Official advice:
High degree of caution

Map of Haiti

Warnings by area

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Advice levels

Haiti overall, exercise a high degree of caution ↓

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.

Areas of Bel Air, Carrefour, Cit Soleil and Martissant in Port au Prince, reconsider your need to travel ↓

Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your travel insurer will cover you.

Conditions can change suddenly

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Latest advice, 24 May 2016

This advice has been reissued with new information concerning ongoing political tensions and related protests (see Safety and Security). The level of the advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Haiti overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Haiti due to high levels of crime in parts of the country, ongoing political tensions and related protests. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the areas of Bel Air, Carrefour, Cit Soleil and Martissant in Port au Prince, as the security situation is particularly volatile and dangerous. See Safety and security.
  • Foreign aid workers have been the target of kidnapping, and other violent crimes.
  • You should avoid all demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.
  • There has been an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti since 2010. There has also been an increase in cases of chikungunya virus. See Health.
  • If you are going to Haiti to undertake volunteer work, ensure you have made appropriate arrangements for placement prior to arrival. See Entry and exit.
  • The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti caused many thousands of casualties and widespread damage to critical infrastructure, including health services, roads, telecommunications and other utilities, which are yet to be fully restored.
  • Hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may occur. See Additional information.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:

Entry and exit

Haiti does not have an embassy or consulate in Australia. The nearest embassy is located in Japan. Contact details are:

Embassy of Haiti in Tokyo
No.34 Kowa Building, No 906
4-12-24 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku
Tokyo
Japan
Phone: +81 3 3486 7096
Fax: +81 3 3486 7070
Email: amb.japon@diplomatie.ht

See also the websites of the Embassy of Haiti in Washington DC (USA) and the Haiti Ministry of Tourism.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice.

We advise Australians who are considering going to Haiti to undertake volunteer work to ensure they have made appropriate arrangements for placement prior to arrival in Haiti. Finding a placement with a charity in Haiti on arrival is usually not possible. See our Volunteering overseas page.

If you are travelling to Haiti through the United States of America, or if you are transiting Honolulu or another US point of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check your visa requirements with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Local immigration authorities may request evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination if you are travelling to Haiti from a yellow fever endemic country. The World Health Organization (WHO) website contains a list of yellow fever endemic countries.

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Crime

There is a high incidence of violent crime, including murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, assault and carjacking. The risk increases at night and in isolated areas. Foreign aid workers have been the target of kidnapping, and other violent crimes. There has been a gradual lessening of reports of kidnap since 2011 with a further sharp decline in 2015. Persons intending long term visits to Haiti are reminded that whilst police capacity to respond to these incidents continues to improve, kidnappings can still happen to anyone.

You should avoid withdrawing large sums of money at local banks, as criminals on motorcycles are known to rob customers after leaving banks.

Public transport is considered unsafe and should be avoided, including taxis, Tap Taps (vans with a covered tray area) and Moto-taxis (motorcycles taxis). Ask your host or hotel to arrange private transport prior to your arrival in Haiti. The roads leading to and from the Port-au-Prince airport are vulnerable to carjacking. When driving, you should ensure that windows are up, doors are locked and valuables are out of sight.

There has been an increase in armed robberies targeting arriving travellers, particularly foreigners of Haitian origin. Other foreigners, including Australians, are often considered wealthy. Avoid showing visible signs of affluence.

The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) currently supports the activities of the Haitian National Police (HNP). Their numbers, however, continue to decrease as mandated by the UN Security Council. The HNP, with assistance from MINUSTAH, is responsible for maintaining order and rendering assistance. Given the possibility and unpredictability of spontaneous protests, their ability to assist Australians is very limited.

There have been instances of piracy in the waters in and around Haiti's Exclusive Economic Zone. Members of the yachting and sailing communities should exercise caution when entering or transiting the waters around Haiti.

Be wary of accepting invitations of friendship or hospitality from strangers, and be aware of people loitering near your accommodation.

Foreigners taking photographs are often regarded with suspicion and have been assaulted, particularly in remote areas. Avoid photographing individuals without their permission.

If you are attacked or robbed, do not resist. Thieves can be armed and you could be seriously injured or killed.

Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Bel Air, Carrefour, Cit Soleil and Martissant: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to these areas of Port au Prince as the security situation is particularly volatile. There is a very high risk of crime, including violent crime, and the police have very limited capacity to respond and assist. If you choose to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution, try to and avoid all travel after dark and where possible, ensure a member of your party speaks Kreyol.

Civil unrest/Political tension

The political situation in Haiti is unpredictable and demonstrations occur regularly. There is an ongoing risk of violence and social unrest. Local authorities, including the police, often have limited capacity to control developing situations or provide assistance.

