HAITI - Exercise a high degree of cautionThere 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 tensions.
Regional Advisory for the neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince areaForeign Affairs and International Trade 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. Consult the Security tab 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, and it is strongly advised to avoid going out after nightfall.
It is imperative that Canadians travelling to these areas have suitable accompaniment. You must ensure that you are expected by family members, friends, colleagues, local business representatives or organizations able to meet you as soon as you arrive at the airport or border, and to 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.
The security situation is hazardous and very unpredictable. Remain extremely vigilant wherever you are in the country. Criminal activity is especially evident in large centres such as downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs continue to operate. Many gang leaders escaped from the national penitentiary during the January 2010 earthquake and are still at large. Others have fled the capital.
Although travel in the parts of the country less affected by the earthquake presents less of a risk, exercise extreme caution and do not travel after dark.
There has recently been an increase in armed robberies targeting 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. Be extremely vigilant when leaving the airport.
Murder, kidnapping, armed robberies, burglaries and carjackings have been known to occur even in daylight hours. The general Haitian population, regardless of social class, can be considered 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 after a ransom was paid. In some exceptional cases, however, victims have disappeared or have been killed.
Never walk alone. Keep windows closed and doors locked when travelling by car. Avoid showing visible signs of affluence, such as expensive-looking jewellery or cameras. Remain cautious with new acquaintances offering friendship or hospitality. Foreigners, including Canadians, are viewed as wealthy. If confronted by thieves, do not resist.
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 surveillance.
Avoid photographing individuals without first obtaining their approval. 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
Haiti periodically experiences social unrest, particularly during election periods.
Demonstrations are frequent, and protest marches and strikes may occur at any time in the capital, throughout the country and on main highways. Local transportation services may be disrupted. Avoid large crowds, as they can turn into violent demonstrations. Monitor the situation through local news broadcasts and stay inside during political gatherings and demonstrations. Be aware that curfews could be in effect.
Rioting and related violence can occur on little or no notice.
Already narrow and poorly maintained, roads were made worse by the January 2010 earthquake. Most vehicles are also in poor condition. Few traffic lights operate and those that do are limited to urban centres. Traffic signs are rare. Driving at night and in bad weather should be avoided, even in the city. Streets are rarely lit, and unlit vehicles are common. Vehicles are often abandoned on or beside the road. Many people drive while intoxicated and do not respect traffic rules.
Since there are periodic disruptions of fuel supplies, fuel tanks should always be kept at least half full.
Because of the lack of police and roadside assistance services, you should carry a mobile phone and a list of contact numbers in the event of an emergency. However, coverage for cellular telephones can be intermittent in some rural areas.
Avoid all public transportation, especially informal taxis (“tap-taps”) to and from the airport. Buses are mechanically unreliable and overcrowded.
Ferry accidents occur due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
Consult our Transportation Safety page 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.
A valid Canadian passport is required for Canadians intending 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.
All Canadians are required to have a valid Canadian passport to depart from Haiti. The Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince can issue a passport in an average of 15 working days. You will not be allowed to board a return flight to Canada with a non-Canadian passport and a Canadian Citizenship Card. Non-Canadians travelling to Canada must present a valid passport containing a Canadian visa.
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
Haiti does not issue tourist visas for foreign visitors. However, it is essential that travellers contact the nearest Haitian diplomatic mission for clarification before travelling to Haiti, to ensure that visa requirements have not changed.
Visitors wishing 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 who 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 for a residency permit ("permis de séjour") through their employer with Haitian Immigration authorities. This document must be obtained before leaving Canada.
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.
Foreign visitors are not charged any entry fees, except for those entering from the Dominican Republic via a land border crossing. These visitors must pay a fee of US$10 (cash only).
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Haiti.
Health care services
Health care services were severely affected by the January 2010 earthquake, particularly in Port-au-Prince and its suburbs, as most hospitals and emergency health care centres were either severely damaged or completely destroyed. Already scarce and below Western standards prior to the earthquake, health care services tend to be overwhelmed easily. 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 often expect immediate cash payment for medical care.
Medications sold in Haiti may be of inferior quality to those available in Canada. Pharmacies may carry expired medications. Always verify expiry dates on the original packaging.
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ 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 they agreed to check in bags for new acquaintances.
A Haitian driver's permit, which is required for vehicle operators staying more than three months, 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.
The currency is the gourde (HTG), but prices are often quoted in Haitian dollars (fixed rate of 5 gourdes to 1 Haitian dollar) or U.S. 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 proved unreliable in the past and should not be depended upon in emergency situations. Be extremely vigilant when using ABMs in Haiti due to a high risk of robbery. It is advisable to deal directly with a teller.
Disasters & Climate
On January 12, 2010, a strong earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck close to Port-au-Prince. The earthquake caused widespread loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure. Power and telecommunications are still severely disrupted. Health services remain extremely limited.
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 could be hazardous.
Share this page
- Date modified: