Entry & Exit Formalities
The vast majority of tourists entering the Dominican Republic arrive by air. Independent travelers typically arrive at the main international airport outside of Santo Domingo, Aeropuerto Internacional Las Américas. Passing through immigration is a relatively simple process, especially now that tourist cards aren't required. You’re allowed up to 30 days on a tourist visa. The procedure is the same if you arrive at one of the other airports such as Puerto Plata or Punta Cana; the latter is easily the busiest airport in the country in terms of tourist arrivals.
Other than the obvious, like weapons, drugs and live animals, there are only a few specific import restrictions for foreigners arriving in the Dominican Republic. Visitors can bring up to 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars and 3L of alcohol. It’s best to carry a prescription for any medication, especially psychotropic drugs.
It is illegal to take anything out of the DR that is over 100 years old – paintings, household items, prehistoric artifacts etc – without special export certificates. Mahogany trees are endangered and products made from mahogany wood may be confiscated upon departure. Black coral is widely available but although Dominican law does not forbid its sale, international environmental agreements do – avoid purchasing it. The same goes for products made from turtle shells and butterfly wings – these animals are facing extinction. It is illegal to export raw unpolished amber from the DR, though amber jewelry is common and highly prized.
Most travelers run into problems with the export of cigars, and it’s not with Dominican customs as much as their own. Canada, European countries and the US allow its citizens to bring in up to 50 cigars duty-free.
The majority of would-be foreign travelers in the Dominican Republic do not need to obtain visas prior to arrival.
Tourist cards and their cost ($10) are now included with all airfares and no longer required for purchase upon arrival. A tourist visa is good for up to 30 days from the date of issue. If you wish to stay longer, it’s unnecessary to formally extend – instead you’ll be charged RD$2500 when you depart the country for any stay up to 90 days. (Pay at the immigration desk past security in any airport.) Another way to extend your time is to leave the DR briefly – most likely to Haiti – and then return, at which point you’ll be issued a brand-new tourist visa. (You may have to pay entrance and departure fees in both countries, of course.)
To extend your visa longer than three months, you must apply in Santo Domingo at the Dirección General de Migración at least two weeks before your original visa expires (up to nine months will cost RD$4000).