HOW CAN I GET TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC?
The Dominican Republic has eight international airports, five cruise destinations and a variety of marinas for boats and yachts of all sizes, as well as smaller airports for private planes. Because this is such a large and diverse island, it is important to choose your arrival airport to coincide with the final destination of your stay. For additional information, please review our Recommended Links, or get in touch with one of our overseas offices.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO GO TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC?
A valid passport is required. You will also likely need a tourist card (US$10) already included in your airline ticket if purchased after April 25, 2018, or a visa. More information on this link.
The Dominican Republic issues tourist, business, work, student, and residency visas. Tourist visas can be issued for one or several entries, and can be extended to 60 days.
See this list for citizens who need to request a Tourist Visa at Dominican consulates abroad.
WHO IS EXEMPT FROM NEEDING A TOURIST CARD OR VISA?
DR residents and Dominican nationals.
Foreigners arriving from Argentina, Chile, South Korea, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, Peru, and Uruguay.
Diplomatic and Consular staff with assigned missions in the country, while they remain on duty.
Passengers using private, noncommercial aviation as long as the aircraft fulfills the following requirements: the trip must be for sport, leisure, tourism and business purposes, and the aircraft must not weigh more than thirty thousand (30,000) pounds and have a maximum capacity of 12 passengers.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DECIDE TO STAY IN THE COUNTRY FOR MORE THAN 30 DAYS?
You will be charged an extended stay fee at the airport–proportional to length of time; RD$2,500 for three additional months. This is paid upon departure at the immigration desk, after check-in and past security.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE DEPARTURE TAX?
The departure tax is US$20. In most cases, however, it is already included in your airline ticket fare.
WHAT IS THE TELEPHONE AREA CODE FOR THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC?
The country code is +1. There are three area codes: 809, 829, and 849.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL DRINKING AGE?
In the Dominican Republic, you can purchase and consume alcoholic beverages from the age of 18. This means that bars will not admit anyone under 18, even when accompanied by parents or an adult.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE? WHEN IS THE RAINY SEASON?
The Dominican Republic is surrounded by over 1,600 km (1,000 miles) of coastline on its north, east, and southern borders, and the climate is tropical. Noontime temperatures range from 27°C to 32°C (80°F to 90°F ), and can fall to 18°C and 23°C (64°F to 73°F) during the winter. Because we are in the tropics, it is hard to say if and when there is a rainy season. Rains are usually short lasting.
WHEN IS THE HURRICANE SEASON?
The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and extends to November 30. In the Dominican Republic, these are the summer and early fall seasons when the weather is sunny and humid, with some cloudiness and occasional rain showers in the late afternoon or at night. Historically, most hurricanes have occurred in the month of September. But chances of one hitting are slim, and if it does occur, resort staff is trained in handling these situations, and resort buildings today are equipped to withstand hurricane force. You should also take note that the Dominican Republic is a large country–this means that while one coast may be affected, another may be completely unscathed by a storm.
HOW DOES THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC COMPARE IN SIZE WITH PUERTO RICO OR JAMAICA?
Located in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has a surface area of over 48,442 km² (18,704 square miles), which means that Puerto Rico could fit into the country five times, and Jamaica four times. Due to its size and the variety of its terrain, the Dominican Republic offers visitors an incredible diversity in landscapes, including beaches, mountains, pre-historic caves, deserts, lakes, islands, rivers, and numerous waterfalls. That’s why we say the Dominican Republic “Has it all.”
I HARDLY SPEAK ANY SPANISH. WILL THIS BE A PROBLEM?
You won’t have any problems communicating in the DR. Dominicans are very friendly and even if they do not speak your language, they will help you find someone who can or find a way to communicate. In the big cities, as well as in most tourist destinations, staff in hotels, restaurants, and tourist areas, as well as tour guides understand and speak English, in addition to other languages. Fluency is less common in the villages and countryside, but they will still make out the basics and help you find your way.
WHAT CLOTHES SHOULD I BRING?
The Dominican Republic has warm sunny weather all-year-round. But it does get chilly in the morning and evenings from November to March, whether in the city or in the mountains, so packing in layers is key. You should bring light cotton or linen clothing for warm weather, aside from swimwear, a light cardigan, pants, and a light jacket. Even if staying at a resort, make sure you pack a dressy outfit for special occasions, or to dine in upscale restaurants. If you are staying in Santo Domingo, bring your regular city clothes, as well as a couple of dressy options. If you go to a National Theater performance, for instance, you will need a jacket, and no jeans are allowed. In addition, if you are visiting churches or certain national monuments and museums, you may not be able to enter if you are in shorts or mini skirts. Some government offices will not admit you with a sleeveless shirt or without closed footwear.
CAN I TRAVEL WITH MY PET?
Prior to traveling with your cat or dog, call your carrier for up-to-date information. Know the cost of transporting your animal either on board or in the cargo load. Make your reservation early because some airlines restrict the number of pets that can be carried on a single flight.
A health certificate issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian must accompany each animal. The certificate needs to establish that the pet was examined within 30 days prior to departure and was found to be free of any infectious diseases, has been treated for external and internal parasites, and was vaccinated against rabies. The rabies vaccination certificate should include the date of vaccination, the established period of immunity, the product name, and serial number.
Upon arrival in the DR, ask to speak to the animal control official who will review your veterinary certificate(s), and fill in the official pet entry permission form required.
HOW SAFE IS IT?
The Dominican Republic continues to be one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the region. Common sense rules, however, and it’s best to take precautions just as you would when visiting any new country or large city in the world. Don’t flash your valuables, such as smartphones and cameras–use them discreetly when you are away from tourist areas. Leave the jewelry at home, dress simply, and don’t wander down isolated streets during the day or night.
IS IT THE CUSTOM TO ADDRESS PEOPLE WITH THE POLITE OR THE FAMILIAR FORM OF “YOU”?
Even though times are changing and becoming more informal, it is best to err on the side of formal rather than informal. Use the formal form of “you” (usted) when you don’t know the person well. Gentlemen can be referred to as Don or Señor (Mr.) and ladies as Doña or Señora (Mrs.).
At the same time, informality is common and acceptable because Dominicans are very open and sociable people. The term amigo (friend) and hermano (brother) are frequently used. Don’t be surprised if you are referred to as mi amor (my love) or cariño (dear) in the street or in local businesses–that’s just how Dominicans communicate.
IS IT SAFE TO DRINK TAP WATER AT THE HOTELS?
No, it is not safe to drink the tap water in the DR, as it is not purified. Always drink bottled water, available in abundance at your resort or in the neighborhood stores and supermarkets.
IS MY DRIVER’S LICENSE VALID IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC?
Yes it is valid, but only for the duration of your legal stay–i.e. your 30-day tourist card or visa term.
SHOULD I RENT A CAR?
The Dominican Republic has the most modern road infrastructure in the Caribbean, with excellent highways leading to and linking major tourist destinations. That being said, driving in the DR is known to be nerve-wracking; you must drive defensively and keep an eye out constantly for other drivers, motorbikes, pedestrians, cows, and other potential road companions and intruders. Driving out to the countryside is less stressful than in the big cities, though once you are in the villages, you should look out for potential road obstacles. You should be experienced, with preferable prior experience driving in big cities like New York, or driving in the Caribbean.
Avoid speeding, and don’t drive at night at all costs–lighting is often poor and nonexistent, which brings opportunities for car accidents and crime.
There are tourist destinations where having your own car is easier because there is so much to see. For example, if you are traveling the north coast from Montecristi to Puerto Plata or to Cabrera, or to the beaches of Samaná, renting a car will allow you to stop and see the sights along the way. On the east coast, having a car allows for more affordable exploration of the popular tourist areas of La Romana, Bávaro, Punta Cana, and Cap Cana. The southwest of the Dominican Republic–from Barahona to Pedernales–is one of the most beautiful and untouched regions in the country, where public transportation is limited. Having a car will help you save time and money, particularly to well-known, distant sights such as Bahía de Las Águilas. The beaches and attractions surrounding the major destinations will be more accessible and affordable to you with a rental car.
For Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerto Plata cities, however, it is best to rely on the vast network of taxis, including UBER. You can get a taxi by calling a 24-hr dispatch taxi company. Most offer a fixed rate of approximately US$5 one-way for most in-city destinations.
CAN I USE MY CELL PHONE THERE?
If your cell phone is on the GSM network, you can use it. However, your roaming costs will be high. Your best option is to bring an unlocked phone, and purchase a SIM card here to have a local number–you can obtain one with your passport ID, and activate it at any of the telecommunications companies here, including Claro and Altice. The SIM card costs less than US$5, and you will need to purchase additional phone credit for calls, at your discretion.
WILL BUSINESSES ACCEPT AMERICAN DOLLARS OR EUROS?
Businesses in tourist destinations, including restaurants, bars, department stores, souvenir shops, and supermarkets tend to accept dollars, though you will receive a less favorable rate than at the banks. That said, most prices in the Dominican Republic are in Dominican pesos. If you plan to make a big purchase in small shops and markets, negotiate first with the seller who may be interested in receiving the payment in American dollars or euros. Prices are fixed, however, in supermarkets and shopping mall stores. Your best bet is to use an ATM to withdraw local currency at the best daily exchange rate.
IS IT BEST TO CHANGE MONEY AT THE AIRPORT?
This is fine for convenience only–to pay for your airport taxi and your first transactions. Otherwise, if you must exchange money, head to one of the main banks in the Dominican Republic–they use the Central Bank’s daily rate as the benchmark for exchange transactions, so the difference in the exchange rate between banks is negligible. Banks close at 5pm on weekdays, but most branches inside shopping malls remain open until around 7pm-8pm. ATM machines are available at supermarkets and shopping malls until later hours. For security reasons, it is best to use the exchange services or withdraw from ATMs as you go along.
HOW MUCH IS THE SALES TAX?
The ITBIS (Impuesto sobre Transferencia de Bienes Industrializados y Servicios or the value-added tax for transferring industrial goods and services) is 18% and is applied to most purchases. In restaurants, bars, and hotels, a further 10% is automatically added as a service charge.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT EXCHANGE RATE?
Foreign currencies fluctuate from day to day, according to the market. You can check the exchange rates directly with commercial banks and exchange offices.
WHAT REGULATIONS EXIST FOR TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN?
If the child is a foreigner, only a passport is required. There are exceptions if the child has a parent who is a resident in the Dominican Republic. Consult your airline for travel requirements for unaccompanied minors.
WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL FOODS THAT I SHOULD TRY?
Dominican food is very diverse. In the morning, sample mangú (green plantains, boiled and mashed) with eggs, fried cheese, and fried salami–the traditional Dominican breakfast. At midday, la bandera dominicana (Dominican flag) is the typical lunch plate with rice, red kidney beans, a meat stew, and tostones–mashed and double-fried green plantains. Also popular are chicharrón or pork rinds, locrio de pollo or fried rice with chicken, mofongo–plantain mound with deep fried pork or shrimp, and garlic, fish in coconut sauce, stewed crab and conch, roasted or stewed goat with boiled cassava, and sancocho (a seven-meat stew) accompanied by avocado for dinner. And of course, don’t forget to try cassava bread, and queso de hoja–an artisanal cow’s milk cheese.
Dominican desserts are popular as well–sample grated coconut in cream, sweet beans, sour milk desserts, orange sweets, milk sweets, papaya and pineapple desserts, and guava and cashew paste soaked in syrup. Tropical fruit juices abound, often made into fruit milkshakes or batidas: passion fruit, guava, pineapple, orange, strawberry, mango, mandarin, and papaya.
Don’t miss out on tasting fresh sugar cane juice from one of the fields located throughout the country. You should also sample Dominican coconut water from one of the hundreds of coconut groves and forest–you will love the Dominican coconut’s delicious, thick pulp.
