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Haiti

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Summary

  • Reconsider your need to travel to Haiti due to protests, strikes and road blockades which may occur at any time, particularly in Port au Prince and on major highways. Avoid demonstrations, monitor the local media for new safety and security threats and pre-book taxis through hotels or authorised taxi centres to reduce risk. See Safety and security
  • Reconsider your need to travel due to high levels of crime in parts of the country. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks. 
  • Hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services are more likely to be severe. See Natural disasters
  • If you're going to undertake volunteer work, make arrangements for a placement prior to arrival. See Entry and exit
  • Foreign aid workers have been the target of kidnapping, and other violent crimes in Haiti. See Safety and security
  • There has been a serious cholera outbreak in Haiti since 2010.  Mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, are widespread. See Health
  • 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.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

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

Haiti does not have an embassy in Australia, but it is currently establishing an Honorary Consulate in Brisbane. 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.

Other formalities

Foreign visitors must pay an arrival fee at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

The following are exempt from paying the fee:

  • children under 5
  • official or diplomatic passport holders
  • foreigners with a valid residence card
  • officials and agents on a United Nations laissez-passer
  • anyone born in Haiti and holding a foreign passport.

Crossing the land border from Dominican Republic requires visitors to pay a tourist fee upon arrival, payable in US dollars cash only.

If you're considering going to Haiti to undertake volunteer work, make arrangements for a placement prior to arrival in Haiti. Finding a placement with a charity in Haiti on arrival is usually not possible.

More information: Volunteering overseas

If you’re travelling or transiting through the United States, you must meet US entry requirements. Check your visa requirements with the nearest US US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. Read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Local immigration authorities may request evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination if you're travelling to Haiti from a yellow fever endemic country (these include most countries in South America as well as transit points such as Panama). The World Health Organization (WHO) website contains a list of yellow fever endemic countries.

Passports

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place. 

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

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.

Money

Safety and security

Crime

Violent crime is common, including murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, assault and carjacking. The risk increases at night and in isolated areas. Foreign aid workers have been targets of kidnapping for ransom and other violent crimes. In some cases kidnapping victims have disappeared or been killed.

The risk of armed robbery is a real possibility, especially in the Port-au-Prince area and particularly after leaving the Toussaint Louverture International Airport. Thieves try to distract foreigners after arrival to steal their passports and other valuables. Be cautious about sharing specific travel plans; have your host or organisation meet you at the airport upon arrival; or pre-arrange airport transfers.

There have been several reports of violent incidents along Route Nationale 2, between the area of Petitt-Goâve (Ouest Department) and Miragoane (Nippes Department). Criminal gangs have committed robberies by erecting roadblocks. When driving, 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. Avoid showing visible signs of wealth.

Avoid changing or withdrawing large sums of money at local banks, as criminals on motorcycles sometimes 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.

The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti has been replaced by a smaller mission: the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). The remaining police and civilian components of the UN Mission are assisting the Government of Haiti to strengthen rule of law institutions, and support the development of the Haitian National Police (HNP).

There have been instances of piracy in the waters in and around Haiti. 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 people without their permission.

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

If you're a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical assistance due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

There is a very high risk of crime, including violent crime, in Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant, and the police have very limited capacity to respond and assist. If you choose to travel to these areas, exercise extreme caution, and avoid all travel after dark. Where possible, ensure a member of your group speaks Kreyol.

Civil unrest and political tension

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

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

Protests, strikes and road blocks may occur at any time, particularly in Port au Prince and on major highways. Tourists caught up in demonstrations have been attacked.

  • Limit your movements as much as possible.
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Monitor the local media for new safety and security threats.
  • Stock up on essential supplies when safe to do so.
  • Pre-book taxis through hotels or authorised taxi centres to reduce risk.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Travel by road is dangerous due to aggressive driving practices and poorly maintained vehicles. City roads are in good or reasonable condition. Drivers often ignore traffic laws and speed limits. Avoid taking public transport, or driving late in the evening due to occasional detours, which may transit narrow secondary routes through dangerous neighbourhoods. Roads are often unlit and it’s common after dark to encounter cars, trucks and motorcycles driving without lights on. Pedestrians also walk in the middle of unlit roads. Avoid driving at night or in bad weather, even in the city.

Always keep your fuel tank at least half-full, as fuel supply is frequently disrupted. Carry a mobile phone and a list of emergency contact numbers with you, as roadside assistance services are deficient. Mobile phone coverage is intermittent in some rural areas.

More information: Road safety and driving

It's 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. There have been armed robberies in the Dominican Republic on roads close to the border with Haiti, including by criminals dressed as police officers.

If you're taking the ferry, exercise caution with your belongings. Don't travel by ferry if it appears to be overloaded or unseaworthy.

Airline safety

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to local laws, including those appearing 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.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and may lead to imprisonment and fines. Prison conditions in Haiti are very poor.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

There are no laws restricting the rights of LGBTI persons or advocacy groups, although an anti-LGBTI sentiment exists. People identified as LGBTI may be targeted for harassment, discrimination or physical attacks.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart.

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas, particularly if you have an existing medical condition.

  • Get vaccinated before you travel.
  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel.

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Insect-borne diseases

Mosquito-borne illnesses, including malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya virus and filariasis, are common, particularly during the rainy season (June to December). Zika virus is widespread. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas. Further advice for both females and males is available from the Department of Health.

  • Consider taking malaria prevention medication.
  • Avoid insect bites including by 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.

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.

HIV/AIDS

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

Cholera

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 it.

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked food.
  • Seek immediate medical advice if you suffer from diarrhoea.

More information: WHO fact sheet

Medical facilities

The 2010 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 are scarce and well below western standards. Private medical care is very expensive. Doctors and hospitals require upfront 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 $A25000.

Natural disasters

Emergency services are ill-equipped to cope with a major disaster. Be prepared to evacuate at short notice in the event of a natural disaster and ensure your travel documents remain current.

Hurricanes and severe weather

Hurricane season 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're travelling during hurricane season, 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, identify your local shelter. Flights could be delayed, suspended or may fill quickly. Contact your airline for the latest flight information. The hurricane could also affect access to seaports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available.

  • Familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans.
  • Carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. Contact friends and family with updates about your welfare

More information:

Earthquakes

Haiti is in an active seismic zone and as a result may experience earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. Information about earthquakes is available from United States Geological Survey.

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred west of the capital Port-au-Prince, causing many thousands of casualties. Critical infrastructure is still damaged, including health services, roads, telecommunications and other utilities. Damage to public sanitation infrastructure has increased the risk of disease outbreaks.

More information: Earthquakes

Tsunami

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, including the Caribbean.

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.

Emergency phone numbers

The national ambulance number for medical emergencies is 113.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what we can and cannot do to help you 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.

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain

18 Herbert Street, St Clair
Port of Spain
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Phone: (1 868) 822 5450
Fax: (1 868) 822 5490
Website: trinidadandtobago.highcommission.gov.au
Email: ahc.portofspain@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in the Caribbean

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

In a consular emergency, if you can't contact the High Commission in Trinidad you can contact the 7 day 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