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Travel Security Advice for the Dominican Republic

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dominican_mapDominican_Republic_Overview


 

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

The Dominican Republic covers the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.  The capital city is Santo Domingo, located on the south coast of the island.  Tourist facilities vary according to price and location.  Spanish is the official language.  Though English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist areas, it is much less common outside these areas.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on the Dominican Republic for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

All Americans traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.  This requirement will be extended to sea travel (except closed loop cruises), including ferry service, by the summer of 2009.  Until then, U.S. citizens traveling by sea must have government-issued photo identification and a document showing their U.S. citizenship (for example, a birth certificate or certificate of nationalization), or other WHTI compliant document such as a passport card for entry or re-entry to the U.S.  Sea travelers should also check with their cruise line and countries of destination for any foreign entry requirements.

Applications for the U.S. Passport Card are now being accepted and have been in full production since July 2008.The card may not be used to travel by air and is available only to U.S. citizens. Further information on the Passport Card and upcoming changes to U.S. passport policy can be found on our web site.   We strongly encourage all American citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport well in advance of anticipated travel.  American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports.

For information concerning entry and exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic at 1715 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 332-6280.  There are also Dominican consulates in Boston, Chicago (Northfield, IL), Mayaguez, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Juan.  Visit the Embassy of the Dominican Republic web site for the most current visa information.

VISAS:

Visitors who do not obtain a Dominican visa prior to entry must purchase a tourist card upon arrival to enter the country.  Tourist cards cost ten U.S. dollars, which must be paid in U.S. currency.  Tourist cards may be purchased at the Dominican Embassy in Washington or Dominican Consulates prior to arrival, as well as at Dominican airports at the time of entry.  Tourist cards normally permit a legal stay of up to 60 days.  Visitors who would like to extend their time in the Dominican Republic should visit the Migration Department in Santo Domingo and request an extension.  Failure to request an extension will subject the visitor to a surcharge at the airport upon departure.

TRAVEL OF CHILDREN AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Strict exit requirements apply to minors under 18 years of age (of any nationality) who are residents in the Dominican Republic.  Such children traveling alone, without one parent, or with anyone other than the parent(s), must present written authorization from a parent or legal guardian.  This authorization must be in Spanish, and it must be notarized at a Dominican consulate in the United States or notarized and then certified at the Dominican Attorney General’s office (Procuraduria de la Republica) if done in the Dominican Republic.  Though not a requirement for non-resident minors (in the Dominican Republic), the U.S. Embassy recommends that any minor traveling to the Dominican Republic without one or both parents have a notarized document from the parent(s).  In addition to clarifying the reason for travel, this will facilitate departure from the Dominican Republic.

Dominican regulations governing the travel of children in the Dominican Republic can be found in Spanish on the Dirección General de Migración web site.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

American citizens should be aware that foreign tourists are often considered attractive targets for criminal activity, and should maintain a low profile to avoid becoming victims of violence or crime.  In dealing with local police, U.S. citizens should be aware that the standard of professionalism might vary.  Police attempts to solicit bribes have been reported, as have incidents of police using excessive force.

Protests, demonstrations, and general strikes occur periodically.  Previous political demonstrations have sometimes turned violent, with participants rioting and erecting roadblocks, and police sometimes using deadly force in response.  Political demonstrations do not generally occur in areas frequented by tourists and are generally not targeted at foreigners.  However, it is advisable to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country.  Street crowds should be avoided.  In urban areas, travel should be conducted on main routes whenever possible.  Power outages occur frequently throughout the Dominican Republic, and travelers should remain alert during blackout periods, as crime rates often increase during these outages.

U.S. citizens considering overland travel between the Dominican Republic and Haiti should first consult the Country Specific Information Sheet and the Travel Warning for Haiti as well as theWarden Information page of the Internet site of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince for information about travel conditions in Haiti.  Santo Domingo and the majority of tourist destinations within the Dominican Republic are located several hours from the Haitian border, and recent events in Haiti have generally not directly affected these areas.

