The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince area (see Advisory)
These areas continue to be dangerous due to criminal activity and the local authorities’ lack of capacity to ensure order. Personal safety and a police presence are not guaranteed. The police are unable to respond in a timely manner to calls for assistance in these areas. It is strongly advised to avoid going out after nightfall.
It is imperative that Canadians who must travel to these areas take appropriate security precautions. Ensure that family members, friends, colleagues, local business representatives or organizations know when to expect you so they can meet you as soon as you arrive at the airport or border, and can guide you in your travels. The use of public transport of any kind is not recommended. As the security situation can change at any moment, check with the organizations, institutes or hosts that are taking care of you to receive the latest updates on the region to which you are travelling.
Crime rates are high and the security situation is unpredictable. Remain extremely vigilant wherever you are in the country. Criminal activity is especially prevalent in large centres such as downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs continue to operate. There have been reports of murders, kidnappings, armed robbery, burglary and carjacking, even in daylight hours. Never walk alone and avoid travelling after nightfall.
Avoid showing visible signs of affluence, such as expensive-looking jewellery or electronic equipment. Foreigners, including Canadians, are viewed as wealthy. Remain cautious with new acquaintances offering friendship or hospitality.
Armed robbers sometimes target travellers, particularly foreigners of Haitian origin, arriving on international flights at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. In most cases, the victims’ vehicles are followed by criminals on motorcycles. To minimize the risk of violence, you should have your local contacts arrange for your pick-up from the airport, carry only small amounts of cash and not resist if you are threatened by robbers. Be extremely vigilant when leaving the airport.
A large number of gang leaders and offenders detained at the Croix-des-Bouquets civil penitentiary (east of Port-au-Prince) escaped in 2014 and are still at large.
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling near the border area with the Dominican Republic due to high levels of criminal activity.
Members of the general Haitian population, regardless of rank or social class, are at risk of being kidnapped. Although rare, there have been kidnappings involving Canadians and other foreign nationals, including missionaries, aid workers and children. Most victims have been released upon the payment of a ransom. In some exceptional cases, however, victims have disappeared or have been killed.
Remain alert to small groups of loiterers, especially near your residence. Keep doors and windows secure at all times. Instruct domestic staff to permit only pre-authorized visitors whose identities have been verified into your home. Keep all visitors under close scrutiny.
Keep windows closed and doors locked when travelling by car. There have been several recent reports of violent incidents along Route Nationale 2, between the area of Petit‑Goâve (Ouest Department) and Miragoane (Nippes Department). Criminal gangs have committed robberies by erecting roadblocks. If you have to travel through this area, remain extremely vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Be cautious when using automated banking machines, and do so only during business hours inside a bank. It is advisable to deal directly with a teller. Avoid carrying large sums of money and be vigilant when entering or leaving a bank, as criminals could be watching and could attempt to rob you as you leave.
Avoid photographing individuals without first obtaining their permission. Be cautious when photographing scenes in poor or urban areas, where people may feel exploited or insulted by being subjects of such activities.
Demonstrations and unrest
Haiti periodically experiences social unrest, particularly during periods of political uncertainty and elections. The dissolution of Haiti’s parliament on January 13, 2015 and the current electoral situation have heightened tensions in the capital and throughout the country. Protests are ongoing and could become violent. Rioting could occur on little or no notice. Exercise a high degree of caution, avoid all demonstrations and regularly monitor local media to keep abreast of the situation.
Protest marches, strikes and road-blocks may occur at any time in the capital, throughout the country and on main highways. Movement may be restricted and local transportation services may be disrupted. Since August 2014, there have been several reports of violent incidents and anti-government demonstrations along Route Nationale 2 in the vicinity of Petit-Goave (Ouest Department).
Roads are narrow and poorly maintained. Most vehicles are in poor condition. The few traffic lights that are operational are mostly in urban centres. Traffic signs are rare. Driving at night or in bad weather should be avoided, even in the city. Streets are rarely lit, and vehicles being driven with their lights off are common. Vehicles are often abandoned on or beside the road. Many people drive while intoxicated and do not follow the rules of the road.
Since there are frequent disruptions of fuel supplies, fuel tanks should always be kept at least half full.
Because of a lack of police and roadside assistance services, you should carry a cell phone and a list of emergency contact numbers. However, cell phone coverage is intermittent in some rural areas.