It is wise to gather as much information as possible before you enter the country. Here we sum up a large list with essential information. The Dominican Republic is included in the Atlantic standard time zone. In the winter, the time is the same as in New York, while in the summer, it is one hour ahead. If you want to find out more about the current affairs, political situation or economy of the Dominican Republic, information can be found on online national newspapers, like DR Sol, Dominican Today or DR1.com.
Tourists who want to enter the country need a passport valid for at least six months after the departure date from the island. A tourist visa is also necessary. The visa costs $10. You can either get the visa on the plane, if it is included in your airplane ticket cost, or purchase it at the Dominican airport. Visitors should be aware of the fact that there is also a departure fee for leaving the island. It costs $20, and it might also be included in the airline package. Check the details of your airline package to find out. Beware that some airlines suggest buying the visa in advance and having it delivered to your country, which implies paying additional shipping fees. Visas can also be bought after you land on the island, so there is no need to pay extra money for it.
Since November 2006, the amount of creams, gels or other type of liquids we carry on the aircrafts has been restricted. Every passenger can carry in their hand luggage one clear plastic bag with 3 ounce bottles of liquids. You can receive such bags at the airport. Check out the website of your airline to find out more about other items that can be carried on the plane, such as baby food or medication.
List of restricted items
Other items are also prohibited, so do some extensive research on the items you are allowed to carry with you in your hand luggage and checked luggage before the trip. You cannot carry sharp objects in the luggage you take with you on the aircraft, but it is ok to carry them in your checked baggage. Even though some items are not on the prohibited items list, some people might not be allowed to carry with them items that could be used as weapons - for example, umbrellas or knitting needles. The best thing would be to pack such items in your checked baggage to prevent any unpleasant situation at check-in.
Bringing electric equipment into the country
Taking very long cord appliances on the plane is prohibited. Appliances with cords of normal length, like laptops or hair dryers, are not a problem.
There are certain regulations concerning bringing batteries to the Dominican Republic. It is advisable to read the guidelines on packing batteries for the trup. If you carry with you a suspiciously high number of batteries, they might be confiscated by security staff. However, there aren't any rules concerning the maximum number of batteries you can carry with you to the Dominican Republic.
Before coming to the Dominican Republic, check the website of your airline to find out which items are allowed in your checked luggage, and which not, because every airline has its specific regulations. Find out what the generally prohibited and allowed items are, on this chart.
Always weigh your luggage before going to the airport, because quite high fees are charged for overweight luggage. The best idea would be to invest in appropriate bags and avoid taking too many things with you when departing for the Dominican Republic, because your luggage will certainly get heavier with souvenirs when you return. Different airlines have different weight limits on luggage, so, once again, check your airline's regulations.
These are the limits for the goods that can be brought into the Dominican Republic:
Illegal drugs, animal, horticultural and agricultural products are prohibited. The prescription medication you bring for personal use should be in its original container. Find out what items you can bring home with you and in what quantities by reading the information on customs and duty for your own country.
Some souvenirs you purchase on the island might be prohibited on aircrafts, either because they are considered illegal export from the Dominican Republic, or potentially harmful items. The first category includes shells, corals, starfish or sea turtles. Items that can be confiscated after you arrive to your home country are the traditional drink mamajuana, wooden items like sculptures, statues, or boxes and reed hats. All of them are made from or plants, and plants cannot be carried over state borders because they might carry insects or other potentially dangerous animal life.
Some doctors might recommend vaccinations for illnesses that you might acquire when travelling. There are no specific vaccinations for the Dominican Republic. Some recommended vaccinations include those against Hepatitis A and B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis, Measles/Rubella and Typhoid. However, the chances of contracting any of these diseases during your vacation are quite small. For a safe and relaxing trip, make sure you gather all the necessary information before leaving to this exotic destination.
Buying travel insurance is a wise choice, because you can never know when cancellations or other problems interrupt your trip. If you do not have travel insurance and you must cancel the trip, you might lose the entire price of your vacation. If you want to return to your country prior to the set date, you might have to pay for a new airplane ticket and other nightly accommodations. Medical insurance is even more important, because medical services are very expensive. A broken bone might cost you more than $1000, and more severe health problem may cost you tens of thousands. So, purchase travel insurance from your tour operator, independent companies, or your bank, to avoid such situations.
Drug possession and use is prosecuted with very high fines and heavy penalties (from 5 - 25 years in prison). Temporary release cannot be received by paying bail. Many times, visitors are implicated through association, so it is wise to avoid contact with people who are engaged in drug trade or drug consumption.
