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.
Please note that the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have not yet issued the list of mandatory vaccinations required for Hajj 1444H/2023. This page will be updated once this information has been published.
Hajj is an Islamic religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia attended by 1 to 3 million pilgrims annually before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Hajj 1444H/2023 will begin on 26 June 2023
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 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 Ministry of Health Advice
Please note that the information below will be updated once Hajj 1444H/2023 information has been published.
Every year, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) issue:
- public health recommendations and regulations to prevent and control health threats during Hajj
- see the official Hajj 1443H/2022 public health recommendations and regulations here
- a list of mandatory vaccinations required to obtain entry visas for Hajj and Umrah
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:
- only pilgrims under 65 years of age who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using vaccines approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health will be able to perform Hajj
- pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia will need to submit a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of the time of their departure to Saudi Arabia
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.
- Further information on this can be found on the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah website.
The MoH KSA issue a list of mandatory vaccinations needed to obtain entry visas for Hajj and Umrah which include:
- 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
- only COVID-19 vaccines approved by the MoH KSA will be accepted
- see the COVID-19 FAQ page for information on how you can obtain proof of COVID-19 vaccination status
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.
You are should purchase comprehensive travel insurance before travelling:
- see the travel insurance page for more information
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.
- check with the Saudi Arabia foreign embassy if you are unsure
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
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:
- heat exhaustion, heat stroke
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
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.
- See the Respiratory Hygiene and hand hygiene pages for advice on how to reduce your risk of catching and spreading these diseases.
- See the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) page for advice on reducing your risk of exposure to MERS CoV.
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.
- See the Food and Water precautions page for information on how to protect yourself from illnesses caused by food and water
If you have underlying health problems, you may be at increased risk of complications from travellers’ diarrhoea.
- See the Travellers’ Diarrhoea page for information on how to prevent it, and what to do if you get symptoms.
Diseases spread by mosquitoes and other insects
- See the mosquito bite avoidance and insect bite avoidance pages for information on measures you can take to protect yourself.
Blood-borne Virus Transmission Associated with Shaving
- 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
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.
- Information leaflet for those travelling to Hajj (English)
- Information leaflet for those travelling to Hajj (Arabic)
- Information leaflet for those travelling to Hajj (Bengali)
- Information leaflet for those travelling to Hajj (Urdu)
- The Council of British Hajjis
- Muslim Council of Britain
- Ministry of Hajj and Umrah
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Ministry of Health portal