Haiti - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, currency, language, health, local time,etc. 

Last published date: 2022-08-03

Facilities for visiting businesspersons have improved significantly over the years.  Hotels offer a full range of business services, including internet connectivity, voicemail and business meeting areas. Popular hotels for business travel include Marriott, Hotel Karibe, Hotel Montana, NH Hotels’ El Rancho, Kinam Hotel, Servotel, Visa Lodge, Royal Oasis, Habitation Jouissant and Satama.  Reservations can be made by telephone, e-mail, or online travel agencies.  These major hotels largely provide online booking service through their websites.  Airbnb has listings in major cities in Haiti, with stays limited to 120 days or less.  Due to insecurity, it is advised for drivers to stay in places that offer gated parking.

Most major hotels and supermarkets accept local and international credit cards.  The availability of ATM machines is limited to urban areas.  Most ATM machines can be found at banks, supermarkets, a few gas stations, and the Port-au-Prince international airport.  ATMs are unreliable in Haiti, however, as they frequently run out of cash or have network issues.  It is therefore advised to avoid relying on ATM machines in emergency situations.  Exercise extreme caution if using an ATM in Haiti as the risk of theft is high.

Many hotels have a well-trained staff of planners, decorators, chefs, and waiters available to host professional special events such as dinners, company launch events, 

forums, conferences, seminars, retreats, and staff parties.

Business Customs

Haitians are open to working with foreign investors and are particularly well disposed towards U.S. investors.  Most Haitian businesspeople speak English fluently but appreciate salutation in local languages.  Salutations are expected and a respectful way to interact with colleagues upon entering a room.  Most meetings with Haitians begin with introductory conversation about personal and professional backgrounds, families, and commutes/neighborhoods to create a sense of personal connection and to learn more about meeting participants.  Appointments with Haitian business operators should be made in advance.  The most effective mode of communication with Haitian firms is over the phone, and business and/or personal e-mail.  It is common practice for the sender to call the receiver soon after sending an e-mail for receipt confirmation.  Haitian businesspeople frequently use the WhatsApp messaging platform as a method of communication, although care should be taken to ensure bona fides.

Invitations to restaurants for meetings are appreciated, and business is discussed in restaurants and hotels as frequently as in offices.  Haitian businesspeople generally dress in business attire for meetings and are generally formal during presentations and speeches.  Business phone calls before 8am, on Sundays, and on holidays are uncommon unless in case of emergency.  Meetings often begin and end later than scheduled and managing meetings with larger numbers of participants can be difficult.  It is common for meeting participants to request meeting minutes from the host.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, former President Moise encouraged many employers to allow teleworking when possible.  Despite the lifting of restrictions on COVID to ease the daily lives of the population, many companies continue to allow teleworking options or staff rotation due to increased streets insecurity.  Some institutions practice proximity hiring to facilitate business operations in times of road blockages.

Conference calls are widely used on WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom platforms.  Unfortunately, many private companies and state institutions are not equipped with adequate technology for teleworking.

Travel Advisory

As of July 15, 2022, the State Department Travel Advisory for Haiti is at Level 4 – Do Not Travel.  The Department of State reports on the latest Country Information for Haiti with information on such matters as health conditions, crime, customs regulations, entry requirements, and the location of the U.S. Embassy.  Please review up-to-date travel advisory information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/haiti-travel-advisory.html.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Haiti are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important safety and security announcements, and to make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact U.S. citizens in the event of an emergency. https://step.state.gov/  

If you are planning a business trip, always check travel.state.gov before you go.

The hurricane season in Haiti is from mid-May until the end of November.  During this time, even mild tropical storms can quickly turn into major floods and damage roads and other infrastructure.  Severe storms can put you at risk and interfere with the delivery of essential services. If traveling to or in Haiti during hurricane season:

  • Be prepared to change travel plans at any time;
  • Monitor the latest regional and local weather forecasts https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/; and
  • Follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

Visa Requirements

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following link:  State Department Visa Website.

International visitors to Haiti are required to have a valid passport, immunization record against COVID-19, or proof of negative COVID-19 test results within 72 hours of departure. For passengers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test, airport authorities have held passports until a negative test is provided.  COVID testing is available on-site for a fee at Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

Visitors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany may not require a visa.  However, if a U.S. citizen expects to be in the country for more than 90 days, they need to apply for an extension of stay with the Haitian Immigration Service in order to obtain an exit visa.  It is highly recommended to do this prior to the 90-day expiration date.

An airport tax of $55 is required from every traveler departing Haiti, and is included in the price of airline tickets.  All foreign passport holders six years of age and older traveling to Haiti must pay a tourist fee of $10.00 at the airport upon entry at both international airports.  The same tourist fee applies for most foreign visitors entering Haiti by land from the Dominican Republic. Foreign passport holders with the place of birth listed as Haiti in their passport, holders of official or diplomatic passport, and holders of the United Nations passport are exempted from this fee.  A green entry card is given to all foreign passport holders upon their arrival on Haitian territory.  This document is required and is collected by the authorities when the traveler leaves the country: its loss can cause difficulties with the immigration services when leaving the country.

A publication (“Guide for Business Representatives”) is available for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 20402, telephone 202-512-1800, or fax 202-512-2250. Business travelers to Haiti seeking appointments with U.S. Embassy officials in Port-au-Prince should contact the Economic Section in advance of their arrival date by calling +509-2229-8000 and asking to be transferred to the Economic section or via e-mail at Papecon@state.gov  

Haitian Immigration Service

Joseph Cianciulli

Directeur General

171 Avenue John Brown, Lalue

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tel: +509-2244-1737

 

Embassy of the Republic of Haiti

2311 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20008

Phone: +1 202-332-4090

Fax: 202-745-7215


Currency

The Haitian gourde is the national currency, with HTG as the currency code. The currency symbol is G, and the most frequent HTG conversion transaction is between USD and HTG. In a November 2020 decree, the Haitian government ordered all prices to be displayed or announced in gourdes, with punishments and fines for non-compliance.  Some stores still display prices in the informal “Haitian dollars” format (a fixed rate of 5 Haitian gourdes to 1 Haitian dollar).

Telecommunications/Electric

There are two cellular companies in Haiti and they both use GSM wireless cellular phone technology: Digicel, the company with the largest market share, and its main competitor Natcom, a Vietnamese/Haitian state-owned joint venture created in April 2010.  Natcom provides high-speed bandwidth through its network of 6,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable throughout Haiti, which allows high-speed stability and a high-quality connection. Per the latest data from CONATEL in March 2020, the proportion of voice calls that took at least 30 seconds to connect was 7.76 percent for Digicel calls and 9.01 percent for Natcom calls.

With the support of the World Bank, the pilot project, “Digital Acceleration in Haiti,” is to be implemented under the direction of the Ministry of Public Works Transport and Communication (MTPTC). This Digital Acceleration Project aims to strengthen the transformation capacity of the various network operators to provide 4, 10 or 20 Mb / s broadband services across the country.

The education, health, public administration and local government sectors will be the first beneficiaries of this project related to New Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The availability of electricity is sporadic, usually ranging from 3 to 15 hours on a daily basis for those buildings which are connected to an electrical grid, although blackouts lasting multiple days also occur.  Most large buildings and organizations have diesel generators.

Transportation

Air travel is possible from Port-au-Prince to many of the provinces, which are called “Departments.” The islands of Ile-a-Vache, Ile de la Tortue, Petite and Grand Cayemite, Grosse Caye, and Ile de la Gonave are reachable by ferry or by small sailing and motorboats, although the islands in the south suffered significant damage in the August 14, 2021, earthquake.  Only the Ile de la Gonave has an airstrip, though it is rarely used.

In order to rent a car and drive in Haiti, visitors will need a valid driver’s license.  Visitors may use their U.S. driver’s license if their stay does not exceed 90 days.  For a stay of more than 90 days, it is required to apply for a Haitian driver’s license.  When in Haiti, drive on the right-hand side of the road.  The roads are often unmarked, with very few traffic lights, and the speed limit is often not posted, and when available are displayed in Km.  Roads other than major thoroughfares are often unpaved.  It is illegal to drink and drive in Haiti, and it is a legal requirement to wear a seat belt.

The major car rental agencies located in Port-au-Prince include Hertz, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, and Secom. Avis is the only major car rental company outside of the capital, with two locations in the North Department. Most car rental companies will request Driver’s license, Passport, Debit/Credit card.  Despite 18 years old being the legal age, car agencies might reject applications due to older minimum age requirements, typically within 21 to 25 years.  In March 2021, the government prohibited, for security enforcement reasons, the use of vehicles with tinted windows with the exception of official, diplomatic, and consular-tagged vehicles.

Though distances are short, travel, including in the Port-au-Prince area, is extremely slow.  Traffic jams are a common occurrence, and drivers can be unpredictable.  Haiti has eight national highways to faciliate travel to the cities outside of Port-au-Prince, but many are in bad condition.  Due to poor drainage and construction, flooding is recurrent during the rainy season.  Self-driving can be challenging for visitors not used to the mountainous terrain, and common GPS systems such as Google Maps lack driving time and traffic estimates, and do not take into account security conditions in various neighborhoods, including the many gang-controlled areas in Port-au-Prince.  Privately operated taxicabs and other public transportation vehicles are not recommended for use.  Visitors should be aware that ground transportation options such as Uber and Lyft are unavailable.  Rental car companies have a wide variety of vehicles to offer, but it is advised to choose a car wisely.  SUVs are best suited for rugged terrains and off-road activities.

Language

French and Haitian Creole are the official languages of Haiti.  However, English is widely spoken in the business community and Spanish is spoken to a lesser extent.  

Health

Medical facilities are limited, particularly in areas outside of the capital.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services.  U.S. medical insurance is not always valid or accepted outside the United States, and some U.S. insurance companies that offer  international coverage may require an invoice claim refund.  Travelers should confirm the validity of their insurance coverage before departing the U.S.  The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States.  It is prudent to hold medical evacuation coverage when traveling to Haiti.

The government has put in place new provisions on barrier actions to limit the spread of COVID-19.  The wearing of a mask is optional in the open air, butit is recommended to keep a mask on in closed and air-conditioned rooms.  Before traveling, it is advised to check for the latest restrictions and/or requirements.  As of April 18, 2022, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) announced passengers traveling from foreign countries 12 years of age or older to Haiti must present a immunization record proving that they have been completely vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative Rdt Ag or rt PCR test no later than 72 hours before the trip.  Passengers between the ages of 5 and 11 only need an Rdt Ag test or a rt PCR test, no later than 72 hours before the trip.  Passengers under the age of 5 do not need a COVID-19 test or an immunization record.

The country experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases in the first half of 2021.  As of July 8,  2022, MSPP had officially reported 32,070 confirmed cases and 837 coronavirus-related deaths in the country since the outbreak began.  COVID-19 has remained relatively mild, despite a vaccination rate below 2.0 percent.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Government and commercial offices typically open between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM and close between 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM. Retail businesses remain open until 6:00 PM.  Supermarkets, depending on the area, may close at 7:00 PM  or 8:00 PM, and observe their Sunday schedule on national holidays.

The Ministry of National Education and Vocational training sets the number of teaching hours in schools at 7.35 hours for primary and 8 hours for secondary.  Most schools observe a 7:30am to 2:30pm schedule.

 

Haitian Holidays for 2022 (officially published by Ministry of Communications):

January 1, Independence and New Year’s Day

January 2, Ancestors’ Day

March 1, Carnival

March 2, Ash Wednesday

April 15, Good Friday

May 1, Labor and Agriculture Day

May 18, Haitian Flag day

June 16, Corpus Christi

July 7, Death of president Jovenel Moise

August 15, Assumption Day

September 20, Day of Dessalines

October 17, Death of Dessalines

November 1, All Saints’ Day

November 2, All Souls’ Day

November 18, Battle of Vertieres Day

December 25, Christmas

 

Haitian Holidays for 2023 (tentative, pending Ministry of Communications official announcement):

January 1, Independence and New Year’s Day

January 2, Ancestors’ Day

February 21, Carnival

February 22, Ash Wednesday

April 7, Good Friday

May 1, Labor and Agriculture Day

May 18, Haitian Flag day

June 16, Corpus Christi

August 15, Assumption Day

September 20, Day of Dessalines

October 17, Death of Dessalines

November 1, All Saints’ Day

November 2, All Souls’ Day

November 18, Battle of Vertieres Day

December 25, Christmas

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

There is no fee for the entry of personal belongings. However, a 0.25 percent unique rate is applied to goods entering under diplomatic concessions and for those that are on “temporary entry.”

Goods that will be in the country temporarily must be imported under the temporary entry regime. Temporary entry refers to goods that will be processed before being re-exported.  These goods are subject to a security deposit equivalent to one and a half times the duties and taxes payable under the release for consumption regime.  This deposit is paid in the form of a bank check that will be released once the goods are re-exported.  Goods that enter the country under the temporary entry regime and are then used for consumption purposes are taxed on the amount of their depreciation when they are re-exported.

All imported goods are subject to verification fees and administrative costs.

Travel Related Web Resources

Ministry of Tourism

Luz Kurta Cassandra Francois, Minister

8, Rue Legitime

Champs de Mars

HT 6112 - Port-au-Prince - HAITI

Tel: (509) 2949-2010 / 2949-2011 / 2223-5633

E-mail: info@haititourisme.gouv.ht

 

Tourism Association of Haiti:  http://athaiti.com