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Haiti Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT -5.

Electricity

110 volts, 60HZ. The plugs in use are the eastern type with two flat, parallel prongs.

Language

Creole is the official language, and French is widely used; English is spoken in the capital and at Labadee cruise port.

Travel Health

Malaria and dengue fever occur in Haiti and travellers are recommended to take the necessary prophylactics and to protect themselves as far as possible from mosquito bites with insect repellant and mosquito nets. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for those arriving from an infected country in Africa or the Americas, and hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and polio vaccinations are also recommended. Anybody planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, and at possible risk of animal bites, should consider a rabies vaccination. Visitors should only drink boiled or bottled water and ice should be avoided. It is recommended to avoid buying food or drink from street vendors; if you do, try to only eat hot food and avoid fruit and vegetables.

Medical facilities in Port-au-Prince are of poor quality, and virtually non-existent elsewhere in the country, so medical insurance with evacuation cover is essential, and it is advisable to bring all required medications from home. If you are travelling with prescribed medications be sure to carry a prescription and note from your doctor detailing what the medication is for and why you need it.

Tipping

Hotel bills generally have a tax of 10 percent added, and a service charge of 5 percent. Restaurant staff in Haiti should be tipped around 10 percent of the bill. Taxi drivers can be given a discretionary tip if they are helpful and efficient.

Safety Information

Haiti has a bad reputation for the safety and security of visitors, because of a high crime rate and civil unrest, and both the British and US governments advised against all but essential travel to Haiti until recently. Now, both governments have issued warnings about numerous travel risks, with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advising against all travel to the slum districts of Port-au-Prince. Most violent incidents concerning foreigners have occurred in or around the capital city and kidnapping, armed robbery, gang violence, pick-pocketing and various other horrors occur regularly in the country, although not usually directed at foreigners. Kidnapping was a serious problem at one time, with many American tourists being taken hostage, and although it happens far less now, it is still a danger outside of Labadee. Since the 2010 earthquake, there has been little policing, and criminal activities such as looting, robbery, and assault are at their highest recorded levels. Travellers are urged to refrain from walking in the cities without a guide and to exercise extreme caution when using public transport of any kind. Travellers should also be aware that, since the earthquake, there have been warnings issued about cholera outbreaks, and that the country's infrastructure is seriously depleted. Most tourists choose not to venture beyond the safe resort area of Labadee, where the port has been enclosed to protect visitors.

Local Customs

Haitians are proud people despite their poor circumstances and appreciate being treated with respect. It is advisable to show willingness to learn a few basic Creole phrases, and to ask permission before taking pictures of locals. In rural areas it is considered indecent for women to have bare legs or shoulders.

Business

This being one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, and economically depressed, few business visitors come to Haiti. If embarking on a business trip to Haiti, business visitors should consider hiring a translator to ensure smooth communication. Business hours are generally from 8am to 4 pm.

Communications

The international dialling code for Haiti is +509. The outgoing code is 00. There are no area codes. The landline telephone company, mainly government owned, provides an inadequate service. A GSM mobile network has recently become available. There are a few Internet cafes in Port-au-Prince.

Duty Free

The duty free allowance for goods brought in to Haiti are 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 1kg of tobacco, one litre of spirits and a small bottle of perfume for personal use. Pork, coffee, matches, drugs and firearms are prohibited.

Become our Haiti Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Haiti travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Haiti or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.