This is an update to the Travel Warning posted on October 7, 2016, warning United States citizens about the dangers of travel to areas in the south of Haiti following the October 2016 passage of Hurricane Matthew.
U.S. citizens are advised not to travel to the southern peninsula of Haiti, commonly referred to as the “southern claw.” The U.S. Embassy has currently banned unofficial travel to the southern peninsula and allows official travel only after consultation with its security office. There is widespread devastation throughout the southern claw with the most affected areas on the western tip of the peninsula. Travelers can expect difficult travel conditions with roads made impassable by landslides, damaged roads, and bridge failures. There is also widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure, including gas stations and cell towers, loss of electricity, and shortages of food and potable water. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to the southern claw in spite of these risks should carry sufficient water, food, fuel, and medicine to last longer than their anticipated stay.
The security environment around the southern claw is fluid and uncertain. Some relief convoys and other vehicles have been subject to robbery at improvised roadblocks or when stopped. U.S. citizens approaching roadblocks are advised to turn back, as the situation will likely not improve beyond the first roadblock. Distribution points have also been the scenes of mob actions that have overwhelmed available security. U.S. citizens are advised to maintain a high degree of vigilance and leave any areas where crowds gather.
This Travel Warning continues to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the lack of adequate emergency medical facilities, and the security environment in Haiti. Haiti’s emergency response network, along with the continued presence of serious crime and civil unrest, should be carefully considered when planning travel. This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 7, 2016, and provides updated information regarding the changing nature of crime involving United States citizens in Haiti.
In general, U.S. citizens already in Haiti are advised to monitor media reports about the security conditions, and follow all official instructions. U.S. citizens should carry their travel documents at all times (i.e., U.S. passport, birth certificate, photo identification, etc.). We also suggest that U.S. citizens stay in frequent contact with friends and family in the United States with updates about their welfare and whereabouts. Communication arrangements should allow for areas of limited or no cell coverage.
Crime: Reports of kidnappings of U.S. citizens have fallen off sharply, with few incidents reported to the Embassy in 2016, but kidnapping for ransom can still affect anyone in Haiti, most particularly those maintaining long-term residency in the country. Armed robbery is a very real possibility, especially in the Port-au-Prince area and in particular soon after leaving the airport. Be circumspect in sharing specific travel plans; have your host or organization meet you at the airport upon arrival; and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels. Exercise caution when visiting banks in Port-au-Prince. Robbery crews have been known to survey banks and rob customers as they exit. Fewer incidents of crime are reported outside of Port-Au-Prince, but Haitian authorities’ ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent.
Embassy employees are required to adhere to all security and safety measures of the Embassy’s Regional Security Office when traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, as well as restrictions on travel in certain areas or times. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or another safe facility during curfew hours. This may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince or during the night. Additionally, in Port-au-Prince and other cities, U.S. Embassy employees are advised not to walk in any area but rather drive to a destination and park as close as possible, choosing guarded or interior parking lots. This includes Petionville, an area of metropolitan Port-au-Prince of upscale hotels, shopping and restaurants frequented by residents and visitors. For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.
Civil Unrest: Protests, including road and bridge blockages, are frequent and often spontaneous. The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from the United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), is responsible for maintaining order and rendering assistance. However, the HNP’s ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is 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. We urge U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti to review our Country Specific Information page.
Emergency Response: Medical care infrastructure, including road ambulance and other emergency services, is very limited in Haiti. 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 travelers to Haiti to obtain medical evacuation insurance prior to arrival in country and to use evacuation organizations that have solid evacuation and medical support options in place. Moreover, those traveling in rural areas of Haiti should verify their evacuation organization provides service to where they are traveling.
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Haiti’s Country Specific Information.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, located at Boulevard du October, Route de Tabarre telephone: 509-2229-8000; after hours emergency telephone: 509-2229-8000; fax: 509-2229-8027; e-mail: email@example.com; web page: http://haiti.usembassy.gov.
Anyone who missed a scheduled American Citizen Services appointment at the U.S. Embassy due to Hurricane Matthew is welcome to call 509-2229-8000, 509-2229-8900 or send us an email at the firstname.lastname@example.org to reschedule your appointment. For Immigrant or nonimmigrant visa cases, please contact the call center at 509-2819-2929 or by email at support-Haiti@ustraveldocs.com.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).