The U.S. Embassy cautions its staff to use extreme caution while in Haiti.  Other than official business, travel to Haiti for U.S. Embassy personnel is discouraged.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

Crime continues to be a problem throughout the Dominican Republic.  Street crime and petty theft involving U.S. tourists does occur, and precautions should be taken to avoid becoming a target.  While pick pocketing and mugging are the most common crimes against tourists, reports of violence against both foreigners and locals are growing.  Valuables left unattended in parked automobiles, on beaches and in other public places are vulnerable to theft, and reports of car theft have increased.

Travelers to the Dominican Republic should strongly consider leaving valuable property at home. The Embassy recommends bringing no item on your trip that cannot be easily replaced and to make contingency plans in case of theft. These precautions include: making photocopies of all credit cards and licenses which include the numbers to call in order to report theft; photocopies of passports and birth certificates; and leaving emergency funds with someone at home in case it is necessary for money to be sent on short notice.

Carry cellular telephones in a pocket rather than on a belt or in a purse.  Avoid wearing headphones, which make the bearer more vulnerable and readily advertise the presence of a valuable item.  Limit or avoid display of jewelry; it attracts attention and could prompt a robbery attempt.  Limit cash and credit cards carried on your person.  Store valuables, wallet items, and passports in a safe place.

There are continuing reports of thefts that target Americans as they leave the airport in a taxi that lacks air-conditioning.  The driver rolls down the windows and when the taxi stops at a traffic light, a motorcyclist reaches in and steals a purse or anything they can grab.   Travelers are advised to utilize the taxi service authorized by the airport if they have made no arrangements before arrival.  Even when using such an authorized taxi service, Americans should always be aware of the potential for a criminal to stalk travelers leaving the airport parking area.  Take measures to safeguard your personal security at all times.

The dangers present in the Dominican Republic are similar to those of many major U.S. cities.  Criminals can be dangerous -- many have weapons and are likely to use them if they meet resistance.  Visitors walking the streets should always be aware of their surroundings.  Be wary of strangers, especially those who seek you out at celebrations or nightspots.  Travel with a partner or in a group if possible.

Many public transportation vehicles are unsafe, especially the route taxis or “carros publicos” in urban areas.  These are privately owned vehicles that run along certain routes, can take up to six or more passengers, and are inexpensive.  Passengers in “carros publicos” are frequently the victims of pick pocketing, and passengers have on occasion been robbed by “carro publico” drivers.  Urban buses (“guaguas”) are only marginally better.  The U.S. Embassy is also aware of at least one incident in which the driver of a “motoconcho” (motorcycle taxi) robbed an American passenger.  The U.S. Embassy cautions its staff not to use these modes of transportation.  As an alternative, some scheduled interurban bus services use modern buses and run on reliable timetables.  These are generally the safest means of intercity travel.  With respect to taxis, visitors to the Dominican Republic are strongly advised to take only hotel taxis or taxis operated by services whose cabs are arranged in advance by phone and can subsequently be identified and tracked.

Drivers should exercise extreme caution when driving at night and use major highways when possible.  In 2006, the U.S. Embassy received reports of Americans and others who were victims of vehicular-armed robberies in the northern provinces of the Dominican Republic.   At least three of the reports indicate the victims were intercepted during the morning hours, when there was little other traffic, while driving on rural highways connecting Santiago and Puerto Plata.

Although kidnappings are not common in the Dominican Republic, in 2007, two American citizens were kidnapped and held for ransom, in separate instances. 

The American Embassy calls attention to certain criminal techniques that have surprised Americans and other victims:

