Dominican Republic Visa

The Dominican Republic Visa

The Dominican Republic visa for retirement is not difficult to obtain. This is not to imply that procedures and personal checks are in any way lax compared with other countries. They are not. It is likely that most will not find that applying for permanent residence to be a “DIY” (Do It Yourself) exercise. This will usually be because of language problems. The national language is Spanish and all dealings with the government must be in this language. Also the timing of applications at various stages, payment of small taxes (stamp duties), document duplication and authentication and the provision of guarantors will all be facilitated by employing a local attorney.

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Permanent residency can be obtained after about 18 months. The process is a multi-step routine requiring dealings with a number of government departments. This is very different from the situation in the Philippines where a visa for permanent residence can be issued in three weeks after the submission full and complete documents to a single authority and the payment of necessary dues and deposits.

It takes about six months to get to the intermediate stage of acquiring provisional residence after being granted an initial residence visa. At this point, that is, having provisional residence, the applicant has, in practical terms, acquired all of the rights that will be conferred on gaining permanent residency for which application can be made on the expiry of the provisional status. The timing of the “passing” of each stage of the application for the Dominican Republic visa assumes the submission of complete and correct documents at the right time to the appropriate government department.

The language, timing and detail makes the employment of a local attorney very useful and probably a necessity. There are many local lawyers in the capital, Santo Domingo, and in other centers. Some also offer a service in the English language.

Comments on the Dominican Republic Visa

The usual source for information about the Dominican Republic visa, the government web site, is not very useful in detail about tourist or residency visas. It is in English but it concerns itself predominantly with topical, commercial, historical and cultural matters. Other pages referring to particular departments do not do more than cover the responsibilities of, for example, the Immigration Department, in more than general terms. Other reliable sources of information about the Dominican Republic visa are available from quasi-government web sites and those of legal practitioners. Such sites provide very detailed information on procedures, required documents and authentication for permanent resident visas. The Dominican Republic visa and processes described here are in respect of the resident visa most likely to be sought by retirees.

Dominican Republic Coat of Arms

There are other visas available for short term visits to the Dominican Republic. The Tourist Information Organization provides details of these. Often no visa is necessary although a tourist card must be purchased on arrival. The “Golden Rule” – make no irrevocable arrangements to settle without first visiting a country at least once – is thus easily accomplished so far as this country is concerned.

Although this Dominican Republic visa is the most useful and appropriate for retirees it is not specifically directed at this group of applicants. There are no concessions granted as is the case with the Panama Pensionado visa. There are clear benefits to permanent resident status in this country. A resident may apply for bank loans and other credit and is relieved of the need to lodge a bond in the event of legal (court) proceedings. The surcharge on estate taxes is avoided and there is no need for a resident to obtain a tourist card nor to hold a return ticket on arrival in the country. There are concessions also with respect to the importation of personal effects including motor vehicles. It can be readily seen that there are advantages to having the Dominican Republic visa for residency.

The cost of living is low compared with the U.S.A. and most European countries as is usually the case with other Caribbean, South and Central American countries. The Dominican Real Estate and the Numbeo sites confirm this.

The Dominican Republic visa does not preclude the holder from applying for citizenship. Such an application can be made after as little as two or three years as a permanent resident. There is no restriction on holding dual citizenship so far as the Dominican Republic is concerned. Citizenship not usually a priority for a retiree unless a second passport is required for other reasons.

There are also some disadvantages in becoming a permanent resident. After three years a resident must pay tax on world-wide income but this applies only to financial investments. Earnings from personal work is not so taxed. All locally derived income is taxed.

Application for the Residence Visa

There are no age qualifications for applicants for this Dominican Republic visa because it is not intended specifically for retirees. It is simply the visa which retirees would seek.

The first of the three step process is to submit an application for a residence visa to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. It is also possible to apply at selected embassies and consulates abroad. The details are given below. The taxes due for this process amount to RD$400 ($US9).

The requirements are as follows:

(1) All foreign documents need to be legalized at the Dominican consulate nearest to the jurisdiction of the applicant. All documents, with the exception of the passport and application letter, need to be presented in an original and four copies.

(2) Letter of Request (Application) (original and six copies)
The letter should include the name, nationality, place of residence, productive activity of the applicant. It should also indicate the ties to the country, which can be any of these:  Dominican by origin, married to a Dominican citizen, work contract legalized by the Ministry of Labor, economic solvency, more than a year traveling to or living in the country.  

