Information and Resources for 2018 Hajj Travelers

July 17, 2018

   

  1. Make sure you have international health insurance and medical evacuation insurance. See Travel.State.Gov for information on Insurance Providers for Overseas Coverage.
    1. Visit a travel medicine provider 4-6 weeks prior to travel to get any necessary vaccines or medication prior to travel.
  1. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for free to receive important information and updates in an emergency. This also helps the U.S. Mission in Saudi Arabia contact and locate travelers in an emergency. Enroll at https://step.state.gov/step/.
  1. Read up on the following resources before leaving:
    1. U.S. Department of State’s Country Information Page for Saudi Arabia for U.S. citizens traveling to Saudi Arabia.
    2. U.S. Department of State’s Hajj Fact Sheet.
    3. U.S. Consulate General Jeddah’s Hajj Fact Sheet, which can be downloaded to your mobile device for easy access.
    4. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel notice for Hajj/Umrah pilgrims.
  1. Know what to expect from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration:
    1. You may wear your regular attire, but note that loose clothing or head coverings may require additional screening. You may always request a private screening and bring a companion into the private screening area with you.
    2. Gifts should remain unwrapped in case security officials need to inspect these items.
    3. Consult the FDA’s fact sheet on returning to the U.S. with prescription medication.
    4. Consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website to know what to expect when you are a U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident returning back into the United States.
    5. You may bring in or take out of the country as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Money includes currency, traveler’s checks, and money orders totaling over $10,000, which must be declared on FinCen 105.
    6. Families traveling together should declare their currency if their collective amount exceeds $10,000. The penalties for non-compliance can be severe.
    7. If traveling with more than 3oz. of Zamzam water, pack it in your checked luggage. Check with your airline regarding the limits of Zamzam water in checked luggage. Passengers traveling from international last-point-of-departure airports to the United States are advised to put powders in excess of 350ml or 12oz. in their checked baggage.
    8. If you have questions about airport screening in the U.S., you can call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227. You can also call 72 hours ahead of travel to request a Passenger Support Specialist to assist you through the airport screening process.
    9. Travelers who experience discrimination during the screening process at U.S. airports should feel free to ask for a TSA Supervisor at the airport, contact TSA, or email the Department of Homeland Security’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division: crclcompliance@hq.dhs.gov. You can also file a complaint here.
    10. Travelers who have questions or wish to file a complaint with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, please consult this link.
    11. Professionalism Service Managers at each port of entry are the primary point of contact to address concerns or comments about CBP process for travelers.
  1. Be aware of the following resources during Hajj: The U.S. Government is not the first responder during an emergency. The Saudi Arabian Government, through its officials, security services, law enforcement, and military, is responsible for the safety and security of all Hajj pilgrims. If an emergency does occur, your first point of contact should be Hajj officials and the Saudi government. The U.S. Government will follow up as needed, and provide all necessary assistance to U.S. citizens in need.
    1. During the holiday, the U.S. embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia will be closed. However, there will be staff answering emergency calls. Please refer to the U.S. Citizens’ Services contact information page for the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Saudi Arabia:

      U.S. Embassy Riyadh: (+966) (11) 488-3800
      U.S. Consulate General Jeddah: (+966) (12) 667-0080

    2. U.S. callers can phone the State Department’s Contact Center during Hajj: 1-888-407-4747.
    3. Family members seeking information about lost pilgrims can phone the Saudi Arabian government’s Lost Pilgrims hotline: (+966) (12) 530-8813 (or 012-530-8813 if dialing locally from Saudi Arabia).
    4. Consult the U.S. embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia’s Victims of Crime link if you are a victim of a crime during Hajj.
    5. Follow @KSA_ACS on Twitter, and check the U.S. Consulate General Jeddah, and U.S. Consular Affairs Facebook pages for updates and information.
    6. The U.S. Mission in Saudi Arabia has established a WhatsApp group for Hajj Wardens and Tour Operators. If staff from tour companies are participating in the Hajj and would like to join, please send cell phone numbers (JeddahACS@state.gov) to be added to the WhatsApp group.
  1. Know your rights in the sky:
    1. It is against Federal law for airlines to discriminate against passengers on the basis of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry. This includes airline personnel (e.g. pilots, flight attendants, gate agents or check-in counter personnel) or their contractors treating someone differently based solely on their appearance or mode of dress that is associated with a particular national origin or religion.
    2. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has the responsibility to investigate complaints alleging discriminatory treatment by airline personnel.
    3. If you believe that an airline has subjected you to unlawful discrimination, you should feel free to file a complaint with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division using the web form or by mailing your complaint to the following address:

Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE, Washington, DC 20590
United States

  1. Protect your health and safety by following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    1. Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues a travel notice specific to the Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia to describe levels of risk as well as the recommended preventative measures travelers can take.
    2. CDC maintains general information on travel to Saudi Arabia as a destination.
    3. CDC’s Health Information for International Travel (also known as The Yellow Book) contains a chapter on the Hajj.