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Haiti

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Haiti 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.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the areas of Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant in Port au Prince, as the security situation is particularly volatile and dangerous. See Safety and security
  • Protests, strikes and road blockades may occur at any time particularly in Port au Prince and on major highways throughout the country. 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
  • 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 are going to Haiti to undertake volunteer work, ensure you have made appropriate arrangements for placement prior to arrival. See Entry and exit
  • Foreign aid workers have been the target of kidnapping, and other violent crimes in Haiti.
  • There has been a serious cholera outbreak in Haiti since 2010.  Mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, are endemic. 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.

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.

All visitors with foreign passports are required to pay CAN$10, or US$10 or €10 on arrival at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

The following are exempt from paying the fee:

  • children between 0 and 5 years of age
  • 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 of US $10 upon arrival, payable in US dollars cash only.

If you are considering going to Haiti to undertake volunteer work ensure appropriate arrangements for 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 are travelling to Haiti through the United States, or if you are transiting Honolulu or another US point of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with the nearest 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 are 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.

 Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to 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. While police capacity to respond to these incidents continues to improve, kidnappings can still happen to anyone.

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. Be cautious about sharing specific travel plans; have your host or organisation meet you at the airport upon arrival; and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels.

Avoid changing or 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. 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.

The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will be replaced by a smaller 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 the development of the Haitian National Police (HNP).

There have been instances of piracy in the waters in and around Haiti. 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, Cité Soleil and Martissant: 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, exercise extreme caution, and avoid all travel after dark. Where possible, ensure a member of your party speaks Kreyol.

Civil unrest and political tension

The political situation in Haiti 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 blockages of roads may occur at any time particularly in Port au Prince and on major highways throughout the country. 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 if 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

Money and valuables

The basic currency unit in Haiti is the Gourde (HTG). You may exchange US dollars cash or travellers cheques for local currency at established banks. Other foreign currencies may be exchanged at the discretion of the bank. Do not exchange money on the street.

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.

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. Avoid travel by 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 is common after dark to encounter cars, trucks and motorcycles driving without lights.

More information: Road safety and driving

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. 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 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.

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 in Haiti 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, 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

Travel insurance

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

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:

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 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.

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. 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. 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.

There is widespread transmission of Zika virus in Haiti. All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites. 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.

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.

Natural disasters

Haiti is subject to a range of natural disasters. Emergency services in Haiti 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 documentation remains current.

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, 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 in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. 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 choose to stay. 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.

We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

More information:

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 ​United States Geological Survey.

On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred west of the capital Port-au-Prince, causing many thousands of casualties. Seven years later, damage remains to critical infrastructure, including health services, roads, telecommunications and other utilities. The earthquake damaged public sanitation infrastructure and 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 are unable to 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