International Umrah procedures
The List of Regulations of the Services Provided for the Mu`tamirs (Umrah performers) was issued in 1420H by virtue of the Council of Ministers'Resolution No. 93, dated 10/6/1420H. It consists of 14 articles. Its bill of implementation was also issued, upon the approval of HRH the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Head of the High Commission of Hajj, by virtue of the Minister of Hajj's Resolution No. 197/Q/M, dated 21/12/1426H. The bill consists of 59 articles. The regulation and its bill of implementation aim at removing any obstacles facing this sector. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has already put the regulation and its bill of implementation into effect through an electronic system established for this specific purpose. This system connects the Ministry of Hajj with licensed Umrah companies and establishments inside and outside KSA as well as with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Umrah international electronic network of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah deals with millions of Muslims all over the world. It is marked by an efficient mechanism of exchanging information quickly with various institutions as well as storing and retrieving information confidentially. It receives visa applications for Umrah and issues visas. It also follows up the release of visas for the licensed agents and determines how far they are committed to the service packages to be offered to Umrah applicants. It connects governmental authorities, i.e. the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Hajj, as well as the licensed `Umrah companies and establishments. Through this network, a group of systems have been set up which are concerned with following up the legal status of `Umrah companies and establishments and checking how far they abide by the conditions and requirements for such services, beside other systems concerned with the services provided for the Mu`tamirs by `Umrah companies and establishments under the supervision of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
In order to systematize the course of work in this sector, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah offered licenses for a number of major information technology companies to set up Umrah Service Systems Centers (USSC) according to highly accurate standards and specifications. Such centers are entitled to provide electronic services for Saudi Umrah companies and establishments and their agents abroad and to contribute to the organization of `Umrah.
International Umrah course of work
The course of work of the international Umrah sector consists of two parts
The first part is carried out through the electronic systems of the General Administration for the Affairs of Umrah Companies and Establishments:
It starts from the month of Muharram, the first month of the Hijri year, i.e. before the beginning of the Umrah season. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah ensures that the licensees have fulfilled all the requirements, based on the statements and reports issued by the `Umrah electronic systems. Here are some of the most important requirements:
- Making sure that there is nothing that prevents the activation of the licensee on the part of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Passport Department or the National Information Center of the Ministry of Interior.
- The licensee shall pay all the amounts of money due to any other authority.
- They have to be fully prepared by making sure that their administrative personnel and social insurance certificates are in order as well as preparing their three locations, in Makkah, Al-Madinah and Jeddah, and providing all required facilities and arrangements.
- Providing the service packages, which the licensee will use in applying to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's authority in charge of issuing visas for those intending to perform `Umrah to complete the endorsement procedures.
- Submitting the first part of the operation plan (from the beginning of the year to the Jumada Al-Thani) and having it endorsed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
- Submitting the second part of the operation plan (from Rajab to Sha`ban) and having it endorsed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
- Abiding by the modifications of regulations approved by the authorities in charge and putting them into effect during the period of `Umrah, e.g. the proportion and number of Mu`tamirs who fail to return home on time and the embassies'production capacity limits.
- Submitting the contracts of the external agents after having fulfilled all requirements, including membership of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), having the contract endorsed by the Saudi Mission [Embassy or Consulate] in the agent's country, holding an account at an approved bank and paying bank guarantees.
The second part is carried out through the electronic systems of the General Administration of the Mu`tamirs Services:
It starts to be implemented when the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has made sure that the licensees are fully prepared and their systems have been activated, according to the first part mentioned above. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah carries out the following tasks, based on the statements and reports issued by the electronic systems of Umrah services:
- Receiving Umrah visa applications in the light of the approved operation plan and regulations of visa issuance.
- Processing the data concerning arrivals, departures and lagging of the Mu`tamirs in the Kingdom after the departure of the other Mu`tamirs.
- Controlling and following up the companies'electronic and practical commitment to the service packages to be offered to the Mu`tamirs.
- Controlling and following up the Umra services and reporting any violations and referring them to the committee in charge (Committee for Considering Complaints of the Mu`tamirs).
- Receiving complaints and referring them to the committee in charge (Committee for Considering Complaints of Mu`tamirs) and guiding those who are lost and following up their condition of health and transportation.
- Investigating and imposing penalties on the licensees and their external agents.
Significant tasks carried out by the electronic systems of the International Umrah Sector
- Issuing and renewing licenses of Umrah services.
- Activating the licenses of Umrah companies and establishments at the beginning of every Umrah period.
- Authorization of the external agents.
- Approving the operation plans of Umrah companies.
- Approving service packages.
- Receiving and processing visa applications.
- Following up the complaints of the Mu`tamirs.
- Guiding those who are lost.
- Reporting the lagging of the Mu`tamirs in the Kingdom after the departure of the other Mu`tamirs (escapes).
- Registering and collecting the amounts of money due on the licensees and their agents.
- Changing managers and employees of Umrah companies.
- Changing the company's location.
- Providing temporary accommodations for the Mu`tamirs.
- Receiving accommodation applications.
- Receiving visa extension requests.
- Burying the dead who belong to an existing Umrah company.
- Systems of investigating Umrah companies.
- Following up the penalties imposed on the licensees and their agents through Committee for Considering Complaints of the Mu`tamirs.
- Following up the arrivals and departures in and out of the hotels of the Mu`tamirs.
- Considering the refusals of accommodation and referring them to the Committee for Considering Complaints of the Mu`tamirs.
- Reporting violations and referring them to the committee in charge (Committee for Considering Complaints of the Mu`tamirs).
- Following up the patients in hospitals from among the Mu`tamirs.
- Arranging visits to the offices of Umrah companies.
- Following up the state of the accommodation of the Mu`tamirs.
- License application for transporting the Mu`tamirs.
- Registering notifications of those who are lost.
- Registering notifications of the complaints and referring them to the committee in charge (Committee for Considering Complaints of the Mu`tamirs).
- Guiding those who are lost and registering notifications of their cases.
- Investigating violations and imposing penalties.
- Control and follow-up.
- Statistics and reports of electronic control.
Electronic payment of services package fees and bank guarantees
The operator of Hajj and Umrah Information Center shall conclude a contract with one of the banks in KSA approved by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to open an independent account in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. This is intended to provide electronic payment service from all over the world around the clock and throughout all the days of the week, including holidays. It works along the following lines:
External agent's bank guarantees:
- The external agent shall specify a bank which is approved both in their own country and also by the SAMA and open an account therein. This is to be approved by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on registering the external agent's contract.
- The bank guarantee is issued for the licensee through this bank account. Bank guarantees are not accepted except through a bank already approved by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Electronic systems are set up so as not to accept bank guarantees except through a bank account approved by the Ministry of Hajj.
- Upon dedicating the guarantee to charitable purposes, the value of the guarantee is to be transferred from the approved bank referred to above in item (1) to the licensee's account at the bank approved by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah with which the contractor has concluded the contract.
Payment of services package fees:
- When the Umrah visa application is approved by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the external agent takes the service package fee from the Umrah applicant; and then the fee is transferred from the external agent's bank account approved by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to the bank with which the contractor has concluded the contract. The service package fees of a group of applicants can be paid at once.
- Service package fees are paid through the approved bank.
- When the service package fee is paid, the bank notifies the contractor to complete the procedures of obtaining Umrah visas.
- In coordination with the SAMA, the service package fees can not be paid except through the external agent's bank account in their own country which has already been approved by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, bearing in mind that this has to bear on the span of time and the cost.
- Electronic payment system should ensure the prevention of obtaining service package fees from Umrah companies and establishments which are suspended for any of the various regulatory causes of suspension.