Haiti - Formalities
Haiti has no official ports of entry for sailing vessels, however inward clearance can be carried out at any sea port that deals with commercial shipping.
All harbours do not follow the same clearance procedure or charge the same price. For the time being, the north side of the north Peninsula has the most commercial traffic and they will look to capitalize on any yacht that calls there (see Fees below for charges in Cap Haitian). On the south side of the country where there is less commercial traffic, it is definitely easier and less expensive to clear in.
Larger ports will treat you as they do commercial shipping, which can be expensive and complicated. In smaller harbours, it is only necessary to clear with immigration.
Yacht crew should clear-in with Immigration (who will stamp a crew list if asked), get their passports stamped and do the same when clearing out. They will not give you any paperwork, such as a despacho or departure documents. If staying a short time it is probably possible to clear in and out at the same time.
There really is no yacht traffic in Haiti. If you visit the Customs office, most often they are not interested or not available. The law does require Customs clearance for anyone arriving with something to declare, but yachts do not usually have anything to declare. At this time it is probably best to avoid the Customs office.
Semana is the government body charged with boat safety. It was designed to protect Haitians for the many ferry boats that they use. If a Semana inspector sees your boat he may very well visit you and ask for something in the way of a tip. As the law is ambiguous as to whether he has jurisdiction over private yachts that do not carry passengers, one can beg off and refuse to pay anything or give a small gift.
Entrance and departure fees vary depending on where you clear. See Fees for more details.
If sailing directly from Colombia to Haiti, it is recommended to first stop in Jamaica and clear in at Port Antonio before proceeding east to Haiti. Foreign boats sailing directly from Colombia have been boarded by the authorities in Haiti and subjected to extensive searching for a number of days.
Last updated July 2016.
All visitors must have a passport valid for at least 6 months.
A visa is not required to visit Haiti but your passport will be stamped.
Visit Immigration on arrival and departure. See fees below.
Last updated July 2016.
There is no limit on the length of time a yacht may stay as long as one remains in contact with the authorities.
At this time it is probably best to avoid the Customs office.
Firearms must be declared, and an authorisation for their possession must be shown to the police, plus a description of the firearms and the reasons for possessing them. Firearms must be kept on board.
Last updated July 2016.
ZIKA VIRUS ALERT: (September 2016) There have been recent safety alerts from the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, and Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding travel to parts of Central and South America, Africa, southern Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific islands. Haiti is an area of interest with multiple reported cases and active virus transmission. There is growing concern about the rapid spread of the ZIKA Virus and the impact of the virus on pregnant women and babies. ZIKA is transmitted by mosquitos in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and there is currently no cure or vaccine. This situation is evolving rapidly, so please refer to the CDC’s dedicated website if you are intending to cruise in one of the effected areas.
Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended. HIV/AIDS cases are more frequent here than in surrounding countries.
Diphtheria, Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A inocculations are also highly recommended. Hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis as well as rabies are all present.
Cholera: Cholera is present in Haiti. Though it has significantly been reduced since the 2010/2011 outbreak, there is still a risk. Drink no water from streams or wells unless chemically treating and mechanically filtering it first.
All water (even from the tap) should be regarded as unsafe. Not even local Haitians drink tap water. Milk is also unpasteurised and should be boiled. Salads and unpeeled fruit should be avoided.
Medical facilities in Haiti have been improved measurably in the recent past, but facilities are still limited.
Last updated September 2016.
Immigration charge $10 per passport for clearing in, and the same when clearing out. However, in some places in Haiti, charges can be higher ($20 in Jacmel for example).
In Ile a Vache port charges of US$50 per day may be charged if berthed alongside a quay. Light dues (nominal charge) are also payable.
In Cap Haiten (North Haiti) cruisers were initially charged US$350 per boat for clearance, however this was negotiated down to US$100 per boat (all inclusive of entering, customs, immigration, staying at the dock, exiting, etc.)
Last updated April 2014.
It is best to give charity only to well known and well established agencies such as Sister Flora who runs the orphanage at Ile a Vache. Direct handouts are a bad idea and will create a line that is non stop. The children visiting your boat in canoes will tell you they are hungry. That is their merchandise in trade. They are not hungry, but they want to get on the boat to get something. Most kids in most small communities go to school, are clean and well manicured and have uniforms - even though their families have a hard time making ends meet.
Animals must be declared to customs