Travel Consideration: Haiti

Contributed By RealAdventures

Haiti is one of the least developed countries in the Western Hemisphere. 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 adequate, they are rudimentary at best in most other Haitian cities, and virtually non-existent elsewhere in Haiti.

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 valid passports. 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

Haiti continues to experience occasional civil and political unrest. Crowd behavior is unpredictable and violence can flare up at any time. Demonstrations and protests occur periodically throughout the country. American citizens traveling or residing in Haiti are advised to take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or any other event where crowds may congregate. For current information on safety and security, contact the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers listed below.

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, 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 nonetheless killed or maimed several U.S. citizens in 1999. 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. Visitors and residents should exercise extreme caution when driving along Route Nationale No. 1, the airport road, the Port Road, and in or around Cite Soleil, as these are all high crime areas. 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. Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, see a significant increase in violent crime.

Travelers and residents should exercise caution throughout Haiti. They should keep valuables well hidden, ensure valuables are not left in parked vehicles, favor private over public 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 victims.

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.

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 patientís expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

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: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Haitiís presidential elections in November will dominate the remainder of 2000. Historically, Haitian elections have been accompanied by increased violence. During parliamentary elections in May and July, 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 in the aftermath of the first round of elections, using flaming barricades and bonfires, with American government buildings serving as the focal points of some of these actions. The dialogue of some candidates and government officials has been distinctly anti-American, and the Haitian government has failed to contain or condemn certain violent and dangerous situations. Political events are often held in public areas, and some have turned violent; American citizens are advised to avoid such gatherings.

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 during elections-related events. Particular caution should be taken in the days immediately preceding and following elections and the release of results.

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) 223-7011; fax (509) 223-1641. 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) 222-0200, 222-0354, 223-0955 or 222-0269; fax (509) 223-1641. Internet:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Haitiís Civil Aviation Authority as Category 3 -- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Haitiís air carrier operations. Flights to the United States by Haitiís air carriers are not permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by a carrier from a country meeting international safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAAís Internet web site at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 3 countries for official business. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

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