  • Several individuals reported robberies perpetrated by criminals on mopeds (often coasting with the engine turned off so as not to draw attention).  The driver approaches a pedestrian, grabs his or her cell phone, purse or backpack, and then speeds away.  This type of robbery is particularly dangerous because the motorcyclist reaches the intended victim at 15–20 miles per hour and often knocks the victim to the ground.
  • The Embassy received two reports in 2008 of a crime involving police collaboration.  A seemingly-friendly stranger shakes hands with a tourist, who then finds that the stranger has placed a small baggie of cocaine or other substance into the tourist’s hand.  The tourist is then immediately apprehended by the police, who settle the case for a fee.
  • Americans were victimized more than once this year at Santo Domingo’s airport as they checked in their luggage and prepared to leave the country.  Smugglers obtained an authentic airline baggage tag in a U.S. citizen’s name and placed it on baggage that contained drugs, presumably to be retrieved by a confederate at the other end of the flight.
  • Criminals may also misrepresent themselves in an effort to gain access to your residence or hotel room.  In one 2005 homicide, a U.S. citizen was murdered by two men who posed as repairmen to gain access to the apartment.  In another similar case, in 2008 the Dominican police arrested the building’s actual maintenance man and an accomplice for a crime.  There were also instances in 2008 when U.S. citizens were robbed of large amounts of cash just before a scheduled financial transaction by thieves with apparent inside knowledge of the transaction.  In one case a U.S. citizen was robbed just outside his attorney’s office, and in another case a U.S. citizen claimed he was victimized by two police officers.

The U.S. Embassy continues to receive reports from Americans who have been stopped while driving and asked for “donations” by someone who may appear to be a police officer before they are allowed to continue on their way.  Usually, the person(s) stopping the American drivers had approached from behind on a motorcycle; several of these motorcyclists pulled up alongside the driver's window and indicated that they were carrying a firearm.  In some cases, the perpetrators were dressed in the light green uniform of “AMET,” the Dominican traffic police; however, they often seemed too young to be police officers or wore ill-fitting uniforms that might have been stolen.  In another incident, individuals dressed in military fatigues told the victim they were police and requested the victim to follow them to the police station prior to robbing him.  Such incidents should be reported to the police and to the Consular Section.  If Dominican police stop an American driver for a traffic violation, the driver should request a traffic ticket rather than paying an on-the-spot fine.  The driver also has the right to ask police for identification. Regulations require police to wear a nametag with their last name. While everyone driving in the Dominican Republic should abide by traffic laws and the instructions of legitimate authorities, Americans finding themselves in the aforementioned scenarios should exercise caution.  In general, drivers should keep their doors locked and windows closed at all times and leave themselves an escape route when stopping in traffic in the event of an accident or other threat.  Incidents involving police may be reported to the Internal Affairs Department of the National Police at 809 688-1777 or 809 688-0777.

Travelers are advised to use credit cards judiciously while in the Dominican Republic.  Credit card fraud is common and recent reports indicate that its incidence has increased significantly, in Santo Domingo as well as in the resort areas of the country.

Travelers who elect nevertheless to use their credit or debit cards should never let the cards leave their sight. They should also pay close attention to credit card bills following time spent in the Dominican Republic.  There have been reports of fraudulent charges appearing months after card usage in the Dominican Republic.  Victims of credit card fraud should contact the bank that issued the credit card immediately.

Travelers are also advised to minimize the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), which are present throughout Santo Domingo and other major cities.  One local ATM fraud scheme involves sticking photographic film or pieces of paper in the card feeder of the ATM so that an inserted card becomes jammed.  Once the card owner has concluded the card is irretrievable, the thieves extract both the jamming material and the card, which they then use.  There are other ATM scams as well.  Exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM card.

The overall level of crime tends to rise during the Christmas season, and visitors to the Dominican Republic should take extra precautions when visiting the country between November and January.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.  More information on this serious problem is available from the Department of Justice.

Beaches and Resorts: The Embassy regularly receives reports of individuals and families who have become victims of crime while within the boundaries of their resort hotel. A growing number of these crimes involve the burglary of their room and even the removal of the room safe. In general the criminals do not commit their crime in the presence of the guest, but it is not unheard of for guests to be victimized in their own room, caught off guard in their sleep. Vigilance is strongly recommended.

The Embassy occasionally receives reports of instances of sexual assault at the resorts, particularly while at the beach.  “All-inclusives” are well known for serving abundant quantities of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption may decrease a person’s ability to be aware of their surroundings, making them an easy target for crime.  It has also been reported that some predators will use date rape drugs to render their victims unaware.  Be cautious of accepting any drink or food from a stranger, as they may have been tampered with.  As always, the Embassy strongly encourages vigilance.

Please be aware that crime can happen anywhere and that everyone must take personal responsibility to stay alert of their surroundings at all times.  Read the U.S. Embassy’s Crime Security Tips Don’t Be A Victim of Crime When Traveling for more information.

The Embassy also receives reports of individuals who have suffered accidents or medical crisis at resorts.  American citizens are advised to check their own insurance coverage when overseas or consider travelers’ insurance.  Hospitalization in the Dominican Republic can be extremely expensive and patients are expected to pay for services immediately.  For additional information, see the section below on medical insurance.

Tourist Police:

The Dominican Republic does have police that are specially trained to assist tourists who require assistance.  This public institution is called Politur and represents a cooperative effort between the National Police, Secretary of the Armed Forces, and the Secretary of Tourism.  Politur typically has personnel in tourist areas to provide first responder type assistance to tourists.  If you are the victim of a crime, Politur can help you get to a police station so that you may file a police report and seek further assistance.. Politur is located at the corner of 30 de Marzo and Mexico, Bloque D, Governmental Building, Santo Domingo.  The general phone number is 809-686-8639. Visit the Politur web site for further details and contact information.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.  The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The emergency telephone number in the Dominican Republic is 911.

See our information on Victims of Crime.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

While adequate medical facilities can be found in large cities, particularly in private hospitals, the quality of care can vary greatly outside major population centers.  There is an emergency 911 service within Santo Domingo, but its reliability is questionable.  Outside the capital, emergency services range from extremely limited to nonexistent.  Blood supplies at both public and private hospitals are often limited, and not all facilities have blood on hand even for emergencies.  Many medical facilities throughout the country do not have staff members who speak or understand English.  A private nationwide ambulance service, ProMed, operates in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata and La Romana; Telephone number is 809-412-5555.  ProMed expects full payment at the time of transport.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a non-comprehensive list of providers of medical care in the Dominican Republic.   The availability of prescription drugs varies depending upon location.  Also, specific brand name drugs may not be available in the Dominican Republic.  Travelers are advised to make sure they are traveling with an adequate supply of prescription drugs to meet their needs while in the Dominican Republic.

Tap water is unsafe to drink and should be avoided.  Bottled water and beverages are safe.

Dengue: Dengue is endemic to the Dominican Republic.  To reduce the risk of contracting dengue, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing clothing that exposes as little skin as possible and applying a repellent containing the insecticide DEET (concentration 30 to 35 percent) or Picaridin (concentration 20 percent or greater for tropical travelers).  Because of the increased risk of dengue fever and the ongoing risk of malaria in the Dominican Republic (see below), practicing preventative measures is recommended by the CDC.  For further information on dengue fever, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) web site at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/dengue.

Malaria: There are occasional reports of cases of malaria in areas frequented by U.S. and European tourists including La Altagracia Province, the easternmost province in which many beach resorts are located.  Malaria risk is significantly higher for travelers who go on some of the excursions to the countryside offered by many resorts.  Prior to visiting the Dominican Republic, travelers should consult the CDC web site for more information and recommendations on malarial prophylaxis.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Be aware that sexually transmitted diseases are common in the Dominican Republic.  Please take appropriate precautions to help stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cosmetic Surgery: The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo and the CDC are aware of several cases in which U.S. citizens experienced serious complications or died following elective cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic.  The CDC's Website contains a report on patients who suffered postoperative infections following cosmetic surgery in the Dominican RepublicPatients considering travel to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery may also wish to contact the Dominican Society of Plastic Surgeons (tel. 809-688-8451) to verify the training, qualifications, and reputation of specific doctors.

HIV/AIDs RESTRICTIONS:

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Dominican Republic.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning the Dominican Republic is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic in the Dominican Republic moves on the right side of the road.  Speed limits vary from 25 mph in the city to 60 mph on rural roads, but they are generally not enforced.  Drivers are required to carry liability insurance.

If you do drive in the Dominican Republic, you should be aware that the utmost caution and defensive driving are necessary.  Traffic laws are similar to those in the United States, but undisciplined driving is common, due to a lack of adequate traffic controls.  Many drivers will not use turn indicators.  It is common for a vehicle operator to stick his hand out the window to signal a turn.  Drivers can also be aggressive and erratic, often failing to yield the right-of-way even when road signs or signals indicate that they should.  Turning right on red lights is permitted, but should be done with caution.

Travel at night on intercity highways and in rural areas should be avoided, due to animals on the road, poor road conditions, poor lane markers, missing manhole covers, large potholes, unmarked speed bumps, and other vehicles being driven at excessive speeds, often with malfunctioning headlights or taillights.  Drivers should be aware that road hazards and closures are often indicated by piles of debris littered across the roadway, without any lettered signs or reflective surfaces to help call attention to the road condition.  Often times, there is no indication of the road hazard whatsoever.  Blackouts also increase the danger of night travel.  Mudslides and bridge washouts can be a problem during and after heavy rains.  The distances between reliable roadside services or major population centers can be considerable, which also increases the risk involved in driving after dark.

Traffic accidents often result in serious injury or death.  This is often the case when heavy vehicles, such as buses or trucks, are involved.  Traditionally, vehicles involved in accidents in the Dominican Republic are not moved (even to clear traffic), until authorized by a police officer.  Drivers who violate this norm may be held legally liable for the accident.
Dominican law requires that a driver be taken into custody for driving under the influence or being involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death, even if the driver is insured and appears not to have been at fault.  The minimum detention period is 48 hours; however, detentions frequently last until a judicial decision is reached (often weeks or months), or until a waiver is signed by the injured party (usually as the result of a cash settlement).

Visitors to the Dominican Republic might want to consider hiring a professional driver during their stay in lieu of driving themselves.  Licensed drivers who are familiar with local roads can be hired through local car rental agencies. In case of accidents, only the driver will be taken into custody.

Pedestrians tend to step out into traffic without regard to corners, crosswalks, or traffic signals.  Many pedestrians die every year crossing the street (including major, multi-lane highways) at seemingly random locations.  Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way, and walking along or crossing busy streets – even at intersections with traffic lights or traffic police present – can be very dangerous.

Seat belts are required by law, and those caught not wearing them will be fined.  There are no child car seat laws.  The law also requires the use of hands-free cellular devices while driving.  Police stop drivers using cell phones without the benefit of these devices.  Penalties for those driving under the influence and those involved in accidents resulting in injury or death can be severe.

Motorcycles and motor scooters are common in the Dominican Republic, and they are often driven erratically.  Dominican law requires that motorcyclists wear helmets, but local authorities rarely enforce this law.  As noted previously in this report, public transportation vehicles such as the route taxis (“carros publicos”) and urban buses (“guaguas”) are unsafe.
Please see the Crime section of this information sheet for more information regarding crimes involving road safety.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at insert site here.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Dominican Republic’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Dominican Republic’s air carrier operations.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA web site.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Currency Regulations: It is legal to exchange currency at commercial banks, exchange booths in hotels and exchange houses.  The exchange rate is set by the Central Bank, based on prevailing market conditions.  The market determines the exchange rate.  No more than USD $10,000 or its equivalent in another currency, including Dominican pesos, may be taken out of the Dominican Republic at the time of departure without declaring it.

Real Estate: Real estate investments in the Dominican Republic require a high level of caution, as property rights are irregularly enforced and investors often encounter problems in receiving clear title to land.  Consultation with an attorney is recommended before signing documents or closing on any real estate transactions.  Real estate investments by U.S. citizens have been the subject of both legal and physical takeover attempts.  Absentee landlords and absentee owners of undeveloped land are particularly vulnerable. Investors should seek solid property title and not just a “carta de constancia,” which is often confused by foreigners with a title. An official land registry measurement (also known as 'deslinde' or 'mensura catastral') is also desirable for the cautious overseas investor.  Investors should also consider purchasing title insurance.  Squatters, sometimes supported by governmental or non-governmental organizations, have invaded properties belonging to U.S. citizens, threatening violence and blocking the owners from entering their property. In at least one instance, a U.S. citizen landowner was physically assaulted by squatters. Several U.S. citizens with long-standing expropriation disputes with the Dominican Government are still without compensation.

