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Haiti - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Haiti. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to high crime rates in various parts of the country and ongoing political tension..
Regional Advisory the neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince area
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince area, as the security situation is particularly unstable and dangerous. See Security for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince area (see Advisory)
These areas continue to be dangerous due to criminal activity and the local authorities' lack of capacity to ensure order. Personal safety and a police presence are not guaranteed. The police are unable to respond in a timely manner to calls for assistance in these areas. It is strongly advised to avoid going out after nightfall.
It is imperative that Canadians who must travel to these areas take appropriate security precautions. Ensure that family members, friends, colleagues, local business representatives or organizations know when to expect you so they can meet you as soon as you arrive at the airport or border, and can guide you in your travels. The use of public transport of any kind is not recommended. As the security situation can change at any moment, check with the organizations, institutes or hosts that are taking care of you to receive the latest updates on the region to which you are travelling.
Crime rates are high and the security situation is unpredictable. Remain extremely vigilant wherever you are in the country. Criminal activity is especially prevalent in large centres such as downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs continue to operate. There have been reports of murders, kidnappings, armed robbery, burglary and carjacking, even in daylight hours. Never walk alone and avoid travelling after nightfall.
Avoid showing visible signs of affluence, such as expensive-looking jewellery or electronic equipment. Foreigners, including Canadians, are viewed as wealthy. Remain cautious with new acquaintances offering friendship or hospitality.
Armed robbers sometimes target travellers, particularly foreigners of Haitian origin, arriving on international flights at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. In most cases, the victims’ vehicles are followed by criminals on motorcycles. To minimize the risk of violence, you should have your local contacts arrange for your pick-up from the airport, carry only small amounts of cash and not resist if you are threatened by robbers. Be extremely vigilant when leaving the airport.
A large number of gang leaders and offenders detained at the Croix-des-Bouquets civil penitentiary (east of Port-au-Prince) escaped in 2014 and are still at large.
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling near the border area with the Dominican Republic due to high levels of criminal activity.
Members of the general Haitian population, regardless of rank or social class, are at risk of being kidnapped. Although rare, there have been kidnappings involving Canadians and other 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.
Remain alert to small groups of loiterers, especially near your residence. Keep doors and windows secure at all times. Instruct domestic staff to permit only pre-authorized visitors whose identities have been verified into your home. Keep all visitors under close scrutiny.
Keep windows closed and doors locked when travelling by car. There have been several recent reports of violent incidents along Route Nationale 2, between the area of Petit‑Goâve (Ouest Department) and Miragoane (Nippes Department). Criminal gangs have committed robberies by erecting roadblocks. If you have to travel through this area, remain extremely vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Be cautious when using automated banking machines, and do so only during business hours inside a bank. It is advisable to deal directly with a teller. Avoid carrying large sums of money and be vigilant when entering or leaving a bank, as criminals could be watching and could attempt to rob you as you leave.
Avoid photographing individuals without first obtaining their permission. Be cautious when photographing scenes in poor or urban areas, where people may feel exploited or insulted by being subjects of such activities.
Demonstrations and unrest
Demonstrations occur regularly and will likely intensify in the lead up to the first round of parliamentary elections scheduled for August 9, 2015 and the first round of presidential elections scheduled for October 25, 2015. The current electoral situation has heightened tensions in the capital and throughout the country, and the risk of violence is high. Impromptu demonstrations could occur on little or no notice. Canadians residing in or travelling in Haiti are advised to exercise a high degree of caution. Avoid all demonstrations and regularly monitor local media to keep abreast of the situation.
Protest marches, strikes and road-blocks may occur at any time in the capital, throughout the country and on main highways. Movement may be restricted and local transportation services may be disrupted. Since August 2014, there have been several reports of violent incidents and anti-government demonstrations along Route Nationale 2 in the vicinity of Petit-Goave (Ouest Department).
Roads are narrow and poorly maintained. Most vehicles are in poor condition. The few traffic lights that are operational are mostly in urban centres. Traffic signs are rare. Driving at night or in bad weather should be avoided, even in the city. Streets are rarely lit, and vehicles being driven with their lights off are common. Vehicles are often abandoned on or beside the road. Many people drive while intoxicated and do not follow the rules of the road.
