Detailed Travel Guide to the Dominican Republic

Our travel guide to the Dominican Republic discusses pertinent travel information, interesting facts, and safety tips, allowing you to be completely prepared for your anticipated getaway.

The Dominican Republic is on the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic is second to Cuba by size and population. There are 10 million people currently residing there. It is found on the island of Hispaniola and takes two thirds of the island shared with Haiti.

The climate in the Dominican Republic is tropical with the average temperature being 25C (77F).

The Dominican Republic has the second largest economy in Central America and the Caribbean. Tourism is fueling the Dominican economy and is responsible for a large portion of the labor force.

Information Overview for the Dominican Republic

Entry/Exit & Customs
Taxes & Fees
Medical
Crime
Getting Around
Culture
Landmarks
Safety

Anthem: Himno Nacional
Capital: Santo Domingo
Time Zone: Atlantic UTC -4
Languages: Spanish
Power Outlets: 110V/60Hz
Currency: Peso (DOP)
Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted
Traveler Checks: Traveler checks accepted
Side of road to drive on: Right
Legal drinking age:18

: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS

-A valid passport which is good for twice the amount of time expected to be in the country
-Return airline ticket
-Tourist card which is approximately $10 USD

: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION

Restricted/Prohibited Materials:

Please verify with the consulate or embassy as the list often changes. Use common sense however; no weapons, drugs, etc are permitted for air travel anywhere.

Customs Information:

The Republic regulates several items that visitors can bring into the country. Up to 200 cigarettes, 100 liters of alcohol and gifts not exceeding $100 (USD) can be brought into the country duty-free.

Most personal items can be brought onto the island without charge with the exceptions of the following:
-Automobiles, motorcycles, and motor boats for which travelers always have to pay duties.
-An invoice is required to bring machines, appliances, spare parts, which may also be subject to taxes.
-If prescribed by a medical doctor, medicines, narcotics, and drugs are duty-free, but are otherwise forbidden, and if found shipper could be deported following trial.
-Customs will seize shipments of arms, ammunitions, dangerous goods, and if any found the shipper could be sent to jail.
-Customs will seize and destroy plants sent in household goods shipment.
-Pornographic material is prohibited from being shipped to the island.

: : SALES TAX AND FEES

Sales Tax:

The sales tax can vary from 10 to 16% depending on the item purchased.

Airport Taxes:

A departure tax of US$20 is charged for stays of up to two weeks. The departure tax for stays longer than two weeks varies depending on length of stay and nationality. The tax applies to all international flights, and may be included in the price of the airline ticket. Travelers should confirm this information with their travel agents or airline.

: : MEDICAL INFORMATION

Emergencies:

For all emergencies in the Dominican Republic you can dial 9-11 for medical emergencies, a fire or police.

Hospitals:

Most of the bigger hotels/resorts have a doctor on staff that will be able to treat minor medical problems. In the bigger resort communities you will also find private medical facilities (doctor's offices), which will treat minor medical problems. In both cases, the doctors providing these services tend to understand at least English, and very often other foreign languages. Be sure to verify with your insurance provider that you are covered outside of your country of residence. Medical care in the Dominican Republic can be very costly and payment is expected immediately.While adequate medical facilities can be found in large cities, particularly in private hospitals, the quality of care can vary greatly outside major population centers.

Bringing in Prescriptions:

Prescription medications should be kept in the original container and packed in carry on luggage.

Vaccinations:

No special vaccinations are required before visiting the Dominican Republic at the present time. You should always verify with your local physician before visiting another country. Routine vaccinations should always be up to date before traveling.

: : CRIME

The crime rate has increased. While violent crime, including assault, has affected only a few tourists, petty crime, including pick pocketing, is common in more urban areas. Thefts have been reported in resorts.

Accused of a crime in the Dominican Republic:

A serious violation may lead to a jail sentence. The sentence will be served in local prisons. Persons convicted of buying, selling, carrying or using any type or quantity of drug, are subject to strict penalties. Judicial processes may last several years (during which accused individuals are normally detained) and could lead to long prison sentences in harsh conditions.

Victims of Crime:

The Tourist Police (POLITUR), a cooperative effort between the National Police, Secretary of the Armed Forces and the Secretary of Tourism, provides a security presence in tourist areas and first response assistance to tourists. They can be reached toll-free at 1-809-200-3500 and can help get tourists to a police station to file a police report and to seek further assistance.

Dominican law stipulates that victims of crime (including foreigners) are responsible for reporting incidents to police. Victims who wish to pursue prosecution or seek compensation must retain Dominican legal counsel to file a formal complaint to the police and to pursue the case through the justice system.

Travelling to the Dominican Republic with a Criminal Record:

There are currently no restrictions to entering the Dominican Republic with a criminal record. However criminals with outstanding warrants will be arrested upon arrival. Always verify with your embassy or consulate prior to your trip in the event that this information has changed.

: : TRANSPORTATION

Car Rental:

The Dominican Republic has all the major car rental agencies. Verify with the agency prior to rental for restrictions but it is relatively easy to rent and there are many choices.

Taxi:

Taxis are fairly reliable. You should always negotiate the fare prior to departure. Travelers should avoid using or renting motorcycle taxis (motoconchos), as they are very dangerous. The route taxis (gua-guas/carros publicos) are not recommended as they may disregard traffic laws, often resulting in serious accidents involving injuries and sometimes death. They may also be used by thieves to rob passengers.

Public Transportation:

Scheduled interurban bus services use modern buses and operate on reliable timetables. We recommend this as the only form of public transportation that tourists should use.

Drivers License Info:

Your country’s drivers’ license is valid for up to 90 days while visiting the Dominican Republic.

: : CULTURAL INFORMATION

Motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad (God, Fatherland, Liberty)

Wardrobe: In Dominican society appearance is very important. People are extremely fashion conscious and believe that clothes indicate social standing and success. Designer labels, particularly those from the USA, are looked upon favorably.

Smoking: Smoking is banned in most public areas such as restaurants. If you require a smoking room at your hotel or resort, you should verify with your travel agent before booking. Smoking is okay outside, for example on public beaches but verify for designated areas.

Etiquette: A handshake, with direct eye contact and a welcoming smile is standard. When shaking hands, use the appropriate greeting for the time of day - "buenos dias", "buenas noches", or "buenas tardes".

Tipping: Tipping is expected. When staying on a resort you may opt to bring products from your home country for the chamber maids. You should leave a tip or product each day for your chamber maid. It is okay to tip in USD.

: : POPULAR LANDMARKS

Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor

Top Attraction in Dominican Republic

This cathedral is the oldest in the Americas. Construction began in 1514 and it was completed in 1540. It is located in Santo Domingo.

Alcazar de Colon (Columbus Alcazar)

Alcazar de Colon (Columbus Alcazar)

The Alcazar de colon is the oldest viceregal residence in America. The building houses the Museo Alcazar de Diego Colon, which displays the Caribbean's most important ensemble of European late medieval and Renaissance works of art.

Teatro Nacional (National Theatre)

Teatro Nacional (National Theatre) Dominican Republic

The Teatro Nacional is part of the Plaza de la Cultura (Culture Plaza), it is surrounded by museums and cultural institutions. It is located on Avenida Maximo Gomez in Santo Domingo.

: : TRAVEL AND SAFETY TIPS

-Always walk like you know where you are going, even if you don't. This means keep your back upright and eyes straight ahead. When asking for directions keep your voice low so others don't know you are lost.

-Take precautions. Do not wear a lot of jewelry or conspicuous clothing while traveling to avoid being a target of crime.

-Be cautious when taking a taxi and always look for the appropriate documentation which should be posted in eyes view. Never take a cab from the airport that is off by itself.

-If your hotel or resort recommends staying on their property you should follow these precautions.

-Never leave valuables in a soft material. The seam can easily be cut. Often the crime takes place long before it is noticed. This applies to purses, bags and luggage.

-Do not invite strangers to your hotel room.

-Do not agree to meet strangers by yourself. Even those you consider new friends and fellow tourist's.

-Plan for the unexpected, this includes extra money and medication that is required should your stay be extended.

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