Gambling: Many Americans have reported losing large amounts of money at Dominican casinos by playing a game (or variations thereof) known as “Super Keno,” “Caribbean Keno,” “Progressive Keno,” or “Progressive Roulette.”  Players have complained that the game’s rules are unclear and/or misleading.  Casinos have also been associated with cases involving credit card fraud.  Any complaints arising from a casino should be directed to the Office of Casinos at the Secretary of Finance.  To register a complaint with this office, call 809-687-5131, ext. 2120.

Divorce: In recent years, there have been a number of businesses, primarily on the Internet, which advertise “Quickie Dominican Divorces.”  The services of these businesses should be used with caution, as they may misrepresent the process of obtaining a divorce in the Dominican Republic.  While it is relatively simple for foreigners to obtain a divorce in the Dominican Republic, such divorces are only valid if specific steps are taken.  Those seeking information regarding divorce should first consult with an attorney in their home state.  Additional information is available in U.S. Embassy's flyer on Divorce in the Dominican Republic.

Alien Smuggling: Dominican authorities may prosecute anyone arrested for organizing the smuggling of aliens into or out of the Dominican Republic.  This is in addition to any charges individuals may face in the other country involved, including the United States.

Hurricanes: The Dominican Republic is situated in an area of the Caribbean prone to hurricanes.  In the event of a hurricane alert, a notice will be posted on the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo's web pageFurther information can be obtained from the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center.  General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. Travelers are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy.

Water Sports: Visitors to the Dominican Republic, including to local resort areas, should carefully assess the potential risk of recreational activities.  Some of the swimming areas at popular beaches around the Dominican Republic are subject to dangerous undertows.  Many beaches lack life guards and/or warnings of unsafe conditions.  Resort managers usually offer current information on local swimming & surf conditions.  Americans are cautioned not to swim alone, particularly at isolated beaches. Americans are further cautioned to weigh carefully the risks inherent in white water sports such as rafting or activities involving jumping from or swimming near waterfalls, particularly following heavy rains when swollen rivers  and streams increase the potential for dangerous flash floods.   In 2009 an American couple perished at 27 Charcos/Damajagua waterfalls during a flash flood that followed rains, even though they were wearing helmets and life jackets.  Participants in eco-tourism adventures should carefully assess the risks of any activity as safety standards and first response assistance are often not comparable to those found in the United States.

Agricultural Products: Visitors to the Dominican Republic are reminded to review the information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before attempting to import or export food or agricultural productsSevere penalties apply for violations.

For further information about customs regulations please see our Customs Information.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Dominican laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Dominican Republic are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abductionThe U.S. Embassy and the child welfare services office of the Dominican Republic (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia or CONANI) take the issues of child abandonment, neglect, and abuse very seriously.  Parents have the responsibility under U.S. and Dominican law to ensure their children are properly cared for while in the Dominican Republic and that they are provided age appropriate education, health care, and adequate nutrition.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in the Dominican Republic are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo through the State Department’s travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Dominican Republic.   Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at the corner of Calle César Nicolás Penson and Avenida Máximo Gómez.  The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit can be reached by telephone at 809-731-4294, or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ACS Unit office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday 7:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., except on U.S. and Dominican holidays.  The Chancery of the U.S. Embassy is located a quater-mile away from the Consular Section, at the corner of Calle César Nicolás Penson and Calle Leopoldo Navarro.  The telephone number is 809-221-2171.

There is a Consular Agency in the north coast city of Puerto Plata at Calle Villanueva esq. Avenida John F. Kennedy, Edificio Abraxa Libraria, 2nd floor, telephone 809-586-4204, 809-586-8017, 809-586-8023; office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

This replaces the Country Specific Information dated June 16, 2008  to update the Entry and Exit Requirements, Crime, Information for Victims of Crime , Medical Facilities and Health Information , HIV/AIDs Restrictions,  Medical Insurance , Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight, Special Circumstances, Criminal Penalties, and Children’s Issues sections.

 


 

The Foreign & Conmmonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to the Dominican republic HERE....

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information with regards to Malaria in this region HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)........

Regards

The SW Team..........

 

Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts