Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Dominican Republic International Travel Information
Av. República de Colombia #57
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Telephone: +(809) 567-7775
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(809) 567-7775, Ext. 1
Hours: Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM except U.S. and Dominican holidays
U.S. Consular Agent - Puerto Plata
Calle Villanueva esq. Avenida John F. Kennedy
Edificio Abraxa Libraria, 2nd floor
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Telephone: +(809) 586-8017, +(809) 586-8023
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (809) 368-7777
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM except U.S. and Dominican holidays
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Dominican Republic for information on U.S. – Dominican Republic relations.
Visitors who do not obtain a Dominican visa must purchase a tourist card at the airport for 10 USD upon entry or online prior to travel.
For more specific information concerning entry and exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in the United States.
Please contact the Migration Department in Santo Domingo for visa extension requests. Failure to request an extension will result in a surcharge at the airport upon departure. The surcharges can ranges from approximately $55 USD for one month to as high as $1,555 USD for 10 years.
Exit Requirements for children: Minors (children under 18) who are citizens (including dual citizens) or legal residents of the Dominican Republic are required to present both parent’s identification documents and notarized consent (in Spanish) in order to exit the country if not accompanied by both parents or Legal Guardian. The written consent must be notarized at the Dominican consulate in the United States or notarized and then certified at the Dominican Attorney General’s office (Procuraduria de la Republica) if done in the Dominican Republic. More information, including current fee information, can be found at the Immigration Office's website.
Regulations governing the travel of children in the Dominican Republic can be found in Spanish on the Migration Department.
Crime: Significant crime exists throughout the Dominican Republic. Take precautions to avoid becoming a target. If confronted by a thief demanding money or personal items, comply with their demands. Criminals often have weapons and are likely to use them if they meet resistance. Avoid wearing items of value or carrying an item that could make you at attractive target. Be wary of strangers, especially those who approach you at celebrations or nightspots. Travel with a partner or in a group if possible.
Victims of Crime: If you become a victim of a crime, we urge you to report the incident immediately to the U.S. Embassy (809-567-7777) and to local tourist police (CESTUR) at (809-200-3500) for assistance and to file a police report.
The Embassy can help you:
The local equivalent to a U.S. “911” emergency line in the Dominican Republic is also “911”. Call 911 for any kind of emergency. 911 is not yet operational in Punta Cana and some other parts of the country, in which case you should contact the local tourist police (CESTUR) at (809-200-3500) for assistance. Another great resource is the CESTUR smartphone app which connects you to the tourist police at the touch of a button.
Please see information on victims of crime.
For further Information:
Beaches and Resorts: We recommend that you do not consume alcoholic beverages alone or with “friends” that you make in the Dominican Republic. Reported incidents include sexual assault targeting inebriated victims or involving date rape drugs and victims who have been isolated and forced in to compromising situations; sometimes by ingratiating employees. Report any unwanted attention to hotel management.
Water Sports: Swimming areas at some popular beaches around the Dominican Republic are subject to dangerous undertows. Many beaches lack life guards, warnings, or signs of unsafe conditions. Check with your hotel, as resort managers usually offer current information on local swimming and surf conditions. Do not swim alone, particularly at isolated beaches.
Spring Break: Individuals wishing to travel to the Dominican Republic during Spring Break can find additional information on the State Department’s Students Abroad website.
Additional Information for Travelers is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to all local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, fined, deported, and/or imprisoned.
Some crimes or offenses may lead to prosecution in the U.S., regardless of local laws. Also, see these links for details about crimes against minors abroad and other information on from the Department of Justice.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Dominican Republic are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Check our website for General Information on Legal Assistance and a List of Local Attorneys.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: There is cultural discrimination against LGBTI individuals and the government does not legally recognize same-sex unions. For more detailed information about LGBTI rights, you may review the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
For further information on LGBTI travel, please read our Information for LGBTI Travelers page.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The law provides for physical access for persons with disabilities to all new public and private buildings, but the authorities do not enforce this provision and sidewalks are generally in disrepair and pose a hazard to all pedestrians.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Disaster Preparedness: The Embassy encourages both U.S. citizen residents and visitors to register with the Embassy on or before your arrival to the country. In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, this will assist in effort to keep you informed. You may register through the State Department's travel registration website. U.S. citizens who have previously registered with the U.S. Embassy do not need to register again. Additional information on natural disasters and disaster preparedness can be found on our website.
Real Estate: Real estate investments require a high level of caution, as property rights are irregularly enforced and investors often encounter problems in receiving clear title to land. We recommend consultation with a reputable attorney before signing documents or closing on any real estate transactions. Real estate investments by U.S. citizens have been the subject of both legal and physical takeover attempts. Absentee landlords and absentee owners of undeveloped land are particularly vulnerable. Investors should seek solid property title and not just a “carta de constancia,” which is often confused with a title. An official land registry measurement (also known as “deslinde” or “mensura catastral”) is also desirable for the cautious overseas investor. Investors should also consider purchasing title insurance.
Scams: Be alert to a scam which targets elderly citizens. The perpetrator contacts a grandparent on the telephone pretending to be a law enforcement official, an attorney, or a U.S. Embassy official and informs them that a loved one has been arrested overseas. The caller instructs the victim to wire cash. In some instances, impersonators portray the role of the scared grandchild. When in doubt, please attempt to contact your loved one directly.
The U.S. Embassy does not pay medical bills. U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Check before traveling to ensure your medical insurance provides coverage overseas or obtain supplemental travel insurance. Most health care providers in the DR only accept cash payments and these payments often must be made prior to treatment and/or before the patient’s hospital discharge. See our webpage for general information on medical assistance.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. For additional information on medications or concerns regarding mental health, please reference the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While private hospitals that are located in large cities are fairly adequate, the quality of care can vary. Emergency treatment before payment is not required by Dominican law, and a deposit or fees for services may be required before emergency medical treatment. For additional information please reference our webpage about Medical Assistance or see our List of Doctors and Hospitals in the Dominican Republic.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact. The CDC has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects in some fetuses and babies born to infected mothers. For additional information about Zika, including travel advisories, visit the CDC website.
Chikungunya, Dengue, and Yellow Fever are present on the island. Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents.
Further health information:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tap Water: Tap water is unsafe to drink. Bottled water and beverages are considered safe.
Cosmetic Surgery: U.S. citizens should be aware of the risks associated with cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic. The Embassy is aware of U.S. citizens who suffered serious complications or died during or after having cosmetic surgery. Special care should be taken to verify the credentials and qualifications of any plastic surgeon. Additional information can be attained from the CDC website for Medical Tourism.
Road Conditions and Safety: Driving conditions vary across the country because of frequent disconcerting and dangerous patterns that include: driving at night without lights; missing manhole covers and large potholes; uneven road surfaces; scooters and motorcycles splitting lanes; driving on sidewalks; driving against traffic; a lack of stop signs at intersections; regularly “squeezing” four lanes of traffic where only two are intended; failure to adhere to speed limits or disregard for stop lights; and heavy urban traffic. If you do elect to drive, you should be aware that defensive driving is necessary and extreme caution advised. Be especially vigilant when driving at night as drivers do not always use their lights and when driving in rural areas or along the border as animals are often encountered in the roadways.
Visitors to the Dominican Republic should consider hiring a professional driver during their stay in lieu of driving themselves. Licensed drivers who are familiar with local roads can be hired through local car rental agencies. In case of accidents, only the driver will be taken into custody.
Traffic Laws: Traffic laws exist however there is not consistent enforcement and they are not technically equivalent to those of the United States.
Dominican law requires that a driver be taken into custody for being involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death, even if the driver is insured and appears not to have been at fault. The minimum detention period is 48 hours; however, detentions frequently last until a judicial decision is reached, or until a waiver is signed by the injured party.
Seat belts are required by law, and those caught not wearing them will be fined. There are no child car seat laws. The law also requires the use of hands-free cellular devices while driving. Police stop drivers using cell phones without the benefit of these devices.
Motorcycles and motor scooters are common, and they are often driven erratically. Law requires that motorcyclists wear helmets, but local authorities rarely enforce this law. Motor vehicle authorities report that less than one percent of motorcyclists in the country are actually licensed.
Although there may be a lack of enforcement, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated or inebriated whether due to the consumption of alcohol or narcotics. Penalties for drunk driving can include fines and/or imprisonment and the sentence is dependent upon whether or not injuries or damages were incurred as a result of drunk driving.
Please refer to our information on Road Safety.
Public Transportation: Public transportation consists primarily of “guaguas” - privately owned buses or vans that serve as share taxis. “Guaguas” run regular routes within urban areas and between towns in the countryside. The public buses and guaguas operating in the capital are not considered reliable or safe.
Many unregulated taxis operating throughout the country lack basic safety features and should be avoided. We recommend that you only use a reputable, legitimate taxi service as recommended through your hotel or as part of a well-known, vetted vehicle service company.
Santo Domingo has a metro system and riders should take the same precautions as appropriate in any crowded area.
Private bus lines are available when traveling between large urban centers and to popular tourist destinations.
Please refer to our information on Road Safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Dominican Republic’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.