Dominican Republic Basics

Print this Guide Print this Guide | Email this Guide Email this Guide

The Basics

Time: GMT-4

Electricity: Electrical current is between 110 and 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style two-pin flat blade plugs are standard.

Money: The currency is the Dominican Republic Peso (DOP), which is divided into 100 centavos. Many of the hotels and restaurants in the main tourist destinations display their prices in US dollars as well as in Dominican Pesos, as US dollars are widely accepted. Some places will also accept Euros. The peso cannot be exchanged outside of the Dominican Republic, though major currencies can be converted into pesos at Central Bank approved bureaux. Only a small percentage of the pesos bought can be reconverted, and only if the original receipts are produced. So, it's best if travellers avoid buying more pesos than they're likely to need. Major credit cards are accepted everywhere, but a commission is usually charged. Also, it's recommended that travellers use their credit cards at their hotels, as fraud incidents have been reported. The best exchange rates are paid on US dollars in cash, and are best exchanged at exchange bureaux (casas/agente de cambio). Banking hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am-4.30pm. Some banks also open on Saturdays. ATMs are widespread.

Currency Exchange Rates

DOP1.00 = USD 0.02GBP 0.02CAD 0.03AUD 0.03ZAR 0.30EUR 0.02NZD 0.03
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken in the main tourist centres.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for touristic stays.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for holders of British passports endorsed 'British Citizen' or 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' travelling as tourists. Visitors are required to obtain a Tourist Card on arrival; these are generally valid for 30 days, but can be extended. Holders of passports with any other endorsement should contact the relevant embassy to confirm entry requirements.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for tourist stays.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

Passport/Visa Note: In lieu of visas, Tourist Cards can be issued on-arrival to certain nationals, at a cost of USD 10 for a stay of 30 days. Extensions are possible. A return or onward ticket is required by all visitors, as well as the travel documentation needed for their next destination. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers going between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA, a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months validity remaining after their intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: No vaccination certificates are required but precautions are recommended against Hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies and polio for those who plan to spend time outside the main tourist resort areas. There is a malaria risk throughout the year. Between May and September there is a risk of dengue fever, which is contracted from mosquitoes that bite during the day. It is advisable to use mosquito repellent. Travellers should be aware of the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS virus in the Dominican Republic and take the relevant precautions. Water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated in undeveloped areas; bottled water is available. Some species of fish, including tropical reef fish, may be poisonous to eat even when well cooked. There are good hospitals and other private medical facilities located in Puerto Plata, Santiago and Santo Domingo but, outside of these cities, facilities are limited and staff are unlikely to understand English. Most resorts have doctors that can treat minor medical complaints. Health insurance, including provision for medical evacuation, is recommended.

Tipping: Hotels and restaurants generally include a 10 percent service charge as well as tax, but additional tips should be given for good service as often the charge does not go to the staff who provided the service. Waiters usually receive 10 percent extra for good service. For other services including taxi drivers, tipping is discretionary depending on the service provided.

Safety Information: The Dominican Republic is generally friendly and welcoming, with the vast majority of visits proceeding as trouble-free experiences. That said, travellers should not ignore the country's crime rate. Incidences of violent crime are infrequent; visitors should take normal precautions against petty crime. The risk of terrorism is low. Tensions sometimes flare up along the Haitian border, so travellers should check the situation before crossing or visiting the region. The Dominican Republic is vulnerable to hurricanes from June to November.

Local Customs: Being polite to others and having respect for elders is integral and is expected from visitors. If taking a photograph of a local, tourists should ask permission first and then offer a gift afterwards. Dominicans take care in their appearance and form judgements based on what people wear; they are likely to look down on tourists that are unkempt or wear clothes that are too revealing.

Business: Santo Domingo is the centre of business in the Dominican Republic. Good working relationships are vital and trust is an integral part of doing business in the Dominican Republic; knowing the right people is half the battle won. Appearances are considered important and therefore dressing smartly is advised. Meetings are initially rather formal and a polite greeting accompanied by a handshake is common; expect small talk. Business cards are usually exchanged on introduction. Punctuality is important. Although English is widely spoken and understood, it is still useful to have all business material printed in English and Spanish. It is important to be polite and courteous at all times. Business hours are usually 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international access code for the Dominican Republic is +1, as with the US, Canada and most of the Caribbean, followed by 809 or 829. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the UK) but this is not required for calling North America. Wifi is generally available in most cafes, hotels and restaurants.

Duty Free: Travellers to the Dominican Republic over 16 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 1 box cigars; 1 bottle of alcohol, unopened and maximum of 2 litres; and up to 2 bottles of perfume for personal use. All animal products are prohibited.