is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Haiti. For
more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Haiti country page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Haiti
at Level 4, indicating travelers should not travel to the country due to crime,
civil unrest, and kidnapping. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Port-au-Prince as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Crime statistics in
Haiti are hard to verify. The lack of reliable data makes it difficult to
compare the crime threat in Haiti with other countries in the region. Avoid
comparisons of reported statistics.
tourist-oriented crimes (e.g. pickpocketing, purse snatching) are reported less
frequently in Haiti than elsewhere in the region. This results from both a relative
lack of tourism and underreporting. The most frequently reported crimes against
U.S. citizens in Port-au-Prince are aggravated assaults and robberies that
result in lost/stolen travel documents. A typical mugging in Port-au-Prince
involves a group of young males riding motorcycles surrounding and overwhelming
victims in a public area. Reports of robberies involving U.S. victims increase
around holiday seasons, a time that correlates with an overall increase in
robberies against motorists and pedestrians continue to increase. The
Department of State’s travel advisory also warns of robberies of travelers
arriving from the airport. American Citizens Services (ACS) received 105 reports
of armed robberies, with 13 robberies occurring shortly after departing from
the airport, in 2019. Banks are also a frequent location for armed robbery.
Motorcycle-mounted assailants frequently follow their victims a short distance to
rob them in a less public area. Shootings during these incidents are common.
There has also been an increase of perpetrators following victims to their
homes and rushing into their property as they open the gates to let in their
vehicles. This method has become more frequent in airport robberies and thefts
after visiting banks.
theft (e.g. burglary, home invasion) trends over the past few years suggest a
decline in traditional criminal burglary and a rise in home invasion, especially
in the more affluent areas of upper Port-au-Prince. Most incidents occurred in
middle-class neighborhoods (e.g. Delmas 75, Delmas 83, Laboul, Pelerin) outside
the traditional expatriate residential areas, but there are now more reports coming
from higher-end neighborhoods outside of Petionville. Assailants have little
fear of resistance from residents, and do not appear to consider whether a
resident is home. Criminals are not reluctant to use violence; however, the
vast majority will brandish a firearm/weapon, fire it randomly in the air, tie
up their victim(s), and abscond with currency or a vehicle. Criminals do not seem
overly concerned with police response, as they know none will dispatch quickly.
Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
break-ins and thefts from vehicles, occupied or empty, occur frequently.
Unattended vehicles with visible valuables are subject to break-ins. There are
also reports of pedestrians opening unlocked doors of idling vehicles and
snatching valuables. When driving through market areas, traffic congestion
provides multiple opportunities for criminals to approach vehicles on foot.
crime appears predominantly gang and/or robbery-related. Gang-related violent
crime had been centralized in specific areas of Port-au-Prince (e.g. Cité
Soleil, Carrefour, Martissant), none of which are traditional tourist/business
areas; however, criminal gangs have expanded or shifted their operations to more
affluent areas visitors frequent (e.g. Petionville). Into the 2019 holiday period,
there was a sharp increase in violent robberies where a small gang targeted
vehicles stuck in traffic, especially those with lone female drivers. Review
OSAC’s report, All That You Should
are reports of gangs expanding operations outside of Port-au-Prince, leading to
increased crime on major routes of travel. Smaller groups of criminals take
advantage of social unrest and create barricades across roadways to extort
anyone trying to pass. The Haitian National Police (HNP) has a limited ability to
respond to this widespread phenomenon.
continue to be a major concern. In 2019, there were 787 reported homicides,
with 636 (81%) occurring in West Department, which includes Port-au-Prince. There
were eight known U.S. citizen victims of murder. Gang-on-gang violence
continues to increase.
