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Expat Residency Requirements For The Dominican Republic

Swaying palm trees, pristine beaches, colorful abodes and plenty of sunshine are just a few aspects of the good life that you are bound to enjoy if you decide to move to the Dominican Republic. This Caribbean nation shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, which is located to the west. It offers residents and visitors a taste of tropical paradise at relatively affordable rates. Moreover, the local people are extremely warm, friendly and hospitable. However, you will need to know at least some Spanish to be able to interact with local people.In the last few years there has been a surge of employment opportunities in the country’s free zone factories, foreign embassies, call center industry and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Professionals from the United States, Europe and Asia have moved to the Dominican Republic after taking up professional assignments or long-term contracts. Many younger expats live in the capital, Santo Domingo.

However, the coastal towns of Puerto Plata, Cabarte and Sosua also have their fair share of migrants. The pace of life in these areas is known to be quite slow, making them ideal retirement destinations for senior citizens from around the world. Even the smaller towns have some well-maintained and secure gated communities catering mainly to elderly British, American and Canadian nationals. These self-contained communities come with home style comforts, such as international supermarkets, restaurants and stores.

In the past, there were numerous instances of expats settling down in the Dominican Republic without a legal residency permit, since the procedure was neither properly regulated nor clear. However, the authorities have now become quite strict about this and are taking severe actions against migrants living in the country without the required paperwork.

If you are planning to stay on the island for an extended period (more than two months at a stretch), you will need to apply for a residency permit. This will grant you an identification card (Cedula de Identidad Personal), legal residency status and access to a better tax structure. There are several other advantages of being a resident. To access these, make sure that you are enrolled with the Registry of Foreigners (Registro de Extranjeros).

There are two ways in which you can acquire a residency visa. The first is from your home country before arrival into the Dominican Republic. This is usually done through an agent. When the authorities approve your visa, it will be stamped on to your passport before you travel. You will then need enter the country within 60 days of getting the stamped approval. The second way is to make an application after you arrive into the country. If you decide to do this, make sure that you do so within 30 days of arrival in the Dominican Republic.

The procedure to apply for residency is lengthy but not necessarily complicated, especially if you have the right information and guidance through every step. If you have been a legal resident of the Dominican Republic for several years, you can also choose to apply for citizenship. Different residency statuses have different requirements to allow you to live in the country, which we will now outline.

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Temporary Or Provisional Residence

A temporary residency permit is ideal if you are planning to live and work in the country for up to two years. While this permit is only valid for a year initially, you have the option to renew it for another year. Most people get this visa in about three months, but in some cases it can take as much as six months. It is therefore best to put in your application at the Dominican migration department well in advance.

To start off, draft a letter of application, addressed to the minister of foreign relations. This is an essential document and which will contain your full name, date of birth, nationality, official place of residence and a summary of the activities you are planning to perform in the Dominican Republic. If your organization is filing the application on your behalf, the letter will have to be signed by your manager.

Of course, you will also have to justify the move to the authorities by explaining why you wish to settle down in their country. Certain connections or situations could improve your chances of getting the permit. These include:

• Being Dominican by origin
• Being economically solvent or a potential investor
• Being married to a Dominican citizen
• Being a pensioner
• Having a child of Dominican origin
• Having an employment contract

There are several documents that you will be asked to submit in addition to the letter and visa application form. Please make sure that you have the following papers in original as well as at least four sets of copies:

• Form 509; it might be helpful for you to obtain an English translation of this form
• A valid passport
• A notarized medical certificate, translated into Spanish; a copy of this document in each language will have to be authenticated
• Your birth certificate, translated and notarized
• A police certificate or a certificate of good conduct, including the official criminal record certificate, translated and notarized
• A certificate from the department of migration with proof of your last entry into the country
• Bank statements and property titles (optional)
• Tax returns and other financial statements
• Your tourist card (if applicable)
• Your work contract or offer letter
• Pension proof (if applicable)
• Your marriage certificate, translated and notarized (if applicable)
• Birth certificates of your children, translated and notarized (if applicable)

If you have lived legally in the Dominican Republic at any point, the police certificate you submit will have to be issued by the local attorney general’s office.

If the application is being submitted for a minor, the permission of the parents or guardians will also be required. If the child is not going to be accompanied into the country by both the parents, it is mandatory to present an authorization by the absent parent, stating that the other parent can move to the Dominican Republic permanently with the child.

Along with the documents mentioned above, you will be required to submit three photographs (with a white background of 2×2 size) and pay a fee of US$125.00. If your visa is granted, you will be asked to proceed to the department of immigration and hand in another set of documents, detailed below.

• Completed temporary residence form
• Two copies of your valid passport
• Proof of residency visa, which has been issued by the ministry of foreign affairs
• Proof of a medical exam performed in the Dominican Republic and authorized by the department of immigration
• An insurance policy that has been authorized by the department of immigration to cover medical and repatriation expenses
• A sworn affidavit from a Dominican citizen or legal permanent resident, signed by two witnesses. This document must specify the type of relationship between the applicant and guarantor. By signing this document, your guarantor undertakes to settle any and all expenses that you incur during your stay, if required. He or she will also be financially obligated to pay off your debts if you are deported or violate the local rules and regulations. This letter must be drawn up in front of the pubic notary and legalized by the attorney general’s office.

Since copies of all these documents are forwarded to different entities: the national directorate of narcotics, the national police, the department of investigations and Interpol, make sure that you prepare four copies. Along with the papers mentioned above, you will also need to submit four recent photographs in color (with a white background of 2×2 size). In two of the pictures, you need to be facing the front and in the other two make sure that your side profile is visible. During this time, your fingerprints will also be taken.

Errors in the application or missing documents could result in your request being rejected. It is therefore best to hire a lawyer or a licensed age to prepare your file.

Permanent Residency

After living in the country as a temporary resident for five years, you could change your status to permanent residency by putting in your application along with certain documents. Alternately, you could obtain this visa from your home country and travel to the Dominican Republic within 60 days of receiving it.

Make sure that you have these documents before you begin the procedure:

• A valid passport
• Completed permanent residence application form
• Medical reports testifying to your good health
• Your birth certificate (translated and notarized)
• A certificate of good conduct issued by the Dominican police department
• An affidavit of good conduct drawn up by two witnesses
• Your temporary residence card
• Bank statements and property titles (optional)
• Tax returns and other financial statements
• Your work contract or offer letter
• Pension proof (if applicable)
• Your marriage certificate, translated and notarized (if applicable)
• Birth certificates for your children, translated and notarized (if applicable)

The applications must be made at the department of migration (extranjeria), either in person or by mail. However, it is recommended that you visit their center and speak to an officer to seek any clarification that you may need. The office is open to the public from Monday to Friday, 8am to 3pm, although the depositing of the documents closes at 2pm. They are located at:

The Department of Migration
Avenue George Washington
Centro de los Heroes, Santo Domingo
Tel: +809 508 255 (Extension 246)

As a permanent resident, you have to renew your residency card after a year. However, subsequent cards are renewable once every four years. Retirees and those who support themselves financially are an exception to this procedure as they are required to renew their residency cards once every two years.

After living in the Dominican Republic on a permanent residency for 10 years, you are eligible to receive a definitive residency card, which isn’t subject to renewal. Unfortunately, you will still be required to pay the annual residency fee.


Expats can choose to apply for a citizenship after legally living in the Dominican Republic for a minimum of seven years; that is, five years on a temporary residence visa and no less than two years on a permanent residence visa. The application must be filed with the department of interiors, along with the required paperwork. The procedure is time consuming but relatively simple.

You will be called to the home office to appear for an interview (conducted in Spanish) around two weeks after you file all your documents. Fortunately, it is possible to review the questions beforehand, which will help you be more prepared.

About five months after the interview, you will be called in once again, to take the oath of citizenship.

Around two months after taking your oath, you will be issued a Dominican birth certificate. At this time, you’ll get the permission to obtain a Dominican identification card (Cedula de Identidad Personal). Make sure that you are personally present to collect your ID card from the issuing office.

Once these steps are complete, you are eligible to apply for a Dominican Passport.

As a final note, it is important to mention that over the last few years, several reforms have been made to the rules and regulations for obtaining residency in the Dominican Republic. Moreover, the procedure may continue to undergo changes without any prior notice. It is therefore advisable to engage a professional visa agent or a lawyer, who will have the most current information and will be able to keep you updated about the paperwork and other requirements as they continue to change.

Have you lived in the Dominican Republic? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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