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East Coast Travel Information
Electrical current is between 110 and 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style two-pin flat blade plugs are standard.
Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken in the main tourist centres.
No vaccination certificates are required but precautions are recommended against Hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies and polio for those who plan to spend time outside the main tourist resort areas. There is a malaria risk throughout the year. Between May and September there is a risk of dengue fever, which is contracted from mosquitoes that bite during the day. It is advisable to use mosquito repellent. Travellers should be aware of the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS virus in the Dominican Republic and take the relevant precautions. Water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated in undeveloped areas; bottled water is available. 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 outside of these cities facilities are limited, and 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.
Hotels and restaurants generally include a 10 percent service charge as well as tax, but additional tips should be given for good service as often the charge 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.
Due to the recent unrest in neighbouring Haiti and the ongoing unpredictability of the security situation, it is inadvisable to travel across the border to Haiti. There is a low terrorism risk and incidences of violent crime are infrequent. Visitors should take normal precautions against petty crime, however. The Dominican Republic is vulnerable to hurricanes from June to November.
Being polite to others and having respect for elders is integral and is expected from visitors. If taking a photograph of a local, one 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.
Santo Domingo is the centre of business in the Dominican Republic. Good working relationships are vital and trust is an integral part of doing business in the Dominican Republic; knowing the right people is half the battle won. Appearances are considered important and therefore dressing smartly is advised. Meetings are initially rather formal and a polite greeting accompanied by a handshake is common; expect small talk. Business cards are usually exchanged on introduction. Punctuality is important. Although English is widely spoken and understood, it is still useful to have all business material printed in English and Spanish. It is important to be polite and courteous at all times. Business hours are usually 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.
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. Local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most major international operators. Direct international calls can be made from numerous telecommunications centres located in all towns and cities. Internet cafés are available in the main towns and resorts.
Travellers to the Dominican Republic over 16 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 1 box cigars; 1 bottle of alcohol, unopened and maximum of 2 litres; and up to 2 bottles of perfume for personal use. All animal products are prohibited.
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