The local currency is the Dominican Peso which is also called the peso oro meaning gold peso, and the sign is RD$. The international code is DOP. Each peso is divided into 100 centavos or cents for which the ¢ symbol is used although you rarely hear of centavos these days. In 2011, the Central Bank announced that all banknotes dated 2011 will be denominated in pesos Dominicanos instead of pesos oro. It is the only currency which is legal tender for all monetary transactions in the country, although in the tourist areas US dollars are accepted. However, the rate given by the restaurants, hotels, taxi drivers etc is not as good as one would receive from a bank and therefore it is always wiser to travel with local currency.
The first Dominican peso was introduced when the country became independent from Haiti in 1844. It replaced the Haitian gourde and was divided into 8 reales. The Dominican Republic decimalized in 1877, and then subdivided the peso into 100 centavos. However, in 1905, the peso was replaced by the U.S. dollar, at a rate of 5 pesos to the dollar. The peso oro was introduced in 1937 at par with the U.S. dollar, although the dollar continued to be used alongside the peso oro until 1947.
When the peso was introduced in 1937, no paper money was made and US notes continued to circulate. Only in 1947 were the first peso notes issued by the Central Bank. Nowadays the coins are 1, 5, 10, 25 pesos and the notes are 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000. There were originally 10 and 20 peso notes but these have been replaced by 10 and 25 peso coins, and then in 2010 a new 20 peso polymer bank note was introduced. All the notes have a thin plastic strip with identification numbers to help prevent forgery and they also have a hidden image which can be seen when held at an angle with the letters BCRD (Banco Central Republica Dominicana). All notes except the new 20 peso note have a watermark of Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the Founding Fathers, and the value of the note raised up in the bottom right hand corner to help the blind. There was originally one peso to one US dollar, but since that time it has risen to as high as 58 pesos to a dollar. At the time of writing it was 39 RD$ to 1US$, but there are continual fluctuations.
This guide was compiled with the help of Lindsay de Feliz, a British expat blogger living in the Dominican Republic. Visit her blog at yoursaucepans.blogspot.com.