Saudi Ministry of Hajj & Umrah issued circular asking pilgrims in countries with Biometric enrollment centres for Hajj & Umrah to complete the mandatory biometric registration locally. Picture: Pixabay.

Saudi Ministry of Hajj & Umrah has issued a circular on Massar that stated that pilgrims in countries with Biometric enrolment centres for Hajj and Umrah, such as Bahrain, must consider completing the mandatory biometric registration locally after obtaining Hajj or Umrah visa. 

It revealed that hundreds of visitors to the country were turned away from the airport as they did not follow correct visa procedures. 

“Registering biometric information before arriving at the entry ports of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is recommended to save waiting time at the airports and to facilitate a smooth entrance to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” a statement said. 

The ministry said pilgrims must apply the right category of visa through the travel agents registered with the country’s Hajj and Umrah Committees.  

“It is important to note that the newly introduced tourist e-visa CANNOT be used to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah. It only allows tourist to attend concerts and sporting events happening in the Kingdom. Without the right visa and documentations, pilgrims will encounter fines and/or deportation to the home country,” the statement added. 

Benefits of biometrics before travelling for Hajj or Umrah:

The procedure

It is mandatory to provide biometric information to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims face a risk of deportation if they do not follow the proper visa procedures. Once the visa formality is completed, including enrolment of biometric information, pilgrims can focus on the holy journey ahead of them.

Time 

It takes about 10 minutes to register biometrics at the local visa service centre with a pre-booked appointment, whereas the time spent at the airport upon arrival may be longer, depending on the long queues at the airports. Once the biometric collection is complete in the country of origin, pilgrims will only be required to clear customs and have their passports stamped at immigration upon entering Saudi Arabia.

Secure and efficient

Biometrics in the country of origin is only collected by the visa service centre authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It uses a secure and quick process that captures a facial image with a digital camera and a 10-digit fingerprint scan with a digital finger scanner.

Biometric enrollment can be completed locally before travelling, or upon arrival at the King Abdulaziz International Airport or at the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport.