Dominican Republic Tourist CardAmong the changes that the Dominican Republic has made recently in regards to residency and visa requirements one thing has managed to stay the same, the entry tax or Tourist Card. This is a $10 usd tax that all non-residents (this some exceptions) must pay upon entering the D.R.. After you arive in teh Dominican Republic while at the airport you will need to find the line to buy the tourist card before you head over to customs.

Countries Exempt from the Tax

There is a list of countries that are exempt from paying this entry fee and purchasing a Tourist Card when entering the Dominican Republic. If you have a passport from one of these countries you can go straight to the customs line bypassing the extra step of buying the card.

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Urguay
  • Japan
  • Israel

Exit Tax

There is also a $20 usd exit tax (more…)

Foreign Citizens that have been putting off renewing their cedulas (Dominican IDs) have one more day to get it done with the lowered price. Until Saturday Dec 29th 2012, you can still renew you identity card for between RD$500 and RD$3000 pesos (price does not include the card). This announcement was made by the JCE Department for foreign Citizens.

The office will be open until 4pm on Saturday handling renewals. You can also call the office at 809-537-9649 or 809-338-5959 ext. 202.

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

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With the latest set of immigration laws that have been passed in the Dominican Republic many “staycationers” are finding that if they want to stay here (at least legally) they need to get residency. While I’m not a lawyer you might find my recent experiences with the immigration office to be useful.

New laws passed in January 2012

First, what has changed? In the past when a foreigner first came to the DR they needed to buy a tourist visa. That pretty much meant that you walk up to a counter, pay $10 US dollars to get a little card. You then walk across the room and give the card to someone else and go on your way. This tourist visa was good for the next 30 days. This appears to still be the same.

After 30 days you then went to the immigration office and paid for a 3 month extension. (more…)

The Dominican Republic has recently changed how they handle long term visas, and this is subject to change again. So, look as this as an approximate guide which is based on their current requirements.

On entry into the DR you are required to pay a $10 entry fee. This entrance fee is paid at the airport by buying a card and giving it to someone as you go through customs. This allows you to stay in the country for 90 days. If you go past that and do not renew your visa you will have to pay a small fine when you leave the country.

If you stay longer than 90 days you should go to the capital (Santo Domingo) and renew your visa at the immigration office. This costs about 700 pesos and gives you another 90 days after which you will need to renew the visa again. You can renew your visa twice.

If you plan on staying longer you can apply for an extended visa. This costs about $350 dollars to apply and is a bit of a hassle. When you apply for this they will send back to your country for verification of your documents birth certificates etc. This can take a while and should only be done if you plan on staying in the country pretty much permanently. This gives the advantage of being able to get a drivers licence, easier to get bank accounts and so on.

When you come into the country you can drive for the first three months legally. after that you need the extended visa to continue to drive. Renewing your visa does not renew your being able to drive. The easiest way to get around that is to leave the country and come back in, afterwards you have three months again. This can be easily done by traveling to Haiti crossing the border and coming back. Your passport gets re-stamped and you can legally drive again. This is a little more expensive, it costs about $45 usd to reenter the DR from Haiti.

Once again, use this as an approximate guide. They seem to adjust this once in a while.

If you are planning a trip to the DR and plan on flying in you likely have a few questions. I’ll try to cover some of the more common ones here. First it’s good to note that the airport personal are friendly here and will try to help you out if you need help however few speak another language besides Spanish, so it does help to already have some of the basic phrases at least written down in case you need them.

Once you get into the more tourist oriented areas you will find plenty of people that speak multiple languages English and French (often more of a Creole) being the first on the list after Spanish.

Entry Fee: Once you get off the plane you will need to find the place where you buy your entry fee card. (more…)

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