Soleil remains a dangerous area for HNP forces. Other areas of concern include
Belair, Carrefour, Fort National, Simon-Pelé, Martissant, Croix des Bouquets, Village
de Dieu, and Grand Ravine. Outside of Port-au-Prince, demonstrations and crime
occur frequently due to increased discontent over the lack of basic services
and road repair. The end of 2019 brought with it a sharp increase in
demonstrations in Les Cayes, Jacmel, Leogane, Miragoane, Montruis, Saint Mark,
Gonaïves, Hinche, Mirebalais, Limbe, and Cap-Haïtien.
a port near Cap Haïtien in the north only accessible by cruise ship passengers,
has private security and low rates of reported crime.
tend to agree that there is much less crime in the provinces than in the
capital. Armed robberies are less common but do occur in the countryside,
especially in conjunction with roadblocks and/or barricades.
embassy employees may not visiting banks or use ATMs. Criminals often follow,
attack, and rob ATM patrons soon after they withdraw money. If you must use an
ATM, select one that is out of sight from the public (such as inside your
hotel), and be cautious always. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for Maximizing
Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
conditions, particularly in Port-au-Prince, have deteriorated due to funding
issues. Road conditions are occasionally the cause of protests, which in turn
damage the roadways even more. Depending on the location and severity of
protests, authorities may prioritize road repairs and provide limited relief in
the affected area. Driving conditions are chaotic. Many roads outside of the
main cities either are gravel or poorly maintained dirt roads.
requires extreme caution, particularly in the evening. Those lacking knowledge
of Haitian roads and traffic customs should hire a driver through a tour
company or hotel. Road safety remains a significant threat to the average
visitor. Avoid travel at night outside of main cities due to poor lighting and
unpredictable road conditions that may result in an increased risk of not
seeing pedestrians, broken-down vehicles, and oncoming traffic. Vehicles,
including large buses and trucks, travel at high rates of speed, especially on
provincial roads, and often do not use lights for visibility at night. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is common at
night. If you are involved in an accident, do not expect medical or law
enforcement assistance. There were 157 reported traffic fatalities for 2019.
accurate maps are not widely available. GPS-based systems do usually work
accurately, but the lack of road signage makes it hard to determine the
rural/mountainous areas, expect no guardrails, few traffic signs/road markings,
and little/no vehicle or road lighting. Use caution when driving around bends,
as it is common for vehicles coming from the other direction to pass slower vehicles,
or for vehicles to drive in the middle of the road. People traveling outside of
Port-au-Prince should do so during daylight hours and in tandem, due the
security situation and road conditions.
can draw angry, potentially violent crowds very quickly. If a mob forms,
proceed directly to a safe place (e.g. police station) to resolve the
situation. Remaining at the scene could be a safety risk.
special care to avoid becoming stranded in remote regions or enter certain
areas deemed unsafe, especially in Port-au-Prince. Avoid driving at night
outside low-density, suburban areas.
the case of vehicular robbery (smash-and-grab) and carjacking, a group of
street criminals (hiding in the grass or in ditches) often waits for vehicles
to stop in traffic or at traffic lights. They rush the vehicle and attempt to
open the vehicle doors. If all doors are locked and the driver fails to take
immediate action, the group will attempt to break a window to access the
vehicle and gain control violently. Newer tactics often involve shooting at the
driver to disable him/her during the robbery attempt. Occurrences increase at
night and in heavy rush hour traffic. A particularly targeted location is the
area between Delmas 33 and the airport.
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
using local or public transportation. U.S. embassy policy prohibits the use of
any public transportation for U.S. government employees. Many vehicles are in poor
condition and often lack working equipment (e.g. headlights, reliable brakes). Tap-taps
(small trucks converted into buses) are the primary form of public
transportation for most Haitians. Tap-taps can be dangerous based on poor condition
and likelihood of accidents and robberies. Moto taxis are unregulated. Review
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
arriving at the airport should refrain from taking public transportation,
safeguard their belongings, and remain alert between the airport and their
accommodations. As you leave the airport, make sure no one is following you. If
you notice someone following you, drive to the nearest police station
using smaller airlines or charter services, research recent history. Carriers with
a shoddy appearance are very likely to be remiss on safety standards.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Port-au-Prince as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Port-au-Prince as being a CRITICAL-threat location for political
violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Political
demonstrations continue to pose a security threat. In 2019, violent political
protests in February and again from mid-September to November shut down the
country. Unrest was due to a variety of political and social movements, including
the domestic political situation, minimum wage concerns, fuel prices, fuel
shortages, food prices, inflation, and the PetroCaribe corruption scandal. Protestors
are quick to barricade streets with burning tires, regularly stone the windows
of passing vehicles, and shoot at police trying to dismantle barricades. Additional
tactics involve the looting and destruction of businesses, as well as hiring
gang members in moto taxis to enforce protest goals. ACS reported three U.S.
citizens injured during the periods of civil unrest.
unrest, either motivated by political or socio-economic issues, occurs
frequently in downtown Port-au-Prince around the National Palace, the Champ de
Mars, and the State University campuses, along with sporadic incidents
scattered throughout the city. More protest activity occurred in other cities
across Haiti, as well as along primary roads.
is a potential for spontaneous protests and public demonstrations. Any
demonstration can turn violent, and bystanders/travelers can easily find
themselves in a clash between demonstrators and the HNP, rock throwing, tire
burning, or roadblocks.
all demonstrations and be prepared to seek alternate routes should you
encounter one. Prepare to shelter in place for up to a week, as the duration of
nationwide protests can last between three and seven days. Review OSAC’s
report, Surviving a Protest.
Approximately 757 protests occurred in 2019. February 2019 saw extremely
violent and disruptive nationwide protests, to the point that the State
Department ordered the departure of non-emergency staff embassy staff, and increased
the Travel Advisory for Haiti to a Level 4.
The Embassy issued 295
demonstration or security alerts in 2019. Large-scale violent and
disruptive protests also took place in mid-September to November 2019. In
between the nationwide protests, localized protests shut down major highways
and cut access to other cities for extended periods. HNP reported dismantling
4,500 barricades during the September-November 2019 protest period. Protests will
likely continue into 2020.
there is little anti-U.S./Western sentiment. In 2019, the U.S. Embassy
experienced 13 demonstrations targeting the Embassy, the majority of which
involved demonstrators protesting Haitian President Moise and perceived U.S.
support for his administration. Crowds ranged between 25 to 300, and a few
protests resulted in HNP dispersing the crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets.
island of Hispaniola lies directly in the path of Atlantic tropical storms and
hurricanes during hurricane season (May-November).
to severe deforestation of the mountains, even modest rains can cause flash
flooding and other life-threatening hazards.
is also in a seismically active region. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near
Port-au-Prince in 2010, destroying much of the capital’s infrastructure. It has
taken years for Haiti to recover from the catastrophic damage. Services like health
care are less available now, but certain sectors are making small comebacks.
2019, there were two reported earthquakes in Haiti ranging from 3.7 to 4.4, and
an additional 4,736 earthquakes in the region ranging from 1.5 to 6.0.
highly cautious when considering real estate investments. Property rights are
irregularly enforced. Clear title to land is difficult or impossible to
obtain. Consult an attorney before signing documents or closing on any
real estate transactions. Undeveloped land is vulnerable to legal and physical
takeover. Squatters may assault absentee owners trying to reclaim their
property. Litigation and eviction proceedings can take years. Authorities
sometimes arrest U.S. citizens involved in business/property disputes without
charge, holding them for months or years in pre-trial detention, waiting for courts
to hear their cases. The Embassy does not attend property dispute hearings but
can assist U.S. citizens who have been arrested.
