Basic Facts – Dominican Republic

  • Name of Country: Republica Dominicana, known as Dominican Republic by English speakers.
  • Location: Punta Cana is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic.  The Dominican Republic is part of Hispaniola, an island in the Caribbean, part of the Greater Antilles, to the west is the neighboring country of Haiti.
  • Punta Cana Meaning & Pronunciation:  It is said that the name derives from the abundant palma de cana in the area, widely used to cover the roofs of buildings and umbrellas along the beach.  Punta Cana is pronounced “Poontah Caanaa”
  • Capital of Dominican Republic:  Santo Domingo
  • Official Language: The official language is Spanish.  A large number of Dominicans also speak English very well since many private schools teach English as a second language.   In tourist areas, most Dominicans at least speak two languages, many also speak French, Italian, Russian and German.  In restaurants, you will find that menus are in both English and Spanish and available in other languages.  Punta Cana welcomes tourists from all over the world, you will find that staff is very welcoming and accomodating.  Staff will either speak your language or find someone that does in order to help you feel taken care of.
  • President:  Danilo Medina
  • Time Zone: Atlantic UTC-4, no daylight savings.
  • Political Status: Independent
  • Population in the Dominican Republic: 10 million. Third of the population lives in Santo Domingo.
  • Drinking age: 18 years old
Cellular & WiFi

Cell phone service is good, call your mobile service provider to inquire about roaming and international plans.  Many stores also sell SIM cards you may use during your stay typically at a lower price than what it costs through your own mobile services provider.

+ Cellular Service & WiFi in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Dress in Punta Cana

Punta Cana is a major tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, therefore a very tourist-friendly place where you will feel comfortable.  When visiting a government building or exploring attractions such as museums or a church, we recommend long pants for men and sundresses/pants or a skirt and a light blouse/shirt for the ladies. 

  • Swimsuit are appropriate at the beach, pool area, and common entertainment resort areas. 
  • Men -  We suggest you bring both long and short pants. 
  • Ladies - Sundresses are great to feel fresh in the warmer climate as well as shorts, skirts and long pants of light fabric. 
  • Dinner - Casual dress at many restaurants is acceptable.  Some resorts have more formal dining options, in which more formal wear is recommended. 

The locals like to dress well when dining, but you will not be refused service or feel uncomfortable if you chose to dress in casual clothes.  Dominicans are very friendly, respectful of all visitors. 

Pack light, you will find great pieces of clothes for both men and women at shopping centers, shops in resorts and surrounding areas. 

Emergency Services
Holidays in Punta Cana

There are twelve official holidays in the Dominican Republic.  Government offices, banks, and many private businesses close during the holidays, however, in tourist destinations many establishments and banks remain open to service tourists. 

Holidays in the Dominican Republic 2020

Days in bold are holidays celebrated on the same day every calendar year. 

  • January 1: Celebracion deAño Nuevo (New Year’s Day)
  • January 6: Día de los Santos Reyes (Three Kings’ Day)
  • January 21: Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady of Altagracia Day - Patron Saint of the DR)
  • January 26: Natalizio de Juan Pablo Duarte (Birthdate of Juan Pablo Duarte Day)
  • February 27: Día de la Independencia Nacional (National Independence Day)
  • April 10: Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
  • May 4: Día del Trabajo (Labor Day) 
  • June 11: Corpus Christi Day
  • August 16: Día de la Restauración (Restoration of Independence Day)
  • September 24: Día de las Mercedes (Our Lady of Mercedes Day)
  • November 9: Día de la “Constitución (Constitution Day), celebrated on November 6 which is a workday and made a holiday on Monday the 9th. 
  • December 25: Nacimiento de Jesús - Navidad (Christmas Day)

Source: Ministerio de Trabajo

Medical Care

Many resorts and hotels offer medical services on-site, be sure to inquire before booking if you have a medical condition that may require attention during your stay.  

CESTUR is a security organization specialized in taking care of the medical and security needs of visitors with locations in tourist destinations.  Keep these numbers handy on your cell phone in case you need them during your stay +1 809-200-3500 (free line) & +1 809-222-2026 ext 2123.

  • Drugstores: There are various drugstores in the Punta tourist region, located in convenient locations such as shopping centers and supermarkets.  Be sure to have a prescription from your doctor when you travel just in case you lose your medications during travels.   For best locations near you, do a Google Maps search.
  • Hospitals:  Hospital IMG (809) 285-6116, Hospiten Bavaro (809) 686-1414

See our Health & Safety in Punta Cana guide.

Money Matters
  • Currency: Dominican Pesos, written as RD$ and/or DOP
  • Sales Tax: 18% Sales Tax required by law  (ITBIS).  In hotels, bars and restaurants an additional 10% service charge is added to your bill (which does not necessarily go to your wait staff.  If you are happy with the service received, a tip of 10 - 20% is recommended and really appreciated by the wait staff since the hourly wage is really low in the Dominican Republic.
  • Banks:  There are banks at airport, and convenient locations such as the Blue Mall and Punta Cana Village.
  • Cash Machines:  The most convenient places to get cash in Punta Cana are the airport, Blue Mall & Punta Cana Village.

See our Currency & Tipping Guide for more information.

 

Religion

There is freedom of religion in the Dominican Republic and locals are very respectful and accepting of other religions.  Catholic is the most prevalent religion in the Dominican Republic, followed by Evangelic and Adventist among others.  

 

Utilities
  • Power: 110 volts  Standard plug has two flat blades, some appliances have a third-round pin.  Receptacles work to accommodate both, the same as in the United States and Canada.  Visitors from Europe and other countries will need an adapter.  To be sure your electronics work, we suggest you bring your own adapter in case the hotel does not have enough for all guests requesting it.
  • Water:  The water is not potable in Punta Cana, it is recommended you drink bottled water or bring a travel bottle with a filter.
  • Fuels:  Regular & Premium unleaded gasoline, diesel fuel and propane gas
  • T.V & Internet: Television and internet access is available in all of Punta Cana through cable or satellite.  Some remote areas in the Dominican Republic still lack television and internet access.
Weather in Punta Cana
Weddings in Punta Cana

Punta Cana is an exciting wedding destination, offering breathtaking settings and romantic venues to celebrate your love.  There are many resorts offering special wedding packages and will help with acquiring documentation and answer any questions you may have in regards to getting married in the Dominican Republic. 

The following information is for general use, be sure to confirm with the Dominican Consulate of your country to confirm the necessary documentation before deciding to get married in the Dominican Republic. 

When you arrive, to get married in the Dominican Republic, you must present the following:

  • A valid original passport
  • Original birth certificate
  • A single status affidavit 
  • If divorced, a divorce decree 
  • If a widow, a Death Certificate.  
  • Two witnesses with valid passports (not family)

Legal transcripts are required in Spanish, they will need to be prepared by the Dominican consulate in your country of residence, two witnesses are required.   You will be asked to send copies of the documents in advance in order for the Marriage Certificate to be prepared. 

If you're legal non-resident foreigners, a passport must be presented.  If the couple is Dominican or legal foreign residents, their ID will be sufficient. 

Civil Marriage

Before arrival, you must send a copy of the documents aforementioned to the Civil Status Office. 

Religious Ceremony

You must obtain authorization from an archbishop in your country of residence and deliver it to the archdiocese in Punta Cana.   Those wishing for a religious ceremony in the DR’s paradisiacal setting can make their dream come true. The main requirement is to obtain authorization from an archbishop in the couple’s country of residence and deliver it to the local Dominican archdiocese. 

The following documents are required: 

  • Pre-matrimonial Certificate;
  • Certificate of Civil Marriage legalized by the Dominican Consulate, if the couple has already married in their country;
  • Baptism Certificates;
  • Certificates of Confirmation; and
  • Church Annulment Certificate(s), if applicable.
  • Birth certificates are also necessary
  • Affidavit of Marital Status, obtained from the Dominican Consulate of the country where it was issued.

Source: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism 

Working Hours

General working hours are as follows:

  • Government offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 am - 4 pm. 
  • Most establishments are open Monday through Friday from 9 am - 5 pm.  
  • Stores are typically open
    • Monday through Friday from 9 am - 7 pm
    • Saturdays from 9 am - 2 pm
  • Major stores such as supermarkets and malls are generally open daily until 8 pm.  

This information is for general use, please call the desired establishment directly to confirm days and hours of operation.