Since there are frequent disruptions of fuel supplies, fuel tanks should always be kept at least half full.
Because of a lack of police and roadside assistance services, you should carry a cell phone and a list of emergency contact numbers. However, cell phone coverage is intermittent in some rural areas.
Avoid all public transportation, especially shared taxis (“tap-taps”) and buses. Drivers do not always follow the rules of the road and their vehicles are sometimes in poor condition or overloaded, which often leads to serious accidents involving injuries and sometimes death.
Ferry accidents sometimes occur due to overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Haitian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a valid passport to visit Haiti. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Tourist visa: not applicable (for stays of less than 90 days)
Business visa: not applicable
Work permit: required
Residency permit ("permis de séjour"): required for stays of more than 90 days
Student visa: required
Visitors planning to extend their stay beyond 90 days must apply to the Haitian Immigration Service before the 90 days have expired. Do not wait until the last minute. Canadians of non-Haitian origin who have been in the country for more than 90 days and did not apply for an extension of stay must obtain an exit visa from the Haitian Immigration Service before leaving the country.
We strongly recommend that Canadian investors, exporters/importers and workers register with the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince and contact the trade section at email@example.com. They may also contact the Haitian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for information and advice. For stays of more than six months, they must apply to the Haitian Immigration authorities for a residency permit ("permis de séjour") through their employer This document must be obtained before leaving Canada.
All visitors with foreign passports are required to pay a CAN$10, US$10 or €10 fee on arrival at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport.
The following are exempted from paying the fee:
- children between 0 and 5 years of age;
- official’s passport or diplomatic passport holders;
- foreigners with a valid residence card;
- officials and agents with a United Nations passport
- anyone born in Haiti and holding a foreign passport.
Visitors entering Haiti at a land crossing from the Dominican Republic are required to pay a US$10 fee (cash only).
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Chikungunya: Global Update - April 17, 2015 11:49 EDT
- Cholera in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico - March 20, 2015 14:56 EDT
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
- Dengue Fever: Global Update - March 9, 2015 10:36 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical services are extremely limited and easily overwhelmed. Emergency response is not guaranteed as there are not enough ambulances to provide adequate service. Life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense. Outside the main centres, basic emergencies may not be handled in a timely manner.
Physicians and hospitals generally expect immediate cash payment for care.
Medications sold in Haiti may be of inferior quality to those available in Canada, and pharmacies may carry expired medications.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs can result in lengthy legal proceedings, heavy jail sentences and fines. Canadians have been arrested for drug trafficking after agreeing to check in bags for new acquaintances.
A Haitian driver's permit is required for vehicle operators staying more than three months A permit may be obtained on presentation of a valid provincial driver's licence or an International Driving Permit (IDP). For stays under three months, an IDP is recommended.
Legal fees can be very high and judicial procedures are slow. Some Canadians have experienced a lengthy detention period (in some cases, over a year) before being sent to trial. Prison conditions in Haiti are extremely difficult. Penal facilities are overcrowded, unsanitary and under-resourced.
Individual Canadians or Canadian organizations wishing to donate clothing, new or used material goods, personal care products or medications should contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti or one of its consulates before sending goods to Haiti. Donations entering the country are subject to import rules and could be seized and taxed in accordance with local legislation.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Haiti. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Haitian citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the gourde (HTG), but prices are often quoted in Haitian dollars (fixed rate of five gourdes to one Haitian dollar) or in US dollars.
Most leading hotels accept major credit cards. American and Canadian travellers’ cheques are rarely accepted, and Canadian currency is never accepted. Canadian bank cards may be used to access funds from some automated banking machines (ABMs), but the withdrawal limit is much lower than in Canada. Haitian ABMs have been reported as unreliable in the past. They should not be depended upon in emergency situations. Be extremely vigilant when using ABMs in Haiti as there is a high risk of robbery.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Flooding and landslides have caused tremendous damage to many parts of the country in the past. Travel to affected areas can be severely restricted and hazardous.
Haiti is located in a seismic zone. Earthquakes can occur. On January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale.
Port-au-Prince - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince and follow the instructions. Callers may occasionally experience difficulties reaching the Embassy by telephone or facsimile due to problems with local infrastructure. In such cases, Canadians can contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613‑996‑8885 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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