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Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
Exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime.

Exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime.

Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic. The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo. The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to the Dominican Republic:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Follow the advice of resort and tour operators regarding local safety and security concerns
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for the Dominican Republic.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued after periodic review with updates to information on crime.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Not required for visits shorter than 30 days

VACCINATIONS:


None required if arriving from the United States

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


$10,000 and over or its equivalent must be declared

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo

Av. República de Colombia #57
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Telephone: +(809) 567-7775
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(809) 567-7775, Ext. 1 
Email: 
Hours: Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM except U.S. and Dominican holidays 

Consulates

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
Email: PuertoPlataConsularAgency@state.gov
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM except U.S. and Dominican holidays

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Dominican Republic for information on U.S. – Dominican Republic relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Not required for visits shorter than 30 days. Visit the Embassy of the Dominican Republic website for the most current visa information.

All visitors to the Dominican Republic are charged a $10 tourist fee that is incorporated into airline charges. A tourist card is electronically issued and is valid for one year from the date of issue. Cruise passengers must obtain a tourist card if they are disembarking for longer than 24 hours. Once used, the card allows for stays of up to 30 days but can be extended at the General Directorate of Migration in Santo Domingo. Any visitors wishing to extend their stay in the Dominican Republic should request an extension.

Contact the Migration Department in Santo Domingo for visa extension requests. Failure to request an extension will result in a fine at the airport upon departure. The fines range from approximately $55 USD for one month to as high as $1,555 USD for overstays of 10 years or more.

Exit Requirements for children: Minors (children under 18) who are citizens (including dual citizens) or legal residents of the Dominican Republic, if not accompanied by both parents or legal guardian(s), are required to present official proof of parental consent to travel. Please see the Dominican Migration Department's website for detailed instructions on the required procedure and options for online services.

HIV/AIDS Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for foreign residents of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has restrictions on granting residency to people with HIV/AIDS. Please verify information with the Dominican Republic’s Migration Department before you travel.

Yellow Fever Vaccine: Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers entering the Dominican Republic from Brazil. Similar requirements may apply to those traveling from other countries with yellow fever risk.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Crime: Crime is a threat throughout the Dominican Republic though tourist destinations are generally more heavily policed and safer than other metropolitan areas. Take precautions to avoid becoming a target.

  • If you are robbed, hand over your personal belongings without resisting. Resisting will increase your risk of injury.
  • Do not carry or wear valuable items that will attract attention.
  • Be wary of strangers, especially those who approach you at celebrations or nightspots.
  • Travel with a partner or in a group if possible.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local tourist police (CESTUR) at 911 or 809-200-3500 and contact the U.S. Embassy at 809-567-7775. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

Call 911 in case of emergency. 911 is not yet operational in some less populated areas of the country, in which case contact the tourist police (CESTUR) at 809-200-3500. You can also contact the tourist police through their mobile app.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence should contact CESTUR (809-222-2026) the National Police (809-682-2151), and the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Beaches and Resorts: Do not consume alcoholic beverages alone or with new acquaintances you may meet while in the Dominican Republic. Do not leave drinks unattended. This can put you at risk for date rape drugs and sexual assault. Victims have been assaulted while in isolated or compromising situations, sometimes by resort employees or other tourists. Call 911 and/or report any unwanted attention to hotel management. Insist that hotel management take immediate action to involve appropriate authorities such as contacting the police. In more remote areas of the country where 911 is not yet functional, see above for more detailed local emergency contact information.

Sexual Assault: Rape and sexual assault of American citizens has been reported throughout the Dominican Republic, including at major resorts and hotels.

Notes for your safety:

  • U.S. citizens have been targeted with date rape drugs at private parties and resorts.
  • Sexual assault victims in the Dominican Republic should not expect the totality of assistance routinely offered in the United States. Shortcomings exist in the collection of evidence. Rape kits are often not available until the following morning and must be administered by the Dominican authorities, not hotel medical personnel. Counseling is unlikely to be offered to victims.
  • Victims often have to ask for medication to avoid transmission of STDs and to reduce the chances of pregnancy.
  • Prosecution of a rape case moves forward very slowly. Dominican law may require the victim to return to the Dominican Republic at some stages of the judicial process.
  • Security outside of the resort area, including beach areas, is unpredictable, especially at night.

Best Practices:

  • Contact the police and/or hotel management if resort staff members demonstrate unwanted attention toward guests.
  • If you are the victim of a sexual or other assault, contact the police and the Embassy as soon as possible. In a hotel, management should assist you with these communications. Insist they take immediate action by contacting the police.
  • In a resort, avoid secluded places or situations. Try to always be accompanied by someone you know, even on visits to the restroom. Do not leave resort property with someone you have just met.
  • Do not drink to excess including when at all-inclusive resorts. Know your limits and help your friends/travelling companions to remain safe.
  • Shout for help immediately if you feel threatened or encounter individuals who make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Report any suspicious activity, including excessive friendliness by hotel employees, to hotel management, the U.S. Embassy, and, as appropriate, local police. Insist upon immediate action if you feel the complaint is not being taken seriously.

Water Sports: Swimming areas at some popular beaches are subject to dangerous undertows. Many beaches lack lifeguards, warnings, or signs of unsafe conditions. U.S. citizens have died in the Dominican Republic due to these dangers. 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.

Toursim: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities may not commonly occur in all parts of the country. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities or major tourist zones. First responders may be unable to access areas outside of major cities or major tourist zones. The ability to provide urgent medical treatment may be limited. U.S. citizens are encouraged to discuss safety and security measures with tourism operators and to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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. See our webpage and general information on legal assistance for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the Dominican Republic. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Dominican law provides for physical access for persons with disabilities to all new public and private buildings, but the authorities do not enforce this provision consistently. Sidewalks are generally in disrepair and pose a hazard to all pedestrians.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Disaster Preparedness: Register with the Embassy on or before your arrival through our travel registration website. In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, this will assist in effort to keep you informed. Additional information on natural disasters and disaster preparedness can be found on our website.

Real Estate: Property rights are irregularly enforced, and investors often encounter problems in receiving clear title to land. Consult a reputable attorney before signing documents or closing on any real estate transactions. Real estate investments by U.S. citizens have been subject to legal and physical takeover attempts. Absentee landlords and absentee owners of undeveloped land are particularly vulnerable. Consider purchasing title insurance.

Scams: Scammers often target elderly people by pretending to be a law enforcement official, an attorney, or a U.S. Embassy official, claiming that a loved one has been arrested overseas. The caller instructs the victim to wire money. Scammers sometimes impersonate family members, such as a scared grandchild. Contact the U.S. Embassy before wiring money to the Dominican Republic. When in doubt, try to contact your loved one directly.

Health

While private hospitals in large cities are generally adequate, the quality of care can vary. Public hospitals and those outside large cities are not necessarily up to U.S. medical standards. You may need to pay a deposit or fees before receiving emergency medical treatment. See our website for additional information on medical assistance in the Dominican Republic. See also the Centers for Disease Control’s website for Traveler’s Health related to the Dominican Republic.  

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most health care providers in the Dominican Republic 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 more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of the Dominican Republic to ensure the medication is legal in the Dominican Republic. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue
  • Yellow Fever
  • Zika

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tap Water: Tap water is unsafe to drink. Bottled water and beverages are considered safe.

Cosmetic Surgery: Be aware of the risks associated with cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic. U.S. citizens have suffered serious complications or died during or after having cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic, including from complications and infections detected only after departure from the Dominican Republic. Verify the credentials and qualifications of any plastic surgeon and discuss post-surgical care and the detection and management of post-surgical infection prior to any procedure. See the CDC’s website on medical tourism for additional information. 

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Driving conditions vary across the country. Drive defensively and with extreme caution.

Consider hiring a professional driver instead of driving yourself. You can hire licensed drivers who are familiar with local roads through local car rental agencies. In case of accidents, normally only the driver will be taken into custody.

Frequent hazards include:

  • other drivers not using headlights and/or taillights after dark
  • animals in the road in rural areas
  • missing manhole covers and large potholes
  • uneven road surfaces
  • scooters and motorcycles driving erratically and splitting lanes
  • driving on sidewalks or against traffic
  • intersections without stop signs
  • unregulated and congested traffic patterns
  • speeding or the running of stoplights
  • heavy urban traffic

Traffic Laws: Traffic laws are not enforced consistently.

After an accident causing serious injury or death, authorities will often take the driver into custody, even if the driver is insured and appears to have not been at fault. Detentions frequently last until a judicial decision has been reached or until a waiver has been signed by the injured party.

Seat belts, and helmets for motorcyclists, are required by law. Violators may be fined. There are no child car seat laws. Police stop drivers using cell phones without a hands-free device.

Public Transportation: Public transportation includes a metro and public bus system as well as shared bus or van taxis known as guaguas (converted vans or microbuses, often without doors). Guaguas run regular routes within urban areas and between towns in the countryside. Public buses and “guaguas” operating in the capital do not meet U.S. safety standards.

Avoid unregulated taxis, which also often lack basic safety features. Use a reputable taxi service, either one recommended by your hotel or a well-known, vetted company. Rideshare services such as Uber are available in many parts of the country.

Private bus lines travel between large cities and to popular tourist destinations. 

See our Road Safety page for more information.

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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the Dominican Republic should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Dominican Republic. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: April 15, 2019

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo
Av. República de Colombia #57
Santo Domingo,
Dominican Republic
Telephone
+(809) 567-7775
Emergency
+(809) 567-7775, Ext. 1
Fax
No Fax

Dominican Republic Map