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Latest travel advice for Dominican Republic including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-01T16:27:01.982+00:00: Latest update: Safety and security section (Air travel) – updated information about air travel; UK government staff have been advised to avoid travelling on INSEL Air due to safety concerns

For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

The hurricane season in the Dominican Republic runs from June to November. See Natural Disasters.

Cases of chikungunya virus and dengue fever have been confirmed in the Dominican Republic. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. See Health

142,083 British nationals visited the Dominican Republic in 2015. Most visits are trouble-free, but there are incidents of crime and violence. See Crime

Take extra care on the road between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There have been incidents of armed robberies of foreign nationals in 2016 on the Dominican side of the border by criminals dressed as police officers. See Road travel

Don’t become involved with illegal drugs of any kind. There are severe penalties for all drug offences. A number of British nationals are serving prison sentences for attempting to traffic drugs. See Local laws and customs.

Credit card cloning and fraud are common. It’s generally safer to use cash. See Money

There is a low threat from terrorism in Dominican Republic. See Terrorism

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. 

Safety and security

Crime

The Dominican Republic is friendly and welcoming, but suffers from a high crime rate, ranging from opportunistic crime like bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, to violent crime.

There have been a number of incidents in Santo Domingo where foreigners have been mugged at gunpoint during the daytime while walking in residential districts.

Take particular care in remote areas, especially at night. Don’t wear expensive jewellery or carry large amounts of cash or expensive items like smart phones or cameras on the street. Use a hotel safe whenever possible. Don’t leave your bags or other possessions on chairs or tables in restaurants or bars. If you’re attacked or mugged, don’t resist.

There have been incidents of passengers being stopped and robbed or assaulted when travelling from the airport ‘Las Americas’ in Santo Domingo early in the morning or late at night so be vigilant, especially after dark.

If you lose your passport or it is stolen, get a police report before contacting the British Embassy. The Tourist Police (CESTUR) can be contacted on the free telephone number 1-809-200-3500.

Water safety

Lifeguards may not be present at swimming pools or on beaches and safety and rescue equipment may not be available.

The sea can be dangerous, especially during the tropical storm season (June-November). Seek local advice about sea conditions and warning systems and follow instructions.

Don’t go into the water if you’re under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

Local travel

Check safety standards and make sure you’re insured if you take part in activities like water sports, quad biking, horse riding etc. If in doubt seek advice from your tour operator.

Taxis are cheap but many are in a state of disrepair. There have been cases of theft from taxis, so keep valuables and cash secure and out of sight. Tourist taxis are safer and more reliable, but also more expensive. Public transport can be unsafe, but private companies operate good bus services between cities.

Road travel

Although most major roads are reasonably good, general standards of driving are poor. Drivers weave from lane to lane and rarely signal. Many vehicles are in a state of disrepair. Unlit vehicles - especially motorbikes - are common. Where possible you should avoid driving outside the main cities at night. Road accidents are frequent, especially during holiday periods like Christmas when drink-driving related incidents are common.

According to the 2015 World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Road Safety, an estimated 3,052 people were killed in the Dominican Republic - approximately 10 times more than the UK per capita rate. 20% of those killed in the Dominican Republic were pedestrians and 63% motorcyclists.

Take extra care on the road between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There have been incidents of armed robberies of foreign nationals in 2016 on the Dominican side of the border by criminals dressed as police officers. If you’re crossing the border by land, be prepared for long queues at the 4 crossing points. Make sure you have all the correct vehicle documentation. Long stretches of the route are isolated, and without a mobile phone reception. Aim to complete your entire journey during daylight.

It is easy to hire a car in the Dominican Republic, with many international franchises available. You can drive using a UK driving licence for visits not exceeding 3 months.

Military and police road blocks are common, especially in the areas near the Haitian border. They often appear very informal though the soldiers do wear army uniform and carry weapons. Drivers are sometimes coerced into handing a small amount of money over before being allowed to continue their journey.

If you are involved in an accident you may be detained by police until the circumstances of the accident have been investigated. If you are detained as a result of a road accident, contact the British Embassy in Santo Domingo or Honorary Consulate in Puerto Plata or Punta Cana.

Air travel

Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air. The US and Netherlands authorities have prohibited their staff from using the airline while safety checks are being carried out. UK government officials have been told to do the same as a precaution.

Political situation

Political demonstrations sometimes occur, although not usually near tourist areas. Avoid getting caught up in demonstrations or large gatherings of people.

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Don’t become involved with illegal drugs of any kind. There are severe penalties for all drug offences. Possession of even small quantities can lead to a long prison sentence and a hefty fine. All sentences are served in the Dominican Republic.

Pack your own luggage and don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else.

