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Dominican Republic

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in the Dominican Republic due to the risk of serious criminal activity. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about security risks.
  • There is a high rate of crime in the Dominican Republic. Violent crime also occurs. Female travellers are at risk of sexual assault. See Safety and security
  • Avoid protests and demonstrations, as they may turn violent. See Safety and security
  • Pay close attention to personal, food and water hygiene. Cholera is a risk. See Health
  • Hurricanes can bring strong winds, storm surges, heavy rains, landslides, mudslides and flooding. If there is a hurricane or other natural disaster, monitor local media and official meteorological websites. Follow the instructions of local authorities. See Natural disasters.

Entry and exit

Visas

You must purchase a tourist card when entering the counrty. It costs USD10 and is valid for 30 days. For longer visits, you must  pay an additional fee at the airport on departure.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Dominican Republic for the most up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Strict exit requirements apply to children under 18 years of age who are travelling alone, with only one parent, or with anyone other than the parent(s). Confirm requirements with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Dominican Republic before travel. More information: Travelling with children

Departure tax

A departure tax of USD20  applies for visits of up to two weeks. The departure tax may be included in the price of your airline ticket. Confirm with your travel agent or airline. If you stay longer than two weeks, you will need to pay additional departure tax.

Travelling to the Dominican Republic through the USA and Canada

If you're travelling to the Dominican Republic via the United States of America (US), you must meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States of America well in advance of travel.

More information: Travel advice for the US

If you transit or travel via Canada by air, you will require an eTA (electronic Travel Authorisation) for Canada. Check your visa requirements with the Canadian High Commission well in advance of travel.

More information: Travel advice for Canada

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (DOP). Australian Dollars aren't accepted for exchange. You can exchange United States Dollars at banks or official exchange offices. 

Safety and security

Crime

The crime rate in the Dominican Republic is high.

Violent crime

Violent crime occurs in popular tourist areas. Victims have been injured when resisting. Female travellers are particularly at risk, because of the incidence of aggressive sexual behaviour and sexual assault towards foreign women.

Avoid using ATMs on the street due to the high risk of robbery. There have also been incidents of roadside, armed robberies targeting foreigners travelling in taxis, and private vehicles to and from the Las Americas International Airport.

Drink spiking at bars and other entertainment venues has occurred, often resulting in theft and assault. Exercise caution when dealing with strangers or new acquaintances and don't leave your drink unattended.

To minimise risks: 

  • use only authorised airport taxis, and avoid travel to and from the airport at night
  • don't accept invitations or lifts from strangers or new acquaintances (including hotel employees)
  • avoid public transport
  • avoid walking or jogging alone, especially after dark
  • travel with other people wherever possible, especially if you're female
  • avoid making ATM withdrawals at night
  • don't withdraw or carry a lot of money at any one time
  • use a reputable tour company or tour organiser, especially if you plan travel to remote areas
  • pay close attention to your personal security at all times

Petty crime

Petty crime, including pickpocketing and bag-snatching, is common in major cities and tourist areas, including airports and bus terminals. Tourists are often targeted. Thefts have occurred in resorts, on beaches, in hotel rooms and from hotel room safes. 

To minimise risks:

  • avoid displaying valuable items, such as cameras and mobile phones
  • carry laptops and tablets inconspicuously in a backpack or other carry-on luggage
  • be cautious of strangers offering unsolicited services or unusual requests
  • at airports, carefully monitor your checked and carry-on luggage at all times
 

Credit card and ATM fraud are common. Use credit cards with caution, particularly in Santo Domingo and the resort areas. Keep your credit card in sight when using it.

Victims of crime

If you're a victim of violent crime, especially sexual assault, seek immediate medical assistance. The risk of HIV infection is high.

More information: Where to get help

Civil unrest/political tension

Political demonstrations can occur across the country, but are most common in and around the cities of Santiago, Salcedo, Bonao, and Santo Domingo. Demonstrations can affect traffic and essential services. 

  • Avoid protests and demonstrations, as they may turn violent.
  • Monitor the media for information about safety or security risks.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. 

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Only use recommended tour operators and ensure they have proper safety equipment before participating in extreme or eco-tourist activities. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.

There are strong undercurrents (rips) at some beaches in the Dominican Republic. Check conditions with your hotel or other authorities before entering the water. Lifeguards are not present at some hotels, resorts and public beaches.

Road travel

For trips less than three months, you can drive a vehicle with an International Driving Permit.

Travel by road is dangerous due to aggressive driving practices, and poorly maintained vehicles and roads. You're over five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in the Dominican Republic than in Australia.

Traffic laws are routinely ignored and traffic accidents are common. Rural roads lack adequate signage and lighting, and are shared with pedestrians, bicycles and farm animals.

