Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) undertaken each year by around three million Muslims from inside Saudi Arabia and around the world.
The next Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah (Mecca) is expected to be between July and August 2020.
Explore this page for information about:
- staying safe and secure during the Hajj
- taking care of your health
- local laws and customs
- entry requirements for Saudi Arabia
- where to get help
Also read our travel advice for Saudi Arabia.
Safety and security
Around three million pilgrims perform the Hajj each year. Expect overcrowding at religious sites.
Crowd crushes are common, often at bottlenecks.
- Look ahead of you and check for crowd noise.
- If you're caught in a crowd surge, keep moving and shift sideways from time to time.
Authorities limit the use of vehicles around the Hajj. Follow their instructions.
As stampede incidents have previously occurred, ensure that you follow road safety rules and do not walk against the direction of the traffic to avoid injuries.
Know your nearest emergency exits and evacuation routes to your place.
You may also need to read the safety information available on the Saudi General Directorate of Civil Defence for Pilgrimage Safety Instructions and Hajj Awareness.
Terrorism is a significant threat in Saudi Arabia. An attack can occur at any time. Religious sites have been targeted. In 2017, Saudi Security Forces disrupted an attempted suicide attack on the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
See our travel advice for Saudi Arabia for more information.
In an emergency, contact your family and friends to let them know you're safe.
Temperatures during the Hajj season are likely to be extreme. June to August are the hottest months of the year. The temperature can be over 50 degrees celsius.
- Minimise time directly under the sun.
- Drink water to avoid dehydration.
Sandstorms and dust storms are common. These can cause breathing and sight problems. During sandstrom and dust storms:
- take shelter
- protect your airways with a dust mask, scarf or fabric.
Avoid insect bites to reduce your risk of infection by mosquito-bo/insurancerne diseases.
Because of the large numbers of pilgrims, illnesses are common. Make sure you have the right travel insurance.
The Saudi Ministry of Health requires special vaccinations for Hajj.
The certificate must be issued:
- at least 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia
- no more than three years before arrival in Saudi Arabia in the case of a polysaccharide vaccine
- no more than five years before arrival in Saudi Arabia in the case of conjugate vaccine.
Ask your doctor or travel clinic and your tour operator if you are in any doubt.
More information on health regulation is available at the Saudi Ministry of Health.
Carry your vaccination certificates with you in case authorities ask to see them.
Medication and medical devices
If you need medication, bring an adequate supply and a doctor's certificate describing the medication. You must report any medication or medical devices you are carrying when you enter and leave.
Take enough legal medicine for your trip. Carry your medication in its original packaging along with your doctor's prescription. Don't provide another pilgrim or organiser with medicine.
Seasonal influenza and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
Seasonal influenza or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a risk.
- Avoid direct contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infection.
- Avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels.
Seek medical advice as soon as you feel unwell.
Saudi health warning
The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends that you don't perform the Hajj if you have a:
- terminal illnesses
- severe medical condition
These include advanced heart, breathing, liver and kidney diseases.
Consider your physical ability to undertake the Hajj. Extreme weather conditions are likely. Health risks might increase in large crowds. See your doctor before travelling.
If you have a disability, be prepared for different accessibility standards to Australia.
Laws and customs
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. You may be prevented from leaving the country until issues are resolved.
The following acts are prohibited:
- holding unauthorise gatherings and group prayers
- raising voices
- performing rituals of worship not practised in Saudi Arabia
- producing or distributing printed or electronic material, unless it is authorised by the Ministry of Culture and Information
- criticising Saudi Arabia, it's leadership or Saudi royal family
Avoid making statements that could be interpreted as blasphemy. If you're suspected of violating these restrictions, you could be sentenced to long jail terms and lashings.
Avoid demonstrations as they may turn violent. If you're found near one, you may be detained .
Obey signs restricting photos and videos.
The Saudi Government doesn't recognise dual nationality of it's citizens. Immigration authorities may confiscate second passports if found. The Australian Government won't be able to provide consular help if you don't enter on your Australian passport.
Dual nationals must enter and depart Saudi Arabia on the same passport.
- 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 permit to perform Hajj. If you don't have one you could be fined, detained or banned from travelling.
- A Hajj visa.
Book your travel through a Saudi-Government approved travel agent. Use a reputable agent who will provide:
- Hajj entry visa
If you use a non-approved Hajj operator, you may be punished under Saudi law. You could be deported, jailed, fined or banned from Saudi Arabia.
Declare any currency over SAR 60,000 on arrival and departure from Saudi Arabia.
Foreign pilgrims, including Australians, must have Hajj visas. You will not be able to do Hajj on a tourist visa. Make sure you follow your visa conditions.