Seizures at ports and airports around the Dominican Republic have increased.

Homosexuality is generally accepted in the Dominican Republic.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

All visitors need a tourist card to enter the Dominican Republic. You can get a tourist card before travel from the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in London, or on arrival at the airport at a cost of US$10 or equivalent. The Dominican Republic Embassy website has more information.

Tourist cards are initially valid for a 30-day stay but can be extended by paying for an extension when you leave the country. If you overstay this initial 30-day period, you’ll have to pay a surcharge when you leave the country. If you’re planning to stay for longer than 30 days, seek advice from a local lawyer or contact the local Immigration authorities.

There have been reports in February 2017 of immigration authorities making random checks on foreign visitors to establish the validity of their stay in the country. The Dominican Republic immigration rules haven’t changed, all tourists should have a valid tourist card for a 30 day stay or pay for an extension on departure if staying beyond 30 days. Make sure you’re able to provide a photocopy of your identification (such as a passport), and proof of onward or return travel if you’re asked to do so by the authorities.

Proof of onward or return travel

You may be refused entry if you don’t have proof of onward or return travel.

Passport validity

If you’re entering as a tourist your passport must be valid up to at least the date of your proposed departure from the Dominican Republic. If you’re entering the Dominican Republic for any other purpose your passport should have at least six months’ validity.

Departure tax

Departure tax is US$20.  Scheduled airlines sometimes include this charge in the price of the ticket. Check with your tour operator or travel provider.

Travelling with children

According to the Dominican Republic authorities, visitors under 18 travelling to the Dominican Republic don’t need written authorisation from their parents as long as they enter and leave with the same person or people. If visitors between the ages of 13 and 18 are travelling alone, or in a group with no one over 18, then parental authorisation is not required as long as the group remains the same on entry and exit.

Otherwise, a visitor under the age of 18 must carry a sworn affidavit drawn up by a solicitor and signed by the child’s parents or legal guardian(s) authorising their travel. The affidavit will need to be legalised by the  Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Dominican Republic Embassy   

Imports

Imports of meat and dairy products from EU countries are currently banned.

UK Emergency travel documents

UK Emergency travel documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, transit and exit from the Dominican Republic.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

There are a small number of cases of cholera in the Dominican Republic, mainly in urban slums and poor rural areas.

Cases of chikungunya virus and dengue fever have been confirmed in Dominican Republic. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Public medical facilities in Dominican Republic are generally limited. Private hospitals offer good standards of care, although reports indicate that some establishments may overcharge. Dentistry is adequate. A good range of medicines is available, including some normally only available on prescription in the UK.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance in Santo Domingo dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. Outside Santo Domingo (e.g. Punta Cana, Puerto Plata) contact the tourist police (1-809-200-3500). If you’re travelling with a tour operator, also contact your representative and/or hotel. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Hurricanes

The hurricane season in the Dominican Republic normally runs from June to November. You can monitor weather updates and track the progress of storms on the website of the US National Hurricane Centre.

See our Tropical Cyclones page for advice on what to do if you are caught up in a storm.

The hurricane season in the Caribbean frequently coincides with heavy rains, which may cause flash floods and landslides. Follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator. 

Earthquakes

There are occasional earthquakes in the Dominican Republic. To protect yourself during an earthquake, you should drop to the ground, take cover and hold on until the shaking stops. If you are inside a building don’t exit until it’s safe to do so. If you’re outside, move away from buildings, streetlights and electricity wires. After the earthquake don’t run as there may be aftershocks or debris in your path. If you become trapped, tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can find you. Only shout as a last resort as this may cause you to inhale dust. In the event of an earthquake, the Dominican Government authorities, fire-fighters and police will provide help to foreigners.  

Money

The currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso. US dollars and travellers’ cheques are easily exchanged. Only exchange money at banks or official exchange offices (casas de cambio). UK credit cards and debit cards will usually work in ATMs. Take great care when withdrawing cash at an ATM. Credit card cloning and identity theft are common. It’s generally much safer to use cash.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British Embassy Santo Domingo

    Title:British Embassy Santo Domingo
    Email:UK.inDominicanRepublic@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Ave 27 de Febrero No 233,
    Edificio Corominas Pepin
    Santo Domingo
    Dominican Republic

    Contact: Telephone:: +1 (809) 472 7111
    Visiting:
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
  • Department for International Trade Dominican Republic

    Title:Department for International Trade Dominican Republic
    Email:UK.inDominicanRepublic@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    Ave 27 de Febrero No 233
    Edificio Corominas Pepin
    Santo Domingo
    Dominican Republic

    Contact: Enquiries: +1 (809) 472 7111
    Visiting:
    Services:

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