Travel information and tips about the Dominican Republic
Medical care is not guaranteed everywhere. Serious illnesses and injuries should be treated in private hospitals or abroad (USA or Europe). Hospitals require a financial guarantee before treating patients (credit card or advance payment).
Most hotels provide bath towels for the swimming pool and mostly also for the beach (often on deposit).
Embassy Dominican Republic
Embassy of the Dominican Republic, Weltpoststrasse 4, 3015 Bern
Tel. 031 351 15 85, opening hours Monday to Friday 09.00 – 15.00 hrs
Consulate of the Dominican Republic, Löwenstrasse 65, 8001 Zurich
Tel. 043 818 93 44, opening hours Monday to Friday 09.00 – 15.00 hrs
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry.
- An emergency passport is accepted as identification document
- A visa is not required
- Travellers must be able to prove sufficient funds for their stay and their return journey (e.g. return flight ticket).
- The entry or exit must be confirmed to the border police using a standard form. A part of the tourist card is separated from the border police. Your section of the tourist card must be returned to the border police when you leave, so you should pay close attention to it.
These regulations apply to trips of up to one month. If your stay lasts longer, you must apply for an extension of your stay at the Migration Office.
- New Year (Año Nuevo, January 1)
- Holy Three Kings (los Santos Reyes, 6 January)
- Saint Altagracia (Dia de la Altagracia, January 21)
- Birthday Duarte (Dia de Juan Pablo Duarte, 26 January)
- Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia, 27 February)
- Maundy Thursday (Jueves Santo, April)
- Good Friday (Viernes Santo, April)
- Labour Day (Dia del Trabajo, 1 May)
- Mother’s Day (Día de la Madre, May)
- Corpus Christi (June)
- Father’s Day (Día del Padre, July)
- Restoration Day (Día de la Restauración, 16 August)
- Holy Mercedes (Die de la Mercedesón, September 24)
- Constitution Day (Dia de la Constitución, 6 Novenber)
- Christmas Eve (Nochebuena, 24 December)
- Christmas (Dia de Navidad, 25 December)
- New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja, 31 December)
- Zurich – Punta Cana: 10:05 hrs
The Dominican Republic has a lot to offer in terms of motifs, from the most beautiful sandy beaches to beautiful mountain landscapes and unique people shots. If you take pictures of people, you should ask for permission first. Then, however, the Dominicans usually like to be photographed.
Money and foreign exchange
The peso is not changeable outside the Dominican Republic. Increasingly, the euro and the currencies of Canada, the USA and Great Britain can be exchanged in the Dominican Republic. However, it is recommended to take US dollars, the second currency in the Dominican Republic, with you.
Only banks, exchange offices, e.g. at the airports and hotels, which have a permission of the central bank, may change money. Western Union offices offer a better exchange rate than banks or hotels. Most banks have ATM’s where you can withdraw cash with credit cards. There are also some ATMs which are integrated into the Maestro system and where cash can be withdrawn with the ec/Maestro card.
Shops usually open on weekdays from 09.00 to 18.00 (sometimes until 20.00). In the extensive lunch break (about from 12.00 to 14.30 o’clock) is closed. On Saturdays the opening hours are only until noon, often 13.00 o’clock. And most shops in the Catholic country are closed on Sundays.
There are exceptions for urban shopping centres and small shops. Shopping centres sometimes do not close until 9 p.m. and are even open on Sundays.
Restaurants serve warm food from Sunday to Thursday until midnight. On weekends, the stove usually stays on until 2 a.m. in the night (in hotels it may even be open around the clock).
An emergency medication should be carried and taken in case of fever (malaria suspicion). There is a low risk of malaria throughout the country. There is also a risk of dengue fever.
Most diarrhoeal diseases can be prevented by adequate drinking water and food hygiene. When travelling in the Dominican Republic, pay attention to special hygiene measures before eating fruit and vegetables; it is best to cook them fresh or peel them yourself. Tap water is not suitable for drinking in the country. Drinking water in plastic bottles is recommended.
Detailed information can be obtained from your doctor or at www.safetravel.ch Protect yourself against insect bites with a good mosquito repellent.
Light, breathable and comfortable clothing is recommended. In the evening hours of the months November to February a light sweater is appropriate. In the evening you should wear stockings, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts because of the mosquitoes.
