Dominican Republic Travel Advice
Security travel advice for the Dominican Republic
How safe is the Dominican Republic?
Threat level: Low-Medium
The travel advice for the Dominican Republic is to remain extra cautious in districts of high crime rate or vulnerable locations, such as busy tourist areas. There are no general travel advisories for the country, and there is a low likelihood of terrorism.
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It is advised that anyone travelling to the Dominican Republic remains vigilant, as western tourists can be perceived as soft targets in the country due to ongoing international terrorist threats at popular tourist regions.
The Dominican Republic’s crime rate is high, this can range from petty crime through to more violent attacks. There has been an increase in the government presence in some areas as a deterrent against tourist-directed crimes.
Financial fraud scams are prevalent in the country and as such, it is best not to avoid using your credit card wherever possible and do not hand your credit card over for payment at any point.
The Dominican Republic has had previous demonstrations around key political times. These demonstrations have been known to turn into localised disarray and violence. It is advised that you keep away from these types of public gatherings.
There is a risk of rape and violent assault against women in the country and as such, women should preferably not travel alone and take particular care if doing so.
It is advised that both male and female visitors to the country do not leave their complex at night and travel to urban locations or central districts due to the increased levels of crime and risk of attacks. The risk of robbery is high and it is advised that jewellery or general expression of wealth is not shown publically.
The Dominican Republic's International Relations
The Dominican Republic has relatively good international ties, but especially ties with United States of America and Puerto Rico, but relations have often been difficult with Haiti, its neighbour. It was a founding member of the UN and a member of many treaty and trade agreements, it has close ties with Puerto Rico as well as Venezuela from which it imports its oil.
The Dominican Republic is part of the drug trafficking route north to America and beyond, to Europe. Over the past decade there has been a great deal of international cooperation to stem this flow of drugs, with the Dominican Republic playing a key role in war on drugs.
Travelling around the Dominican Republic
The road conditions in most major cities are relatively good. Please take into consideration that military and police road blocks are quite common, this is more prominent in the areas near the Haitian border.
Driving standards in the Dominican Republic are particularly poor and the country has a high fatality rate in relation to deaths on the road. The latest figures available from the World Heath Organisation (2013), show the Dominican Republic had 29.3 deaths per 100,000, compared to the USA 10.6 and the UK 2.9 deaths per 100,000, measured over the same time.
It is advised to always drive with extreme caution and to not rely on other road users to obey any highway codes, as they seldom do. It is strongly advised not to drive at night.
Renting a car in the Dominican Republic is quite easy and you will find many of the main international firms operate in the country. You must be at least 25 years old and hold a UK, US or other international driving license.
In the Dominican Republic then drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Tourists are reminded not to drink and drive, as, if caught, drink driving can carry the penalty of imprisonment. Seat belts are mandatory for all occupants.
Earthquakes in the Dominican Republic
Small magnitude 3-4 earthquakes in the Dominican Republic are quite a common occurrence. The largest earthquake in modern history was a 8.1 magnitude earthquake in 1948. This earthquake was followed by strong aftershocks including a 7.6 magnitude. While the main earthquake only killed an estimated 100 people, the tsunami that it caused killed an estimated 10,000 or more.
There are two major fault lines running through the Dominican Republic, the North Hispaniola Trench that is off-shore and the Septentrional Fault Zone, which runs from the North Hispaniola Trench to the Cibao Valley and Santiago.
On the 23rd of September 2018, an earthquake of a magnitude of 5.2 hit the Dominican Republic, with the epicentre near the town Guayubin in the Monte Cristi province, north west of the island. There was light structural damage to some buildings, but no deaths reported.
The 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 that hit neighbouring Haiti and the two aftershocks 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude were felt in the Dominican Republic but was too far from the epicenter to experience much damage during the earthquake.
Extreme weather in the Dominican Republic
The weather is of a tropical climate and as such, the sea can be dangerous; especially during the tropical storm season. The weather is more prone to adverse conditions during June to the end of November. Hurricanes and heavy rains occur causing flooding and mudslides.
For up-to-date emergency warnings and information from the official Dominican Republic emergency service, see: Center of Emergency Operations (website in Spanish).
Emergency services in the Dominican Republic:
Police, Fire, Ambulance emergency: 911
National Police: 809-682-2151
Tourist Police (based in Santo Domingo): 809-754-3070 o 809-754-3000
Metropolitan Transportation Authority: 809-686-6520
The Dominican Republic Overview
Time now in Santo Domingo:
Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Dominican Republic makes up the Eastern side of the island of Hispaniola, the west being the country of Haiti. The Dominican Republic was formed in 1844 and was in and out of Spanish, Haiti and US rule, until finally (after years of trying) declaring its independence in 1965.
The Dominican Republic is home to a population of just under 11 million people (2018 figures) with the highest population density in the Cibao Valley and costal areas.
2017 saw 6.18 million tourists visit the Dominican Republic, the majority of tourists are from the United States of America, making the Dominican Republic the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean region.
Tourists are drawn to the Dominican Republic predominantly for its white sand beaches, the mountains, history and culture. For information on security across the whole Caribbean region, see our article: How safe is the Caribbean?
Consular information for the Dominican Republic
Embassy of the United States of America, Dominican Republic
Av. República de Colombia #57,
St. Michael BB 14006,
Telephone: +809 567 7775
British Embassy Santa Domingo
Edificio Corominas Pepín,
Av. 27 de Febrero 233,
Telephone: +1 809 472 7111
Visa requirements for the Dominican Republic
All visitors to the Dominican Republic must have a valid passport, and visitors may be refused entry to the the Dominican Republic if they do not have proof of onward or return travel.
British, European, Canadian and United States of America Passport holders do not need a travel visa to enter the Dominican Republic for periods of up to 30 days, nor do they require a visa for business travel. This can be extended to 60 days by paying for an extension when you leave the country.
Travellers from other countries should seek advice from their nearest embassy, in advance to travel.
Health Care and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Dominican Republic are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
There have been confirmed cases of the Zika virus, Chikungunya fever and Dengue fever in Dominican Republic and suitable precautions are advised. All three diseases are transmitted to humans by mosquito bites and although there is no vaccine at present, taking precautions against bites can prevent contraction in the first place.
Schistosomiasis (parasitic infection also known as bilharzia) is a low risk, so contact with fresh water, including activities such as: swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams could put you at risk.
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.