Hajj saudi arabia grand mosque
Worshippers throng the courtyard of the Grand Mosque around the Holy Kaaba. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Dubai: Want to go for Hajj but don’t know how to start the registration process? If you are living in the UAE, there are different ways in which you can go about the process. In this guide, we will break down the registration process and the new requirements that you need to be aware of before the Hajj season begins next month.

How to register for Hajj

If you are a UAE national, you can register for Hajj through the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments. Expatriates would need to register for Hajj through a travel agent. This is because registering for Hajj needs to be done through your individual country’s quota. Each country gets a specific quota for pilgrims for Hajj, according to Husham Kattingeri, an outbound travel supervisor at Regal Tours Worldwide, and travel agents who deal with your home country’s Hajj agencies can help you register.

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“We deal mainly with Indian expatriates when it comes to Hajj, as we have a contract with agencies in India to take a certain quota from India for visa issuance,” he said.

So, an easy way to register is to reach out to the travel agency and ask them if they can assist you with the registration. Kattingeri added that for expats in the UAE, this process is easier compared to going to their home country to apply for a Hajj permit through the government quota. However, that is also an option if you are interested.

If you do choose to book your Hajj package through a travel agent in the UAE, most packages include flight tickets, hotel stays and food.

“Even when they go to Medina, they can choose whether they want a full board or half board, so the package is customised accordingly. The only thing that is not included in the package is the animal sacrifice at the end of Hajj, which they need to pay for directly at the location,” he said.

It is advisable to register for Hajj as soon as registrations open, as prices can be higher at the end of the season, with most quotas already filled.

What are the documents I would need?

If you are applying through a travel agent, you would need to submit the following documents:

• Passport copy, with the passport valid at least till the end of the Hajj season (valid for six months from the date of application submission)
• Passport photograph
• Proof of vaccinations. According to an announcement by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, international pilgrims are required to have the meningococcal vaccine administered at least 10 days but not more than five years prior to their arrival, verified by a certificate from their home country. They must also be vaccinated against polio.

Kattingeri added: “Country to country there can be a few requirements that are different. For example, for Indian nationals, they are required to submit their PAN (Permanent Account Number) card and Adhar card copy when they register for Hajj.”

Country to country there can be a few requirements that are different.

- Husham Kattingeri, an outbound travel supervisor at Regal Tours Worldwide

New rules you should keep in mind

1. New Hajj permit through Nusuk

Obtain a Hajj permit through the Nusk platform, which is crucial for the legitimacy of their pilgrimage. The ‘Nusuk’ app, which is available for Apple and Android devices, is the ‘official guide to Mecca and Medina’, providing pilgrims with information on immigration requirements, rituals that need to be followed during Umrah and details on various sites within Mecca and Medina that people can visit. The Hajj permit will be available through the app.

On April 27, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (MOHU) stated that the Council of Senior Scholars has issued a Fatwa that bans performing Hajj without an official permit.

“Undertaking the Hajj without a permit not only jeapordises your safety but also poses a significant risk to fellow pilgrims. Such actions are not in line with Shariah law and are considered grave transgressions against the directives issued for the public good,” the statement read.

“Registration for Nusuk is quite easy, and you can complete it online, by providing your Hajj visa number and some basic visa details,” Qaiser Mahmoud, a travel agent based in Sharjah, told Gulf News.

“If you are going for Hajj in a group, the group agent may also be able to help you complete the registration. But the Nusuk permit will be on your phone,” he added.

Registration for Nusuk is quite easy, and you can complete it online, by providing your Hajj visa number and some basic visa details.

- Qaiser Mahmoud, a travel agent based in Sharjah

2. Minimum age for Hajj application – 12 years

Another rule to remember is that Saudi Arabia has set the minimum age for performing Hajj at 12 years.

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3. Registration through the Sehhaty application is required to verify vaccination status.

You also need to register in the Sehhaty app to confirm the necessary vaccinations. The app by the Saudi Ministry of Health is available for Apple, Andoid and Huawei devices and you can complete your registration online.

Fines for violating Hajj rules

On May 7, the Saudi Ministry of Interior also posted on its official social media accounts the penalties that would be implemented if the rules are violated.

Fine of SAR10,000 (Dh9,792) against all citizens and residents who are caught without a Hajj permit and visitors in the following places:

- The city of Mecca
- Central area
- Sacred sites
- Al-Haramain Train Station in Al-Rasifa
- Security control centres
- Sorting centres
- Temporary security control centres

The post added that violating residents will face deportation to their country and prevented from entering Saudi Arabia according to the system-specified periods.

The fine imposed on violators, amounting to SAR10,000 (Dh9,792), will be doubled if the violation is repeated.