If you are planning to stay in the DR for more than a few months, you will likely need to look into some sort of driver license. While public cars, Guaguas, Taxis, and Motor Conchos work, it’s nice to be able to drive yourself at time. There are a several ways you can do this.
- One is to get residency and apply for a Dominican license.
- Two, is to leave the country every three months in order to get your passport restamped (your foreign license is then good again for three months)
- Three, get an international License.
Which option to choose will likely depend on your long term plans. If you don’t plan on staying more than 6 months or so, it might be easier to just plan a small vacation where you leave the country for a few days. When you get back you will get your passport stamped again and your license will once again be good for another 3 months.
If you are planning to stay over a year, then you likely want to get residency and eventually get a Dominican drivers license. Even then you might need to either get your passport restamped or get an International License to keep you going during the long wait you are going to have to get the residency complete.
For me the easiest option has been getting an International Drivers Document.
- First question is does the Dominican Republic honor an International License? According to The International Automobile Driver’s Club, and The International Driver’s Document the answer is yes. Apparently, this is based on the country being part of the United Nations. The UN set up an international document that establishes the right for a person to drive in another country. It has to be accompanied by a valid driver’s license in your original country.
- How do I get an International Drivers license? This is surprisingly easy. You just fill out an online form, send in jpg images of your current driver’s license, a passport image, and your signature (write it on a paper and scan it into your computer). They process it within a day or so and can send it internationally.
- Where is the International Drivers License valid? There is a whole list of UN Nations that honor the license. Check the site where you apply for the current list. Your License is translated into the 9 different major languages, so the one license is good for most of the locations.
- How much does an International Drivers License cost? They are surprisingly cheap. For less than $100USD. You can get one that last for 3 years. It’s about $40 USD for one year.
- Where can I apply for an International Drivers Document? I’ve found two places that look pretty good, www.international-license.com and www.iadc-club.com I ended up going with “International License” although both seem to be pretty comparable.
While I choose not to buy a car yet, I can now rent a car and drive legally. I also found that it is very easy to buy a motorcycle here and the small commuter bikes are very cheap. I ended up buying a Yamaha 125 which is a about 75% more expensive than the cheaper China make, but you really feel the difference in the ride of the bike.
Buying the bike at a dealer was a breeze. Flash the money, show your passport and within about 10 minutes your driving off with your new bike. Of course the license plate, and the registration papers won’t come for a few months, but you have a certified receipt to prove your purchase.