HAITI

Haiti Flag
Country Description: Haiti is one of the least developed countries in the Western Hemisphere. There are shortages of goods and services throughout the country.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Haitian law requires a passport to enter. In practice, officials frequently waive this requirement if travelers have other documentation, such as a birth certificate, indicating they are American citizens. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines will not board passengers for return to the U.S. unless they are in possession of a valid passport. For additional information regarding entry, tax and customs requirements for Haiti, contact the Haitian Embassy at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel.: (202) 332-4090, or Haitian consulates in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois or Puerto Rico.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited and the level of community sanitation is low. Medical facilities outside the capital are almost always 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. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the U.S. Travelers might wish to consider supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including medical evacuation. In mid-1996, the government ordered Haitian-manufactured pharmaceuticals taken off shelves following the suspicious deaths of Haitian children from renal failure. Nonetheless, U.S. citizens should be alert to the presence of Haitian brands in people's homes or in remote pharmacies. Additional health information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: U.S. citizens planning on traveling in the north of Haiti are advised that over the months of February, March and April 1997, there have been a series of armed attacks on foreign nationals living in the area around Cap Haitian. The Haitian National Police are working to bring security back to the area by capturing the bandits, but to date have had limited success. The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens planning to visit the Cap Haitian area to register upon arrival in Port-au-Prince and inquire about the latest information on the crime level in the north.

Outside the north, crime is also increasing, particularly in Port-au-Prince, with reports of murder, carjackings, armed robbery and break-ins contributing to security concerns. Although these crimes do not appear to be specifically aimed at foreigners, some U.S. citizens have been victims of criminal incidents. Crimes involving vehicles along Route Nationale No. 1, in the port area, in Cite Soleil and along the airport road continue to be a problem. However, while these areas see the most crime in general, neighborhoods formerly considered safe have recently attracted criminal activity as well.

U.S. citizens should exercise precautions against crime, including keeping valuables well hidden, favoring private over public transportation, using alternating routes and keeping doors and windows in both homes and vehicles closed and locked. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy advises compliance without resistance. Crime victims are often frustrated by the lack of response and enforcement capabilities of the local police and judiciary.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport overseas should be reported 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 the U.S. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad," which provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Both this pamphlet and "Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean" are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Haiti continues to experience occasional civil unrest, including unofficial roadblocks in all regions of the country. There have been attacks on some government buildings by unidentified perpetrators. U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any of these attacks or in any demonstration-related incidents, but travelers are urged to use common sense in avoiding large crowds, which have been known to turn violent.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Criminal penalties for possession, use and dealing in illegal drugs 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.

Traffic Safety/Road Conditions: Road conditions in Haiti are very poor. Paved roads in Port-au-Prince and major provincial capitals are littered with potholes and many have eroded badly. Most roads in the country are unpaved. Port-au-Prince traffic is congested most of the day as a result of poor roads, undisciplined driving, badly maintained vehicles, and a plethora of street merchants, itinerant mechanics and pedestrians. Traffic laws are similar to those in the U.S., but they are not generally enforced. Travel at night on intercity highways should be avoided, particularly on Route Nationale No. 1, due to vehicles driven at excessive speeds and poor road conditions.

Civil Aviation Oversight: As a result of an assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in February 1995, the FAA has found the government of Haiti's Civil Aviation Authority to not be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Haitian air carrier operations. Operations to the U.S. by Haitian air carriers are not permitted unless they arrange to have their flights conducted by a carrier from a country meeting international aviation safety standards. The Department of Defense does not permit U.S. military personnel to use carriers from Haiti for official business except in extenuating circumstances. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at (800) 322-7873.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens in Haiti are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The U.S. Embassy is located on Harry Truman Blvd., Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 22-0200, 22-0354, 22-0368 or 22-0612; fax (509) 23-1641. The Consular Section is located on Rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 23-7011 or 23-8971; Consular Annex fax number (509) 23-9665. U.S. citizens may obtain updated information from the U.S. Embassy on travel and security within Haiti.

Need a Complete List of Haiti Holidays
Observed and Celebrated?

Buy an
International Date Planner
for a complete international holiday list for all public holidays throughout the year.