(3) Form 509-REF. Typewritten or in legible print. (Sold for RD$5.00 ($US0.11) at the Department of Legalizations of the Ministry of Foreign Relations.) Tax stamp for RD$2.00 $US0.04).

(4) Certificate of Good Conduct. Issued in the DR only by the National Police or the Attorney General’s office. This document is valid for 30 days. Those under 18 years are exempt from obtaining this document. A certificate from the overseas local authorities must be submitted if the application is being made from abroad.

(5) Medical Certificate. Issued by the Department of Migration medical department. The cost is RD$1,000 ($US22) adults and RD$900 ($US20)under 18 years. After the medical evaluation is completed, a wait period of 15 working days is necessary for the papers to be sent by the Department of Migration to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. This test is valid for a year.

(6) Photographs. Four 2” x 2” front photos. Three 2” x 2” profile photos.

(7) Birth Certificate. If the original is in another language other than Spanish, the document needs to be translated into Spanish by a legal interpreter and legalized at the Legalization Department of the Ministry of Foreign Relations or the Attorney General’s Office. If the person is abroad, it needs to be legalized at the Dominican Consulate in the jurisdiction closest to the residence of the applicant. The original and the translation need to be deposited.  

(8) The situation with respect to the marriage certificate can be complex. This is a reason in itself to employ the services of a local attorney.
The Marriage Certificate:- This step is necessary if both spouses are applying for the residence visa. The translation situation for a document in a non-Spanish language are the same as for the birth certificate above. The original and the copy need to be deposited.

If the couple was married in the Dominican Republic, a copy of the marriage act needs to be legalized at the Central Electoral Board (JCE). The applicant needs to also include a photocopy of the identification card (cedula) of the Dominican spouse and if the spouse is a legal resident, a copy of the permanent residence card or cedula of the foreigner. 

If the applicant is a son/daughter of Dominican parents, he should include a copy of the cedula and marriage act of the parents. The marriage act needs to be legalized at the Ministry of Foreign Relations or the Attorney General’s Office. 

If the person is a son/daughter of a legal resident, a copy of the Dominican permanent residence should be included, foreigner cedula and marriage certificate of the parents. The marriage certificate needs to be legalized at the Ministry of Foreign Relations Legalization Department or the Attorney General’s Office. If the person’s parents were married abroad, the marriage act needs to be legalized by the Dominican consulate nearest to the jurisdiction of the applicant.

(9) This item is another reason to employ a local lawyer who can often assist in this matter.
Guarantor Letter:- Letter addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Relations and signed by a Dominican or foreign legal resident in the DR that specifies the tie with the applicant. The guarantor accepts to be responsible for any expenses the beneficiary of the residence visa may incur in including the paying of the costs to deport the beneficiary if necessary. This guarantor letter needs to be signed before a Dominican notary public and legalized by the Attorney General’s Office.

(10) Here again a local attorney can be of great help dealing with this item.
Proof of Economic Solvency:- All documents need to be in investments in the Dominican Republic in the name of the applicant. The applicant needs to have a minimum of RD$500,000 ($US11,000) in investments. These documents can be:

a) Bank Letter indicating bank balance addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. 

b) Copies of property titles.

c) Copy of a vehicle registration. 

d) Registration of a company legalized by the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. 

e) Copy of Financial Certificates.

f) Work Contract or Retirement Pension. If a work contract is submitted, the latter must be registered with the Ministry of Labor which will send an inspector to determine work conditions and that the foreign applicant is not filling a position that a Dominican national could fill. This verification process takes about a month. 

g) Sales Contract, Income Affidavit, etc.

All these documents need to be issued by institutions located in the DR. Properties or accounts abroad will not be considered.

(11) Department of Migration Certificate. Proof of the last entrance to the DR or two-sided photocopy of the most recent tourist card (four copies).

(12) Passport. Two complete copies of the cover and all the inside pages of the applicant’s passport, including blank pages. The passport needs to be up to date for at least six more months after the visa application date. The passport needs to have an expiration date of no less than three months at the time of the issuing of the visa.

Once the documents are assembled, the completed file is submitted to the Consular Section of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The Ministry will send the file to the Intelligence Service of the DR known by its acronym in Spanish, DNI. This department will schedule an interview with the applicant and his guarantor to determine the validity of the application. This is normally a routine matter to confirm the information already provided by the client to the government. Once this is done, the file will be returned to the Ministry of Foreign Relations for further processing.

When the Dominican Republic Residence Visa is issued, the applicant will receive a file number of the case that will then be sent to the Department of Migration for further processing. Once given the number, the applicant needs to wait seven working days prior to visiting the Department of Migration to then apply for the Provisional Residence.

It will take up to three months for the above process to complete.

Application for Provisional Residence Card

The Department involved in this stage is the Department of Migration and further taxes of RD$280 ($US6) are due.

After the Ministry of Foreign Relations issues the residence visa, the applicant has 60 days within which to enter the DR, or if already in the country, 60 days within which to submit an application for the provisional residence card.

The application for Provisional Residence is submitted to the Dominican Migration Department. It is valid for one year when the applicant may submit a petition for a permanent residence card. Once obtained, the temporary residence card allows the applicant to live and work legally in the DR. There is no longer a need to purchase a tourist card to enter the country. Practically all the rights that will be acquired when the Dominican Republic visa permanent residence card (issued upon the expiration of the temporary card) is received now accrue to the applicant. However, obtaining the Provisional Residence card does not complete the process for gaining the Dominican Republic visa.

The documents that need to be submitted to the Department of Migration for the Provisional Residence Card are:

(1) Provisional Residence Form C-1 Ref. Three copies and the original.

(2) Residence Visa. Two copies and the original of the Residence Visa issued by the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

(3) Copy of the ID of the Notary Public that acted in the legalization of the guarantor letter and the sworn statement (affidavit).

(4)  Medical Test Results. Results of a physical examination, including a general physical, blood test (VDRL), a HIV test and a chest x-ray performed by a medical doctor at the Department of Migration.

(5) With some slight variations in minor details the supporting documents for this application are the same as those specified at items (4) and (6) – (9) above which supported the application for a residence visa to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The same authentication requirements also apply.

Application for Permanent Residence Card

This application, again to the Department of Migration, can be made when the Provisional Residence Card (valid for one year) expires.

The supporting documents required for the Dominican Republic visa are:-

(1) Permanent Residence Form. Filled out. Four copies and the original. 

(2) Residence Visa. Two photocopies of the visa that was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Relations. 

(3) Sworn statement by two adults before a Notary Public bearing witness to knowing the applicant in the country and that his conduct is in compliance with the laws of the country. Three copies and an original.

(4) Guarantor Letter. Legalized by a Notary Public and signed by a solvent person who accepts full responsibility for the applicant while in the country. Three copies and an original. 

(5) Certificate of Good Conduct. Issued by the National Police. Three copies and the original. 

(6) Provisional Residence Card. Three copies and the original. 

(7) Photographs. Four 2” x 2” front photographs. Two 2” x 2” profile photographs.

(8) Medical Test Results. Results of a physical examination, including a general physical, blood test (VDRL), a HIV test and a chest x-ray performed by a medical doctor at the Department of Migration. 

(9) Copy of the ID of the Notary Public that acted in the legalization of the guarantor letter and the sworn statement.

This final process takes three months to complete but no further taxes are imposed. 

Permanent residence cards can be renewed for annual or three-year periods. If five years elapse after a permanent residence card has expired, technically the applicant loses his residency. Exceptions have been known to be made. 

The permanent residence card will then allow the applicant to receive a “cedula” or Dominican ID card. This is issued by the Junta Central Electoral.

Further Comments

The above details are a synopsis of those provided by the web site. Without precise directions from the government web site being available less than official information is the best that can be obtained. This site is both detailed and authoritative.

Local lawyers who specialize in migration matters will be aware of currently applicable legislation and regulations. This is another good reason for employing this kind of help. Individual firms may require additional items or need further conditions to be fulfilled. It is important to get estimates of costs, preferably in writing, from a number of organizations. Always as questions. Some details such as document duplication, (photocopying), postage, courier services may not be included in an estimate of costs but such “minor” items can mount up quickly and become very expensive. This is especially so with respect to the Dominican Republic visa for permanent residence. The scale of the duplication of supporting documents required at each stage of the application is clear from the above description of the processes involved.

Whenever possible do whatever is possible yourself. It usually not difficult to obtain up-to-date copies of birth, marriage or death certificates from the appropriate authorities at a very small cost. Your attorney’s fees to make such applications will not be low and correspondent firms in other countries may be employed to obtain such documents. This will add to your costs and may be examples of items not covered in any initial estimate of fees.


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