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If you are planning to move to the Dominican Republic there are several different types of visa depending on your individual circumstances, how long you wish to stay, and the purpose of your visit. The type of visa you need, the requirements, and the costs do change from time to time so it is worth checking prior to leaving your country.

Most expatriates come to the Dominican Republic first to carry out due diligence and decide if they want to live in the country and if so, where they want to live. The first visit is usually for a couple of weeks and for that you will require a tourist card.

Tourist card

The tourist card costs US$10. The majority of people will need a tourist card on top of their passport unless your country of origin is Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, Peru, South Korea, or Uruguay, in which case you can enter without one. As long as you can legally enter the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or Canada, among others, you can enter the Dominican Republic with just a tourist card and a passport.

The tourist card can be used for up to a year from the date of purchase and is valid for stays of up to 30 days as a tourist but does not allow any form of work. It can be bought at airports or ports when arriving in the country, which is what most people do, but it is also sold at Dominican embassies and consulate offices overseas. Some airlines and tour companies include the tourist card in the price of the holiday or ticket, and the Dominican government are currently trying to ensure it is always included in the airline ticket or holiday price, although to date that has not yet been introduced. 

If you overstay the 30 days, you will need to pay an exit fee on leaving the country. The amount will depend on the length of time overstayed and is usually paid at the Migration counter at the departure airport or port. The list of the tariffs is here. It should be noted that many come to the Dominican Republic knowing they will stay much longer and simply pay the overstay fee, however, there are signs that this is being cracked down on, and those who are expecting to stay significantly longer should look to acquire residency.

If you come from one of the countries which do not qualify for a tourist card, a list of which can be found here, you will need to apply for a Tourist Visa which is issued by the local Dominican consulate.

Residency Visa

If you have made the decision to live in the Dominican Republic, you will need to apply for residency. In the past, many people lived in the country without bothering to acquire residency, but the government has introduced new immigration policies, and residency is now more or less essential for the following reasons:

  • Without residency, you cannot obtain a Dominican identity card, called a cedula.
  • You need a cedula to apply for a Dominican driving license – foreign or international licenses are only valid for 90 days.
  • You need a cedula to be able to have a mobile phone contract, open a bank account, have car insurance, and in some cases to purchase health insurance.
  • If you are found to be working in the country without residency you can be deported.

In order to begin the residency process, you have to start in your home country at the nearest Dominican Consulate. The first step is to apply for a residency visa, and you have 60 days following its issue by your local consulate to go to the Dominican Republic and apply for your initial residency at the Migration office in the country. However, residency visas are not issued to just anyone, and you need to comply with one of the following conditions:

  • Have a link to the Dominican Republic. This will include having a home in the DR, being Dominican, having Dominican children, or being married to a Dominican
  • Be in receipt of a pension of at least US$1,500 a month
  • Be in receipt of a rental income of at least USD$2,000 a month
  • Be prepared to invest at least US$200,000 in the Dominican Republic which could be buying a business or a property
  • Have a work contract for a job in the Dominican Republic

If you cannot satisfy one of the above it is unlikely you will be able to obtain a Residency Visa and become a resident of the Dominican Republic.

However, there are other types of visas for those wishing to come to the Dominican Republic if you do not qualify for a residency visa. These include a Business Visa for those wishing to come and conduct business in the country, and they last for 60 days but can be extended for up to a year with multiple entries up to two months at a time. There are also Student Visas for those wishing to study in the country, and these last for a year and are renewable for the period of study. There are Work Visas which last a year for those coming to the Dominican Republic to take up employment and again these are renewable. There are Diplomatic Visas for those coming to the country as a diplomat. For the spouses and dependents of those holding a Student, Work, Diplomatic, or Business visa, there are also Dependant Visas available.

All of these visas are available at your local Dominican Consulate.

Documentation

All applications for visas from the Dominican Republic, excluding the Tourist Card, need to be accompanied by several pieces of documentation. These are listed on the Consulate websites detailed at the end of this article. The requirements do change from time to time and vary depending on the visa required, so they are worth checking before you apply. However, they would normally include the following:

  • Your passport which should be valid at least up to the date you are expecting to return home.
  • Passport-size colour photo with a white background, hair off the face and not wearing earrings.
  • Birth and marriage certificates. These should be the long form in countries where they also issue abridged versions, should be issued within the previous six months, apostilled, or legalized in those countries which are not signatories to the Hague Convention (such as Canada) and translated into Spanish. The translation should also be legalized.
  • A medical certificate which can be issued by your General Practitioner and must certify that you have no contagious diseases. This should also be translated into Spanish.
  • A Criminal Record Check from your home country which should be apostilled and translated into Spanish.
  • Proof of income which can be bank statements or a letter from the bank, rental agreements, or a pension letter.
  • A copy of your local identity card such as passport, driving license, or residency card.
  • If any visa request involves minors traveling alone, the authorizations of both parents or legal guardians must be provided in a notarized document with their signatures. It should also be translated into Spanish.
  • Most visa requests require a letter, in Spanish, addressed to the Consular Section, including your name, address, nationality, occupation, and reason for visiting the Dominican Republic.
  • If you are requesting a work or student visa you will also need a letter from the employer or university confirming your position.
  • For those asking for a residency visa, you will need a guarantee letter. This must be written and signed by a Dominican, or a foreigner who has Dominican Republic residency. The letter must specify your relationship, and the willingness of the guarantor to meet any deportation expenses should you violate the Dominican law. It must also be signed and stamped by a Dominican notary.

Please note that residency visas can be complex, especially if you do not speak Spanish, so most people use a Dominican immigration lawyer to help the process go more smoothly. Also, the Consulates will always offer to do the translations into Spanish for you but be warned, they are considerably more expensive than having them done by someone other than the Consulate.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Tourism
Embassy of the Dominican Republic in the UK
Embassy of the Dominican Republic in the US

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