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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
Safety and security
Petty crime, including pickpocketing and bag-snatching, is prevalent throughout the country. Incidents occur at resorts, beaches, airports, bus stations and on public transportation. Theft also occurs from all-inclusive hotel rooms and from hotel room safes, as well as from cars, particularly rentals. Crime tends to rise during holiday periods, including Christmas, Carnival and Easter. Tourists are common targets for theft because they are perceived as being wealthy. 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.
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. Keep car doors locked, windows up and your belongings out of sight. Avoid carrying your bag slung over your shoulder.
Exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially after dark. Carry only small amounts of money and avoid showing signs of affluence. Keep electronic devices like cellphones, tablets, laptops and cameras out of sight, as they are particularly attractive to thieves. Never leave your personal belongings unattended on the beach or in parked cars. Lock your valuables, passport and other travel documents in your hotel safe, as long as the hotel safe is bolted to the wall or the floor. Carry a photocopy of your passport’s identification page at all times.
In the event that your documents become lost or are stolen, obtain a police report in order to receive a passport or an appropriate travel document from the Embassy of Canada to the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo, the Consulate of Canada in Puerto Plata or the Office of the Embassy of Canada in Punta Cana. Stay in hotels and resorts with good security. Be extremely wary of anyone who tries to enter your room.
Be vigilant when using automated banking machines (ABMs). Use ABMs inside banks, malls and other public locations during business hours only.
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. Do not pack valuables in your checked luggage. Items most likely to disappear include electronics (especially digital cameras), jewellery and perfume. Be aware that criminals have placed illegal drugs in travellers’ bags on their return home. Pack your luggage yourself and do not carry items that do not belong to you. Verify that your luggage has not been tampered with before you check in at the airport.
Violent crime against foreigners, including assault, occasionally occurs. Incidents take place mainly at night and in large cities. Avoid walking alone in unpopulated areas and unpatrolled beaches after dark. If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and do not resist. Some criminals may have weapons and are likely to use them if they are met with resistance.
Foreigners have been targeted in armed robberies when travelling to and from the Las Américas International Airport, sometimes in taxis and mainly at night or early morning. Arrange your arrival to and departure from the Dominican Republic in daylight hours and use the taxi service authorized by the airport. Avoid unmarked taxis, especially in Santo Domingo; you could be targeted for assault and robbery.
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.
Women travelling alone should exercise caution when 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 occurred, including at beach resorts. In some cases, hotel employees have been implicated. Avoid taking public transportation or walking alone at night. Anyone who is a victim of a sexual assault should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy and is strongly advised to file a report with Dominican authorities. Note that no criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Dominican authorities. Consult Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.
Criminals impersonating police officers will stop vehicles and ask foreigner drivers for payment of fines for made-up offences. If Dominican police stop you for a traffic violation, you should request a traffic ticket—you are not required to pay on the spot—or insist on paying any traffic fine at the nearest police station. Regulations require police to wear a nametag with their last name. You have the right to ask police for identification.
Credit card and debit card fraud and cloning are significant concerns. Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others during payment and, upon your return home, check your statements for fraudulent charges. Use credit cards only in major hotels, restaurants and shops. Avoid using them at gas stations.
Recreational activities and rentals
It is possible that beach sporting and aquatic (especially scuba diving) equipment do not meet Canadian safety standards. Ensure that equipment is safe and in good condition, and that helmets and life jackets are available. Check that your travel insurance covers accidents related to recreational activities. Avoid participating in any water activities when you are under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Avoid excursions that are not recommended by tour operators. Before undertaking extreme or eco-tourism activities, ensure that businesses offering excursions follow proper safety measures.
The number of moped and scooter accidents involving tourists is increasing. Avoid renting from operators who do not provide a helmet with the rental. Be vigilant while driving. Avoid driving on roads in disrepair and refrain from driving at night.
Water safety standards may not be comparable to Canadian safety standards. Hotels and resorts may not have lifeguards on beaches, where appropriate safety and rescue equipment may also 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 a threat, especially in the Macao area. Swimmers who enter the water do so at their own risk. Remain in well-marked and supervised areas.
Canadians have lost 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.
Demonstrations and political protests occasionally occur 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. Monitor local news reports and avoid all large gatherings and demonstrations, which may turn violent without warning.
Labour strikes occur frequently in the town of Higuey near Punta Cana and may affect hotel service.
Travel to border areas with Haiti
Exercise a high degree of caution when crossing the border from the Dominican Republic to Haiti by land, and do so only during daylight hours.
The Dominican Republic has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. Traffic laws are similar to those in Canada but are often not respected. Driving is dangerous due to aggressive driving habits, reckless passing and excessive speeds. Poorly marked lanes, vehicles travelling in the wrong direction on one-way streets and a significant number of trucks and motorcycles pose as hazards, as do poorly maintained roads and cars. Driving after dark is not recommended due to poor street lighting. Military and police road blocks are common, especially in areas near the Haitian border.
