Umrah starting November 1st 2020 and Going Forward
Saudi Arabia has just opened up Umrah. For now only Umrah groups and Umrah packages via an agent is allowed. There are not more DIY Umrah for the foreseeable future.
Saudi Arabia is preparing to open up gradually with 25,000 pilgrims and eventually open for all. Saudi has done a good job with Hajj so they definitely don’t want to not make a success of this.
Who can go for Umrah from November 1st?
Pilgrims between the ages of 18 and up to 50 years old can apply to go via a registered agent. Please make sure your agent is reputable to avoid getting scammed as I feel this will open such an opportunity.
Do you need a PCR Test?
You definitely need a PCR test issued max 72 hrs prior to landing in Saudi Arabia. Such tests cost about £170 to £250 for 24 hrs turnaround. You will also need a Fit to Fly Certificate!
Quarantine is required
You will book a package with your agent for a three day quarantine period in your hotel with full board. Your transport will also be scheduled with them to take you from the airport to your hotel and then Makkah and Medinah.
The maximum group size for Umrah is 25-50 people and they will need to have their own lead on the ground as well. This is of course normal and expected considering there are plenty of logistics and things to make sure are happening during this time.
You cannot cancel or change your dates
Because the application is done online and to make sure that everything is accurate you cannot cancel or change your booking for Umrah package in short notice. Agents will need to enter your names and details into an app 24hrs prior to you travelling. Things will be stricter this time around.
Booking slots for Masjid Al Nabawi and Al Haram
Your agent will have to register your intention on the I’tamarna app for when you visit. You don’t have to worry about this but it is a requirement.
Can you Book an Umrah package for November 2020 and December 2020?
As these new rules are hot of the press many agents still don’t have prices as hotels are starting to price up their rooms and agents their itinerary. There are many wheels to oil to get this going but hopefully, things will start flowing on from November 1st which is the official opening date of the International Umrah pilgrimage.
As I always say please wait for a little before booking your Umrah just so the rules are clear and any mistakes are ironed. I know many people want to visit for Umrah but a couple of more weeks won’t be a dealbreaker.
Can you go for Umrah on your own?
Currently, you cannot go for Umrah on your own, you will need to book via an approved agent in your country that will make sure all the rules and documents are in tact.
Tourist Visa for Saudi Arabia is not open
As I mentioned above the tourist visa is not open for the time being, we have no news on how this will be implemented but the Ministry has announced that we will know most likely in December for an opening of the tourist visa in January.
I know Saudi is keen to open up to tourists and they are preparing for it but how this will play in terms of Umrah and tourist is yet to be seen. They are developing the country and it looks like they are going smartly about it but opening up slowly with testing and quarantine to reduce the risk and spread.
This is good for everyone involved since you do want to feel safe while visiting as a tourist or as a pilgrim.