2015-05-11 12:24:07

Over the years, many foreigners have chosen to spend their retirement years in the Dominican Republic due to its environment and benefits.

Many retirees, or those reaching retirement age, like to visit the Dominican Republic and end up falling in love with the country and the people, leading to them wanting to move there. Below is some information to help you make the decision to retire to the country and to help you better understand the regulations.

Over the years, the Dominican Republic has proved to be an ideal destination for expatriates worldwide for several reasons. These include the warm and pleasant climate, the variety of landscape, the fabulous beaches, and the friendly local people. In addition, it offers political and economic stability, a reasonable cost of living, and good healthcare in the major cities.

The legal aspects of retirement

The law governing retirement is Law 171-07 which lays down the requirements in order to be in receipt of benefits related to retirement in the Dominican Republic.

The immigration issues have changed dramatically over the last few years and currently, in order to retire in the DR, you need to have residency in the country. In order to achieve residency, the process begins in your home country at the Dominican Republic consulate where you have to provide a range of paperwork to obtain a residency visa. Full information on the documentation required can be found here.

As a retiree, in order to qualify for the Residency Visa and subsequent Residency Card which is obtainable no more than 60 days after the issue of the Visa at the Migration Office in Santo Domingo, a retiree must be in receipt of a monthly pension of a minimum of US$1,500, or rental/investment income of US$2,000 a month.

Once you can prove you have that amount, then the Retirement Residency comes with certain benefits under the Law 171-07.

Benefits

  • Permanent residency in 45 days from when you submit your documentation to the Migration office in Santo Domingo
  • Qualify for citizenship within six months of being issued a residency card
  • Exemption on property purchase tax
  • 50% exemption on annual property tax
  • Exemption of taxes on income earned from pension
  • Exemption from taxes levied on the payment of dividends and interest earned
  • Exemption of taxes for the import of home furnishings and personal property
  • Partial exemption of vehicles taxes for the import of a vehicle from the home country

Should you decide not to become a resident, you can enter the country with simply a US$10 tourist card which is valid for 30 days. If you stay after that length of time you will have to pay an overstay fine. However, without residency you may find it hard to obtain contracts for electricity, cell phones, internet, a bank account, and your foreign driving licence will only be valid for 3 months. You cannot obtain a Dominican driving license without a Dominican identity card, called a cedula which you receive along with your residency card.

Other advantages of retiring in the Dominican Republic

The cost of living in the Dominican Republic is quite low compared to that of many European and North American countries, especially if you use local produce rather than imported goods. Moreover, the country remains very accessible worldwide thanks to its seven international airports. The climate is lovely with warm sunshine all year long, even in the rainy season where it rarely rains for long. In addition, the healthcare is excellent in the major cities and is considerably cheaper than those countries without free health care. Health insurance can be obtained locally for only around US$100 per three months although it can be harder to obtain initially for those over 65 years of age.

Learning Spanish

The language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. Everything is conducted in Spanish including all of the contracts and government websites. Very few people speak English, although in the tourist areas you may find some local Dominicans who are involved in tourism who can help you. If you can, learn some Spanish before you come to the island and then you can learn more when you are here.

Where to live

The country is very big for a Caribbean island and it takes a while to get from one place to another. Most who come here to work, settle in the capital city of Santo Domingo or Santiago, the second largest city. On the other hand, those who do not have to work, such as retirees, have much greater choices in terms of where to live in the DR. You will need to decide if you want beach or mountains if you need access to international supermarkets, cultural activities, restaurants, if you want to be close to an international airport, if you have hobbies such as diving, golf, or kiteboarding, and if you want to live in an expat community.

The main expatriate areas are in the north (Puerto Plata, Sosúa, and Cabarete); in the northeast (Las Terrenas, Samaná, and Las Galeras); and in the east, Punta Cana and Bávaro. There are other smaller expat enclaves in Juan Dolio in the south and Jarabacoa in the central mountains.

Accommodation in the Dominican Republic

Once you decide to move, it is best to rent first before buying property. This is for a whole variety of reasons: to check if you really want to live in the country and also to make sure you have chosen the right area to live in. It also gives you a chance to travel around a little and look at different areas. In addition, you will have plenty of time to check out different properties before deciding to buy. Be aware that when you rent you will often have to pay three months deposit and it is usually the person who rents, not the landlord, who is responsible for repairs and may also be responsible for condo or management fees. Make sure you get a Spanish speaker to check any rental contract before you sign it.

 Important:

  • The electricity in the Dominican Republic is not very reliable. The country is divided into four areas, A, B, C, and D. Those in an A area have more or less 24 hours of power and those in a D area only 8-10 hours a day. Check out which area you are in before renting or buying, and budget for an inverter or generator for times when there is no electricity. Even if you are in an A area, the electricity can go out for several hours especially during storms or hurricanes.
  • Driving in the Dominican Republic is hazardous, in fact, it has the highest rate of road deaths in the world. It is not wise to drive at night, and always watch out for motorbikes, which are abundant.

 Useful link:

Dominican Tourism

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