Electricity

Electrical current is between 110 and 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style two-pin flat blade plugs are standard.

Language

Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken in the main tourist centres.

Money

The currency is the Dominican Republic peso (DOP), which is divided into 100 centavos. Many of the hotels and restaurants in the main tourist destinations display their prices in US dollars as well as in Dominican pesos, as US dollars are widely accepted. Some places will also accept euros.

Major credit cards are accepted everywhere, but a commission is usually charged. It's recommended that travellers use their credit cards at their hotels, as fraud incidents have been reported. The best exchange rates are paid on US dollars in cash, and are best exchanged at exchange bureaux (casas de cambio). Banking hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am-4.30pm. Some banks also open on Saturdays. ATMs are widespread.

Tipping

Hotels and restaurants generally include a 10 percent service charge as well as tax, but additional tips should be given for good service, as the charge often does not go to the staff who provided the service. Waiters usually receive 10 percent extra for good service. For other services, including taxi drivers, tipping is discretionary depending on the service provided.

Health

Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if travellers are over the age of one and are arriving from the states of Mina Gerais, Espirito Santo, Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is also required of travellers who have transited for more than 12 hours through an airport in those same states.

Precautions are recommended against hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies and polio for those who plan to spend time outside the main tourist resort areas, and travellers heading to certain parts of the country should take prescription medication to prevent malaria. Between May and September there is a risk of dengue fever, which is contracted from mosquitoes that bite during the day, so it is advisable to use mosquito repellent.

Travellers should rely on bottled water in undeveloped areas, as other sources of water will potentially be contaminated, and some species of fish, including tropical reef fish, may be poisonous to eat even when well cooked. There are good hospitals and other private medical facilities located in Puerto Plata, Santiago and Santo Domingo, but facilities are limited outside of these cities, and the staff are unlikely to understand English. Most resorts have doctors that can treat minor medical complaints. Health insurance, including provision for medical evacuation, is recommended.

Safety

Though most visits to the Dominican Republic are trouble free, travellers should not ignore the crime rate. Incidences of violent crime are infrequent but it's worth taking normal precautions against petty crime. Travellers should also check the situation before venturing to the Haitian border, as tensions in the region sometimes flare up. The Dominican Republic is vulnerable to hurricanes from June to November.

Local customs

Being polite to others and having respect for elders is integral and is expected from visitors. If taking a photograph of a local, tourists should ask permission first and then offer a gift afterwards. Dominicans take care in their appearance and form judgements based on what people wear; they are likely to look down on tourists that are unkempt or wear clothes that are too revealing.

Doing business

Good working relationships are vital and trust is an integral part of doing business in the Dominican Republic, as knowing the right people is half the battle won. Appearances are considered important so dressing smartly is advised. Meetings are initially rather formal and a polite greeting accompanied by a handshake is common practice. Punctuality is important, as is courtesy. Business cards are usually exchanged on introduction and it is useful to have all business material printed in English and Spanish, even though English is widely spoken and understood. Business hours are usually 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Duty free

Travellers to the Dominican Republic over 16 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 1 litre of alcohol and gifts up to a maximum value of $100.

Communications

The international access code for the Dominican Republic is +1, as with the US, Canada and most of the Caribbean, followed by 809 or 829. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the UK) but this is not required for calling North America. WiFi is generally available in most cafes, hotels and restaurants.

Passport & Visa

A return or onward ticket is required by all visitors, as is the travel documentation needed for their next destination. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

US citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for touristic stays.

British citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for holders of British passports endorsed 'British Citizen' or 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' travelling as tourists. Visitors are required to obtain a Tourist Card on arrival; these are generally valid for 30 days, but can be extended. Holders of passports with any other endorsement should contact the relevant embassy to confirm entry requirements.

Canadian citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for tourist stays.

Australian citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

South African citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

Irish citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for period of intended stay in the Dominican Republic. A visa is not required for those travelling as tourists.

Useful contacts

Ministry of Tourism: www.godominicanrepublic.com

911 (General Emergency Helpline)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Embassy of the Dominican Republic, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 332 7670.

Embassy of the Dominican Republic, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7262 6856.

Embassy of the Dominican Republic, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 569 9893

Consulate-General of the Dominican Republic, Sydney, Australia: +61 2 4620 3247

Embassy of the Dominican Republic, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 362 2463

Embassies / consulates in Dominican Republic

United States Embassy, Santo Domingo: +1 809 567 7775

British Embassy, Santo Domingo: +1 809 472 7111

Canadian Embassy, Santo Domingo: +1 809 262 3100.

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for Dominican Republic): +1 868 822 5450

South African Embassy, Havana, Cuba (also responsible for Dominican Republic): +53 7204 9671

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