At the end of 2011 the Dominican Republic announced new rules for foreigners that are staying long term in the DR. While it has always been a good idea to have your residency completed many of us were heading to the capital and paying for visa extensions every 3 months. With the new year 2012 that was no longer possible and there has been a mad rush to apply for residency.

With that rush came an overwhelmed system and there have been long delays in getting the residency completed six to nine months and even longer is pretty common. My family started in December of last year and the process still isn’t complete and we used lawyers to help make sure all the paperwork was complete. Hard to say how much time this has saved but it is safe to say, whether you hire a lawyer or not the process is not quick.

Leaving the Country

This leaves the question of what to do if you have plans on leaving the country (visiting family and returning). It is usually a bit of an issue when you leave because the customs at the airports appear to be trained to always try to get more money out of people leaving, even when you have everything paid to date with the immigration office. Showing them residency papers is bound to cause a little more confusion than normal.

First, it is important that you get to the airport early, in all likelihood you will need to explain everything to the first customs booth; they will tell you that your papers are not correct; you will then need to talk to a supervisor who will hopefully understand the immigration system and how residency works. Remain calm, and allow for enough time for all of this to happen. The worse that is going to happen is that you will have to pay a few extra mil (pesos) per person to get out, however, in all likelihood you will make it out without major issues.

What you need from the Immigration Office

When you applied for residency, among other things you should have received a couple receipts.

  • One from the “Ministerio de Interior Y Policia Direccion General de Migracion” this is a white receipt called “Departmento Medico Recibo de Ingreso”
    Departmento Medico Recibo de Ingreso

    Departmento Medico Recibo de Ingreso

  • The Second is a pink form from the same department the “Ministerio de Interior Y Policia Direccion General de Migracion” called “Control Para Pago de Impuesto Para Extranjeros Expedidos en Permisos de permanencia en el Pais”
    Control Para Pago de Impuesto Para Extranjeros Expedidos en Permisos de permanencia en el Pais

    Control Para Pago de Impuesto Para Extranjeros Expedidos en Permisos de permanencia en el Pais

These two receipts show that you have applied for residency, and paid the fees as well as paid the taxes for foreigners staying in the Dominican Republic. The pink one (taxes for foreigners staying in the DR) is only good for 3 months, if you have been waiting more than that for your residency to complete you will need to pay for an extension.

Armed with a copy of these two receipts (and of course your passport) you should be able to make it out of the country without paying extra fees, taxes etc. We used copies so that we could have our originals safely stored away and that seemed to work fine.

We haven’t tried reentering into the country with these receipts so I’ll update this page in a month or two to tell you how that goes when we come back. Basically I am anticipating having to pay the $10 USD entry fee. On the plane we will be given the choice of two papers to fill out, one for citizens and residents (people with cedulas) and one for visitors (people without cedulas). Being that if your residency isn’t complete you won’t have a cedula number you have the choice of either filling out the form for people that have residency, leaving the cedula number blank, and trying to convince them to let you through based on the paperwork, or just fill out the visitor form and pay the $10 USD.

As always, everything in this country is an adventure with one government organization (i.e. Customs) not understanding the others (i.e. Immigration), so expect to have to do a lot of explaining. No point in getting worked up about it just chock it up as “part of the experience” of living in the Dominican Republic!