Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Updates are in (parenthesis) - updated 1/2019
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So you want to move to the Dominican Republic?
But wait a minute, before packing your bags and hopping on the next plane, there are a few things you need to know.
The first thing you’re going to need is a Residency Visa.
Now don’t confuse those with the Tourist Card/Visa. This tourist visa is currently charged by the airlines - $10US per person. You'll have the right to stay in the country for 30 days (and up to 60 days by paying an exit fee when leaving the country.)
And that’s all you need if you’re just visiting!
It gets a little more complicated if you overstay the 60 days. You see, you can’t just get an extension on the card. When it runs out, it runs out. You overstay, you gotta pay. You will be charged a penalty at the airport if you overstay, and those can be pretty hefty. Some people have had some nasty surprises that way.
If your vacation will last longer than 60 days you can get an extension of the Tourist Visa, which will last 60 additional days but carries a list of requirements.
But you want to move here, right? Maybe retire? Live the Caribbean life you ever dreamt about?
No problem! All you need for that is a Residency Visa. This requires 2 steps.
The first is to fill out the visa application form and submit it along with the required documents to the Dominican Consulate in your country of origin. The best way to do that is through a friend who knows how to translate, notarize and deliver the documents, they must also serve as your guarantor. You can also do it via an immigration lawyer, which is the smartest route since several of the documents you have to present need to be notarized by a lawyer anyway and you need a legal guarantor.
Once you have that residency visa you can come to the country and have legal status for 60 days. Within that 60 day time-frame you need to initiate the second part of the residency process. (Although the visa is valid for 60 days Immigration will charge a late fee is the residency application is not deposited with them within 30 days of the visa issue date). Your friend or lawyer needs to meet with you and help you get the next steps done. Theoretically you can do a lot of these steps yourself, but it’s a lot easier if you have someone doing it for you, and you can concentrate on settling in to your new life.
Once a complete file is prepared which includes filling out the applications, translating and legalizing documents and undergoing a medical exam your file will be submitted to the Immigration Department and depending on what category of residency you apply for a residency card will be issued anywhere between two to three months. (This amount on time has increased in the past year to double or triple the amount of time).
Provisional residency allows for you to live and do business in the country for a year. After the year is up you will need to renew this form of residency. Again, you can have your friend or lawyer assist you with that. This process needs to be repeated for four years. By the fifth year you will qualify for permanent residency. The process for permanent residency is similar to that of provisional residency. Once granted, this form of residency is renewable every (two) years. Again you can use a lawyer to arrange for everything.
I mentioned that you can also become a permanent resident without ever having to hold provisional status.
That is possible if you are granted residency via the investment department in immigration. Those who qualify for this type of residency are either retirees who earn a minimum of $1,500.00 per month from retirement benefits - $1,750.00 per couple - or earn a minimum of US$2,000.00 per month from foreign investments such as privately owned businesses, stocks, bonds, rental income etc. These are considered foreign investors and thereby qualify for permanent residency. You can also qualify for permanent residency if you are a domestic investor and invest a minimum of US$200,000.00 in a company registered in the DR or open a CD in a Dominican bank with that amount. This form of residency is renewed after the first year and is renewable every two years thereafter.
You can either remain a permanent resident and renew every four years or have the option of applying for naturalization/citizenship after being a permanent resident for two consecutive years. For those who become permanent residents as either retirees, foreign or domestic investors the wait time for naturalization is not very long as they will qualify to apply for naturalization six months after being issued their permanent residency card by the investment department.
And these are the steps required to live and retire in the Dominican Republic. Hope this was this was helpful!