- If you overstay your Hajj visa, you may face large fined, be jailed and/or deported. You may also be banned from returning to Saudi Arabia in the future.
- You can't work in Saudi Arabia on a Hajj visa.
- A Hajj visa is for travel to Jeddah, Makkah and Medina only. Saudi authorities usually won't allow you to travel outside these cities before or after the Hajj.
- All pilgrims must leave Saudi Arabia by the 10th of Muharram of each year (approximately 29 August 2020).
The Islamic calendar is used in Saudi Arabia for all official matters. Make sure you know when your visa expires.
The Australian Embassy in Riyadh can't intervene in immigration or visa matters.
You will be required to provide biometric information to enter Saudi Arabia.
For information about where to provide biometrics for Saudi visas, including whether you can provide it on arrival in Saudi Arabia, contact your Hajj operator or an Embassy of Saudi Arabia.
Ask your Hajj operator about any new entry or exit requirements that local authorities may have introduced.
For more information, contact the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
If you're an Australian Muslim living in Saudi Arabia, you can undertake the Hajj once every five years. Apply through the Saudi Ministry of Interior.
In addition to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, some Hajj pilgrims now fly directly to Medina and proceed to Mecca by road. There is no option to fly to Mecca. Upon arriving in Saudi Arabia, you will have to go through a number of procedures at the airport before being allowed to depart towards Mecca or Medina.
The Saudi authorities may only allow pilgrims to leave the dedicated Hajj terminal with their hajj groups. Please contact your Hajj tour operator directly if they do not meet you at the airport.
At the Airport:
- Expect lengthy delays in hot and humid conditions when you arrive and depart the airport. Airport formalities can take many hours.
- It can take several hours to clear customs and immigration due to the large numbers of pilgrims. Take food and water with you.
- Travelers with only carry-on bags will find baggage transfer at the airport much easier than will those with checked baggage.
Between Ritual Sites:
- The Saudi authorities apply strict schedules to Hajj operators for all travel (bus, train, and foot) between the ritual sites. Be prepared and expect long delays on all routes and modes of transport.
- Expect tighter security at transport hubs as well as increased traffic and congestion
- Trains are typically overcrowded with pilgrims waiting several hours at the train stations at Arafat and Muzdalifah on crowded platforms before being able to board a train.
- You may consider using maps and smartphone applications to navigate the sites of the Hajj ritual, which extend from the Grand Mosque (Al Masjid al Haram) to Arafat.
On arrival at the terminal, your Hajj travel operator will:
- take your passport
- give you an identification card and wristband
The Pilgrim Guides Association will keep your passport while you are performing the Hajj. They will return it when you leave.
Carry your Hajj identification card and wristband with you at all times. You must not remove your Hajj wristband as it has all the information that will assist to locate your Hajj provider's location.
Always carry contact information for your hotel and travel group. Confirm your full itinerary and travel inclusions with your Hajj operator before arriving. The Australian Government can't intervene in commercial disputes with Hajj travel operators.
All Hajj tour operators must provide accommodation in Mina, including food and drinks. Cooking is not allowed in the Mina Tent City Area.
Arrange all other accommodation through your travel agent or privately.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah 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
Before leaving Saudi Arabia, find out and follow all baggage restrictions, including in relation to zamzam water.
Where to get help
The National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Turkey and Muslims of America, Australia and Europe, is available to assist with emergencies.
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.
Smart Phone Apps
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has developed smartphone applications to help people who are planning to perform Hajj or Umrah. You may use the official smartphone applications made by of Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to help you around, especially “Manasikana” application.
Emergency phone numbers
- Ambulance: 997
- Police: 999
- Traffic accidents: 993
- Unified number for Emergency Services Centre: 911
- Saudi Arabia Directory Enquiries: 905
- 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
The number of pilgrims using these phone services can result in long delays.
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
Lost or stolen passport
If your passport is lost or stolen:
- report it immediately to your Hajj operator
- notify the Australian Embassy in Riyadh or the Consular Emergency Centre.
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 you get this approval.
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:
Australian Embassy in Riyadh
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Phone: +966 11 250 0900
Fax: +966 11 250 0902
If you can't 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.
- See our destination-specific travel advisories.
- Read our guide for all travellers.
- Understand how and when we can help. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- In Saudi Arabia, the Australian Embassy is in Riyadh.
- The National Tawafa Establishment supports Australian pilgrims on the Hajj.
- The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah distributes pilgrims to their assigned sections designated by country.
If you're travelling overseas for (or during) a major cultural, sporting or religious event, you may need to take extra precautions.