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Dominican Republic Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT-4

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.

Travel 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.

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.

Safety Information

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.

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.

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.

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.

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