Personal Identity Concerns
violence remains a serious problem. Domestic violence and sexual assault are
unfortunately common and not always the subject of consistent or vigorous investigations
or prosecutions. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female
sentiment exists. Persons identified as LGBTI+ may be targets of harassment,
discrimination, or physical attack. The current law does not provide relief for
discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the Haitian Constitution
guarantees all citizens a right to healthcare, housing, education, food, and
social security. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
rarely accommodate persons with disabilities. Haitian authorities do not
enforce laws mandating public access for the disabled. Sidewalks, when present,
are frequently congested by sidewalk commerce and parked cars, and often end
abruptly. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
is a major transshipment point for South American narcotics en route to the
U.S. However, the threat of narco-terrorism has not been a major issue. Statistics
from 2019 show 43 drug arrest cases, with seizures of 974 kg of marijuana and
10 kg of cocaine. Drug traffickers have duped travelers into transporting
narcotics aboard on commercial flights.
HNP reported 35 kidnappings in 2019 compared to 53 in 2018. There was one
kidnapping of a U.S. Citizen reported to the Embassy on December 31, 2019; the
victim was subsequently able to safely escape. While the overall number is
lower than 2018, it could be more due to underreporting than a true decrease in
kidnappings are criminal. Anyone perceived to have wealth or family with assets
(in Haiti or abroad) are vulnerable. Kidnapped U.S. citizens are usually of
Haitian descent. The breakdown in reported kidnapping victims from the last few
years is spread evenly among men, women, and children. While most cases resolve
through the payment of ransom, some kidnappings do include physical/sexual
assault. While less frequent, depending on the motive, gang, and/or knowledge
of the kidnappers by the victim, a few incidents resulted in the death of the
the kidnapping of U.S. citizens to the HNP and the ACS section of the U.S.
Embassy at +509-222-8000. As the lead U.S. law enforcement agency in Haiti, Diplomatic
Security plays an active role in all kidnappings of U.S. citizens, and
coordinates closely with Federal Bureau of Investigation entities. Review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
emergency line in Haiti is 114. The Haitian National Police (HNP) has more than
15,000 officers, approximately two-thirds of whom serve in the greater
Port-au-Prince metropolitan area (home to approximately three million
residents). As a result, some communities do not have reliable means to report
crimes. The HNP has a limited response capability, which hinders the deterrent
effect on criminals, who operate without fear of the uniformed or traffic
police. Lack of resources frequently limits investigations. In 2019, 44 HNP officers
died in the line of duty, compared to 17 in 2018. Contact the HNP Information
and Operations Center at +509-3835-1111. Calling from a cell phone to a
landline can be problematic.
particularly outside of Port-au-Prince, lack basic policing services. Many
residents do not report crime. Underreporting or inaccurate reporting of crime
appears to be an issue, partly due to the decentralized nature of the HNP commissariats,
and to the perception that judicial or investigative follow-up is ineffective. The
HNP enjoys a higher level of trust from the general population than other
government agencies. Recent HNP progress in skill building is noteworthy.
However, investigative capacities are overtaxed and remain mostly centralized
in Port-au-Prince. The judiciary system has struggled for decades to
demonstrate strength and reliability.
respectful and comply with local police authority. Download the State
Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
lack of reliable quality health care is a serious concern. Medical services are
far below U.S. standards and can be difficult to obtain. Emergency medical care
is not always readily available; as most hospitals do not have an emergency
department staffed 24 hours/day. For medical assistance, refer to the
pharmaceutical drugs are in short supply, and specialty care is extremely
care providers do not accept U.S. medical insurance. Medical professionals
require a cash payment up front, and will provide a receipt you can give to a
U.S. insurance company. Most major medical care requires medical evacuation (medevac).
Strongly consider purchasing medevac insurance. Consult with your insurance
company prior to travel abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas,
and whether it will cover emergency expenses. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid
programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the U.S.
Dengue, Chikungunya, Cholera, and Zika are all common in Haiti. The CDC offers
additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Haiti.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
Medication, I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad
OSAC Country Council
Country Council in Port-au-Prince Country Council is active, meeting every
other month. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Western
Hemisphere team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Tabarre #41, Route de Tabarre, Port-au-Prince
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday,
Embassy Contact Number:
After-hours Emergencies: +509-2229-8122
you travel, consider the following resources: