Haiti

10 M
Population
Gourde
Currency
Safety and security

Crime

The general security situation is unpredictable and crime levels increased in 2016. There have been violent muggings, including fatalities in areas popular with foreign residents, including Petionville. You should seek advice from local contacts or established organisations and make arrangements for your safety and security throughout your stay in Haiti. You should avoid travelling alone or travelling around on foot unless absolutely necessary. Travelling with others, especially those with reliable local knowledge can help to make sure any necessary support is available in an emergency.

Avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery or carrying large sums of money. Don’t leave valuables in vehicles and always travel with car doors locked and windows up. Park close to any venues you visit and where possible avoid leaving a venue alone. Avoid travelling at night. Extra care should be taken when visiting downtown Port au Prince.

There is a threat of kidnapping in Port-au-Prince (particularly in Petionville). Kidnappers target those who are perceived to be wealthy, and both Haitians and foreign nationals have been victims of kidnapping. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms for the release of hostages increases the risk of further hostage taking.

Avoid using banks or withdrawing money at cash points unless absolutely necessary and don’t carry large sums of money. Always be aware of your surroundings and who might be watching you. Gangs, often on motorbikes, target people making cash withdrawals or leaving banks, particularly travelling by foot. If necessary, make withdrawals from cash machines in supermarkets with security guards.

Security guards are recommended at residential properties.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the Carrefour, Cite Soleil, Martissany and Bel Air neighbourhoods of Port au Prince. If you visit low income or slum areas you may attract unwanted attention from people who assume you can help them. Avoid entering slum areas on foot if possible. If you do, take sensible precautions and go with someone who has local knowledge and can speak Kreyol.

Be vigilant when travelling around and take the following precautions:

  • always travel with a knowledgeable and reliable guide
  • avoid all public transport and only use rented cars with a local driver from a reliable agency (Avis, Budget, etc)
  • make sure you have all the supplies you might need for your stay; fuel, food and water shortages are likely
  • be aware that the security situation in Haiti can change at short notice

Road travel

Take extra care on the road between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There have been incidents of armed robberies of foreign nationals in 2016 on the Dominican side of the border by criminals dressed as police officers. If you cross the border by land, be prepared for long queues at the 4 crossing points. Make sure you have all the correct vehicle documentation. Long stretches of the route are isolated, and without mobile phone reception. Aim to complete your entire journey during daylight.

Most main routes in and between towns and cities are in good or reasonable condition, but there are exceptions – especially in remote rural areas where some roads can only be travelled in 4x4 vehicles and with great care.

Route Nationale 1, which heads north from Port au Prince, has recently been subject to daily, and sometimes violent, demonstrations. You should use an alternative route.

Drainage is poor and flooding is common after rainfall. Roads are often unlit and it is not uncommon after dark to encounter cars, trucks or motorcycles driving without lights. You should drive cautiously at all times. Research your journey carefully before you set out and have back up options if needed. A UK driving licence is only valid for 3 months in Haiti. For longer stays, you should get an International Driving Permit.

A luxury bus service operated by Caribe Tours normally runs daily between Santo Domingo and Petionville (not Port au Prince) and vice versa. It is comfortable and the journey takes about 6 hours.

Air travel

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

In 2012 an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Haiti was well below the global average. In light of the significant safety concerns identified by ICAO in respect of Haiti’s ability to provide oversight of its airlines, no Haitian airline is permitted to operate commercial services to/from the UK or its overseas territories. British Embassy staff have been advised not to use Haitian registered airlines.

Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air. The US and Netherlands authorities have prohibited their staff from using the airline while safety checks are being carried out. UK government officials have been told to do the same as a precaution.

Political situation

Jovenel Moise was inaugurated as president of Haiti on 7 February following elections in November 2016.

The political situation in Haiti is unpredictable.

You should avoid political rallies, demonstrations and crowds.

The security situation in Haiti is volatile. A UN stabilisation force (MINUSTAH) has been deployed in Haiti since 2004.

Demonstrations may occur with little warning and can turn violent. You should avoid all demonstrations. While most common in Port au Prince, other main cities, and border crossings, they can occur anywhere - most recently on Route Nationale 1 at Archaie.

Demonstrations may often be accompanied by improvised road blocks. Curfews and new security regulations can be announced at short notice. You should avoid all demonstrations, monitor local news and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Demonstrations and protest marches often take place in Port-au-Prince and other cities, especially Cap Haitien, Les Cayes and Jeremie, most recently around food and aid distribution and the elections.

Communications

Mobile telephones are widely used and roaming is available for some service providers (Digicel, Natcom). Signal reception varies but is generally acceptable around Port-au-Prince. You can buy local SIM cards and prepaid cards in the main towns.

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Don’t become involved with illegal drugs of any kind. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t be tempted to carry items through customs for anyone else. If you are caught in possession of drugs or suspected of drug trafficking, you may be arrested and jailed for weeks or months before appearing before a magistrate. Prison conditions in Haiti are very poor.
 
You should always carry proof of your identity. Keep a copy of the photo page of your passport and relevant visa stamp separately in case your documents are stolen. Homosexuality is legal but the attitudes of many Haitians to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is hostile.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

UK health authorities have classified Haiti as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Haiti. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Cholera is present in parts of the country. The number of suspected cholera cases has increased in the south and west of the country, in those areas most affected by Hurricane Matthew.

For more details about these outbreaks, see the website of the National Health Network and Centre.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Normal medical facilities are very limited and offer a poor standard of care. You should bring adequate supplies of essential medicines, especially for specific medical conditions like diabetes.

If you are bitten by an animal while in Haiti you should seek prompt medical advice.

In the 2012 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 130,000 adults aged 15 or over in Haiti were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 2.1% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 113 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

The British Embassy in Haiti does not provide consular or visa services. If you need consular assistance, you should contact the British Embassy in Santo Domingo (telephone +1 809 472 7111).

British passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Haiti for periods of up to 90 days. For more information about visas, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti in London: 21 Bloomsbury Way, London, WC1A 2TH (telephone: 0203 771 1427) before you travel.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Haiti.

Yellow fever

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Departure tax

Tourists must pay a US $55 departure tax. For most international flights this is included in the price of the ticket but for flights to the Dominican Republic you will need to pay this amount in cash on departure. Make sure you have some spare US dollars and local currency on departure.

Natural disasters

Emergency services are ill equipped to cope with a major disaster. Should a hurricane strike Haiti, basic services - transport and communications -could be severely disrupted.

Flash floods and landslides occur regularly.

Hurricanes

Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall in Haiti in October 2016, left much of the south and west devastated. That part of the country is still recovering. While most areas are accessible again, some rural areas are still difficult to reach by road. Access to clean water and food supplies in those areas are still a challenge.

The hurricane season runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the National Hurricane Centre and follow the advice of local authorities.

See our Tropical Cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.

Earthquakes

An earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 causing mass casualties and extensive damage to infrastructure in the Port au Prince area. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

Money

The currency of Haiti is the Gourde. You can exchange US dollars cash or travellers’ cheques for local currency in banks. Other foreign currencies may be exchanged at the discretion of the bank. Some hotels and shops accept payment in US dollars. Most credit cards can be used in major hotels, and in some shops and businesses in the capital. Don’t change money on the street.