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Haiti travel guide

About Haiti

Haiti is a country guaranteed to shock and awe. Tragedy-scarred but tenacious, this small Caribbean nation has great beauty and great need. Boasting verdant mountains, white sandy beaches and plenty of African spontaneity, Haiti might be financially poor, but it is rich in natural beauty, culturally affluent.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, Haiti has all the hallmarks of a classic Caribbean destination. And so it was, in the 1960s and 70s, when the wealthy flocked here to relax in the tropical climate, tread upon powdery beaches and explore vertiginous mountain ranges.

However, decades of political instability and a series of natural disasters devastated Haiti’s tourist industry, and saw the country go from the travel sections of newspapers straight to the front pages.

But, slowly, holidaymakers are returning. Led by the luxury end of the market, new hotels are opening all the time in Port au Prince, which is a sign of how the tide is finally turning. As well as new hotels, numerous tourism development projects are also underway.

Haiti’s unique selling proposition as a Caribbean destination is its history and culture. It has a vibrant arts scene, irresistible fusion cuisine and many talented musicians, who pack out bars and clubs with their unique brand of African, European and Caribbean beats.

However, travelling around Haiti is not always easy. The country’s infrastructure has not recovered from decades of instability and the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Political uncertainty endures, too; the United Nations’ Stabilization Force for Haiti – known by its French acronym MINUSTAH – is still here ten years after it was sent in to restore political order.

In the short term, then, the best option for those travelling to Haiti is to use the services of a known tour operator. This might not feel particularly adventurous, but it will take the hassle out of visiting a nation that is still finding its feet after years in the wilderness.

Key facts

Area:

27,750 sq km (10,714 sq miles).

Population:

10,848,175 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

360.2 per sq km.

Capital:

Port-au-Prince.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Joseph Jovenel Moïse since February 2017, was assassinated in July 2021.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Ariel Henry since July 2021.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Haiti on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Authorities have temporarily closed Toussaint Louverture International Airport. Check with your travel company for the latest information and restrictions.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Haiti.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Haiti

Authorities have declared a state of emergency until 30 May 2021. Current measures still in place aimed at tackling the spread of the coronavirus are:

  • a curfew between 10pm and 5am
  • the wearing of face masks in public places is compulsory
  • frequent handwashing/use of hand sanitiser
  • social distancing
  • a 14 day self-isolation period for anyone entering the country with symptoms of COVID-19.

Accommodation

Most hotels have re-opened. Measures regarding social distancing, use of hand sanitiser and the wearing of masks are in place.

Public places and services

Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned. The wearing of masks in public places is compulsory.

Healthcare in Haiti

Medical services throughout the country are extremely limited, easily overwhelmed and offer a poor standard of care. Emergency response is not guaranteed as there are not enough ambulances to provide adequate service. Ambulances may not have the basic required medical supplies on board. Life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance, which can be very expensive, at the patient’s expense.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms you should ask your hotel to take you to a private medical clinic.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Haiti

As information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.

British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization COVID-19 vaccines page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Information is available from the Ministry of Health (Ministere de la Sante publique et de la Population (in French and Kreyol).

Crime

The security situation in Haiti remains highly unpredictable, and following the assassination of President Moise on 7 July 2021, could worsen further.

A state of emergency has been declared on 7 July lasting 15 days. Additionally, local authorities have closed Toussaint Louverture International Airport. The border with the Dominican Republic is also closed and flights between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are suspended until further notice.

If you are in Haiti you should monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

The general security situation is unpredictable, and crime levels are high. There is usually an increase in criminality in the period leading up to the holiday season in December, the Carnival (in February or March) and the beginning of the school year (late August/early September). Theft, including armed robbery, purse snatching and pickpocketing, is common in Haiti. Criminal activity is especially prevalent in downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs operate, and in Petion-Ville. The areas of Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant have particularly high levels of criminality and gang activity. There is also a high level of criminal activity near the Haiti–Dominican Republic border.

