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Dominican Republic - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in the Dominican Republic due to a high crime rate.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to the Dominican Republic. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and bag-snatching, occurs throughout the country. Tourists are common targets for theft. Crime tends to rise during holiday periods.
Incidents occur :
- at resorts
- at beaches
- at airports
- at bus stations
- on public transportation
Theft also occurs from all-inclusive hotel rooms and from hotel room safes, as well as from cars, particularly rentals.
Drive-by robberies, where thieves on motorcycles, scooters or bicycles grab bags and other valuables from pedestrians, occur frequently. Thieves may even reach into vehicles, including taxis, stopped at red lights to steal belongings.
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. All bags are routinely X-rayed upon arrival and departure.
- be wary of individuals who ask for directions or who try to be too helpful
- watch out for hustlers selling various wares, particularly in Santo Domingo
- stay in hotels and resorts with good security
- be wary of anyone who tries to enter your room
- ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- avoid carrying your bag slung over your shoulder
- carry only small amounts of money and avoid showing signs of affluence
- keep electronic devices like cellphones, tablets, laptops and cameras out of sight
- keep car doors locked, windows up and your belongings out of sight
- don’t pack valuables in your checked luggage
- verify that your luggage has not been tampered with before you check in at the airport
- don’t carry items that do not belong to you
Violent crime against foreigners, including assault, occasionally occurs. Some have been targeted in armed robberies when travelling to the Las Américas International Airport, sometimes in taxis. Incidents take place mainly in large cities, at night or early morning.
- arrange your arrival to and departure from the Dominican Republic in daylight hours
- use the taxi service authorized by the airport
- avoid unmarked taxis, especially in Santo Domingo
- avoid walking alone in unpopulated areas and unpatrolled beaches after dark.
- if you are threatened by robbers, don’t resist
Criminals impersonating police officers will stop vehicles and ask foreigner drivers for payment of fines for made-up offences.
Regulations require police to wear a nametag with their last name. You have the right to ask police for identification.
If Dominican police stop you for a traffic violation, you should request a traffic ticket. You are not required to pay on the spot.
Rogue lawyers are a problem in tourist areas, particularly in Punta Cana.
These lawyers stand near the tourist police (CESTUR) station and try to recruit desperate foreigners brought to the station for detention purposes as clients. Then, they try to extort excessive amounts of money from them by offering legal representation or assistance getting out of jail.
Credit card and ATM fraud and cloning are significant concerns. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreigners have occurred, including at beach resorts. In some cases, hotel employees have been implicated.
- exercise caution when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances
- be wary of rides or other invitations
- avoid taking public transportation or walking alone at night
If you are a victim of a sexual assault or other crime, you should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy.
You are also strongly advised to file a report with Dominican authorities. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Dominican authorities before departing the country.
Safe-travel guide for women
Demonstrations take place from time to time throughout the country, particularly in Santo Domingo.
Demonstrations are not targeted at foreigners and do not happen near all-inclusive resorts, although local travel outside resorts could be affected. Labour strikes occur frequently in the town of Higuey near Punta Cana and may affect hotel service.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Sporting and aquatic equipment may not meet Canadian safety standards.
If engaging in recreational activities,
- ensure that equipment is safe and in good condition
- ensure helmets and life jackets are available
- before undertaking extreme or eco-tourism activities, ensure that businesses offering excursions follow proper safety measures
- avoid excursions that are not recommended by tour operators
- avoid participating in any water activities when you are under the influence of alcohol or other substances
- check that your travel insurance covers accidents related to recreational activities
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities.
Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.
Water safety abroad
The Dominican Republic has one of the highest road accident rates in the world.
Most roads, including major highways, are poorly maintained and poorly lit. Marked lanes are lacking.
Drivers do not respect traffic laws. They often drive at excessive speeds, and are extremely aggressive and reckless. There are vehicles travelling in the wrong direction. Traffic is congested due to the significant number of trucks and motorcycles.
Pedestrians do not have the right of way, even at traffic lights.
Military and police road blocks are common, especially in areas near the Haitian border.
- don’t drive after dark
- take extra care when walking, particularly in Santo Domingo
The number of moped and scooter accidents involving tourists is increasing.
If renting a scooter or moped:
- be vigilant while driving
- avoid renting from operators who do not provide a helmet with the rental
- avoid driving on roads in disrepair
Private companies operate reliable buses between cities. Avoid public buses.
Most taxis are not metered. Upon arrival to the Dominican Republic, use the taxi service authorized by the airport. During your stay:
- use hotel taxis
- avoid unmarked taxis
- avoid using or renting motorcycle taxis (motoconchos)
- avoid route taxis (gua-guas or carros publicos)
- negotiate the fare prior to departure
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of the Dominican Republic. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay in Dominican Republic.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required
Work visa: required
Student visa: required
Residence visa: required
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket.
Canadians entering the Dominican Republic as tourists must obtain a tourist card. It is included in all air tickets issued outside the country. If you enter the Dominican Republic by land or sea, you can obtain the card at your entry location for US$10. It is valid for a 30-day stay period.
Dominican tourist card – Directorate general of internal taxes (in Spanish)
You can apply for a stay extension for a period up to 120 days. You must request your stay extension to the Dominican Directorate General for Migration once you are in Dominican Republic, before your tourist card expires.
If you wish to stay in the Dominican Republic for more than 120 days, you must obtain a resident visa from the Dominican authorities in Canada prior to your departure.
If you overstay the period for which you have been authorized to stay, you will have to pay fine to immigration authorities when leaving the country. You may also need to apply for a visa the next time you wish to return to the Dominican Republic. Local authorities may deny you entry if you don’t have the proper visa.
Stay extension - Dominican Directorate General for Migration (in Spanish)
Immigration officials may conduct random ID checks.
You must carry photo identification, a proof of onward or return travel, and a copy of your entry stamp with you at all times.
Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it’s lost or confiscated.
Cooperate with authorities if they question you.
As a foreign national, you will be required to provide biometrics to enter the Dominican Republic. For instance, the authorities will take your fingerprints and a photograph.
The Dominican Republic is actively working to fight drug trafficking.
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, in Spanish, 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.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
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 risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care professional the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
- 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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. 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.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
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 professional.
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 health care is only available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Private hospitals and clinics are better equipped than public ones.
There are reports of overcharging for medical services, variable pricing and unnecessary overnight hospital stays at private facilities. Inquire about fees prior to undergoing treatment. If you feel you have been overcharged after a visit to the hospital, let the hospital administrators know.
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.
If you go to the hospital, request assistance in English or French from the hospital’s guest services desk.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Canadian citizens have had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries abroad.
Before leaving for a medical travel, make sure you have done your research and use competent health-care providers only.
Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries
Tap water in the Dominican Republic is unsafe.
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Overview of the criminal law system in the Dominican Republic
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe in Dominican Republic.
The authorities are enforcing strict border controls. 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.
Judicial processes may last several years during which accused individuals are normally detained. It could lead to very long prison sentences (5 to 20 years) in harsh conditions and heavy fines.
Report of crime
Dominican law stipulates that victims of crime, including foreigners, are responsible for reporting incidents to police.
If you wish to pursue prosecution or seek compensation, you will have to retain Dominican legal counsel to file a formal complaint to the police and to pursue the case through the justice system.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Dominican Republic.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Dominican Republic, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
If you plan on buying property, or making other investments in Dominican Republic, seek legal advice in Canada and in Dominican Republic. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.
Many tourists have reported financial problems and complications involving time-share arrangements and other property investment activities.
Time-share representatives often use pressure sales techniques. At the airport, they pose as tourist operators and try to coerce tourists into committing to property investments.
- exercise caution whenever approached by time-share representatives
- do not reveal personal information or provide your credit card unless you are certain you wish to make a purchase
- Carefully verify land deeds
- 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
If you are arrested or detained in the Dominican Republic, you have the right to a lawyer, who can be present during any questioning and at any trial or hearing.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, the Dominican government can provide you with a public defender.
Overview of the criminal law system in the Dominican Republic
Marriages legally performed in Dominican Republic are legally recognized in Canada.
If you wish to marry in Dominican Republic, you should consult the Embassy of Dominican Republic in Canada for information on documents and procedures.
If you are involved in a road accident, you may be detained by police until the circumstances of the accident have been investigated.
You must carry an international driving permit
More about the International Driving Permit
The currency is the Dominican peso (DOP).
U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Canadian dollars are not.
Natural disasters and climate
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
The Dominican Republic is located in an active seismic zone.
Earthquakes can occur, while tremors occur regularly across the country.
Emergency operations centre - Dominican Republic government (in Spanish)
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services in Dominican Republic.
In Santo Domingo, dial 911.
For all other areas, contact the tourist police (CESTUR). Also, research and always carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
The tourist police (CESTUR) provide a security presence in tourist areas and first response assistance to tourists.
They can be reached toll-free throughout the country. Dial 1 809 200 3500.
CESTUR – Dominican Republic government (in Spanish)
Free road assistance is offered on all major toll highways 24-hour.
Dial 1 829 688 1000.
Santo Domingo - Embassy of Canada
Punta Cana - Office of the Embassy of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en República Dominicana
Puerto Plata - Consulate of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en República Dominicana
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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