Haiti - Consular Information Sheet
June 11, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Haiti is one of the least developed
countries in the Western Hemisphere, and continues to experience
civil and political unrest. Supplies of goods and services are
adequate in Port-au-Prince, the capital, but there are shortages
in other parts of the country. While tourism facilities in Port-Au-Prince,
Jacmel and Cap Haitien are satisfactory, they are rudimentary
at best in most other Haitian cities, and virtually non-existent
elsewhere in Haiti.
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Haitian law requires travelers
to have a passport to enter Haiti. In practice, officials frequently
waive this requirement if travelers have a certified copy of their
U.S. birth certificate. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines
do not board passengers for return to the United States unless
they are in possession of a valid passport. The U.S. Embassy recommends
that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. The
Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a fee prior to departure.
For additional information regarding entry, departure and customs
requirements for Haiti, travelers can contact the
Haitian Embassy, 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 332-4090, the Haitian consulates in
Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois or Puerto Rico, or
via the Internet at http://www.haiti.org/embassy/.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Haiti continues to experience civil
and political unrest. Protests and demonstrations, which can turn
violent at any time, occur periodically throughout the country.
Private organizations and businesses may be targets of demonstrations
or take-over attempts related to business disputes or extortion
Local and national elections held in late 2000 remain publicly
disputed, and are expected to dominate the political climate in
2001. In the months following the elections and presidential inauguration,
activists established unofficial, temporary roadblocks throughout
the country, at times cutting off major thoroughfares and the
airport. Protesters succeeded in paralyzing Port-au-Prince and
other major cities using flaming barricades and bonfires, with
U.S. Government buildings serving as the focal points of some
of these actions. Recent incidents have included gunfire during
organized political demonstrations and politically motivated violence
perpetrated against the offices and homes of political leaders.
The rhetoric of some activists and popular organizations has been
anti-foreign, and the Haitian government has failed on occasion
to contain or condemn certain violent and dangerous situations.
Political events are often held in public areas and some have
American citizens should avoid all such gatherings, as crowd
behavior can be unpredictable. Travelers encountering roadblocks,
demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart
the area quickly and without confrontation. Assistance from Haitian
officials, such as the police, should not be expected. Particular
caution should be taken on the days of planned political activities.
American citizens traveling to or residing in Haiti are advised
to take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds
may congregate. For current information on safety and security,
contact the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers listed below.
CRIME: There are no "safe areas" in Haiti. Crime,
already a problem, is growing. The state of law and order is of
increasing concern, with reports of armed robberies and break-ins,
kidnappings, murders and car hijackings becoming more frequent.
The police are poorly equipped and unable to respond quickly to
calls for assistance. While not specifically targeting U.S. citizens,
criminals have nonetheless kidnapped, maimed or killed several
U.S. citizens in recent years. Travelers should be particularly
alert when leaving the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have
often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies.
Criminals also surveil bank customers and subsequently attack
them; some recent incidents have resulted in the victims' deaths.
Use of public transportation, including "tap-taps" (private
transportation used for commercial purposes), is not recommended.
It is suggested that travelers arriving at the airport be met
by someone known to them.
Certain high-crime zones should be avoided when possible, including
Carrefour, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale
#1, the airport road (Boulevard Haile Selassie) and its adjoining
connectors to the New ("American") Road via Route National
#1. This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous
robberies, carjackings, and murders. Due to high crime, Embassy
employees are prohibited from entering Cite Soleil and La Saline
and their surrounding environs, and are strongly urged to avoid
Delmas 105 between Delmas 95 and Rue Jacob. Under no circumstances
should one attempt to photograph in these areas, as this almost
inevitably provokes a violent reaction. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince
once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area
and Petionville, have been the scenes of increasing incidents
of violent crime.
Kidnappings for ransom are an emerging problem. U.S. citizens
resident in or visiting Haiti should exercise caution at all times
and review basic personal security procedures.
Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often see
a significant increase in violent crime. Haiti's Carnival season
is marked by street celebrations (Carnival starts the Saturday
prior to Ash Wednesday, and continues for four days). In recent
years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations
and severe traffic disruption, and people attending Carnival events
or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured
The period from New Year's Day through Carnival is marked by
roving bands called "Raras". Raras generally operate
on Sundays until Carnival, when they occur at all times. Some
Raras have identified themselves with political entities, lending
further potential for violence.
Travelers and residents should exercise caution throughout Haiti.
Keep valuables well hidden, ensure possessions are not left in
parked vehicles, favor private transportation, alternate travel
routes, and keep doors and windows in homes and vehicles closed
and locked. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a
vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance
without resistance. Criminals have shot drivers who resisted.
The Embassy also recommends against traveling at night, particularly
outside Port-au-Prince. The limited response and enforcement capabilities
of the Haitian national police and the judiciary frustrate crime
Mariners should note that Americans and other foreigners have
reported the theft of yachts and sailboats along the Haitian coast
over the past year. Some of the thefts were carried out by armed
gangs, and one foreigner was killed. Cameras and video cameras
should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent
incidents have followed unwelcome photography.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or
consulate. Lost or stolen U.S. birth certificates and/or drivers
licenses used as entry documents generally cannot be replaced
outside of the United States. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department
of State's pamphlet, A Safe
Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey.
This publication and others, such as Tips
for Travelers to the Caribbean, are available by mail from
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
D.C. 20402; via the internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are scarce and
sub-standard. Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and the
level of community sanitation is low. Medical facilities outside
the capital are generally below U.S. standards. Life-threatening
emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's
expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,available via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Haitian pharmacies may have
expired medications on their shelves. Americans always should
check expiration dates on the original packaging before purchase.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may
be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747);
fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the U.S. The information below concerning
Haiti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally
accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: n/a
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
Driving in Haiti should be undertaken with extreme caution. It
is often preferable for those with no knowledge of Haitian roads
and traffic customs to hire a driver. This can generally be accomplished
through local hotels. Those who do drive in Haiti should be conservative
in their actions, avoid confrontations such as jockeying for position,
and remain aware of the vehicles around them. Drivers should carry
the phone numbers of people to call for assistance in an emergency
as the Haitian government is unlikely to respond to requests for
assistance. When travelling outside of Port-Au-Prince, drivers
should caravan with multiple vehicles; in case a problem occurs
with one car, another will be available.
The Haitian government lacks adequate resources to assist drivers
in distress or to clear the road of accidents or broken-down vehicles
blocking the flow of traffic. Public transportation as it is usually
defined does not exist in Haiti. While Haitians use buses, "taptaps"
and taxis, which may observe regular routes much like public transportation,
none of these should be considered reliable. The Embassy strongly
discourages their use.
Speeding is the cause of many of the fatal traffic accidents
in Haiti, as are overloaded vehicles on winding, mountainous roads
and vehicles without brakes. Poor maintenance and mechanical failures
often cause accidents as well. Drivers should be particularly
cautious at night, as unlighted vehicles can appear seemingly
As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify
for driver's licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied.
Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all
drivers use turn indicators or international hand signals properly.
For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions,
including turning right and stopping in the road, and others flap
their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking
an unspecified action. Drivers do not always verify that the road
is clear before switching lanes, turning, or merging.
The situation on the roads can be described as chaotic at best.
Roads are generally unmarked, and detailed, accurate maps are
not widely available. The lack of organization on the roads causes
drivers to execute unpredictable and dangerous maneuvers in order
to turn or merge into traffic.
Traffic is extremely heavy in urban areas, and hours-long traffic
jams develop throughout the country. Cars are supposed to be driven
on the right side of the road in Haiti. Few roads have lane indicators,
however, and drivers use whatever part of the road is open to
them, even if it is not the correct side of the road. Speed limits
are seldom posted and are not widely known or observed.
In addition to vehicles, a variety of other objects may appear
on the road in Haiti, such as wooden carts dragged by people,
small ice cream carts, animals, mechanics with vehicles, and even
vendors and their wares. Vehicles are often abandoned in the road
or by the side of the road. There are few marked crosswalks and
sidewalks, and pedestrians often wend their way through traffic
in urban areas.
Right of way is not widely observed in Haiti and there are few
operational traffic lights or traffic signs. It is advisable at
most intersections to stop and verify that there is no oncoming
traffic even if it appears that you have the right of way. Drivers
can be quite aggressive and will seldom yield. Walls built to
the edge of roads frequently make it impossible to see around
corners, forcing drivers to edge their cars into the road at intersections
to check for oncoming traffic. Drinking and driving is illegal
in Haiti, but people do drive after drinking, as there is no alternative
For additional information about
road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
see the Bureau of Consular Affairs' home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
For specific information concerning driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance in Haiti, contact the
Haitian Ministry of Tourism by email at email@example.com
or on the
Internet at http://www.haititourisme.org/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Haiti's civil aviation authority
as Category 2 -- not in compliance with international aviation
safety standards for the oversight of Haiti's air carrier operations.
While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, any
of Haiti's air carriers with existing routes to the U.S. will
be permitted to conduct limited operations to the U.S. subject
to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service
to the U.S. by Haiti's air carriers will be permitted unless they
arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a
country meeting international safety standards. For further information,
travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within
the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/iasa.pdf.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air
services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use
air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except
for flights originating from or terminating in the U.S. For information
regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact
DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Haitian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
The judicial process in Haiti can be extremely long; progress
is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific
case. Detainees may wait months or years for their cases to be
heard before a judge or to have legal decisions acted upon by
the authorities. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in Haiti are strict. Those accused of drug-related
crimes can expect lengthy legal proceedings, irregular application
of Haitian law, and delayed due process. If convicted, offenders
may face long jail sentences and substantial fines.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Haiti, like all Caribbean countries,
can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season
runs from approximately June 1 - November 30 each year. Extensive
flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available
via the Internet from the
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens
living in or visiting Haiti are encouraged to register at the
Consular Section of the
U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and obtain updated information
on travel and security in Haiti. The Consular Section is located
on Rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 23-7011;
fax (509) 23-1641. Consular Section hours are 7:30 am to 2:00
pm Monday through Friday, except U.S. and local holidays. The
U.S. Embassy is located on Harry Truman Blvd., Port-au-Prince;
telephone (509) 22-0200, 22-0354, 23-0955 or 22-0269; fax (509)
23-1641. Internet: http://usembassy.state.gov/haiti.