Armed robbery is common. Victims are often attacked in broad daylight by armed thieves on motorcycles. Some attacks have resulted in fatalities. Single women drivers stuck in traffic jams have been targeted by armed assailants.

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. When travelling by car, keep doors and windows locked. Avoid travelling at night. Extra care should be taken when visiting downtown Port au Prince. UK government officials use an armoured vehicle and close protection when travelling to, and through, this area. See Local travel

Haitians, regardless of rank or social class, are at risk of being kidnapped. Although rare, there have been kidnappings involving foreign nationals, including missionaries, aid workers and children. Most victims have been released upon the payment of a ransom. In some exceptional cases, however, victims have disappeared or have been killed. You should be vigilant across the country, remaining alert to small groups of loiterers, especially near your place of residence. Keep doors and windows secure at all times and be wary of inviting anyone into your residence who you do not know or were not expecting.

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 public cash points where you may be observed and become 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 FCDO advise against all but essential travel to Haiti due to the volatile security situation. UK government officials use an armoured vehicle and close protection when visiting Port-au-Prince.

If you visit low income or slum areas you may attract unwanted attention. Foreigners are viewed as wealthy and may arouse envy. If you do enter these areas, do not travel on foot, take sensible precautions and go with someone who has local knowledge and can speak Kreyol.

Avoid showing visible signs of affluence, such as expensive-looking jewellery or electronic equipment. Be cautious when photographing scenes in poor or urban areas, where people may feel exploited or insulted by being subjects of such activities, and ask for permission before photographing individuals. Remain cautious with new acquaintances offering friendship or hospitality.

Be vigilant when travelling around and take the following precautions:

  • never walk alone and avoid travelling after nightfall
  • always travel with a knowledgeable and reliable guide
  • avoid using taxis, motorcycle taxis or public transport (TapTaps)
  • only use rented cars with a local driver from a reliable agency
  • make sure you have all the supplies you might need for your stay; fuel, food and water shortages are possible
  • 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

Travelling to and from Toussaint Louverture International Airport

There continue to be reports of robbers targeting people as they arrive at Toussaint Louverture International Airport and as they travel by road to and from the airport. Be especially vigilant when travelling from the airport to your accommodation, including when leaving the airport and at your end destination. Be cautious when claiming your luggage upon arrival and keep your valuables and identification on you. Carry only small amounts of cash and do not resist if you are threatened by robbers.

You should avoid using taxis (see Local travel). Arrange secure transport, including a local driver, in advance through a local contact. You should avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery and other valuables, and carrying large sums of money.

Road travel

A UK driving licence is only valid for 3 months in Haiti. For longer stays, you will need a Haitian driving permit.

The main roads (Route Nationales) between cities are in reasonable condition, though there are often sections that are potholed and/or untarmacked. Venturing off the main road will often require a sturdy 4x4 vehicle. Traffic signs are rare. The few traffic lights that are operational are mostly in urban centres.

Flooding is common after heavy 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. Many people drive while intoxicated, with their lights off or do not follow the rules of the road. Avoid driving at night or in bad weather, even in the city.

You should drive cautiously at all times. Research your journey carefully before you set out, consult those with reliable local knowledge and have back up options if needed.

Always keep your fuel tank at least half full, as fuel supplies can be disrupted. You should carry a mobile phone and a list of emergency contact numbers with you, as roadside assistance services are non-existent. Be aware that mobile phone coverage is intermittent in some rural areas, so consider using a satellite phone.

Take extra care on the road between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican side of the land border is currently closed. There are high levels of crime in areas near the border. Blockades at border crossings can quickly turn violent and make crossings difficult. If crossing the border by land, be prepared for long queues at the 4 crossing points which are only open between 8am to 5pm. Make sure you have all the correct vehicle documentation and cash to pay exit and entry fees. Long stretches of the route are isolated. Aim to complete your entire journey during daylight.

Route Nationale 1 which runs north from Port-au-Prince, is subject to frequent, sudden and improvised blockades, such as burning tyres. You should monitor the local news and follow the advice of the local authorities before setting out on any journeys.

