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Hajj 2019

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Conditions can change suddenly. We recommend you:

Entry and exit

You'll need:

  • A vaccination certificate. More information: Saudi Ministry of Health Hajj health regulations
  • An identification card and wristband issued by your Hajj travel operator. Keep them with you at all times.
  • A valid permit to perform Hajj. The Saudi government enforces strict penalties (fines, detention, and travel bans) on people who perform Hajj without this permit.
  • A valid Hajj visa. All foreign pilgrims, including Australians, must have Hajj visas.

You'll need to book your travel through a Saudi-Government approved travel agent. Ensure you use a reputable agent who will provide accommodation, transport and an entry visa. Using a non-approved Hajj operator may be punishable under Saudi law and could include deportation, jail, financial penalty and a ban on future travel to Saudi Arabia. You can't work in Saudi Arabia on a Hajj visa.

Foreign pilgrims, including Australians, must have Hajj visas. A Hajj visa is for travel to Jeddah, Makkah and Medina only. Saudi authorities do not usually permit travel outside these cities before or after the Hajj. All pilgrims must leave Saudi Arabia after Hajj no later than the 10th of Muharram of each year (approximately 9 September 2019). If you overstay your Hajj visas, you may be fined, jailed or deported.

The Islamic calendar is used in Saudi Arabia for all official matters. Check the dates on your visa carefully and ensure you know when it expires.

The Australian Embassy in Riyadh cannot arrange for travel permissions beyond the limitations of your visa or intervene in immigration matters.

You’ll need to provide your biometric information to enter Saudi Arabia. This should be done as part of your visa application. You may be able to provide this on arrival but you may experience long delays waiting to provide your biometric information. Contact your Hajj operator or the Royal Saudi Embassy in Canberra for information about where you can provide biometrics for Saudi visas before you travel.

For more information, contact the nearest Embassy of Saudi Arabia or visit the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah website. 

If you are an Australian Muslim living in Saudi Arabia, you can undertake the Hajj once every five years. You'll need to apply through the Saudi Ministry of Interior

Arrival and departure at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah

Be prepared for delays arriving and departing King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, given the large numbers of pilgrims. Expect to take several hours to clear customs and immigration upon arrival at the Hajj terminal. Take food and water with you.

You must declare any currency in excess of SAR 60,000 to Saudi customs on arrival and departure from Saudi Arabia.

On arrival at the terminal, your Hajj travel operator will take your passport and give you an identification card and a wristband. The Pilgrim Guides Association will hold your passport while you are performing the Hajj and return it to you on departure.

Please ensure you carry your Hajj identification card and wristband with you at all times. Before you leave Australia, store electronic copies of valuable documents, including your passport, tickets, visas and credit cards. Leave a copy of these documents with someone in Australia who you trust.

Always carry contact information for your hotel and travel group. Confirm your full itinerary and travel inclusions with your Hajj operator before arriving in Saudi Arabia. The Australian Embassy cannot intervene in commercial disputes with Hajj travel operators.

Check with your Hajj operator about any new entry/exit requirements for Hajj that the Saudi authorities may have introduced.

All telephone numbers given below are local numbers in Saudi Arabia. The number of pilgrims using these services can result in long delays.

Makkah reception centre
Phone: +966 (0) 12 530 8200

Medina reception centre
Phone: +966 (0) 14 8263131 / +966 (0) 14 8321985 / +966 (0) 14 8226108

Before departing Saudi Arabia, be aware of and comply with, restrictions and regulations concerning both checked-in and carry-on baggage, including in relation to zamzam water.

Safety and security

Over three million pilgrims perform the Hajj each year. Expect overcrowding at religious sites and be alert to possible safety risks. Crowd crush disasters are common, often occurring at bottlenecks. In 2015, more than 700 pilgrims were killed in a stampede at the Hajj.

  • Be alert to your surroundings at all times
  • Look ahead and check for crowd noise
  • If you are caught in a crowd surge, keep moving and shift slightly sideways from time to time

Safeguard your valuables from theft and take care to obey all signs restricting the taking of photographs or video.

Only use authorised money changers.  

Saudi authorities regulate the use of vehicles in locations of the Hajj. Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Be aware of the ongoing terrorism threat in Saudi Arabia. Religious sites have been targeted. In June 2017, the Saudi Security Forces disrupted an attempted suicide attack on the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

More information: Travel advice for Saudi Arabia

In an emergency, use social media and other accounts to let family and friends know that you are safe.

Laws and customs

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is the Saudi Government department with overall responsibility for managing the annual pilgrimage.

The following acts are prohibited:

  • holding gatherings and group prayers
  • raising voices
  • performing rituals of worship not practised in Saudi Arabia.
  • producing or distributing any printed or electronic material, unless it is authorised by the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Strict laws apply to blasphemy.  Avoid making statements that could be interpreted as blasphemy. People suspected of violating these restrictions have been sentenced to long jail terms and floggings.

Demonstrations are illegal under Saudi law. However political developments in the region and international events may prompt demonstrations. Avoid all demonstrations as they may turn violent and you may be detained near an event.

Other formalities

Accommodation

All Hajj tour operators must provide accommodation in Mina, in airconditioned tents with mattresses and three meals a day, fruit, vegetables and drinks. Water and ice are provided at all times. No cooking is allowed in the Mina Tent City Area.

All other accommodation should be arranged through your travel agent or privately.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is the government agency that distributes pilgrims to their assigned sections designated by country.

General enquiries
Phone: 800-4304444 (from inside Saudi Arabia)
Phone: +966-920002814 (from outside Saudi Arabia)

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah office in Jeddah
Phone (24 hours): +966 (0) 12 647 7551 or +966 (0) 12 665 5077

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah office in Medina
Phone: +966 (0) 14 826 3131

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah office in Makkah
Phone: +966 (0) 12 564 9999
Website: haj.gov.sa

Dual nationals

The Saudi Government does not recognise dual nationality. The Australian Government won't be able to provide consular assistance if you enter Saudi Arabia on your non-Australian passport. Dual nationals must enter and depart Saudi Arabia on the same passport. It's illegal to hold two passports in Saudi Arabia. Second passports will be confiscated by immigration authorities if discovered.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

You'll need to meet health requirements.

More information: Health

General

Protect yourself from the sun, dehydration and exhaustion. Temperatures during the Hajj season are likely to be extreme.

  • Minimise time spent directly under the sun
  • Rehydrate frequently and to avoid overexertion.

There is the potential for dust-storms during the Hajj. This brings with it risk of health problems affecting breathing and sight. Take shelter during a dust storm and protect your airways with a dust mask, scarf or fabric.

Take measures to avoid insect bites to reduce risk of infection by mosquito borne diseases.

Because of the large numbers of pilgrims, illnesses are common and hospitalisation is possible. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance.

Vaccinations

The Saudi Ministry of Health requires all visitors to have a valid vaccination certificate against Meningococcal Meningitis.

The certificate must have been issued no less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia and no more than three years in the case of a polysaccharide vaccine, and five years in the case of conjugate vaccine. Travellers from Australia are required to produce valid and up-to-date proof of meningococcal disease vaccination (serogroups A, C, Y, and W135) in order to get a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. Consult your doctor or travel clinic if you are in any doubt.

For detailed information about required vaccinations, visit the Saudi Ministry of Health.

Carry your vaccination certificates with you in case authorities ask to see them.

Medicines and medical devices

If you are taking medication, bring an adequate supply and a doctor's certificate describing the medication. The Saudi Food and Drug Authority requires all pilgrims to report all medicine and medical devices in their possession upon entry and departure. Do not provide another pilgrim or organiser with medicine.

Seasonal influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

There is a risk of contracting seasonal influenza or MERS-CoV while performing the Hajj. Minimise this risk by:

  • washing your hands frequently
  • avoiding direct contact with people who are suffering from acute respiratory infection
  • avoiding close contact with animals (particularly camels)
  • following usual food safety measures.

Seek medical advice as soon as you feel unwell.

More information: Infectious diseases

Saudi health warning

The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends that those with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions like advanced cardiac, respiratory, liver or kidney diseases, not perform the Hajj.

Consider your physical ability to undertake the Hajj, noting the extreme weather conditions likely during August in Mecca and Medina. Health risks might increase in large crowds during mass gatherings. See your doctor before travelling.

More information: Saudi Ministry of Health

People with disabilities should be prepared for different standards of accessibility to those in Australia.

More information: Travelling with a disability

Hospitals in Makkah

General Hira'a Hospital, Makkah
Phone: +966 (0) 12 520 3535
Emergency: extension 4441 / 4449 / 4438 / 4442
Admittance: extension 4170

Ajiad Hospital, Makkah
Phone: +966 (0) 12 573 0070
Emergency: extension 114
Admittance: extension 129
Information: extension 121

King Faisal Hospital, Makkah
Phone: +966 (0) 12 526 3200

Al Nour Hospital, Makkah
Phone: +966 (0) 12 566 5000
Emergency: extension 1818
Patient information: extension 1121

King Abdul Aziz Al Zahir Hospital, Makkah
Phone: +966 (0) 12 544 2400
Emergency (males): extension 1158 / 1156
Emergency (females): extension 1155
Admittance and information: extension 1167

Where to get help

The National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Turkey and Muslims of America, Australia and Europe is available to assist pilgrims with any emergencies.

The National Tawafa Establishment contact details are as follows:

Makkah Al-Mukarramah
Al Nuzha Road
PO Box 9772
Phone: +966 (2) 92 001 2013
Phone: +966 (0) 12 542 7003 extension 666
Website:  teaa.com.sa (Arabic only)

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Ambulance: 997
  • Police: 999
  • Traffic accidents: 993
  • Unified number for Emergency Services: 911

Lost or stolen passport

If your passport is lost or stolen, you should immediately report it to your Hajj operator and notify the Australian Embassy in Riyadh by calling +966 (0) 11 250 0900 or the Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305.

To replace a lost or stolen passport, you'll need to go to the Australian Embassy in Riyadh. You'll need to get special approval from local authorities to travel to Riyadh. The Australian Embassy in Riyadh is unable to help obtain this approval.

Consular assistance

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

In Saudi Arabia, you can get consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Riyadh.

Australian Embassy
Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Phone: +966 11 250 0900
Fax: +966 11 250 0902
Website: saudiarabia.embassy.gov.au

If you are unable to reach the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.