Foreign travel advice

Haiti

Summary

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Haiti due to the current unstable and dangerous security situation.

The most recent protests in Port au Prince and elsewhere in Haiti started on 7 February. Sporadic, unpredictable and sometimes violent demonstrations and roadblocks continue. These could occur at any time and may turn violent. The movement of goods and people into and within the country has been disrupted due to blocked roads and security incidents. As a consequence, there are fuel and food shortages.

If you’re in Haiti or due to undertake essential travel, you should remain vigilant at all times, keep movements to a minimum and regularly review your departure options. Avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings, monitor local media, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with this travel advice. 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.

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

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.

You should heed the advice of local authorities before attempting to reach areas off the main roads.

Take extra care if you’re travelling between Haiti and the Dominican Republic by road, as there are high levels of crime near the border.

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 cannot be ruled out.

Consular support is not available from the British Embassy in Haiti. However, the British Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic can provide consular support to British nationals.

There are no central emergency services in Haiti. 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 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 large centres such as downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs operate. There is also a high level of criminal activity near the Haiti–Dominican Republic border.

Many incidents of armed robbery have occurred in Pétion-Ville and other areas frequented by foreigners, eg Peguy Ville. In most cases, victims were attacked in broad daylight by armed thieves on motorcycles. Some attacks have resulted in fatalities. Recent reports indicate that single women drivers stuck in traffic jams in the Pétion-Ville area are being 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.

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 vary 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 FCO advise against all but essential travel to Haiti due to the ongoing unrest. UK government officials use an armoured vehicle and close protection when travelling within Haiti at this current time.

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 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

Travelling to and from Toussaint Louverture International Airport

There have been reports of violent robberies 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 in advance through a local contact and exercise caution when parking. 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.

Most main roads (Route Nationales) between cities are in good or 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 disruptions of fuel supplies are frequent. You should carry a mobile phone and a list of emergency contact numbers with you, as roadside assistance services are deficient. 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. There are high levels of crime in areas near the border. Frequent blockades at border routes can quickly turn violent and make crossings difficult. If 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.

The main ‘Route Nationale’ roads, especially Routes Nationales 1 and 2 which run north and south from Port-au-Prince, are 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 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.

Political situation

Jovenel Moise was inaugurated as president of Haiti on 7 February 2017 following elections in November 2016. Following riots at the beginning of July 2018 the Prime Minister and the government resigned. A new Prime Minister and government was ratified by Parliament on 17 September.

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.

Demonstrations and protest marches often take place in Port-au-Prince and other cities, especially Cap Haitien, Les Cayes and Jeremie.

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.

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 cannot 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. 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.

Health

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Money

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 the Haitian Gourde.

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.

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 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.