Dominican Republic
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Dominican Republic

© 123rf.com / Elena Elisseeva

Dominican Republic Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

48,442 sq. km (18,792 sq. miles).

Population

10,776,988 (UN estimate 2016).

 

Population density

233 per sq. km (86.1 sq. miles).

Capital

Santo Domingo.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Luis Abinader since 2020.

Head of government

President Luis Abinader since 2020.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 60Hz. North American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without round grounding pin) are in use. Some sockets may require an adaptor if you have a three-pin plug.

Dominican Republic is ensconced as the Caribbean’s most visited destination. It’s not hard to see why; a seemingly endless spread of white-sandy beaches and palm trees play host to a similarly sizeable range of holiday resorts. The country has developed a reputation for a good-quality break at a reasonable price, for what it’s worth.

With its 32km (20 miles) stretch of beaches and clear blue sea, the region around Punta Cana on the east coast is particularly popular, offering golf courses, all-inclusive holidays and the usual fun-in-the-sun trappings.

Dominican Republic makes up one half of the island of Hispaniola – which it shares with Haiti in the west. The country is one of the most geographically diverse parts of the Caribbean, showcasing everything from tropical rainforests and high-mountain ranges to mangrove swamps and semi-deserts. Mountain-bikers, windsurfers, hikers, climbers and even whale-watchers are well catered for.

No less notably, however, the Dominican Republic is heaving with life, blending the heady rhythms of merengue and bachata music, with a fondness for rum and religion, not to mention a near-unrivalled passion for baseball.

The country has a long history. It was the first part of the region to be discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. A visit to capital city Santo Domingo still makes the most natural starting point for cultural visitors. The oldest fortress Fortaleza Ozama (built in 1502) and colonial-era churches still stand proud, while the city as a whole is a thrusting, energetic destination full of speaker-blaring corner stores and dance-till-you-drop nightclubs.

While it’s a large country by Caribbean standards, it remains relatively easy to combine different elements of the destination in one itinerary. And whether you’re here for the beaches, the music, the countryside or the culture, the DR in full swing is a force to be reckoned with.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in the Dominican Republic set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering the Dominican Republic.

Passport validity requirements

To enter the Dominican Republic, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.  

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen. 

Checks at border control

You may be refused entry if you do not have proof of onward or return travel when you arrive in the country.

Border officials will take your fingerprints and take a photograph of you before allowing you into the country.

Entry and exit form

You must fill in an entry and exit form before arriving in and leaving the Dominican Republic. This form includes your:

  • customs declaration
  • international boarding and disembarking form

You can fill in the form up to 7 days before you arrive in the country. You’ll get a QR code, which you may be asked to show at check-in, or when you arrive in or leave the country.    

Visa requirements

You can visit the Dominican Republic for tourism without a visa for 30 days.

To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Dominican Republic government’s entry requirements.

Extending your visit

You can pay to extend your visit up to 120 days by contacting the Dominican Republic Immigration Service.

Vaccine requirements

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Dominican Republic guide.

Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever certificate. 

Children and young people     

For children aged 17 and under travelling alone, parents should check travel requirements with the airline and with Dominican Republic Immigration Service.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of the Dominican Republic (in Spanish). You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.  

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Dominican Republic

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Dominican Republic, attacks cannot be ruled out.

Political demonstrations

Political demonstrations sometimes happen, although not usually near tourist areas. Take care not to get caught up in demonstrations or large gatherings and follow the instructions of the Dominican Republic authorities.

Crime

The crime rate in the Dominican Republic is high. Incidents range from opportunistic bag-snatching and pickpocketing to violent crime and carjacking.

Stay alert when on the street or driving to the risk of drive-by robberies. Thieves on motorcycles snatch bags and valuables from pedestrians and sometimes reach through the windows of cars at red lights to steal belongings.

There have been incidents where foreigners have been mugged at gunpoint or knifepoint during the daytime while walking in residential districts.

Attackers may be armed, even if you cannot see a weapon.

Protecting yourself and your belongings 

You can take steps to reduce your personal risk by:

  • avoiding remote areas, particularly after dark
  • not wearing expensive jewellery or carrying large amounts of cash
  • keeping smartphones and other electronic items out of sight
  • not leaving your bags or other possession on chairs or tables in restaurants and bars
  • keeping car windows shut and doors locked
  • carrying your bags on the side away from the road

If you’re robbed, do not fight back or do anything that puts you at greater risk.

Credit card crime

Credit card cloning and identity theft are a risk in the Dominican Republic. Keep your payment card in view when paying or pay in cash.

Sexual assault

Incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreigners have occurred, including at beach resorts. In some cases, hotel employees or fellow guests have been implicated.

You can take steps to reduce your risk:

  • avoid walking alone at night
  • do not leave drinks unattended
  • be wary when dealing with strangers, and anyone offering rides or other invitations

If you’re a victim of a sexual assault or other crime, report it immediately to the British Embassy in Santo Domingo. Consular staff can help:

  • report the incident with local authorities
  • explain the process
  • translate for you if there’s a language barrier

See FCDO’s guidance for victims of rape and sexual assault abroad.

You must formally report a crime to the Dominican Republic authorities before you leave the country so they can investigate.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

Always carry copies of the photo page of your passport and entry stamp with you.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

There are severe penalties for all drug offences. Possession of even small quantities of any drug can lead to a fine and a prison sentence. Pack your own luggage and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.

If you’re arrested for drug offences your case can take several years to progress through the judicial process, during which you’re likely to be held in detention. If you’re given a prison sentence, you will serve the whole sentence in the Dominican Republic.

LGBT+ travellers

Attitudes towards the LGBT+ community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. Although same-sex sexual relations are legal in the Dominican Republic, same-sex marriages are not legally recognised. Showing affection in public may attract unwanted and negative attention.

Nearly all Dominican hotels welcome LGBT+ travellers, although you should check when you book.  

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Providers of recreational and adventure tourism may not meet UK safety standards. Check safety standards and make sure you’re insured if you take part in activities like water sports, quad biking or horse riding.

Swimming safety

Lifeguards may not be present at swimming pools or on beaches. Safety and rescue equipment may not be available.

The sea can be dangerous, especially during the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Follow instructions about sea conditions and warning systems. 

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you’re planning to drive in the Dominican Republic, see information on driving abroad.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in the Dominican Republic for up to 3 months. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.

For longer visits, apply for a local driving licence. See Living in the Dominican Republic for more information.  

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an IDP

Road safety

The Dominican Republic has a high death rate from road traffic accidents. Road accidents happen often, especially during holiday periods like Christmas and Easter.

Risks you may face include:

  • other drivers not following traffic laws, weaving from lane to lane and rarely signalling
  • vehicles being in poor condition
  • drunk driving

The quality of roads varies, although the majority of motorways connecting cities and tourist areas are in good condition.

Driving outside the main cities at night can be dangerous because of poor lighting, animals or pedestrians on the road and cars driving without headlights.

If police stop you for a traffic violation, they may issue you with a fine. They should not ask you for money directly. Pay the fine online on Infracciones de transito.

Motorbikes and scooters

Take particular care if riding a motorbike or scooter. The Dominican Republic has a high death rate from road accidents involving motorbikes and scooters.  

Traffic accidents

If you’re involved in an accident, call the police and wait at the scene. If you’re detained because of a road accident, ask the police to contact the British Embassy in Santo Domingo.

Drivers involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death will be taken into police custody until circumstances have been investigated. This will happen even if the driver appears not to be at fault.

The telephone number for national roadside assistance is +1 829 689 1000.

Reporting an accident

If you’re involved in a road accident, you must file a report with the Dominican Republic authorities.

If the accident did not cause injuries and happened in Santo Domingo or Santiago, you should register it at an accident reporting centre such as La Casa del Conductor or El Centro del Automovilista (both in Spanish). These are government centres with English-speaking agents and representatives from the police and insurance companies.

Talk to your insurance company for guidance on which centre you should use to report an accident.

If the accident occurs in any other part of Dominican Republic, file a report at the nearest police station.

Taxis

Taxis can be cheap but many are in poor condition. Use an authorised airport or hotel taxi service, or book from a registered provider. Ride-hailing apps are widely available.

Motorbike taxis (‘motoconchos’) are often driven badly and do not always provide passengers with a helmet.

Public transport

Public buses and ‘carros publicos’ (shared cars that pick up passengers) are often uninsured, not registered and poorly maintained.

Private companies operate good bus services between cities.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards

Hurricanes

The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. Monitor local news and check the World Meteorological Association weather reports for the Dominican Republic and the US National Hurricane Center’s regional map.

Spanish language alerts are available from the Dominican Emergency Management Centre (COE) via their mobile app ‘AlertaCOE’, or their Twitter account.

Hurricanes can cause localised flooding and damage to buildings. In recent years this has affected the north and east of the country.

Earthquakes and tsunamis 

Earthquakes are a risk in the Dominican Republic. If an earthquake happens, follow the advice of the local authorities. 

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

There is a risk of tsunamis from earthquakes at sea. Follow the instructions of the local authorities if there are warnings of an approaching tsunami. 

This section has safety advice for regions of the Dominican Republic. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.

Dominican Republic-Haiti border

FCDO advises against all travel to Haiti due to the volatile security situation.

Land and sea borders between the Dominican Republic and Haiti are closed. Military and police roadblocks are common in the border area. The roadblocks can appear to be unofficial, although the soldiers do wear army uniform and carry weapons.

There have been armed robberies on roads close to the border with Haiti, including by criminals posing as police officers.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 911 and ask for an ambulance if you’re in Santo Domingo.

The 911 emergency number does not have full coverage across the country. If you’re outside Santo Domingo, you can telephone the tourist police (‘Politur’) in an emergency: +1 809 200 3500.

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of the Dominican Republic. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.

Tap water quality

Tap water in the Dominican Republic is not drinkable.

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Some medicines normally only available on prescription in the UK are available in pharmacies across the Dominican Republic.

Healthcare facilities in the Dominican Republic

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in the Dominican Republic.

Public medical facilities in the Dominican Republic are generally limited. Private hospitals offer good standards of care, although they can be expensive.

Make sure you have appropriate travel health insurance and can access funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. In some cases, visitors who cannot pay their hospital bills are stopped from leaving the country until the debt is paid.

Medical tourism 

There are risks associated with cosmetic or elective surgery overseas.

If you’re considering travelling to the Dominican Republic for medical, surgical or dental treatment:

Find further advice on medical tourism from TravelHealthPro, and NHS guidance on going abroad for medical treatment and on cosmetic surgery abroad

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in the Dominican Republic

Telephone: 911 (ambulance, fire, police)

The 911 emergency number does not have full coverage across the country. If you’re outside Santo Domingo, you can telephone the tourist police in an emergency: +1 809 200 3500.

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in the Dominican Republic and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy inSanto Domingo.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.