Pedestrians do not have the right of way, even at traffic lights. Take extra care when walking, particularly in Santo Domingo.
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. If you are involved in an accident, you may be detained by police until the circumstances of the accident have been investigated.
Travel by public bus is not recommended. Private companies operate reliable buses between cities.
Upon arrival to the Dominican Republic, use the taxi service authorized by the airport. During your stay, use hotel taxis and avoid unmarked taxis. Most taxis are not metered so 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 or 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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Learn more about foreign domestic airlines.
The tourist police (CESTUR), 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 throughout the country at 1 809 200 3500.
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.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the Dominican Republic, which 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.
You must also be in possession of a return airline ticket.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Tourist visa: Not required
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Canadians entering the Dominican Republic as tourists must purchase a tourist card, valid for 30 days, at a cost of US$10. The tourist card may be purchased online at the Dirección General de Impuestos Internos prior to departure or at the airport upon arrival to the country but is usually provided by the airline with the purchase of a trip package. Those wishing to stay for a longer period than allowed on the tourist card must request an extension by visiting the Department of Immigration in Santo Domingo or pay an overstay tax to immigration authorities upon departure. You should request a receipt after payment. For more information, contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Ottawa.
Immigration officials may conduct random identification checks. Carry a piece of photo identification with you at all times, and cooperate with authorities if they question you.
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. For more information, contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic.
Canadian permanent residents
If you are a permanent resident of Canada, you need to prove that you will have valid permanent resident status when you return to Canada. This applies to all family members who are permanent residents, including children. Your Permanent Resident (PR) card is proof of this status.
If you travel with an expired PR card, you may not be able to board your flight back to Canada. It is your responsibility to ensure that your PR card is still valid when you return from travel outside Canada and to apply for a new PR card before your current card expires.
If your PR card expires while you are outside Canada, you need to apply for a permanent resident travel document from the Canadian embassy's Visa Application Centre in Santo Domingo.
A departure tax of US$20 is charged for stays of up to 30 days and must be paid in U.S. currency. The tax applies to all international flights and may be included in the price of the airline ticket.
Foreigners must register their biometrics (fingerprints and facial scan) at their port of entry.
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 to the Dominican Republic. Consult our Overview of the criminal law system in the Dominican Republic.
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 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 - 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.
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 provider 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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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.
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.
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
Medical services and facilities are generally adequate in large cities but are limited in rural areas. Private hospitals and clinics are better equipped than public ones. Patients requiring medical care in remote areas may be transferred to better-equipped facilities in Santo Domingo, when warranted.
Inquire about fees prior to undergoing treatment. The embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo has received reports of overcharging for medical services at private facilities, 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 assistance in English (or French) from the hospital’s guest services desk 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.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and medical evacuation, if required. Contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Any incidents of sickness or injury requiring hospitalization should be reported to the embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo.
Consult our page entitled Receiving medical care in other countries if you are contemplating undergoing a medical procedure in the Dominican Republic.
The tap water in the Dominican Republic is not considered potable.
Do not buy drugs off the street. There have been incidents of Canadians being hospitalized and even dying from the medically adverse effects of mixing street-grade Viagra-like pills with alcohol.
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
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 drugs are subject to strict penalties. Judicial processes may last several years (during which accused individuals are normally detained) and could lead to very long prison sentences (5 to 20 years) in harsh conditions and hefty fines.
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 only.
Soliciting the services of a minor for sexual purposes is illegal in the Dominican Republic and is punishable by imprisonment.
An International Driving Permit is required.
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 in Dominican Republic. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Learn more about travelling as a dual citizen.
Many Canadians have reported financial problems and complications involving time-share arrangements and other property investment activities, particularly in Santo Domingo and Las Terrenas. 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.
Time-share representatives posing as tourist operators at the airport try to coerce tourists into committing to property investments. Upon arrival, look for your tour operator’s logo and confirm they are indeed your operator.
“Shark” lawyers are a problem in tourist areas, particularly in Punta Cana. These lawyers (or criminals masquerading as lawyers) stand idly by the CESTUR station to prey on desperate foreigners brought to the station for detention purposes, then try to deceive foreigners into paying excessive amounts of money to obtain legal representation or for assistance getting out of jail.
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. Consult the Overview of the criminal law system in the Dominican Republic for more information.
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 and consult the Marriage overseas factsheet.
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 should be exchanged only at commercial banks and exchange booths or offices (casas de cambio). Major credit cards are accepted in most stores and restaurants. ABMs are found at most bank branches.
Natural disasters and 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.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
The Dominican Republic is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes can occur, while tremors occur regularly across the country.
Emergency operations centre
In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane, information and national alerts are available from the government’s emergency operations centre, Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias (in Spanish).
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services outside of Santo Domingo. If you are in Santo Domingo dial 911. For all other areas dial 1-809-200-3500 for tourist police (POLITUR) and research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
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 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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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