How can a French person make the pilgrimage to Mecca?

The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. All practising Muslims should make this journey if they can afford it. In order to make this sacred journey, French citizens are required to fulfil certain pre-requisites to ensure that the pilgrimage is carried out correctly. These include obtaining a visa and making other travel arrangements.

Obtaining a special Hajj visa

Applications for the special Hajj visa are made through a travel agency to the Saudi Arabian consular services near France. The documents required to obtain it are:

  • a passport valid for at least another 6 months with at least two adjacent white pages;
  • Proof of nationality and place of residence;
  • an application form completed and signed by a recognised travel agency ;
  • Proof of Mahram for women under 45, men under 18, children and newborns;
  • a conversion certificate for converts;
  • payment of the two TANAZUL cheques;
  • a recent passport photo.

It should be noted that the visa is valid for one month and is free of charge.

Vaccinations before the pilgrimage

The compulsory pre-travel vaccination is against meningitis ACYW135. You should make sure that you are vaccinated at an approved centre such as the International Vaccination Centre or the Institut Pasteur. The yellow WHO vaccination booklet is the only vaccination document authorized by the Saudi Arabian consulate.

It is also important to stress that, despite vaccination, some pilgrims may contract meningitis during the pilgrimage. You should therefore be on the lookout for symptoms such as fever, intense headaches, unusual sensitivity to light, pain or stiffness in the back of the neck, nausea and vomiting. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor if any of these symptoms appear on your return from the pilgrimage, or if they affect someone close to you.

Other measures to be taken

Other steps to be taken include buying a return plane ticket and taking out insurance with the travel agency. It is important to read the travel contract carefully and understand its contents. Pilgrims are required to have certain information and to provide it to their relatives. This includes :

  • departure and arrival dates ;
  • timetables, flight numbers, airports ;
  • all the details of the accommodation;
  • all the contact details of the group leader.

Obtaining a special "Umrah" electronic visa

For many years, people wishing to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah had to go through the embassy to obtain a special visa issued only by the Saudi consulate in Paris. However, since September 2019, the Saudi authorities have opened up the country to Tourism, thanks in particular to the introduction of the Electronic Visa. It is now possible to apply online. However, to make the Hajj, it is still compulsory to obtain a special visa from the Saudi authorities.

You can also entrust the organisation of your travel formalities to a specialist company.