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Latest updates: Safety and security - attacks in Port-au-Prince since mid-August 2020
COVID-19 – Global travel advisory
Effective date: March 13, 2020
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.
Haiti - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to Haiti due to the potential for civil unrest throughout the country. The security situation could deteriorate quickly.
Safety and security
COVID-19 – Preventative measures and restrictions
Preventative measures and restrictions are in place, including a nationwide curfew from midnight to 4 a.m.
You must wear a face covering in public.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, including those related to physical distancing
- Avoid crowded areas
Port-au-Prince area: Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant
The Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant neighbourhoods continue to be dangerous areas due to criminal activity and local authorities’ lack of capacity to ensure order. Police presence is not guaranteed in these areas and your personal safety might be at risk. The police are unable to respond in a timely manner to calls for assistance.
If you must travel to these areas, it is imperative that you take appropriate security precautions:
- Ensure that your local contacts know when to expect you, so they can meet you as soon as you arrive in the country
- Ask your local contacts to guide you in your travels
- Be vigilant at all times when moving about the city, towns and country
- Keep windows closed and doors locked when travelling by car
- Do not use public transport of any kind
- Ask the organizations, institutes or hosts that are taking care of you about the latest updates on the region to which you are travelling, the security situation can change at any moment
- Avoid going out after nightfall
- Follow the advice of local authorities
Several attacks have been carried out in Port-au-Prince since mid-August 2020.
These violent incidents have resulted in deaths and injuries. As a result, the Haitian national police may increase its presence in an attempt to respond to the climate of insecurity in the capital.
If you are in Port-au-Prince:
- remain vigilant at all times
- follow the advice of local authorities
The security situation is unpredictable.
The number of violent incidents, including attacks, armed robberies and kidnappings, have increased since December 2019, both in Port-au-Prince and in other provincial towns.
Crime rates are especially high in large centres such as downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs operate, as well as near the border with the Dominican Republic, where criminal activities are widespread. Criminality also increases in the period leading up to the holiday season, Carnival and the beginning of the school year.
Armed robberies occur regularly in Pétion-Ville. In most cases, victims are attacked in broad daylight by armed thieves on motorcycles. There has been a recent increase in attacks, particularly against motorists. They usually occur in traffic jams during peak hours.
- Be vigilant at all times while travelling
- Keep windows closed and doors locked when travelling by car
Criminal gangs have committed robberies by erecting roadblocks along Route Nationale 2, between the Petit‑Goâve and Miragoane.
Toussaint Louverture International Airport
Thieves try to distract foreigners to steal their passports at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince.
- Be cautious when claiming your luggage upon arrival
- Keep your valuables and identification on you
- Have your local contacts arrange for your pick-up from the airport
- Carry only small amounts of cash
- Do not resist if you are threatened by robbers
- Be extremely vigilant when leaving the airport
There is a high risk of robbery from individuals using ATMs. Be extremely vigilant when entering or leaving a bank, as criminals could be watching and attempt to rob you as you leave.
- Only use ATMs during business hours inside a bank
- Deal directly with a teller if you can
- Avoid carrying large sums of money
Keeping a low profile
Foreigners are viewed as wealthy and may arouse envy.
- Avoid showing visible signs of affluence, such as expensive-looking jewelry or electronic equipment
- Be cautious when photographing scenes in poor or urban areas, where people may feel exploited or insulted by being subjects of such activities
- Obtain permission before photographing individuals
- Remain cautious with new acquaintances offering friendship or hospitality
- Never walk alone and avoid travelling after nightfall
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
- Remain extremely vigilant wherever you are in the country
Due to ongoing political instability, violent protests and civil unrest could occur and result in the setup of roadblocks across the country. Access to the airport could be blocked without notice. Water, food and fuel shortages could also happen.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Roads are narrow and poorly maintained. Traffic signs are rare. The few traffic lights that are operational are mostly in urban centres. Streets are rarely lit.
Most vehicles are in poor condition and often abandoned on or beside the road. Many people drive while intoxicated, with their vehicle’s lights off or do not follow the rules of the road.
- Always keep your fuel tanks at least half full, as disruptions of fuel supplies are frequent
- Always carry a cell phone and a list of emergency contact numbers with you, as roadside assistance services are deficient. Be aware that cell phone coverage is intermittent in some rural areas
- Avoid driving at night or in bad weather, even in the city
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory. While some countries have started to ease some of these measures, most remain in place.
