August 13, 2013
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the security situation in Haiti. This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 28, 2012, to update information regarding the crime level, lack of adequate infrastructure – particularly in medical facilities – seasonal severe inclement weather, and limited police protection. The United Nations’ Stabilization Force for Haiti (MINUSTAH) remains in Haiti.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel. Travelers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid infrastructure, evacuation, and medical support options in place. (Please see the Country Specific Information page for Haiti.)
Haiti’s infrastructure remains in poor condition and inadequate. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak. Some U.S. citizens injured in accidents and others with serious health concerns have been unable to find necessary medical care in Haiti and have had to arrange and pay for medical evacuation to the United States. We strongly encourage visitors to Haiti to obtain evacuation insurance.
U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominately in the Port-au-Prince area. To date in 2013, two U.S. citizens arriving in Port-au-Prince on flights from the United States were attacked and robbed shortly after departing the airport. It is recommended that U.S. citizens have their host/organization meet them at the airport upon arrival and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels. While the government of Haiti has made progress in recent months to arrest and disrupt perpetrators, kidnapping for ransom can affect anyone in Haiti, particularly those maintaining long-term residence in the country.
Regions of Haiti outside the capital have lower reported incidents of crime. However, authorities’ ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent. Should a traveler find him or herself in an emergency, local health, police, judicial and physical infrastructure limitations mean there are few local resources available to help resolve the problem. Embassy employees are required to adhere to certain required security and safety measures when traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, which constrains our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. Citizens outside of Port-au-Prince.
U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or other safe facility during curfew hours. Additionally, there are restrictions on travel by Embassy staff in certain areas or times. This may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Port-au-Prince. For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.
The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from MINUSTAH, is responsible for keeping peace and rendering assistance. However, given the possibility and unpredictability of violent protests, its ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is very limited. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Haiti in 2010, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Please see our website for additional information on how the Department of State assists U.S. citizens during a crisis.
U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti are urged to review our Country Specific Information page. U.S. private sector organizations with operations in Haiti can obtain additional information on the security situation in the country through the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). OSAC’s mission is to promote security cooperation between U.S. private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State. OSAC also maintains an active Country Council in Haiti to promote the exchange of security-related information. The Council is comprised of security professionals and is co-chaired by the Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince and a private sector representative. U.S. private sector entities can obtain additional information on OSAC by visiting the OSAC website.
U.S. citizens are also urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. While the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services is extremely limited, travel enrollment will enable receipt of security messages via email. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States; callers outside the United States and Canada can receive the information by calling a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except U.S. federal holidays. The Embassy of the United States of America is located in Port-au-Prince at Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti, telephone: (509) (2) 229-8000, facsimile: (509) (2) 229-8027, email: firstname.lastname@example.org American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. After hours, on weekends and on holidays, please call (509) (2) 229-8000. The Marine guard will connect you with the Embassy Duty Officer.
U.S. citizens can also stay informed about conditions in Haiti by following the Embassy and ACS on Twitter and Facebook.