Air travel

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

The FCDO 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.

Political situation

The political situation in Haiti is extremely fluid and unpredictable and demonstrations can become violent very quickly. You should avoid political rallies, demonstrations and crowds.

There have continued to be sporadic, unpredictable and sometimes violent demonstrations, protests and roadblocks in Port au Prince and throughout Haiti since July 2018. The movement of goods and people into and within the country is often disrupted due to blocked roads and security incidents. As a consequence, there are sometimes fuel and food shortages.

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. The following local FM radio stations broadcast in French and Kreyol: Radio Metropole 100.1; RFM 104.9; Radio Kiskeya 88.5; Radio IBO 98.5; Radio ONE 90.5; Radio Nationale d’Haiti 105.3; and Radio Pacific 101.5.

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 in large towns.

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

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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.

Don’t become involved with illegal drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy legal proceedings, heavy jail sentences and fines. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t be tempted to carry items through customs for anyone else. If you’re 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.

Local attitudes towards the LGBT community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. In Haiti, same-sex sexual activity is legal. However, the attitude of many Haitians to the LGBT community is hostile. LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted and negative attention. Public displays of affection (such as hand-holding or kissing) between opposite or same-sex couples are uncommon. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Haiti on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Haiti.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Other health risks

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. Make sure you drink safe bottled water wherever you are. See NaTHNaC’s factsheet on food and water hygiene

If 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.

Medical treatment

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

Medical services throughout the country are extremely limited, easily overwhelmed and offer a poor standard of care. Emergency response is not guaranteed as there are not enough ambulances to provide adequate service. Ambulances may not have the basic required medical supplies on board. Life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance, which can be very expensive, at the patient’s expense.

Physicians and hospitals generally expect immediate cash payment for care even if you have a proof of a valid travel health insurance. You will have to pay the full amount of the bill before your departure.

Medications sold in Haiti may be of inferior quality and pharmacies may carry expired medications. Supply of medications may sometimes be random and for this reason, some medications may simply not be available. You should bring adequate supplies of essential medicines, especially for specific medical conditions like diabetes.

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 rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Haiti

If you travel to Haiti by air you may have your temperature taken upon arrival. From 9 February, individuals travelling to Haiti will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding flights. This may be may be either an Antigen or PCR test, and must have been taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding. You will be required to complete a health declaration form on the flight, including contact and location information in Haiti, and present it to immigration authorities upon arrival. You may be asked to self isolate for 14 days in your own accommodation.

Specific entry procedures may change at short notice. Please check the Government of Haiti Ministry of Public Health website, or with your airline, for updated information.

Regular entry 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. You may wish to check this with your airline or tour operator before you travel. If the departure tax is not included in your air fare, make sure you have enough US dollars or local currency on departure.

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

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November. During this period, tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes. These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the National Hurricane Centre and follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders.

The most recent hurricane to hit Haiti was hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

See our Tropical Cyclones page for further advice on preparing effectively when travelling or living in areas susceptible to hurricanes or tropical cyclones.

Earthquakes

Haiti is located in an active seismic zone. The most significant earthquake in recent years hit Port au Prince in 2010, causing 250,000 deaths and extensive damage to infrastructure in the surrounding area. On 7 October 2018, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit north-west of Port de Paix, with more than 500 people injured.

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.

The currency of Haiti is the Gourde. Although the US dollar is widely cited on menus and price lists, the Government of Haiti announced in 2018 that all commercial transactions would be carried out in Gourdes. However, many establishments continue to use US dollars.

Avoid using banks or withdrawing money at public cash points (see Crime). Don’t change money on the street. You can exchange US dollars cash or travellers’ cheques for local currency in large hotels or the large supermarkets in Port au Prince.

Most credit cards can be used in major hotels, and in some shops and businesses in the large towns and cities. However, there is a risk of credit card cloning and theft.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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 FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team 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.

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