Facts About the Country
The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Republic of Haiti. The country is the second-largest island in the Caribbean, with a surface area of 48,198 square kilometers. Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.
The population of the Dominican Republic is more than 8.5 million people.
Local time is Caribbean Eastern Time (GMT -0400). In the winter it is an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. The Dominican Republic does not practice daylight savings time, as is customarily done in the United States.
The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo, which is the oldest city in the new world. It has a population of almost 2.5 million people.
The Dominican Republic's political structure is based on democratic principles. Every four years the country elects its president, vice president and legislators.
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. However, you'll be surprised how many hotel and tourist destination employees speak English, French, German and Italian. If you decide to venture outside of the tourist areas, it is helpful to learn some basic phrases in Spanish.
The Dominican Peso (RD$) is the official currency of the Dominican Republic. You can find out the exchange rate at www.xe.com/ucc. Major credit cards and travelers' checks are accepted at many of the country's tourist locations; ATMs are located in almost all of the Dominican Republic's cities, as well as at most resorts.
The Dominican Republic enjoys a tropical climate year-round. Depending on your location, a typical day could have full sun or a combination of sun and clouds. Its average annual temperatures ranges from 66° to 93° F (19° to 34° C). The coldest season is between November and April, and the hottest season is between May and October.
Relocation, Residency and Visas
For those considering relocating to the Caribbean, and particularly the Dominican Republic, the procedures are surprisingly simple, but it is still best to be prepared with certain useful facts. When planning to move, it is wise to find out about residency and visa procedures and important aspects of relocation, whether you intend to invest in Dominican realty immediately or to rent first and buy later. We can help with basic information and point you to those who can advise in more depth on some of the finer points when you have made your decision to relocate.
Quality of life here in the Dominican Republic - Advantages:
It's a good place to live and raise a family.
It's got great weather.
Well organized business community.
Geographically located near major trade markets in the center of the Americas.
Abundant non-skilled work force of earnest and fast-learning young people.
Abundant, qualified managerial staff available.
It has a large domestic market.
It has the largest tourism industry in the Caribbean which is a large export market within the country.
Excellent telecommunications service.
Diversity of investment opportunities.
Preferential trade agreements signed with Europe, the United States, the Caribbean and Central America.
Positive attitude towards foreigners and foreign investors.
Fastest growing economy in Latin America for the past five years.
Low crime rate.
DR is a true melting pot with little racial tensions.
Yes, you will be able to find American styled supermarkets in the DR. Also, you will also be able to find American foods as well as a large selection of international foods.
For the most part, life around the north coast and its towns is pretty safe. However, with any developing country it is always wise to ensure you give some thought to the security of your family and possessions. Gated developments are always popular, not least because of good security. For those who wish to live in the countryside, it is not unusual to take on a security guard, who can be engaged via a Security Company, or whom you can employ privately at reasonable cost.
Banking and Currency
The Dominican banking system is controlled the Central Bank, based in Santo Domingo and the currency used is the Dominican peso. At the time of writing the exchange rate was around RD$38.5 to US$1 or RD$65 to GBP1.
The best exchange rates are paid in either US traveler’s checks or US dollars. It is generally considered that the best exchange rates will be found at one of the Dominican banks rather than on the street or hotels, etc. ATM machines are plentiful at most banks throughout the Dominican Republic, although the amount you will be able to withdraw will vary from bank to bank.
Opening a Bank Account
There are some myths here; firstly you do not need to be a resident, you will however need all of the following:
You may then open a bank account in dollars or pesos or both.
Transfer of funds into and out of your dollar account may be by wire transfer, check or cash. You should be aware that the banking system here takes up to 30 days to clear checks, including cashiers checks or bank drafts.
Residency & Visas
Applicants for resident status must be in good health, have sufficient means and a clean police record. The application may be filed while the applicant is present in the country under a tourist card or visa. A foreign national, who has lived in the Dominican Republic as a permanent resident for two years or in certain cases, six months, may apply for Dominican citizenship (naturalization). Naturalization is not automatic, but granted at the discretion of the government. There is no economic citizenship program in the Dominican Republic providing for automatic citizenship upon the investment of certain amount of funds in the country.
Depending on which lawyer you use, fees for your provisional residency are approx. $US1,000 per person. The process to get your provisional residency can take up to 6 months.
The main advantages for you:
A legal resident can work and conduct a business in the Dominican Republic.
A resident is allowed to bring in tax free his household items, ranging from kitchen appliances, to furniture (Article 13 of Law #146-00). A non-resident must pay applicable duties on these goods.
A non-resident cannot sue a Dominican national or a legal resident in court without posting a bond, usually quite high. A legal resident is exempt from this requirement.
In case of inheritance, a non-resident beneficiary must pay a 50% surcharge on applicable estate taxes; residents are not subject to this surcharge.
For many foreigners interested in not paying taxes in their home countries on income earned outside their home country, it is a pre-requisite to obtain residency status in another country.
A resident can enter the Dominican Republic without having to buy a tourist card; a non-resident must obtain a visa or buy a tourist card.