Mudslides and road collapses caused by heavy rains are common. Roads may be closed at short notice, especially during the hurricane seasons.

  • Avoid driving at night.
  • Ensure your vehicle doors are locked and windows closed at all times.
  • If you're involved in an accident, remain at the scene and wait until the police authorise you to leave.

More information:

Taxis

Travellers have been robbed and assaulted when using unofficial taxis. Don't use the route taxis, also known as 'carros publicos', as there is an increased risk of passengers being robbed. Instead use radio-dispatched taxis or those provided by hotels.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Dominican Republic.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local prisons where conditions are harsh.

If you're found driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you will be arrested and may be detained.

Border officials may screen you for drugs, including on departure.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

Dual nationals

The Dominican Republic recognises dual nationality.

If you're an Australian-Dominican citizen and you are charged with a crime, it is unlikely that the authorities will advise the Australian Government. Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian-Dominican dual nationals who are detained or arrested may be limited. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Keep medication in its original packaging. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia:

  • check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to
  • get medical documents authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before you depart (if required).

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

HIV/AIDS

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection is high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Cholera and other infectious diseases

Confirmed cholera cases continue to be reported. Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting and can be fatal if left untreated. Correct food hygiene and preparation are essential to minimise the risk of contracting cholera. Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, filariasis, and leptospirosis) are prevalent, with serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Ensure correct food hygiene and preparation.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

More information: Infectious diseases

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Mosquito-borne illnesses, including dengue fever and Chikungunya virus, are common in the Dominican Republic, especially during the hot months (May to November).

There is widespread transmission of Zika virus. If you're pregnant, discuss any travel plans with your doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas.

Malaria is less common but has been reported in the western area (bordering Haiti), at some of the beach resort locations and in areas where adventure sport activities are undertaken.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • speak to your doctor about anti-malaria medication

Seek medical attention if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

Rabies

There is a high risk of rabies in the Dominican Republic.  Avoid direct contact with dogs, cats, mongooses (small cat-like animals) and other animals. If bitten or scratched, seek immediate medical attention.

More information:

Seafood poisoning

Toxins in shellfish (naturally occurring seafood toxins such as ciguatera and scombroid, histamine fish poisoning) can poison humans. Outbreaks of ciguatera poisoning have occurred on many Caribbean islands.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning.

More information: Potentially hazardous foods (Queensland Health)

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in the major cities of the Dominican Republic offer reasonable primary care. However, other facilities are of a lower standard with little English spoken. Blood supplies are often limited.

Evidence of medical insurance, up-front payment or a guarantee of payment may be required before a patient is treated. Medical care can be very expensive.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation and treatment can be extremely expensive.

Natural disasters

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

If you're travelling to the Dominican Republic during hurricane season (June to November) or following a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination are affected.

Hurricanes and severe weather

Dominican Republic experiences hurricanes, and associated landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services and infrastructure. The hurricane season is June to November but tropical storms and hurricanes can occur in other months. The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. 

The wet season is from May to November. Heavy rainfalls can cause landslides and mudslides, often with devastating effect on people, property, local infrastructure and essential services.

If you're travelling during the wet season:

  • know your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans
  • carry your travel documents at all times or secure them in a safe, waterproof location
  • contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

If there is a hurricane or one is approaching:

Flights in and out of hurricane-affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. Contact your airline for the latest flight information. A hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region.

In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who may choose to stay.

More information:

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

The Dominican Republic experiences earthquakes. A major earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 was felt throughout the Dominican Republic, and areas near the border with Haiti were affected. Seismic activity can occur at any time.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunami but Dominican Republic's susceptibility to earthquakes makes destructive tsunamis more likely.

  • Monitor local media and weather reports
  • Know your hotel's procedures in case of an earthquake or tsunami
  • If there is an earthquake or tsunami, follow the instructions of local authorities.

More information:

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

Tourist police (POLITUR) can provide assistance to tourists and regularly patrol main tourist areas. To contact the police, dial 911.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products contact the service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in the Dominican Republic headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance (not including the issuing of Australian passports)

Contact details are:

Australian Consulate Santo Domingo

Av. Tiradantes No. 40
Esquina Gustavo Mejia Ricart
Edificio Wendy's tercer piso
Santi Domingo, Republica Dominicana
+8099200020
proedan@gruporarya.com.do

You can also get full consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in Mexico.

Australian Embassy, Mexico City

Ruben Dario #55
Corner of Campos Eliseos, Polanco
Colonia Bosque de Chapultepec
11580 Mexico DF Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 1101 2200
Facsimile: +52 55 1101 2201
E-mail: consularpassports.mexico@dfat.gov.au
Website: mexico.embassy.gov.au

Check the relevant Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact one of the above embassies in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources