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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Dominican Republic. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to a high crime rate.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
The security situation is stable. However, demonstrations and protests occasionally occur, particularly in the areas of Santiago, Salcedo, Bonao and Santo Domingo. Demonstrations are not targeted at foreigners and do not happen near all-inclusive resorts, although local travel outside resorts could be affected. Monitor local news reports and avoid all large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent without warning.
Violent crime (including assault) against foreigners occasionally occurs. Petty crime (including pickpocketing) is common in urban areas. Thefts have been reported in resorts, including in hotel rooms and hotel room safes. Exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially after dark. Avoid showing signs of affluence and do not leave your personal belongings unattended on the beach. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Limit the valuable items you bring into the country.
Theft of items from checked baggage at airports has been reported. These thefts have taken place most frequently when travellers are departing. Money and personal items have also been stolen from carry-on luggage while travellers are going through security checks. Do not pack valuables in your checked luggage. Items most likely to disappear include electronics (especially digital cameras), jewellery and perfume. All bags are routinely X-rayed upon arrival and departure.
In the event that documents are lost or stolen, obtain a police report in order to receive a passport or an appropriate travel document from the Embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo, the Consulate of Canada in Puerto Plata or the Office of the Embassy of Canada in Punta Cana.
Unaccompanied female travellers should exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, especially regarding the acceptance of rides or other invitations. Incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreigners have been reported, including at beach resorts. In some cases, hotel employees have been implicated.
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Anyone who is a victim of sexual assault or other crime should report the crime immediately. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to the Dominican authorities.
The Dominican Republic has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. Driving is hazardous due to aggressive driving habits, a significant number of trucks and motorcycles, reckless passing, excessive speeds, poorly marked lanes, construction, vehicles travelling in the wrong direction on one-way streets, and poorly maintained roads and cars. Driving after dark is not recommended due to poor lighting.
Traffic laws are similar to those in Canada but are often not respected. There have been reports of police officers, or criminals posing as police officers, demanding immediate payment of traffic fines. Drivers should insist on paying any traffic fine at the nearest police station. Pedestrians should take extra care.
In the event of a vehicle breakdown or roadside emergency, a highway patrol service sponsored by the Ministry of Public Works and staffed by police officers and military personnel provides free 24-hour assistance on all major toll highways. In case of an emergency, dial 1-829-688-1000 for assistance.
Public transportation is not recommended. Private companies operate reliable buses between cities. Taxi-plane services are also available.
Taxis are fairly reliable. You should always negotiate the fare prior to departure. Avoid using or renting motorcycle taxis (motoconchos), as they are very dangerous. Route taxis (gua-guas/carros publicos) are not recommended as they may disregard traffic laws, often resulting in serious accidents involving injury and sometimes death. They may also be used by thieves to rob passengers.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Credit card and debit card fraud occurs. Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others during payment. Be cautious when using automated banking machines, and only do so to withdraw money during business hours inside a bank.
General security information
Water safety standards may not be comparable to Canadian safety standards. Hotels and resorts may not have lifeguards on beaches, and appropriate safety and rescue equipment may not be available. It is imperative that you keep informed of local water conditions and warning systems (including at your hotel) and follow instructions accordingly. Strong undertows could pose threats, especially in the Macao area. Swimmers who enter the water do so at their own risk. Remain in well-marked and supervised areas. Avoid walking on deserted or unsupervised beaches after dark.
It is also possible that aquatic equipment offered at the beach does not meet Canadian safety standards. Check that your travel insurance covers accidents related to recreational activities. Avoid participating in any water activities under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Avoid excursions that are not recommended by tour operators. Ensure that tour operators have taken proper safety measures, including the use of safety equipment such as helmets and life jackets, before undertaking extreme or eco-tourism types of activities.
A number of cases have been reported of Canadians losing large sums of money while playing progressive keno, super keno and other keno or progressive roulette games at casinos. These games operate on a progressive wagering basis, and large amounts of money can be lost rapidly. Exercise caution in hotel casinos where these games are offered, especially when requested to provide credit card information.
The tourist police (POLITUR), a cooperative effort between the national police, secretary of the armed forces and the secretary of tourism, provide a security presence in tourist areas and first response assistance to tourists. They can be reached toll-free at 1-809-200-3500 and can help get tourists to a police station to file a report and to seek further assistance.
Dial 911 for emergency services in Santo Domingo.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the authorities of the Dominican Republic. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Dominican Republic or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
A valid passport is now required for Canadians intending to visit the Dominican Republic. The passport must be valid until the date of expected departure from the country. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules. Canadian tourists must also be in possession of a return airline ticket.
Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Canadians entering the Dominican Republic for tourist purposes must purchase a tourist card at a cost of US$10, which is valid for 30 days. The tourist card can be purchased at the airport upon arrival to the country. Those wishing to stay for a longer period than allowed on the tourist card must pay a surcharge at the airport upon departure, which ranges in cost depending on length of stay, or request an extension by visiting the Department of Immigration in Santo Domingo. Those wishing to work in the Dominican Republic must apply for a business visa. For more information, contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic.
Foreigners may gain the right to reside in the Dominican Republic by acquiring a residence visa from the Foreign Relations Ministry and a temporary or permanent residence card from the Immigration Department. A student visa is also required. For more information, contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic.
A departure tax of US$20 is charged for stays of up to 30 days. The departure tax for stays longer than 30 days varies depending on length of stay and nationality. The tax applies to all international flights, and may be included in the price of the airline ticket.
The Dominican Republic is actively working to fight drug trafficking by enforcing strict border controls and increasing its capacity to screen narcotics. As part of standard local procedure, you may be subjected to drug screening measures by authorities upon departure from the country. Your luggage may be searched and you may be asked to sign a form (written in Spanish and for internal use only) stating that the search was performed within procedural requirements. In some cases, you may be required to undergo an x-ray either at the airport or at a local hospital. If your results come back clear, you will be immediately returned to the airport. Should you be found transporting illegal substances, you will be taken into custody. In accordance with Dominican law, a person detained or arrested by the authorities may be held without charges for up to 48 hours before the case is presented to a judge. For consular assistance, contact the Embassy of Canada in the Dominican Republic.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:21 EDT
- Dengue Fever: Global Update - March 9, 2015 10:36 EDT
- Chikungunya: Global Update - February 23, 2015 13:20 EST
- Cholera in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico - February 12, 2015 14:26 EST
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Good, private medical facilities exist in all tourist areas; however medical care is limited in remote areas. Medical expenses can be very costly, even for basic services. Ensure you have adequate medical coverage for the duration of your visit to the Dominican Republic. Many clinics and hospitals require patients to sign an undertaking to pay agreement and to take a credit card impression as guarantee of payment before providing medical care.
Inquire about fees prior to undergoing treatment. The Embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo has received reports of overcharging for medical services, variable pricing and unnecessary overnight hospital stays. If you feel you have been overcharged after a visit to the hospital, let the hospital administrators know, as some Canadians have successfully negotiated a reduction in their hospital bill. If you go to the hospital, you should request English or French speaking assistance from the guest services desk of the hospital to ensure you understand procedures, processes and pricing. Assistance in your preferred language may not be offered unless requested. Beware of aggressive sales tactics of in-house resort doctors, who are often contracted out by private hospitals and try to sell you on their facility.
Patients requiring medical care in remote areas may be transferred to better equipped facilities in Santo Domingo when warranted.
Any incidents of sickness or injury requiring hospitalization should be reported to the Embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page and our Overview of the criminal law system in the Dominican Republic for more information.
Persons convicted of buying, selling, carrying or using any type or quantity of drug are subject to strict penalties. Judicial processes may last several years (during which accused individuals are normally detained) and could lead to long prison sentences in harsh conditions.
Dominican law stipulates that victims of crime (including foreigners) are responsible for reporting incidents to police. Victims who wish to pursue prosecution or seek compensation must retain Dominican legal counsel to file a formal complaint to the police and to pursue the case through the justice system. The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. You should expect all documents to be in Spanish and not English or French.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized. However, in the judicial system, citizens of Dominican origin are considered Dominican citizens. Therefore, Canadian consular officials may be limited in their ability to provide consular services.
Many Canadians have reported financial problems and complications involving time-share arrangements and other property investment activities. Exercise caution whenever approached by time-share representatives as pressure sales techniques are used. Do not reveal personal information or provide your credit card unless you are certain you wish to make a purchase.
Before making any real estate or land investment, consult Dominican and Canadian lawyers with relevant experience, and exercise extreme caution. Land deeds should be carefully verified. Ensure that constant vigilance of land will take place, as there have been several instances of disputed land occupation in the absence of the alleged owner. The Embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo cannot intervene in legal matters, and cannot give legal advice regarding land purchases or disputes.
Marriages legally performed in compliance with the laws of the Dominican Republic are recognized in Canada. For information on required documentation and procedures, contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Ottawa.
Upon departure from the Dominican Republic, you cannot export more than US$10,000 or its equivalent in another currency.
The currency is the Dominican peso (DOP). U.S. dollars are widely accepted, but Canadian currency is not. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at most commercial banks and exchange booths or offices (casas de cambio) and in resort areas and major tourist hotels. Currency should be exchanged only at banks, official exchange booths and casas de cambio.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The Dominican Republic is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes can occur.
Santo Domingo - Embassy of Canada
Punta Cana - Office of the Embassy of Canada
Puerto Plata - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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