Hajj pilgrims urged to stay vigilant for fraudsters
Trading Standards Specialist
It’s the time of the year when many UK Muslims are preparing to go on pilgrimage to Hajj, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their lifetime if they can afford it and are physically able.
The date of Hajj is determined by the Islamic calendar (known as the Hijri calendar or AH), which is based on the lunar year. Every year, the events of Hajj take place during the month of Dhul Hijjah, the twelfth and last month of the Islamic Calendar. Hajj begins on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts until the 13th of Dhul Hijjah.
This year, Hajj occurs between 26th of June to the 1st of July 2023 in the Gregorian Calendar.
The 9th Dhul-Hijjah is known as the Day of Arafah, and this day is called the Day of Hajj. The 10th Dhul-Hijjah is the Day of Eid al Adha (Eid of sacrifice).
Before the pandemic, more than two million Muslims (of which 25,000 were from the UK) would converge in Makkah. Many Muslims save for years to perform this pilgrimage. However, post-pandemic, the Hajj Ministry introduced an online portal, and an app called Nusuk Hajj App (https://www.nusuk.sa/) for booking Hajj packages and reduced the quota to around 3600 for the UK. This process has inadvertently, removed all the travel agents from acting as the intermediary. Furthermore, what is more, concerning is the removal of the ATOL protection for “Hajj packages” that was in place when booked via an ATOL licence holder in the UK, as afforded by the Package Travel Regulations.
A typical package price has increased by almost 30% (ranging from £9,000 per person to about £15,000 per person) pre-pandemic prices. Hence coupled with a reduction in quota and lack of protection has left desperate pilgrims exposed to scams.
Trading Standards are seeing new scam activities such as the one circulating on social media and WhatsApp where King Mohammed Bin Salman is giving away free Hajj packages to welcome guests to the Kingdom.
At the end of May 2023, all the packages have sold out. We advise you not to pay anyone claiming to offer a Hajj package, they are not, and you may be putting your money at risk. Nor should you feel pressured to register with any agents claiming to be working with a Saudi partner to offer a Hajj package.
Hence, Trading Standards are providing follow tips for residents before departing with their life savings:
- Nusuk Hajj Portal is the only official platform in the UK and 57 other countries to book Hajj packages: https://www.nusuk.sa/
- Do not pay any agent or tour operators claiming to offer Hajj packages. Check the company is registered in the UK with Companies House: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/
- Hajj packages on Nusuk Hajj Portal will not benefit from ATOL protection. Follow the FCDO travel advice and take out travel insurance for peace of mind: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia/pilgrimage
- Heath requirements for Hajj – you must have had a total dose of the Covid vaccination (2 primary doses) and Meningitis ACWY. Pilgrimages from other countries may need additional immunisation. Check the Nusuk Hajj Portal for advice. Check with your GP if you are up to date with all other vaccinations before travel.
- Checking travel agents for ATOL registration with the Civil Aviation Authority: https://www.caa.co.uk/atol-protection/check-an-atol/search-atol-holders/
If you think that you have been a victim of Hajj fraud in the UK contact:
Local Authority Trading Standards Service:
Police – via 101:
Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline – 0808 223 1133:
City of London Police Fraud Desk – 020 7601 6999:
Action Fraud 0300 123 2040
Consular assistance in Saudi Arabia:
UK charity for the welfare and well-being of British Hajjis: