Haiti is known for its stunning beaches in Labadie and Jacmel. You can also go to Tortuga to see the Fort de Rocher ruins, which are stunning. Lastly, if you are into waterfalls, you will like Port Salut. This nation has many attractions.
What is not attractive, however, are high roaming bills you need to pay after roaming with your provider in Haiti. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers who go to the Caribbean buy local SIM cards so that they can enjoy local rates. In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Haiti. Let's do this.
Telecom Providers in Haiti
Haiti has 2 telecom providers: Digicel Haiti and NATCOM. As you probably know, Haiti has been hit with multiple natural disasters over the years. As a result, the internet connection, for both landline and mobile, has been unstable and whacky most of the time.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Haiti? If you want to buy a SIM card in Haiti, I would recommend going with NATCOM when staying in the populated areas. If not, go with Digicel Haiti. Digicel has better coverage than NATCOM but does not have a 4G/LTE network. NATCOM does have a 4G/LTE network, but their coverage is worse than Digicel. On the other hand, their speeds are faster than Digicel.
Digicel operates throughout the Americas and Oceania and decided to enter Haiti in 2006. It managed to become the market leader since then with around 5 million subscribers. NATCOM is a venture by Viettel from Vietnam and the Haitian government. They have less than 1 million customers. Either way, some locals have two SIM cards. One from Digicel Haiti and one from NATCOM in case one network is down,
Haiti’s mobile network is unreliable and shuts down every now and then because of power blackouts. This is something you should keep in mind when exploring the nation.
Like most countries in the Caribbean, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in Haiti.
With that said, let’s see what Digicel Haiti and NATCOM can offer us.
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Digicel Haiti, just Digicel, is the clear favorite in Haiti. They have decent 2G and 3G networks throughout the country. Once again, Digicel advertises its 3G network as 4G, which they seem to be doing in many countries in the Americas (such as Suriname and Guyana). Do not be disappointed when you cannot get true 4G speeds with Digicel. Either way, 3G coverage can be found in several areas in the country.
Digicel SIM cards are given for free in Digicel stores after showing your passport. You can also get a SIM card at Port-au-Prince airport. Recharge cards are sold in various stores, but you can also top-up online with your credit card or PayPal, which is not something you often see in the Americas.
Various data packs can be added to your SIM card. You get the equivalent data allowance for social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) as well. For example, when listing the 45 HTG ($0.50) plan that comes with 500 MB for 3 days, you get 500 MB for the mentioned social media apps as well.
The following Digicel data packs can be added:
- 9 HTG: 75 MB (and 100 MB for social media) for 24 hours
- 18 HTG: 160 MB for 3 days
- 45 HTG: 500 MB for 3 days
- 75 HTG: 900 MB for 3 days
- 250 HTG: 3 GB for 7 days
- 350 HTG: 5 GB for 7 days
- 500 HTG: 6 GB for 30 days
- 1000 HTG: 14 GB for 30 days
- 2000 HTG: 30 GB for 30 days
NATCOM is the predecessor of Teleco, which used to be Haiti’s state-owned mobile operator. In 2010, the Haitian state created a venture with Viettel to start NATCOM. Unlike Digicel, NATCOM has a true 4G/LTE network, which can be used in the metropolitan areas of the capital. Although NATCOM’s coverage is not as great as the one of Digicel, speeds with NATCOM are much higher for lower rates.
NATCOM sells its 3G SIM card for 50 HTG and 75 HTG for the 4G SIM card. The 4G SIM card can be bought in select shops in Port-au-Prince, but this situation may have changed.
Just like with Digicel, you can buy recharge vouchers at NATCOM stores, from vendors (for a surcharge), or online with a credit card or PayPal.
NATCOM also gives you bonuses for high top-up values. If you recharge more than 300 HTG, you will get 5 GB to be used within 5 days, and 10 GB for 10 days if you top-up more than 600 HTG. Top-up vouchers are sold from 1 HTG to 1000 HTG.
The following NATCOM data packs can be added:
- 9 HTG: 60 MB for 24 hours
- 18 HTG: 180 MB for 24 hours
- 200 HTG: 1.5 GB for 30 days
- 400 HTG: 3 GB for 30 days
- 800 HTG: 7 GB for 30 days
- 1000 HTG: 12 GB for 30 days
- 2000 HTG: 25 GB for 30 days
You can also get a NATCOM tourist SIM card for free at Port-au-Prince Airport and Cap-Haïtien airport. You get 100 MB for free to 1 day. You can add any of the regular packs mentioned above, but you will extra bonuses depending on how much you top up.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Haiti
Some travelers do not want to get a Haiti SIM card for various reasons. Some prefer to roam with their providers while others would prefer an international SIM card. Then we have those who like portable WIFI devices, and others who will connect to WIFI networks instead.
Roaming in Haiti with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. If you use your phone in Haiti without changing SIM cards, you would be roaming in Haiti.
Roaming can be expensive. This person received an £8,348.41 data roaming bill. I also found out why roaming is so expensive. However, it does not always have to be costly.
Many providers offer roaming plans where you can roam for free in select destinations like Haiti. Others may offer bundles that give you some minutes, SMS, and data. You also have providers that allow you to use your plan's allowance for a daily fee. Every carrier is different, so it is recommended to explore your roaming options before you go out and experience bill shock (which is not fun). Luckily, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers so that you do not have to.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
You can also Roam As You Go, meaning that you will pay per minute, text, and MB. In most cases, this is not recommended, as these rates are insanely high (that is how people get bills in the thousands). There are some providers, however, that do have attractive Pay As You Go roaming rates. Do not get too excited, though, as the number of carriers that have decent standard roaming rates is rare.
International SIM Cards
International SIM cards are cards that have been made for travelers so that they do not have to deal with roaming costs.
There are many international SIM cards out there, such as OneSimCard and SIM cards from SimOptions. These SIM cards with the same as roaming with your provider, but the charges are often way less than actually roaming because they have been set up for international travel.
International SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. As in, not having to get numerous SIM cards, you will not use again, and being reachable on one number instead of multiple
International SIM cards are, however, more expensive than using a local SIM card, such as a Haitian one. On the other hand, they are often cheaper than roaming with your provider. International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or those who are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. If you are only visiting Haiti, stick to a local SIM as discussed in this article.
Portable hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are devices small enough that they should fit into your pocket. These devices turn into your on-the-go WIFI hotspot while they connect to the cellular networks in the country.
There are many portable hotspots out there. Two reputable pocket WIFI companies I know are Skyroam (use coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ) and Vision Global Wireless. WIFI access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. Using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
A pocket WIFI device is ideal for those who are traveling with families or multiple individuals. This way, everyone can connect to the device and enjoy the WIFI network on the go. Some companies will charge you per GB while others will give you unlimited data. Be aware of the data restrictions of your device so that you will not receive a high bill after your travels.
Free WIFI connections
Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected: Free WIFI hotspots.
Although using WIFI hotspots may save you money, it may not be convenient as using a SIM card. First, you would have to find WIFI hotspots. Haiti barely has any.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. I would recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to an unfamiliar network. The VPN will encrypt your data and will keep your data private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get yours today or find out more about NordVPN.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Haiti
Getting a SIM card from NETCOM would do you well when considering a Haitian SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in the Caribbean? Check out my Caribbean SIM card buying guide covering the other Caribbean destinations, such as Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French West Indies, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French) & Sint Maarten (Dutch), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for Haiti
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Haiti. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Haiti drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Haiti
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Haiti. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Haiti
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Haiti, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the currency of your destination for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!