The climate in the area is warm and the humidity is high, so visitors should choose cool clothing made from natural fibers. Tourists should also bring with them a long sleeve sweater for rainy days, cold nights or restaurants with air conditioning. Insects might be a problem, so a long pair of trousers and a light long sleeved blouse are also necessary. Visitors need a pair of comfortable walking shoes for land excursions besides beach shoes. A hat and sunglasses should not miss from the bag you bring with you to the Dominican Republic. Men should take into consideration the fact that some resort restaurants have dress codes: long pants, a shirt with long or short sleeves and shoes that cover the toes are required. Women should bring their bathing suits with them, because topless sunbathing is prohibited in the Dominican Republic.
The official language is Spanish. Airport, resort, hotel and restaurant personnel and management usually speak English. Other foreign languages spoken in the country are German, Russian and Italian. Before visiting the Dominican Republic, you should learn some Spanish, because locals appreciate tourists' efforts in speaking their language.
The Dominican Peso is the currency in the republic. You can exchange money at Dominican banks or exchange offices called Casa de Cambio, which can be found in all tourist areas, in hotels or resorts. Another solution is to use the ATMs in airports or hotels to withdraw money from your account directly in pesos. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards are generally accepted. Before traveling to the Dominican Republic, you should check with your bank and inform them that you will be using the card in another country. It is not unusual for banks to block cards when they notice unexpected international activity.
A currency that is generally accepted and used in the Dominican Republic is the American dollar. However, make sure you bring small denominations. Usually, vendors do not accept big bills because they fear counterfeiting, and changing big bills to smaller ones might prove difficult after you arrive to the Dominican Republic. Furthermore, showing off big bills might attract thieves. You should also pay attention when making deals with vendors. They might not offer change if you handle them more money.
Taxes are included in hotel pricing and restaurant prices. Tourists are usually informed of the taxes they pay for such services. When you book a trip to the Dominican Republic, information on the taxes applied is usually found in the offers.
When it comes to tipping tourist services, the rates are similar to other places of the world. Offering a tip of 5% to 10% of the price of a service is usual and expresses customer satisfaction. To offer some examples, room maids and buffet servers are tipped with $2 to $5 per day. Airport porters or bellmen are tipped with 1$ per bag. Classy restaurant servers receive around $5 to $10 tip for a meal for two persons. A bartender receives $1 for one round of drinks, and when drinks are served at the table, people usually tip servers with $1 or $2 for each round of drinks. Excursions are also tipped: tips of $5 for a half day trip and $10 for entire day trips are not uncommon. Other categories of people are also tipped, although it is not usual: gardeners, security personnel or entertainers might receive tips from generous tourists.
In the Dominican Republic, you can find the United States standard 110 V/60 Hz sockets. You can purchase an adaptor from your home country or buy one in the Dominican Republic. You will also need a surge protector for your laptop. Another thing you must be aware of when heading to the Dominican Republic is that electrical shutdowns are not uncommon, even in resorts. Usually, hotels have their own electricity generators, so the chances of electrical shutdowns are small. Just in case, tourists should bring a flashlight with them.
You might find internet lounges or wireless access in the lobby, guestrooms or lounge of most hotels. Because of the convenience, hotels usually offer internet access at high prices. There are also various internet providers for the area outside the hotel, which charge less. However, you must negotiate with them for their services by yourself.
You can make a telephone call from the hotel lobby or your room, but make sure to check what the charges are before choosing to call your friends at home and talk to them for hours. You can also ask them to call you on the hotel phone number; the Dominican Republic telephone code is +1. In hotel rooms, you might find a tent card you can use to make international calls at very expensive charging rates. It is better to avoid such services. Mobile phones can also be used in the Dominican Republic. Check with your provider and see if they have coverage in the area.
When coming to the Dominican Republic, expect to hear the lively sounds of the traditional music: merengue, bachata, reggaeton or salsa. You should take advantage of the small prices and great selection of music, and purchase CDs with your favorite songs from the hotel or other music stores on the island. Listening to these special rhythms after you get back home will bring back beautiful memories from your vacation in the Caribbean.
For tourists who want to travel to the Dominican Republic, information on crime is vital. Although more than 40% of the population here lives in poverty, the Dominican Republic is not considered a third world country, but a developing one.
Tourists should pay attention not to leave their valuables visible. The best thing would be to lock them in safes offered by hotels or to leave them at home. Your jewelry, money and passport should be left in a safe every time you go out. When you leave the room, make sure you close the door and windows, as well as any balcony doors. The same thing goes for cars. For more Dominican Republic information on crime and needed precautions, visit the health and safety page on this website.