Before travelling, verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any specific restrictions or requirements related to this situation. Consider even your transit points, as many destinations have implemented strict transit rules which could disrupt your travel.
These could include:
- entry bans, particularly for non-residents
- exit bans
- quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, some in designated facilities, at your own cost
- health screenings and certificates as well as proof of adequate travel health insurance
- travel authorization documents to be obtained before you travel
- border closures
- airport closures
- flight suspensions to/from certain destinations, and in some cases, all destinations
- suspensions or reductions of other international transportation options
Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.
- Monitor the media for the latest information
- Contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
- Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions
Foreign diplomatic offices in Canada – Global Affairs Canada
COVID-19 - Border closures
The land border with the Dominican Republic remains closed until further notice.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Haitian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Haiti.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Work permit: Required
Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Not required
Student visa: Required
A residency permit (“permis de séjour”) is required for stays of more than 90 days. If you plan to extend your stay beyond 90 days, you 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 before leaving the country.
Canadian investors, exporters/importers and workers must apply to the Haitian Immigration authorities for the residency permit through their employer for stays of more than 6 months. This document must be obtained before leaving Canada.
How to obtain a visa - Embassy of Haiti in Canada (in French)
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. If you enter Haiti at the land border from the Dominican Republic, you will have to pay, in cash, a US$10 fee.
This entry fee doesn’t apply to:
- children under 6
- travellers with an official or diplomatic passport
- travellers with an United Nations passport
- travellers with a valid residence card
- travellers born in Haiti
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - April 19, 2020
- Zika virus: Advice for travellers - December 24, 2019
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
- Diphtheria: Global update - January 22, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre
* 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.
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 risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring
Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.
- 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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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 mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- 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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
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 professional.
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 throughout the country are extremely limited and easily overwhelmed. Various non-governmental organizations announced the closure of their medical sites in 2018. This will likely put additional stress on the existing medical services.
Emergency response is not guaranteed as there are not enough ambulances to provide adequate service. Ambulances may not have the basic required medical supplies onboard. Life-threatening emergencies may require costly evacuation by air ambulance, at the patient’s expense, to an adequate facility outside the country.
Physicians and hospitals generally expect immediate cash payment for care even if you have a proof of a valid travel health insurance. You will have to pay the full amount of the bill before your departure.
Medications sold in Haiti may be of inferior quality to those available in Canada, and pharmacies may carry expired medications. Supply of medications may sometimes be random and for this reason, some medications may simply not be available.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Legal fees can be very high and judicial procedures are slow in Haiti. Some Canadians have experienced an over a year detention period before being sent to trial. Prison conditions are extremely difficult. Penal facilities are overcrowded, unsanitary and under-resourced.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy legal proceedings, heavy jail sentences and fines.
Arrest & Detention
The Haitian justice system currently lacks the capacity to timely prosecute cases. In case of arrest and detention, you should expect prolonged temporary detention.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Haiti.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Haiti, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You should carry an international driving permit to drive in Haiti, but you may also use your Canadian driver’s licence if staying no more than 3 months. For stays over than 3 months, you will require a Haitian driver’s permit.
More about the International Driving Permit
Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti or one of its consulates before sending goods to Haiti. Donations such as clothing, new or used material goods, personal care products or medications entering the country are subject to import rules and could be seized and taxed in accordance with local legislation.
The currency in Haiti is the Haitian gourde.
Although all prices should be in gourde since March 2018, they are still often quoted in Haitian dollars (fixed rate of five gourdes to one Haitian dollar) or in U.S. dollars.
Most leading hotels accept major credit cards. Canadian currency is not accepted. You can use your Canadian bank cards to access funds from some ATMs, but the withdrawal limit is much lower than in Canada. Haitian ATMs are unreliable and you should not depend upon them in emergency situations.
Natural disasters and climate
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
Haiti is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes can occur. Tsunamis can also affect coastal areas. In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of the local authorities.
- Earthquake - Get prepared - Government of Canada
- Tsunami warning system - U.S. National Weather Service
- Latest earthquakes - U.S. Geological Survey
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
Port-au-Prince - Embassy of Canada
If you need emergency consular assistance, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre at +1 613 996 8885 (call collect where available) or email@example.com.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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