If you’re up for experiencing the joys (and woes) of overland travel in The Caribbean region, then you’ll need to know how to cross the Haiti Dominican Republic border at some point – a journey that screams raw travel in the well-trodden world of tourism.
The island of Hispaniola is one of the largest and most populous in the Caribbean, but I wouldn’t blame you for running to your dusty old atlas in a state of confusion.
It’s complicated, to say the least, as the island is divided into two separate nations. On the east side, you have the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic and to the west, the French and Haitian Creole-speaking country of Haiti.
Historically, the Dominican Republic has received far more interest in tourism and travel, resulting in the country becoming a top beach holiday destination for many Europeans and North Americans.
Haiti, on the other hand, has been dealt a rough hand. Enduring a justified reputation for poor infrastructure, higher crime rate, intense political instability…and a horrific earthquake to boot.
With a comparatively unreported overlanding process, I’ve put together this guide based on my personal experience of the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing. This way, you’ll be both confident and prepared to make the crossing, so that you can successfully get to both countries on the island of Hispaniola.
2023 Update for crossing the Dominican Republic Haiti border: Edit: Due to the pandemic, the recent assassination of The Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and unsettling political instability in the country, the Haiti Dominican Republic border was closed temporarily. It seems to be open again now, but you will need to keep an eye on the situation and also Covid-19 rules for travelling overland via hectic border.
Border Crossing From Dominican Republic To Haiti Border
Before you tackle the border crossing, you’ll need to fly into one of the main airports in the Dominican Republic – this will almost certainly be the country’s main airport in its capital city, Santo Domingo.
Once you’ve seen everything the country has to offer, there are two ways of crossing from the Dominican Republic and into Haiti. You can attempt to cross with a privately hired vehicle (this technically isn’t legal) or by taking a public bus across.
There are four official crossing points, which are:
There are many other unofficial dividing lines, but to keep on the right side of the law, it’s pretty key to only use the official ones. There are only a few crossing points along the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing, and it is important to select the right one before making the crossing.
The differences between the two nations are quite staggering, and it is quickly noticeable as you cross from the Dominican Republic and over the border to Haiti.
Crossing The Dominican Republic to Haiti Border by Rental Vehicle
You can rent a car in the Dominican Republic to travel across the country with no drama, but you’ll find it difficult when it comes to driving across the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing.
This is because most, if not all, rental companies won’t allow you to drive over the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing with a rental vehicle. Doing so without permission from your car rental companies means you will instantly nullify any car rental insurance that you purchase.
All of this makes it so much easier to catch the public buses rather than use a hired vehicle.
Crossing The Dominican Republic to Haiti Border by Public Bus
Making the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing via the public bus route is by far the easiest way to cross the border. There are two main routes depending on which part of Haiti you want to visit first.
Option 1: The first route starts from the Dominican Republic’s capital Santo Domingo and travels to the Haiti capital Port au Prince. Buses leave twice a day from Santo Domingo to Port-au Prince at around 9 am and 11 am.
The best company to use to make this journey has to be Caribe Tours, one of the biggest bus companies in all of the Dominican Republic. The journey to the Haitian capital should take around seven hours, but it may take longer if there are delays or extensive traffic.
Option 2: The second route starts from further north on the island, running from Santiago to Cap Haitien in Haiti’s far north. Bus tickets can’t be purchased online and have to be bought from the Caribe Tours terminal in Santiago before the bus journey.
There is one bus leaving for the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing and Cap-Haitien beyond, and this usually leaves around 9 am and gets to the Haitian town after around five or six hours.
The actual crossing is made at the town of Dajabon where you will have to disembark and walk through what seems like quite a primitive border crossing. Border crossing points between the Dominican Republic and Haiti close at 6 PM Dominican time and do not re-open until 8 AM the next morning.
Alongside your bus ticket, you will need to pay an exit fee which is around $27 USD; this is sometimes included in your bus ticket, while others will require it in Pesos at the border. It’s best to bring both currencies with you, to cover all bases.
Know Before You Go:
- Location – Buses can be caught from either Santiago De Los Caballeros bus station or Santo Domingo bus station.
- Cost – 1,500 DOP (USD $15 ), and you must also pay USD $27 departure tax.
- Opening hours – Borders open around 8 am and will close around 6 pm, so make sure you aren’t caught out and have to book a hotel on the border.
- Time needed – Bus journeys will usually take between 5-8 hours but can often take much longer depending on the traffic and how busy the border crossing is.
Border Crossing From Haiti to Dominican Republic
Looking for information on how to travel to the Dominican Republic Haiti border, from the Haiti side?
Stumped with the lack of information on how to do so?
Let me level with you here…
After crossing the border to Haiti, I went back a week or so later to the Dominican Republic overland. I remember it being a lot harder (think about it, if you were Haitian you would probably want to get to DR as an immigrant for a better life, I sure as hell would).
So the Dominican Republic government purposefully made it more difficult for human traffic to come from the other side.
However, as I sit here with my messy “notes” system like a mad scientist, trying to piece together the growing mystery that is crossing the border from the Haitian side, it’s just not worth it at this moment due to current affairs.
Unlike other land crossings that I write about, such as DR and Haiti’s neighbours over the water at the Mexico-Belize border, things are much more complex with this passage.
Things can, and probably will change, so it’s best for me to leave this one until there is further movement on this incredibly sad theme.
A Recap On The Haiti Dominican Republic Border Crossing
No disrespect to Haitian people, but crossing over from the well-varnished Dominican Republic to Haiti was like a scene from the original “Mad Max” movie.
I wasn’t shocked though and as always with my off-the-beaten-path travels, I feel fortunate enough to have gone and experienced both countries, as heartbreaking as the contrasts were.
I’m not the type of person to be telling other people where to travel and where not to (although I do have strong, pragmatic views on it), it’s completely up to you and you should be fully aware of the risks on the road if and when you do.
One vital thing I did forget to mention here is currency before getting to Haiti.
You will have the opportunity to exchange your Dominican peso (DOP) for Haiti gourde (HTG) at the border (usually via an overly aggressive guy, referred to as a ‘moneychanger,’ but “shy bairns get nowt” and all that).
I did this, but another (superior) option if that is too intimidating, is to take a hefty amount of American Dollars (USD), which are accepted in many places in Haiti and can always be exchanged. Cash is king in Haiti, but be prepared to take a lot to prepare for the jaw-dropping inflation in this broken, out-of-luck nation.
VISA and Mastercard ATMs do exist, but they often don’t work. I’d go for the USD option (I did both the exchange at the border and took USD for a backup).
That’s about it for now and I’ll try my best to duly update. Best of luck to those in the future navigating the constant labyrinth that is how to cross the Haiti Dominican Republic border crossing and most importantly, best wishes to Haiti!