This article is reviewed regularly by Wego’s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.
Updated May 2023
For the faithful, no journey is as rewarding as that of embarking on a pilgrimage to the almighty Allah’s terrestrial abode. The Umrah, or the minor pilgrimage, affords anyone with the inclination and the means of doing so to renew their faith and attain the blessings and forgiveness of their creator.
Traditionally, Pakistan has always been one of the countries with the highest number of Umrah pilgrims. But how have the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest entry requirements to Saudi Arabia affected Umrah 2023 for Pakistani pilgrims?
We’ve gathered all the essentials of Umrah for Pakistanis looking to perform the pilgrimage this year.
Umrah from Pakistan 2023 latest updates
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has made an announcement stating that the final day for issuing permits for performing Umrah this season is on the 15th of Dhul Qadah, which corresponds to June 4. This decision has been made in order to make necessary arrangements for the arrival of Hajj pilgrims, who are scheduled to start arriving in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
The ministry emphasized that the Umrah visa does not grant permission for pilgrims to perform Hajj. All pilgrims holding Umrah visas must depart by the 20th of Dhul Qadah, which corresponds to June 18.
Please note: The Umrah visa does not allow the pilgrim to perform Hajj.#Makkah_and_Madinah_Eagerly_Await_You pic.twitter.com/ETCJla31lH
— Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (@MoHU_En) May 21, 2023
Can Pakistanis perform Umrah in 2023?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reopened Umrah visa applications following a successful Hajj season. Umrah seekers from Pakistan and all over the world were allowed to apply for the pilgrimage.
Recently, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah allowed women aged 18 to 65 to perform Umrah without a male guardian or “mahram”, but on the condition that they are part of a group. They are also required to be vaccinated for one dose (partially vaccinated) and free of any diseases.Book cheap flights to Saudi Arabia
However, travellers arriving on visit visas (including Umrah pilgrims) must have medical insurance to cover any COVID-19 related treatment costs during their stay.
When is the best time for Umrah 2023?
Many Muslims prefer to perform Umrah during Ramadan. Especially since the holy month itself is believed to be a time when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad SAW, thus, Ramadan is marked as a month full of blessings. That is the reason why all good deeds are encouraged during Ramadan, including Umrah.
However, visiting Umrah during Ramadan can get a bit expensive since the cost of the Umrah package is expected to rise during Ramadan, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan. A significant rise in cost has been reported for Umrah packages from Umrah operators in Saudi Arabia from SAR 110 to SAR 200.
The same case will likely occur for Umrah operators in Pakistan as well, considering Saudi Arabia now has established the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15%, foreign exchange rate and other aspects would make the cost of Umrah packages rise.
What are the requirements of Umrah 2023?
There are two main requirements for people looking to perform the Umrah: an Umrah visa and a permit. Here, we list all the requirements and steps to obtain both requirements for Pakistani pilgrims.
Umrah online booking
As of now, it is mandatory for Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan to book their slots for Umrah through the Nusuk or Tawakkalna apps.
Saudi Arabia is currently issuing permits to foreign pilgrims wishing to perform the Umrah, including the ones from Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia has recently extended the validity of the Umrah from 30 days to 90 days. This new arrangement allows pilgrims to move about freely within Saudi Arabia without any restraints. Holders of the Umrah visa must complete the Umrah and ensure their departure from Saudi Arabia is within the allotted time.
The requirements of the Umrah visa are as follows:
- a completed original Umrah visa application form. This form can be obtained by sending a large, self-addressed envelope to your nearest Saudi consulate. However, it is advisable to enlist the help of a certified travel agent to ensure the process goes smoothly
- one recent passport-size color photograph with a white background. The entirety of the applicant’s face must be wholly visible visa and directly facing the camera. Side or angled views will not be accepted
- a passport with a minimum validity of six months from the date of the application
- a confirmed and non-refundable airline ticket. Departure from Saudi Arabia must be within two weeks from the date of entry
- a valid residency permit must be submitted if the applicant is not a national of the country he/she is applying from
- a vaccination certificate against Meningococcal Meningitis, Yellow Fever (if you are from one of the high-risk countries) and Polio (if you are from one of the high-risk countries) should be attached. The certificate of vaccination must have been issued at least 10 days prior to entry while not exceeding three years. The vaccination certificates must be carried by the pilgrim into Saudi Arabia. Note: COVID-19 vaccination certificate is required to enter Saudi Arabia, but it is not one of the requirements of the Umrah visa.
Additional requirements include:
- for those whose names do not reflect their Islamic belief, they must attach a certificate issued by a mosque or an Islamic center stating that the applicant is indeed a Muslim
After gathering all the requirements, you are strongly encouraged to enlist the services of an approved travel agent as listed on the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s official page to apply for your Umrah visa.
According to the latest update from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Eatmarna app has been replaced with a new app called Nusuk (available on iPhone, Android, and Huawei). It is an app that will enable people to apply for e-visa, book permits for Umrah, Rawdah As Sheerafah, Umrah packages, tourist sites in the Kingdom, and many more services.
Umrah testing requirements
All foreign pilgrims are now allowed to enter Saudi Arabia for Umrah without having to provide a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result before departure to the Kingdom. Additionally, travellers arriving on visit visas must have medical insurance to cover any COVID-19-related treatment costs during their stay.
Umrah vaccine requirements
Although Saudi Arabia has largely lifted the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for Umrah pilgrims, it is highly recommended that each pilgrim confirm with their Umrah operator/agency for the latest vaccination requirements pertaining to Umrah. This is to ensure a smooth and hassle-free Umrah journey, as well as to protect the health and safety of all individuals involved.
Apart from the COVID vaccine, there are a few more vaccine requirements that foreign pilgrims have to pay attention to before their arrival in Saudi Arabia:
Yellow Fever vaccine: All foreign pilgrims arriving from countries or areas at risk of yellow fever must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate showing the person were vaccinated at least 10 days and no more than 10 years before their arrival.
Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine: All foreign pilgrims have to be vaccinated against meningitis at least ten days and no more than three years before their arrival in Saudi Arabia.
Polio vaccine: All foreign pilgrims from polio-endemic countries and re-established transmission countries have to at least receive one dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) at least six weeks before their arrival to Saudi Arabia. They will have to present their proof of vaccination upon their arrival and they will also receive one more dose of OPV on their arrival.
Seasonal Flu Shot: The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia recommends all foreign pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before their arrival to KSA. Pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with underlying health conditions are highly recommended to take the Seasonal Flu Shot before their arrival.
For more information regarding the Umrah vaccine requirements, refer to the article below:
Umrah vaccine registration
An individual’s vaccination status will first need to be registered on Saudi Arabia’s Muqeem portal, at least 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom.
The vaccination certificates are required to be attested by the official health authorities from the origin country of travellers. This can be the Ministry of Health or an authorized health authority. The original certificate needs to be carried upon travelling to/from the Kingdom.
All information will be verified prior to boarding and at the entry points. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in entry prevention and other legal consequences.
Umrah quarantine requirements
In line with Saudi Arabia’s latest Umrah entry requirements, no quarantine will be necessary for Pakistani pilgrims fully vaccinated with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen.
However, those who have had one dose of the Covaxin, Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccine will be subject to institutional quarantine for 3 days and must submit a PCR test certificate after 48 hours from the date of institutional quarantine.
Social distancing and mask-wearing
The Hajj and Umrah authorities have lifted the social distancing measures in the Grand Holy Mosque, the Prophet’s Holy Mosque and all other mosques. Note that mask-wearing is still advised in crowded places for your own safety.
Previously, the Saudi authorities issued new advisory guidelines for pilgrims visiting the Mekkah to secure and protect pilgrims and worshippers in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Pilgrims can use public transportation buses, taxis, walking, or private cars driven by non-Umrah pilgrims to reach the Grand Mosque in Makkah. Furthermore, non-Umrah pilgrims can only park in designated parking lots and vehicles parked in wrong places will be towed.
Pilgrims must follow the directions of security personnel and signboards to enter the Grand Mosque and perform Tawaf. To show whether there are places for prayer in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, luminous panels on the main doors have a green light or a red light. A green light means pilgrims can enter, and a red light means entry is not allowed because all the sites are full.
It is also worth to remember that pilgrims are not allowed to bring or leave personal belongings, collect donations, smoke, beg, or engage in commerce in the Grand Mosque and its courtyards. Additionally, they are not allowed to use electrical sockets for personal purposes to avoid electrical short circuits.
Also, in the new guidelines, pilgrims with disabilities can use electric vehicles on the grand floor to perform Tawaf.
Can I perform Umrah using a tourist visa?
Normally, yes you can. Everyone visiting Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa may obtain an Umrah permit by applying through the Nusuk app. However, since Pakistan does not qualify to apply for the Saudi e-Visa, travellers from Pakistan, who wish to perform Umrah in the KSA should apply for the visa at the nearest Saudi Arabia Embassy, in their country.
Once the Hajj season is over, performing Umrah on a tourist visa does offer its own advantages such as a longer stay period, permission for multiple entries, and the freedom to choose your own hotel for Umrah.
Here are our top picks of hotels in Makkah and Madinah that you can book to ensure suitable accommodation:
Makkah Tower Hotel
Set in the heart of the Makkah overlooking the Masjid al Haram, the Makkah Tower Hotel offers a range of excellent rooms and suites set in a prime location. Enjoy a host of premium amenities, including excellent dining and majestic views from the panoramic glass lifts.
Distance to Masjid al Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk
Price: From PKR 15,960 per night
Pullman ZamZam Makkah
The Pullman ZamZam Makkah hotel is an iconic 5-star hotel that regularly welcomes Umrah and Hajj pilgrims with Hijazi hospitality. The hotel provides pilgrims with partial views over the ever-inspiring Kaaba and the Masjid Al Haram. Amenities include an excellent in-room dining experience featuring international and oriental specialities and facilities for the disabled.
Distance to Masjid al Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk
Price: From PKR 16,353 per night
Umrah pilgrims will definitely be able to take advantage of the hotel’s close proximity to both the Masjid al Haram and the Kaaba. Conrad Makkah features a fusion of contemporary and traditional Islamic architecture and a range of dining options serving Arabic and international cuisine, a fitness centre, and light-filled meeting spaces.
Distance to Masjid al Haram: less than 1 kilometer/3-minute walk
Price: From PKR 29,220 per night
Crowne Plaza Madinah
The hotel is in proximity to Masjid al-Nabawi and Holy Rawdah. Pilgrims can walk or take a free shuttle directly to the entrances of the Prophet’s Holy Mosque. The hotel concierge can help with suggestions on restaurants, markets and shopping malls in nearby areas in Madinah.
Distance to Prophet’s Holy Mosque: 1.1 kilometer/6-minute walk
Price starts from PKR 32,224 per night.
Madinah Hilton is a two-minute walk from the Masjid al-Nabawi and Holy Rawdah. It is located at a 25 minutes distance from the airport and has shops, 2 restaurants and 1 café. The hotel also provides a range of kids’ amenities upon request.
Distance to Prophet’s Holy Mosque: 2.5 kilometre/16-minute walk
Price starts from PKR 80,053 INR per night.
Note: Prices are accurate at the time of writing.
The Nusuk application (available on iPhone, Android, and Huawei) has replaced Eatmarna and Tawakkalna apps to obtain the Umrah permit.
Nusuk offers all pilgrims and visitors easy to use planning, gateway for their journeys to Makkah and Madinah. This e-platorm aims to enhance the experience of Muslims visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from all over the world and facilitate the arrival procedures for visitors to perform Umrah.
Launching the Integrated Digital Government Platform #nusuk, The New Saudi Portal for #Makkah and #Madinah Visitors.https://t.co/roixZHm6L2 pic.twitter.com/ZZMbBTAPqT
— nusuk – نسُك (@MyNusuk) September 26, 2022
Umrah 2023 package in Pakistan
As per the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj, you can find the list of approved Umrah travel agents in Pakistan as listed on the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s official page to apply for your Umrah visa.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced the possibility for international Umrah seekers to plan their own itineraries electronically through approved platforms. You can find the list of approved platforms on https://maqam.gds.haj.gov.sa/Home/OTAs
Apart from applying and securing your Umrah visa, an approved travel agent will offer several types of Umrah packages to suit your needs and budget.
A typical Umrah package generally consists of a 7 to 14-day trip through the cities of Makkah and Madinah. For a 7-day package, the itinerary consists of a 4-night and 3-night stay in Makkah and Madinah respectively. A 14-day Umrah package typically consists of 8 nights in Makkah and 4 Nights in Madinah.
According to the latest announcement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has now dropped Umrah insurance costs by 63 percent. Hence, the price of Umrah medical insurance has been reduced from SAR 235 to SAR 87.
Additionally, an approved travel agency typically offers individual and group packages. There are also packages where you are required to share a room with fellow pilgrims.
Transportation is also something included in a typical Umrah package. Upon arrival at the airport, pilgrims will be transported to their hotels and can easily visit the holy sites accordingly.
Finally, an approved travel agent will be able to guide you through the entirety of the process including Umrah visa application, securing your accommodation and transport, and registering your arrival. They will also be able to address any questions and concerns you may have about departing for the Umrah pilgrimage from Pakistan.