Haiti Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT -4.

Electricity: 110 volts, 60HZ. The plugs in use are the eastern type with two flat, parallel prongs or with two flat, parallel prongs and a third round pin below (Type A and B).

Money: The official currency is the Haitian Gourde (HTG), divided into 100 centimes, but US Dollars and the Dominican Peso are also widely accepted. Credit cards are welcome nearly everywhere, but ATMs are scarce outside of Port-au-Prince.

Currency Exchange Rates

HTG1.00 = USD 0.01GBP 0.01CAD 0.01AUD 0.02ZAR 0.16EUR 0.01NZD 0.02
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: The two official languages of Haiti are Haitian Creole and French. English is largely spoken in the capital and at Labadee cruise port.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for duration of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the duration of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for duration of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond period of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond period of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond period of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond period of intended stay in Haiti. A visa is not required for stays of up to three months.

Passport/Visa Note: All foreign passengers to Haiti require a valid passport, onward or return tickets, and all necessary travel documentation for their next destination. People of Haitian origin do not require a visa. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, if arriving in Haiti within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. Yellow fever vaccination certificate exemptions apply to those who did not leave the airport/aircraft when transiting through the infected area. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: Malaria and dengue fever occur in Haiti. Doctors recommend that travellers take malaria medication and protect themselves as far as possible from mosquito bites with insect repellent and mosquito nets. Chikungunya fever is also common in the region. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for those arriving from an infected country in Africa or the Americas, and hepatitis A and B, typhoid, polio, and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations are recommended. Travellers who could expose themselves to a risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination. Visitors should only drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. It is recommended that travellers avoid street food. If they do buy from street vendors, they should try to only eat hot food and avoid fruit and vegetables unless they wash the purchases themselves. Medical facilities in Port-au-Prince are of poor quality, and are virtually non-existent elsewhere in the country, so medical insurance with evacuation cover is essential. It is advisable to bring all required medications from home. If visitors are travelling with prescribed medications, they should be sure to carry a prescription and doctor's note detailing what the medication is for and why they need it.

Tipping: Hotel bills generally have a tax of 10 percent added, and a service charge of five 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. Most Haitians don't tip, but it is customary to tip in tourist locations and all gratuities are graciously accepted.

Safety Information: Haiti has a bad reputation for the safety and security of visitors because of a high crime rate and civil unrest. Both the British and United States governments advise against all but essential travel to the country. 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. The country has suffered sporadic, unpredictable and sometimes violent protests, roadblocks and demonstrations since July 2018. Most tourists choose not to venture beyond the safe resort area of Labadee, where the port has been enclosed to protect visitors.

Local Customs: A smile goes a long way in Haiti, and while people might think Haitians are solemn at first glance, most quickly warm up to visitors. 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, and modesty is encouraged when it comes to clothing in general.

Business: As Haiti is economically depressed and one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, few business visitors will have cause to travel there. Those who do should consider hiring a translator to ensure smooth communication. Business hours are generally from 8am to 4pm.

Communications: The international dialling code for Haiti is +509. Communications infrastructure is poor, but a mobile network is available.

Duty Free: The duty free allowance for goods brought in to Haiti is 1kg of tobacco products, one litre of spirits, and other foods under HTG 2,500.