Hajj travel

Background

The Hajj, known as Dhu al-Hijjah, is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and occurs from the eighth to the thirteenth day of the final month in the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is 11 days shorter than the western world's Gregorian calendar and the Gregorian date of the Hajj is 11 days earlier each year.

Guidance

Requirements and recommendations for entry visas for the Hajj and Umrah in 2018 have been issued by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health (MoH) These requirements and recommendations are updated annually.

In addition, the Saudi MoH website includes useful health information and resources for pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

It's strongly recommended that some people postpone their Hajj and Umrah in 2018 for their own safety, this includes those:

  • above 65 years of age
  • with chronic diseases, for example, heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, diabetes
  • with immune deficiency, both congenital and acquired
  • with malignant disease
  • terminally ill
  • pregnant
  • under 12 years of age

Before travel, it's strongly recommended that all pilgrims obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance that includes repatriation.

Meningococcal meningitis vaccine

Visitors arriving for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones, are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate with a quadrivalent (ACWY) meningococcal vaccine administered no less than 10 days prior to arrival to Saudi Arabia.

Vaccination with one of the following vaccines is acceptable:

  • quadrivalent (ACWY) polysaccharide vaccine within the last three years
  • quadrivalent (ACWY) conjugate vaccine within the last five years

Please note that if the vaccine type isn't indicated in the certificate then it will be valid for three years.

Vaccination with quadrivalent (ACWY) conjugate vaccine is also required for:

  • domestic pilgrims
  • residents of Mecca and Medina
  • any person who may be in contact with pilgrims, including those in healthcare settings

If deemed necessary, the Saudi MoH may opt to administer prophylactic antibiotics to some travellers at the points of entry.

Other vaccines

There are certain other vaccinations which may be recommended for personal protection, including:

  • hepatitis A
  • influenza
  • measles

In addition, the Saudi MoH has compulsory vaccination requirements for yellow fever and poliomyelitis for Hajj pilgrims entering from countries other than the UK.

Publications

To help protect Hajj pilgrims, their family and the wider community from travel associated infections we've produced several resources. These resources are available in English, Urdu and Punjabi.

Hajj pilgrims should prepare themselves for travel by visiting their general practitioner (GP) six to eight weeks before departure. This advice can be viewed in the infographic posters below:

A leaflet has also been designed to raise awareness of MERS–CoV. The leaflet can be viewed below:

The poster below is designed to be used in conjunction with the MERS CoV Hajj leaflet:

The poster should be displayed where it'll be seen by those planning to go to Hajj or Umrah, for example, in:

  • GP surgeries
  • mosques
  • social clubs
  • other venues