Political tensions have intensified in the period surrounding the ongoing electoral process. The final round of presidential elections has been postponed indefinitely, and related protests have led to incidents of violence. Remain vigilant at all times and avoid large crowds and demonstrations as they may turn violent with little to no warning. Monitor local media to stay informed of the latest developments (assistance to individuals from Haitian authorities is often unavailable).

Ensure you have identification documents and the necessary documents related to your vehicle as you may encounter security checkpoints during these heightened periods.

Protests, strikes and blockages of roads may occur any time particularly in Port au Prince and on major highways throughout the country. Foreigners caught up in demonstrations have been attacked. We recommend you avoid demonstrations, monitor the local media for new safety and security threats, and always have arrangements in place for transportation when moving around.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You should be careful to avoid the loss or theft of your passport. Travellers are likely to experience significant delays and expense arranging replacement travel documents in Haiti where there is no resident Australian mission.

Local travel

Travel by road is dangerous due to aggressive driving practices and poorly maintained vehicles. The roads within the city limits are in good or reasonable condition. Traffic laws and speed signage are routinely ignored. You should avoid travel by public transport, or driving late in the evening due to occasional detours which may transit narrow secondary routes through dangerous neighbourhoods. For further advice, see our road travel page.

It is possible to drive between the Dominican Republic and Haiti but be prepared for long queues at the four crossing points. Ensure that you and all passengers in the vehicle have the correct documents and relevant travel documentation.

If you are travelling by ferry, exercise caution with your belongings. Do not travel by ferry if it appears to be overloaded or unseaworthy.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Haiti.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Haiti, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and may lead to imprisonment and fines. See our Drugs page.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The 2010 Haiti earthquake caused severe damage to local hospitals and placed considerable strain on the provision of healthcare. There are shortages of medicine and other medical resources. There is inadequate public sanitation posing a risk of disease outbreaks.

Medical facilities in Haiti are scarce and well below western standards. Private medical care is very expensive. Doctors and hospitals will require up-front cash payment before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (usually to Miami) would be required, costing in excess of $A25,000.

There has been an ongoing cholera outbreak since 2010. Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting and can be fatal if left untreated. Correct food hygiene and preparation are essential to minimise the risk of contracting cholera. We advise you to drink only bottled or boiled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked food. Seek immediate medical advice if you suffer from diarrhoea. For more information on cholera, see the WHO fact sheet.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Haiti is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. You can find out more information at the WHO website.

Mosquito-borne illnesses, including malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya virus and filariasis, are common in Haiti, particularly during the rainy season (June to December). We encourage you to speak to your GP or a travel health specialist about prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headaches as they are symptoms of both dengue fever and Chikungunya virus.

Haiti is experiencing ongoing transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The infection often occurs without symptoms but in some cases can cause fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain. There are no vaccines. All travellers are urged to protect themselves by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women (or women trying to become pregnant) should consider postponing travel to Haiti or talk to their doctor about implications. See our travel bulletin on Zika virus.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, typhoid, rabies and leptospirosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. The national ambulance number for medical emergencies is 113.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy in Haiti. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago for consular assistance. See contact details below:

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain

18 Herbert Street, St Clair
Port of Spain
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Telephone: (1 868) 822 5450
Facsimile: (1 868) 822 5490
Website: www.trinidadandtobago.highcommission.gov.au
Email: australianhighcommission.pos@gmail.com

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Haiti, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend that you register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

If disruption to communication links prevents you from contacting the Australian government, you can direct your enquiry through the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince, between numbers 75 and 71 Delmas Road, telephone: (509) 2 249 9000.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Haiti is subject to a range of natural disasters. Emergency services in Haiti are ill equipped to cope with a major disaster. You should be prepared to evacuate at short notice in the event of a natural disaster and ensure your travel documentation remains up-to-date.

Hurricanes and severe weather

Hurricane season in Haiti is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may occur. Tropical storms and hurricanes may also occur in other months.

If you are travelling to Haiti during hurricane season, you should contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination have been affected.

The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. You can check the latest hurricane information at the National Hurricane Center website.

In the event of an approaching hurricane, you should identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. You should contact your airline for the latest flight information. The hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location.

We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our Severe weather page.

Earthquakes

Haiti is in an active seismic zone and as a result may be subject to earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. Information about earthquakes is available from the National Earthquake Information Centre of the United States Geological Survey.

On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred 22 kilometres west of the capital Port-au-Prince, causing many thousands of casualties. There remains damage to critical infrastructure, including health services, roads, telecommunications and other utilities. The earthquake damaged public sanitation infrastructure and increased the risk of disease outbreaks.

For more information on earthquakes, see our Earthquakes travel bulletin.

Tsunami

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, including the Caribbean. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure for more information on tsunamis.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:

Warnings by area

Map of Haiti