IS IT WORTH VISITING THE CAPITAL CITY OF SANTO DOMINGO?
Absolutely! Santo Domingo is the first city of the Americas, and was designated the American Capital of Culture for 2010. Its Colonial City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with museums, arts, culture, and the city’s most popular restaurants. The good news is that you can get to Santo Domingo easily and affordably, for less than US$10, from various parts of the country– including from Punta Cana, Samaná, La Romana, and Puerto Plata, among others– comfortable air conditioned coach buses: Expreso Bávaro, Caribe Tours, or Metro Tours. Staying overnight is your best bet. If you are only day tripping, keep the travel distances in mind.
WILL I BE ABLE TO SEE A BASEBALL GAME DURING MY STAY?
To make sure you catch a baseball game–“juego de pelota” as we call it in the DR–you will need to visit during the winter baseball season which runs from mid-October through the end of January. The tournament champion goes on to represent the DR in what is known as the Caribbean Series, when the winning teams from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Venezuela compete. No matter where you are staying in the country, you will have a stadium in your destination, or one that is less than an hour’s drive away. They are located in these main cities: Santo Domingo (Quisqueya Stadium), Santiago (Cibao Stadium), La Romana (Francisco Micheli Stadium), San Pedro de Macorís (Tetelo Vargas Stadium), and San Francisco de Macorís (Julián Javier Stadium). For schedule, tickets and prices, and other information visit official website of the Dominican Baseball League.
I’D LIKE TO BRING MY DRONE ON THE TRIP – DO I NEED ANY PERMITS, AND WHAT ARE THE DRONE-FLYING RESTRICTIONS IN DR?
Drone flying is regulated by the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (Instituto Dominicano de Aviación Civil or IDAC). As of April 2018, if your drone weighs less than 4.4 pounds (two kilograms), you are not required to have a permit. However, we strongly suggest that you still request permission from IDAC (http://www.idac.gob.do) before entering the country because the customs department at the airport tends to hold this kind of item in order to charge duties taxes. Having a letter of permission ahead of arrival will make it easier for you upon entering the DR.
In addition, you must always comply with the following:
The drone must be made of flexible materials, in case of possible impact towards any object or person, for minimum danger to the person or object struck.
The drone must be manually operated, allowing you or the operator to maintain direct visual contact at all times and not exceeding 400 feet (122 meters) of distance from you or the operator;
You must not fly the drone inside a five-mile radius (8 kms) of any airport.
You must operate the drone in conditions of weather flight vision—not at night—and it must be permanently in your sight and control or that of the operator; and
You must be sure, prior to commencing flying your drone, that the aircraft and its control system are in safe operating conditions.
Obtain verbal permission from the resort or any private property over which you intend to fly your drone, and to operate when the area is not crowded so as not to invade anyone’s privacy, particularly over busy beaches.
If your drone is over the above 4.4 pounds (two kilograms) weight limit, you will need a permit issued from IDAC. Contact them directly at DTAC@idac.gov.do to receive an application and start the process at least a month before your trip.
If your drone weighs over 4.4 pounds (two kilograms), you are required by law to submit a permission request to IDAC (http://www.idac.gob.do). In this request, you must specify the date, time, and place of use, and the nature of usage (commercial or personal).
Be sure to check regularly on any changes in IDAC drone regulations.
ARE THERE CLOSED FISHING SEASONS IN THE DR?
Yes, the Dominican Republic imposes several closed fishing seasons. By law, it is prohibited for anyone to fish, consume, or possess the following marine species during these designated time periods:
Lobster: March 1- June 30
Crab: March 1 – June 30
Conch: July 1- Oct 31
This also means that these species should not be available for sale nor served at food establishments, markets, or other commercial locations during closed fishing months.
Fishing for parrotfish and sharks is strictly prohibited at all times, year round. Violating these laws will result in hefty fines and imprisonment.
I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS I WOULD LIKE TO ASK–WHO CAN I SPEAK WITH BEFORE ARRIVAL?
The Ministry of Tourism has over 25 offices abroad, including in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Feel free to contact them directly with your additional questions.