A number of adjustments that Saudi Arabia has made for Hajj pilgrims are expected to significantly boost the number of travellers. There will be no cap on the number of pilgrims this year, according to Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, minister of Hajj and Umrah, who made the announcement on Monday.
According to authorities, those who have never performed the journey will be granted registration preference when the Hajj period starts in late June of 2023. While it's estimated that 2.5 million people travelled there in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused numbers to drop dramatically over the last two years.
Saudi Arabia only allowed a million foreign pilgrims between the ages of 18 and 65 to enter the country in 2022. They also needed to be free of chronic illnesses and fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to information found on the official Hajj pilgrimage website for India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will begin to accept Covishield (AstraZeneca), Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations.
The applicant must provide proof of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza vaccination, as well as a national or resident identification card that is valid through the middle of July, 2023. Additionally, they must receive an ACYW triple meningitis vaccination certificate at least 10 days before visiting the holy places.
Indian citizens who intend to make the pilgrimage must fill out an online application and pay the required registration cost. Within a few weeks, selected pilgrims are often notified by text messages and updates on the official website.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia requested that all candidates register directly through the website and refrain from using the same mobile number for several applications.
Saudi Government has reduced the insurance fee for Haj and Umrah Visas. For Haj it would be 29 Saudi Riyals instead of previously 109 Saudi Riyals, while for Umrah it would be SR. 88 instead of SR. 235. Further, any Visa holder can perform Umrah anytime without appointment.