“As the day was dawning my plane flew away with all the things caught in my mind” – Noel Gallagher.
On my December 2022 to January 2023 backpacking trip, I decided to backpack both countries I recognised on the island of Hispaniola. This meant Dominican Republic 🇩🇴 and Haiti 🇭🇹. Haiti was much more famous for me, given their appearance at the 1974 World Cup as well as Haitien Larry Gaetjens 1-0 winner for the USA versus England at the 1950 World Cup. A 2010 earthquake (plus a 2021 one), economic struggles and the 2022 civil unrest made it a tough nut to crack these days, but as always worth the adventure.
However this Caribbean trip of 2022 to 2023 proved to be tricky. I had one visa rejection (Cuba rejected me the first time) and 4 cancelled flights to deal with. Ultimately this cut my time in Hispaniola short but I was still able to finally arrive in Haiti. I already had two cancelled flights to Haiti and lost two days here. But hey, ho, I finally made it and I’ll tell you about the visa procedure. I did some research in advance and found out that:
- Haiti allows citizens from most countries to stay visa free for 3 months including Northern Irish citizens.
- All non-Haitian passport holders must pay a tourist fee of US$10 on arrival.
- Visitors must hold passports that are valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival.
In other words there is a visa for me, being Northern Irish, but I can get it on arrival at the airport for $10 US. I don’t agree with people who say this isn’t a visa – it is. If you have to pay for a visa or for entrance to a country as a tourist, I call it a visa. However, before your trip, only these countries need a visa in advance for Haiti:
- Dominican Republic
However, these countries may enter visa free for 3 months if they hold a valid United States of America, Canadian, or Schengen visa or a resident permit or if they are of Haitian origin. This was my fourth visa/tourist card of this trip having needed documents or visas for Cuba, Dominican Republic and Curacao. Cuba, also requires a visa you know…and don’t let them dress it up as a “tourist site or card”. These are visas!
I expected that I could get my visa clearance on arrival at the airport in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. As a Northern Irish nationalist I travel with a Northern Irish passport (I do this by using an “Irish” and “British” passport together). After my first two flights to Haiti were BOTH cancelled, my time in the country was finally cut to just two days and one night. This was short but I was able to maximise my time there!
Before boarding my flight in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), they didn’t ask me any questions about visa in Haiti or even return flights. It was a simple procedure and I had my boarding pass ready for the flight. I flew into Haiti on a very short 45 minute flight with Air Century. They’re pretty good by the way. Their stewardess Miguelanya actually went out through security and got me lunch of ham and cheese sandwich and a beer during a layover!
I landed in Haiti on that 45 minute flight from Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic.
I first joined the immigration queue then filled in my immigration form. It was fairly simple. I always carry a pen so this was easy for me.
I arranged to be sleeping at Park Hostel and I had contacted them in advance to arrange my bed in a hostel dorm and mhy collection from the airport. I was in touch with Phillip from the Hostel. My driver Gustana would meet me at the airport. At immigration I was stamped into Haiti after just two questions which were:
1.Reason for my visit (tourist).
2.Length of stay (2 days).
Once you get your stamp, you then have to pay $10 US Dollars as a customs tax. Essentially then, a visa, see what I mean?
“All my people right here right now, d’you know what I mean? Yeah Yeah Aheh” – Noel Gallagher.
You join the next queue and pay for your visa with $10 US in cash. Three things were crazy here!
- Firstly they had change of a 20 spot – no corruption.
- Secondly they were happy to see me and welcomed me.
- Thirdly they were having a party in the immigration booth. They were ALL drinking beers!
Suddenly I had paid my $10 US on cash (they even have change in USD or Haitien Gourdes). I had my immigration clearance and here I was safely in Haiti!! I was taken with a guide on arrival to meet my driver, Gustana.
I stayed at the quite excellent Park Hostel in dorm room 2 where I shared with Paul, a cool lad from Togo. The Park Hostel also has a Hotel – the Park Hotel in behind it plus two swimming pools and Wi-Fi! You should stay here!!
Despite my time in Haiti (and Hispaniola) being cut short, I magically still found time for a groundhopping football match, beers in three bars, two concerts, street food downtown, a tour of swanky Petionville, a traipse around main square Champ De Mars and making new friends from Haiti, France and Togo. It was really exciting and hardcore! Here are some photos of that textbook wacaday madness!!
Here are some videos from my trip from Santo Domingo and from some of my trip in Haiti with my driver Gustana: