With hundreds of Umrah travel agents present across the globe, there are infinite options for Umrah packages with flights for the pilgrims. Though a majority of foreign travellers prefer opting for the services of a credible Umrah travel agent for their holy journey to the Kingdom, others like to do it on their own i.e., DIY Umrah. Nonetheless, you’ll need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia for the holy rituals.

Previously, umrah visas were only issued to pilgrims if they had booked their packages through the channel of a certified travel agent. It was an official rule by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. However, recently the Hajj and Umrah travel policies were revised under the Saudi Vision 2030 plan. Therefore, resulting in relaxed newer policies for Umrah travel and visa issuance.

Applying for a visa through an agent or without one, here’s everything you need to know.

Why agents won’t issue an Umrah visa alone?

If you are opting for Umrah travel by yourself i.e., managing your travel and accommodation in the kingdom by yourself and doing Umrah on your own, you still need a valid Umrah visa. Now the twist here is that the Umrah visa can only be issued to the certified travel agents applying for it on the behalf of their clients. In other words, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah doesn’t issue Umrah visas to individual pilgrims but through the channel of their authorized travel agents.

However, if you go to the travel agent to obtain only an Umrah visa, he will refuse to do so. The reason for it is that the agent doesn’t have any financial benefit from it. Usually, the Umrah visas are issued free of cost by the Saudi authorities but the agents charge nearly 20 GBP to 30 GBP fees for the processing. So, you going to an agent and paying him only this much amount won’t do any profit for him and that’s why they won’t issue an Umrah visa without a package.

On the other hand, if you are also booking an Umrah travel package from the travel agent, he will be happy to offer an Umrah visa for you and sometimes even do it free of cost. This is because he is making a lot of profits through other travel and accommodation arrangements being done for you.

How to obtain an Umrah visa without a travel agent?

If you need an Umrah visa without a travel agent there are two ways to do that;

1.   Apply online through the Maqam portal.

To apply for an Umrah visa online without a travel agent, follow these steps;

  • Visit the official online Umrah application portal at https://maqam.gds.haj.gov.sa/Home/OTAs.
  • Select a particular travel agency of your choice.
  • Sign up with the agency using your e-mail, name, phone number, and password.
  • Enter your valid trip details like;
    • Departure date and airport
    • The number of nights you plan to stay in Makkah and Madina
    • Your first stop i.e., Makkah or Madinah
  • Reserve your hotel and flights.
  • Enter your detail and documents. Such as;
    • Photographs
    • Passport
    • Credit/Debit card details
    • Vaccination certificate
  • Apply, go to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs website to complete the process, and have an Umrah visa issued online.

2.   Get a tourist visa.

Umrah can also be performed on a tourist visa to the kingdom as well. However, it is only available for the citizens of eligible countries whose list is present on the official website of the Saudi Embassy.

So, that’s how you can get an Umrah visa other than a travel agent.