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Registration and Residency

Dominican Republic - Registration and Residency

At the time of writing residency was not essential in order to live in the Dominican Republic, and in fact several expats have been here for years without it. However the government are constantly looking for ways to regulate what are essentially illegal immigrants. What they mainly wish to do is to regulate the number of Haitians who enter the country illegally, but obviously it is hard to just legislate for one group of people, hence any legislation will include all foreigners. Nonetheless, residency does have a whole range of advantages. The first is that you can enter the country without the need for a tourist card, and hence proceed directly to immigration, entering using your home passport plus your Dominican residency. In addition there is no need to provide proof of a return ticket when entering the DR. Certain taxes such as inheritance tax are lower, and you are allowed to bring in household items and a car with tax exemptions. Education fees are lower, as you do not have to pay overseas student rates. Also you can have a Dominican driving licence, which is important as you can only drive for 90 days on an International Licence. If you do not have a Dominican driving licence the insurance company have the right to decline the claim. The Dominican Republic does not have work permits as such but many companies now will not employ expats unless they have Dominican residency.

The process is relatively straightforward, but is best carried out using a lawyer. The overall cost is in the region of US$ 1000 – 1500. The applicant will need the following documents:

1. 2 copies of all pages of the passport.
2. Birth certificate translated into Spanish.
3. If married, marriage certificate translated into Spanish.
4. A letter of good conduct from the home country, confirming no criminal record.
5. A good conduct certificate from the Dominican Republic.
6. Various photos of front and side view.
7. A copy of an employment agreement, or proof of real estate purchase in the Dominican Republic, and/or documents proving financial solvency.
8. A letter of guarantee from a Dominican Citizen or Resident.
9. A medical examination carried out by the doctors at immigration including blood and urine tests for HIV, TB and drug use, as well as a chest x-ray.

All documents which are in another language must be translated into Spanish and then legalised. The process should only take a few months, but in practice it can take up to a year or even more. The applicant has to travel to Santo Domingo to the Immigration building for the medical and to eventually go and collect the card in person. Be aware that in common with all government buildings it is forbidden to enter wearing open shoes, shorts and without shoulders covered.

The first Residency card is a provisional one, and the whole process has to be gone through again the following year in order to have Permanent Residency. All the same documentation is needed, same medical and same cost. There is a new Immigration law (Ley 285-04) which is now on the statute books but does not appear to be being enacted. When it is enacted, it will change the law so that the expatriate has to have four Temporary Residencies before being allowed to convert to Full Residency and in addition will insist that the expat has a Government approved private health insurance plan.

At the same time as the first Temporary Residency card is issued, the expatriate then has the right to a cedula or identity card. This is the card used on a day to day basis to open bank accounts, acquire mobile phones, driving licence etc. Once again it is only on a temporary basis for the first year and thereafter is renewed at the same time as the Residency. Once you have your Permanent Residency the cost of renewal reduces dramatically to around US$100 for 2 years and the same price for renewal of the cedula for the same time period. The longer you have had residency, the longer you can renew for up to a maximum of 10 years.

Useful Resources

Government immigration department

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.

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