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 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Hajj is an Islamic religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia which prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was being attended by 1 to 3 million pilgrims annually.
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 occurs 11 days earlier each year because the Islamic calendar is 11 days shorter than the calendar used in the western world.
- Hajj 1444H/2023 is now complete. The dates for 1444H/2024 are yet to be confirmed.
Pilgrims from the United Kingdom wishing to perform Hajj must make a request through the official Ministry of Hajj Nusuk Hajj platform.
- Further information on eligibility and the application process can be found in the Nusuk FAQ section.
Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year. Umrah can be:
- combined with Hajj (this is called Umrat al-tammatu) or
- taken independently of Hajj (this is called al-Umrat al mufradah)
All British nationals living outside of Saudi Arabia can apply to perform Umrah through the official Ministry of Hajj app.
- Links to download the app can be found on the Nusak website under the 'Apply for Visa' tab.
Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health Advice
Each 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 health requirements and recommendations for Hajj 1444H/2023
- see the official health requirements and recommendations for Umrah 1444H (2023)
If you think it possible you may need vaccines or boosters, or you are not sure, 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.
- 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
The MoH KSA requires all Hajj and Umrah pilgrims to prove they have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccinations:
- 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
- consider having a seasonal booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (if you are eligible)
Before travelling to Hajj or Umrah it is recommended that you are up-to-date with routine vaccines for life in the UK, including:
- diphtheria, tetanus and polio
- You may need a booster of polio if you haven’t had one within the last 6 months
- It is always wise to check with a travel health professional if you are unsure.
- measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
- seasonal flu (influenza) if eligible
You 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 enough 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 ensure you are compliant 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 at night temperatures can fall to low levels, 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 COVID-19 Health Considerations for travel page for information on travelling abroad in relation to COVID-19.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) is a risk in Saudi Arabia.
- See the (MERS CoV) page for advice on reducing your risk of exposure.
Food and Water precautions
Consuming food and water which contains germs (such as viruses or bacteria) can lead to potentially serious illnesses such as travellers’ diarrhoea and are commonly seen 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
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
Vaccination against hepatitis B may be recommended if you are considered to be at increased risk. Check with a travel health professional if you are unsure.
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