There is a massive debate with regards to Umrah visas. There is a known fact that Umrah visas are issued by the Saudi embassy for free. What what is really the meaning of free that so many people ask about?
Seriously I receive a lot of emails saying agents charge so much money for visas that they shouldn’t since the visas are issued for free. I just admit, I was somewhat guilty of it too. I knew that as companies the agents will have their overheads and other related expenses so there was an added cost.
However it is much more than this. I asked a director of one of the operators to explain why visas cost so much money to the end consumer, his reply was indeed very enlightening.
Heres is how it works
Every tour operator or an authorised agent in the UK must have a kafeel or sponsor – the sponsor is the Saudi Company in Saudi Arabia that has a contract with the Ministry of Hajj to offer Hajj and Umrah services. (note: companies cannot do business in Saudi Arabia without having a Saudi company as a partner)
The sponsor/kafeel/Saudi Umrah operator has a charge. A clear and distinctly defined charge per visa that he/she will issue.
The embassy does not charge a fee to issue the visa but does require an authorisation number (aka MOFA) to issue a visa. A MOFA is issued by a Saudi Company who charges for this service.
We as resellers or agents of this company – add a markup to the original cost usually between £5-10 and sell onwards. Simply the agents in the UK add a mark up to this charge and offer services to their pilgrims.
It is only normal for agents to have to make some money since they offer a service and obviously run a business. I really hope this clarifies the misconception of “free” Umrah visas since as we can see above this is not true.