Biometrics self-registration for Mecca pilgrims’ e-visas announced
Saudi Arabia is to become one of the first countries in the world to issue e-visas based on biometrics captured by applicants’ smartphones. Pilgrims intending to make their way to Mecca (Makkah) for the Hajj or Umrah will be able to submit their biometrics for the pilgrimage e-visas via their mobile devices, avoiding the need to visit visa centers in person, reports Zawya.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal Bin Farhan launched the system and smartphone app, which is intended to offer the best possible experience for pilgrims. The Saudi Company for Visa and Travel Solutions will manage the biometric self-registration process via the bespoke smartphone app.
On arrival in Saudi Arabia the pilgrims will undergo a biometric matching process, although details on what this is and which forms of biometrics taken are not yet clear.
The country’s ministry of health also announced that the permit for performing Umrah and prayer at the Grand Mosque in Makkah is likely only to be for pilgrims fully vaccinated against COVID. Visitors need to use the Tawakkalna app from 10 October to prove their status, reports The Siasat Daily.
Saudi Arabia added iris biometrics to its visa and border control processes in 2018.
The UK launched self-registration of selfie biometrics for Hong Kongers applying for the British National (Overseas) visa earlier this year.