re: Regulations on umra visit

            This is a sticky.

            Start a new thread if you want to discuss all that.


            • #7
              Re: Regulations on umra visit

              As of 21 January 2015, the Saudi consulates in London and in India ( I do not know about other countries) requires a valid certificate of immunisation against the Menigoccal A, C, W and Y strains to be attached to each application for umra visas.

              This certificate must show that the vaccination was administered 10 days before the prospective flight to Saudi Arabia. The validity of the certificate, from the date of issue is 3 years. Children under 2 years are exempt.

              Airliner staff, at the checkin counters, can demand to scrutinise the certificate and to refuse to board any passenger who cannot produce it.

              The Saudi Health authority usually does not check passengers from UK and other western countries for these certificates. However, if they do check and find a passenger without it then the least they would do is to adminster a dose of medication and an injection before allowing the passenger to proceed. At worst, they can be quarantined.


              • #8
                Re: Regulations on umra visit

                Thanks for sharing. JazakAllah! :)


                • #9


                  • #10
                    Re: Regulations on umra visit


                    Your posting for Umrah Visa as :

                    ''How long is the Umrah performer allowed to stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

                    Only one month pursuant to the Royal Order No. 20310/B/H dated 27.12.1420 AH. ''

                    Does this one can stay for one month on Umrah Visa?



                    • #11
                      Re: Regulations on umra visit

                      Originally posted by schaudary View Post

                      Your posting for Umrah Visa as :

                      ''How long is the Umrah performer allowed to stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

                      Only one month pursuant to the Royal Order No. 20310/B/H dated 27.12.1420 AH. ''

                      Does this one can stay for one month on Umrah Visa?

                      Only if an umra company gives you a package for that duration. Otherwise it is 15 days within the period of 30 days.


                      • #12
                        Re: Regulations on umra visit

                        A writer is not only a word technician, but also a collaborator in transporting the story from the writer’s head to the written page, with all the elements necessary to captivate the reader. I like your article its very brilliant.


                        • #13
                          Re: Regulations on umra visit


                          My name is Suhariadi. I am Indonesian. I have been longing to be able to visit Macca and Madina. I have searched the forum about umra on the interenet and I found this one. By the end of this year (23-30 Dec 2016), I am planning to do backpacker to perform Umra since my budget is not unlimited. I am now starting to search the cheap flight and accomodation around the area. Before coming, I would like to ask Is it possible and allowable for a single person to perform umra? Is there any local assistance to do umra since I cannot speak arabic?
                          I am looking forward to hearing for your response. Thank you very much.


                          • #14
                            Re: Regulations on umra visit

                            Assalam Alikum everyone.

                            My passport was stamped umra visa on the 22 of November 2016.

                            I was charged 12,000 riyals by the tour operator (Bukhari Lahore shimla pahari).

                            We went to Madina directly, but people I met over there told me that the operator had fleeced me as the visa had become free on the 17th of November.

                            Another point also is that my booking was for one QUAD ROOM and one DOUBLE ROOM. in the quad room my wife and 3 kids and in the double room me and my father. I received only one room with 5 beds in Madina and one 6 bed room in Makkah.

                            Could someone please guide me on what to do now? Should I go to small claims court for the Riyals and the rooms problem?

                            I have called Bukhari and they have told me that currently there is no policy for returning the Riyals (these same words? policy?). One would feel that they have fleeced us.

                            Any guidance on the above detail would be greatly appreciated.

                            Allah Hafiz


                            • #15
                              Re: Regulations on umra visit

                              Awesome thread,

                              Very helpful information about Hajj and Umrah Visa. Thanks for sharing.
                              Umrah Visa from Pakistan| Umrah Tours 2017| 5 Star Umrah Package



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