Dominicans are very conservative when it comes to clothing. Therefore, tourists should refrain from wearing mini skirts or shorts outside the hotel complex. With these clothes one is usually not admitted into churches or state offices – and in the end one appears as an ignorant tourist. One should not be surprised if one is constantly approached (more than usual).
Outside the hotel resorts, sunbathing topless is not only regarded as unseemly, but also prohibited by law. And this prohibition is to be taken absolutely seriously.
Works usually without problems. Mobile phones automatically switch over to the roaming partner Orange in the country. Also check with your provider. You can also buy prepaid cards locally.
Almost the entire population of the Dominican Republic belongs to the Roman Catholic religion.
In addition to the actual religion, superstition and voodoo are also very common. They came into the country through the former slave trade and are still of great importance in many families today. In the neighboring country Haiti the Voodoo is however still more strongly expressed than on the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is a leader in the Caribbean when it comes to shopping. Browse the designer shops of Santo Domingo’s shopping malls, visit the exquisite Dominican and international boutiques in Punta Cana and La Romana. Art and local handicrafts can be found all over the country. The best selection can be found in the city centers, e.g. in the galleries of the colonial city or near the central park of Puerto Plata.
For those with little time, the resorts and marinas also offer shopping. On the way you can stroll past the colourful market stalls with fruit and vegetables. Amber or Larimar jewellery, cigars, chocolate, coffee or mamajuana, the local likeur for all occasions, are particularly popular.
In Punta Cana and the rest of the Dominican Republic the official language is Spanish. Most people involved in tourism understand and speak English.
The voltage in the Dominican Republic is 110V / 60Hz, just like in the United States. The plugs have the USA standard. Europeans need adapters to use the US sockets.
Behaviour / manners
European impatience is completely misunderstood by the Dominicans. If difficulties arise somewhere, the locals often say “no hay problema” (there is no problem), which often costs time. Those who adapt to the Dominican serenity save nerves.
Outside of beaches, sports facilities and hotel facilities, sportswear and swimwear are unusual. Men often misunderstand provocative clothing for women. Topless is tolerated at the tourist beaches of the hotels, but offends against the morals of the locals.
For a stay up to one month you do not need a visa. If your stay lasts longer, you will have to apply for an extension of your stay at the Migration Office.
Dominican peso (DOP). 100 DOP = approx. CHF 2.00.-
The time difference in the Dominican Republic is -5 hours in winter and -6 hours in summer.
Customs / Import Dominican Republic
There is a general ban on imports:
- Meat and dairy products
Duty free import:
- 200 cigarettes or 1 pack of cigars
- 1 bottle of alcoholic beverages with max. filling weight 2 litres
- Import of local currency up to 20’000 POD (Dominican Pesos) is possible.
- Unlimited import of foreign currency, subject to declaration from the equivalent of USD 10,000.
- 2 open bottles of perfume for personal use
- Gifts with a total value of up to USD 100.
Customs / Import Switzerland
Duty-free for re-entry Switzerland:
- Personal goods such as clothing, cosmetics, sports equipment, camera, etc. in appropriate quantities and for personal use.
- Goods/Gifts with an equivalent value of CHF 300.
- 250 cigarettes/cigars or 250 g tobacco products
- 5 litres alcoholic beverages up to 18% by volume
- 1 litre alcoholic beverages over 18 % by volume (tax-free for persons over 17 years)
If the allowances for alcohol and tobacco products are exceeded and the gift value of all goods carried (gifts, tobacco, alcohol) exceeds the allowance of CHF 300, they are subject to customs duty and value added tax.
The importation of following goods is not permitted:
- Counterfeit branded articles (e.g. watches, designer articles, clothing, pirated copies – these are confiscated at customs)
- Pyrotechnic articles
- Certain plants, animals and animal products
According to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which most European states are bound, there is a strict ban on imports in the European home country:
- Animal skins and hides
- Snakeskin and crocodile leather
They’ re being confiscated at customs.
- The travel information of Family and Friends is a useful guide for the careful planning of a trip.
- However, Family and Friends cannot relieve travellers of the decision and responsibility for the preparation and execution of a trip.
- Family and Friends does not take over guarantee for the completeness of the travel information and for the correctness of the contents of linked external Internet sites.
- Family and friends declines any liability for any damage in connection with a trip.