Hajj 2022 latest travel rules from UK to Saudi Arabia as last minute changes cause booking chaos

Saudi Arabia has announced that a reduced number of one million people will be allowed to attend this year’s Hajj, the annual pilgrimage that all Muslims must undertake at least once in their lifetime, if they are physically, mentally and financially able to do so. That total – a third of the record number recorded in 2012 – includes people from overseas as well as Saudi residents, and several thousand people from the UK are expected to attend.

But many travel plans have been upended after Saudi Arabia launched a new system for attending the Hajj, just a month before the pilgrimage. Earlier this month, the Saudi government said pilgrims from Europe, the United States and Australia could no longer book through travel agencies, but instead had to apply through an online portal. and find out if they had won a place via an “automated lottery”.

The reason for the change is still unclear, but it is believed to be an effort to combat travel fraud. Over the years people have lost thousands of pounds to bogus travel deals that aren’t authorized or don’t exist, including a Birmingham-based company that was ordered to pay £43,000 for misleading customers by falsely claiming that it offered ATOL protection.

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Middle East Eye reported that those who had already booked and paid – either a deposit or the full amount – were asked to request a refund of their money from the tour operators. Once approved for participation under the new system, worshipers can then book their flights and hotels directly with the Saudi government.

In May, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain, Khalid bin Bandar al-Saud, advised MPs to tell prospective pilgrims “to contact the [travel] agent and request a refund.” The changes have infuriated travel agents as many say their main profits come from Hajj bookings and some even say they risk going under.

When is Hajj 2022?

The rites of Hajj take place over five days from the 8th to the 12th day of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the year in the Islamic calendar

The dates for Hajj 2022 will be confirmed when early next month is verified by a moon sighting. But it is scheduled for July 7-12.

Many travel packages are for periods of two, three or four weeks, at costs ranging from around £4,000 to £8,000.

What are the travel rules for Hajj in Saudi Arabia?

The UK government has confirmed that the system for UK nationals wishing to seek Hajj from outside Saudi Arabia has changed. British nationals must now apply directly to the Saudi authorities.

On June 10, the Saudi authorities launched a portal on the Motawif website for Hajj 2022 applications. This portal stopped accepting applications on June 13.

On June 21, the Motawif website posted an update, confirming that it was aware of issues with processing payments and booking confirmations, in a number of cases. On June 22, the Motawif website posted an update reminding successful applicants to complete their Hajj visa applications through this form.

Motawif has announced that it will release a new update for pending applications. The contact email address for all questions about Hajj packages is [email protected]

British nationals in Saudi Arabia can apply to perform Umrah – a similar pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year – via the official Hajj Ministry app Eatmarna and also Tawakkalna. Details of the process can be found on the official website Hajj Ministry Twitter Page. Umrah can be performed with a tourist visa.

UK nationals visiting from abroad should be aware that vaccinated visitors (except those in the exempt categories) must complete a vaccination information record form, prior to traveling to Saudi Arabia, via the Muqeem Portal.

UK citizens wishing to perform Umrah or Hajj should follow announcements on official FCDO social media @ukinsaudiarabia and advice from local authorities. @Motawif_SA provides information on the new system for UK nationals wishing to perform Hajj from outside Saudi Arabia.

Before travelling, read the information and advice on the website of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in London and the National Travel Health Network and Center (NaTHNaC) fact sheet.

Around the time of Hajj, Saudi Arabia has already imposed restrictions on Muslim visitors traveling to Jeddah, Medina and Taif for reasons other than Hajj. During this period, Muslim visitors may only be allowed to board flights to Jeddah, Medina and Taif if they have a valid Hajj visa.

Muslim visitors with business or visit visas will still be able to enter Saudi Arabia through other entry points. These regulations do not apply to Muslim travelers with valid Saudi residency permits, although in recent years even Muslim residency permit holders have had difficulty boarding flights to these destinations in the days leading up to them. Hajj immediately.

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