Foreign travel advice

Haiti

Summary

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the Carrefour, Cite Soleil, Martissant and Bel Air neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince due to the high risk of criminal activity.

The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from June to November. You should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. You can monitor updates from the US National Hurricane Center.

Rain associated with Hurricane Irma caused flooding in parts of the north coast of Haiti; this may make certain coastal areas difficult to reach; please heed the advice of local authorities before attempting to reach areas off the main arterial roads.

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.

A series of national strikes, beginning in the week of 18 September 2017, were called by opposition political parties. You should pay attention to notices circulated by authorities on likely march routes and avoid all demonstrations.

Demonstrations may occur with little warning and can turn violent. While most common in Port au Prince, other main cities, and border crossings, they can occur anywhere. They may often be accompanied by improvised road blocks. You should avoid all demonstrations, monitor local news and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Crime has increased recently. You should take great care due to the risk of criminal activity throughout the country.

Curfews and new security regulations can be announced at short notice.

Take extra care if you’re travelling between Haiti and the Dominican Republic by road. There have been armed robberies in the Dominican Republic on roads close to the border with Haiti.

Blockades, often violent, occur frequently and with little warning in Haiti. Route Nationale 1, which heads north from Port au Prince, has recently been subject to daily, and sometimes violent, demonstrations – most recently at Archaie. You should use an alternative route.

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.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Haiti, attacks can’t be ruled out.

The small British Embassy in Haiti doesn’t provide consular or visa services. If you need consular assistance you should contact the British Embassy in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).

There are no central emergency services in Haiti. You should research local police and medical facilities, and keep contact details with you. Medical facilities are very limited and offer a poor standard of care. Serious conditions may require medical evacuation, which can be very expensive.

Safety and security

Crime

The general security situation is unpredictable, and crime levels have continued to increase in 2017. There has been an increase in violent muggings, some of which have resulted in fatalities, in areas popular with foreign residents, such as 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. Travel with others, especially those with reliable local knowledge. You should avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery and other valuables, and carrying large sums of money.

Avoid parking your car on the street. Park inside secure car parks at venues such as restaurants, and avoid leaving alone if possible. 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 (including 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 where you may be observed and the target of criminals. If necessary, make withdrawals from cash machines in supermarkets or hotels with security guards. 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 those travelling on foot.

Security guards are recommended at residential properties.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the Carrefour, Cite Soleil, Martissant and Bel Air neighbourhoods of Port au Prince, due to the high risk of criminal activity. UK government officials use an armoured vehicle when travelling to, and through, these areas.

If you visit low income or slum areas you may attract unwanted attention from people who assume you can help them. If you do enter these areas, don’t travel on foot, 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, so monitor local news and follow the advice of the local authorities

Road travel

Take extra care on the road between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There have been armed robberies in the Dominican Republic on roads close to the border with Haiti, including by criminals dressed as police officers.

Frequent blockades at border routes, often by disaffected drivers and traders, can make crossing difficult and can turn violent. ‘Route Nationale’ roads are subject to sudden and improvised blockades, such as burning tyres. In April 2017, Route Nationale 1, which heads north from Port-au-Prince, was subject to daily, and sometimes violent, demonstrations at Archaie. You should monitor the local news and follow the advice of the local authorities before setting out on any journeys.

If you’re crossing the border by land, be prepared for long queues at the 4 crossing points. Make sure you have all the correct vehicle documentation and cash to pay exit and entry fees. 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 areas where some roads can only be travelled in 4×4 vehicles and with great care.

Research your journey carefully and consult those with reliable local knowledge. You should monitor local news, and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Drainage is poor and flooding is common after rainfall. Roads are often unlit and it is not uncommon after dark to encounter cars, trucks and motorcycles driving without lights. Pedestrians also walk in the middle of unlit roads. 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 number of coach lines operate daily services between Cap Haitien and Santo Domingo, and between Petionville and Santo Domingo. The journey takes between 6 –to 8 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. UK government officials are 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 extremely fluid and unpredictable and demonstrations have become increasingly violent. While most common in Port au Prince, other main cities, and border crossings, they can occur anywhere and for seemingly innocent reasons, and can spiral out of control.

You should avoid political rallies, demonstrations and crowds.

Demonstrations may often be accompanied by improvised road blocks (also see Road travel). 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 these have centred around food and aid distribution and, since the 2016 elections, socio-economic challenges such as pay and the increased price of food, fuel and basic commodities.

A UN stabilisation mission (MINUSTAH) has been deployed in Haiti since 2004. In 2017, the UN Security Council renewed the mission’s mandate for the final time. In the coming months, the international military and police components in Haiti will be significantly reduced, with the military component completely gone by October 2017.

MINUSTAH will be replaced from October by a smaller follow-up mission: the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). The remaining police and civilian components will focus on assisting the Government of Haiti to strengthen rule of law institutions, and further support and development of the Haitian National Police (HNP).

Communications

Mobile telephones are widely used and mobile data is available from some service providers (Digicel, Natcom). Signal reception varies greatly but is generally acceptable around Port-au-Prince and other cities. You can buy local SIM cards and prepaid cards widely across the country.

Terrorism

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Haiti, attacks can’t be ruled out.

There’s 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 malaria and Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Haiti. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Cholera is present across 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. Make sure you’re drinking safe, preferably bottled water wherever you are.

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.

There are no central emergency services in Haiti. You should research local police and medical facilities, and keep contact details with you.

Medical facilities in Haiti are very limited and offer a poor standard of care. Some hospitals and clinics have access to private ambulances, but they may not be available in an emergency. There is a private air ambulance service operating in the country.
Serious conditions may require medical evacuation, which can be very expensive.

You should bring adequate supplies of essential medicines, especially for specific medical conditions like diabetes.

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

UNAIDS estimates that around 130,000 adults in Haiti are living with HIV. The prevalence rate is around 1.7% of the adult population, compared to around 0.2% in the UK. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

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.

Entry tax

Tourists must pay a US $10 tourist fee payable in cash on arrival

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 some flights, for example from the Dominican Republic, you need to pay this amount in cash on departure. Make sure you have enough US dollars or local currency on departure.

Natural disasters

Emergency services are ill equipped to cope with a major disaster. Should a hurricane strike Haiti, basic services such as transport and communications are likely to 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 Atlantic 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

There are occasional earthquakes in Haiti. The most significant in recent years hit Haiti in 2010 causing mass casualties and extensive damage to infrastructure in the Port au Prince area.

If a major earthquake occurs close to shore, you should follow the instructions of the local authorities, bearing in mind that a tsunami could arrive within minutes.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before during and after an earthquake and tsunami.

Money

The currency of Haiti is the Gourde. You can exchange US dollars cash or travellers’ cheques for local currency in large hotels. Wherever possible, avoid using banks or withdrawing money at cash points (see Crime). Most 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 large towns and cities. Don’t change money on the street.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.