Dominican Republic Expat Guide (Part One)

Dominican Republic Expat Guide (Part One) – that will be the topic of today’s article. You can find Part Two here.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

Introduction

Day by day, the Dominican Republic (DR) is gaining more popularity as an expat destination.

It also earned its place as a top Caribbean tourism destination. The deep blue beaches and exquisite landscapes are something that draws nature lovers.

Working in the Dominican Republic may not seem like a great idea as the salaries are very low. On the other hand, it is good if you want to retire or if you are a digital nomad.

Today, we will have a detailed guide for expats in order to live in the Dominican Republic.

In this article, we will be referring to the Dominican Republic as DR. For convenience purposes. Please keep it in mind.

Let us begin by discussing a few fun facts about the Dominican republic.

Fun Facts

The island of Hispaniola is the first permanent European settlement in the Americas. Around two-thirds of the island is occupied by the Dominican Republic.

In the town of Polo, Barahona, you can defy gravity. Over here, if you put your car in neutral downhill, your car goes upwards.

Dominican Amber and Larimar are two exquisite precious stones, that can’t be found anywhere else.

The 27 waterfalls of Damajagua are something that you shouldn’t miss.

Around 2,000 to 3,000 giant humpback whales visit the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is home to the lowest elevation as well as the highest elevation in the Caribbean.

The lowest elevation is the very salty lake Lago Enriquillo. The highest elevation is the Pico Duarte with a 3,087 meters altitude.

It can be really fun whether you are visiting the Dominican Republic as an expat or a tourist.

Now, let us dive into the details that are useful for the expats to live in the Dominican Republic.

Currency

The currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (Peso Dominicano). It is denoted as “$”, “DOP” or “RD$”. One Dominican Republic is further divided into 100 parts, which are known as “Centavos”.

The banknotes in the Dominican Republic are as follows:

10 Centavos
25 Centavos
50 Centavos
1 Peso Dominicano
2 Pesos Dominicanos
5 Pesos Dominicanos
10 Pesos Dominicanos
20 Pesos Dominicanos
50 Pesos Dominicanos
100 Pesos Dominicanos
200 Pesos Dominicanos
500 Pesos Dominicanos
1000 Pesos Dominicanos
2000 Pesos Dominicanos

Up to 20 Pesos, Dominicanos are rarely used, whereas the remaining are frequently used.

The coins available in the Dominican Republic are as follows.

1 Centavos
5 Centavos
10 Centavos
25 Centavos
1 Peso Dominicano
5 Pesos Dominicanos
10 Pesos Dominicanos
25 Pesos Dominicanos

You might also come around a ½ Peso Dominicano coin, which is discontinued. Still, it’s legal tender.

Banking

Contrary to most misconceptions, the banking system in the DR is both safe and simple. Let us shed some light on the general banking scenario in the Dominican Republic.

This can prove to be highly beneficial for the expats who visit the country.

Opening an account

The requirements for opening an account in the DR vary depending on the bank or the bank’s branch.

It is better to create an account by consulting a bank manager who is referred by an existing client. Social ties are very important when it comes to banks in the Dominican Republic.

You can open a bank account in the DR with just a passport as proof of Identity.

Nevertheless, some banks may ask for other documents like a banking letter of reference.

You may even be asked to submit the information related to your previous bank account as well.

In certain circumstances, only foreigners with a legal resident status are accepted. If you shop around, you might find a bank offering account regardless of residency status.

Online Banking

With the rapid increase of technology, online banking is gaining popularity in the DR.

Through internet banking, you can check your balance, make payments and transfer funds.

The online banking services of certain banks in the DR may offer more services too.

Smaller banks in the Dominican Republic may not yet have online banking. However, several large banks in the DR offer these services.

The level of security that comes with online banking may not be as efficient as it is in other countries.

ATMs

ATMs can be found all over the Dominican Republic, and are present at places like:

Banks (within and outside)
Gas stations
Supermarkets
Shopping malls

Per each transaction, you can withdraw around RD$10,000. The daily limit can be around RD$20,000 to RD$30,000 depending on your bank.

There have been a lot of cases regarding ATM fraud, and machines holding cards.

Because of that reason, it is better to withdraw money at a bank’s counter.

ATMs within a bank or outside a bank are safer than random ATMs on the street.

Unless it is an emergency, try to steer clear of ATMs for making withdrawals.

ATMs, however, accept all types of cards (including international cards). There might be certain withdrawal fees associated with international cards in the DR.

When you make a withdrawal in a DR ATM, the denomination will always be in Pesos.

Credit Cards

Visa and MasterCard are accepted. Whereas American Express may or may not be accepted.

Overseas credit cards are prone to fraud at a higher level compared to domestic cards.

Therefore, try to get a domestic one if possible and be attentive during a card transaction.

Money Transfers

There aren’t too many options for the people trying to send money from the DR.

However, various service providers allow you to send money to the DR.

Some of the providers allowing money to be transferred into DR are as follows.

Wise
Remitly
WorldRemit
N26
Small World
MoneyGram
Western Union
Ria Money Transfer
Azimo

You can send money to and from the DR with the services provided by your bank.

The usual maximum that can be sent using the services of a bank is USD 10,000. However, you can send more.

To send more, you must have to submit the following information to the bank.

Verification of the source
Purpose

In general, the transfers made by a bank take around five business days to be completed. Larger sums may take more than the said five-day period.

Some DR banks allow you to make a transfer using their internet banking services. For some others, you may have to visit the branch in person.

Types of accounts

While choosing, you can choose between US Dollar accounts and Dominican Peso accounts.

For USD accounts, it is required to maintain a minimum balance of $500 to avoid extra costs.

Checking accounts come with a payment book in the DR. Whereas, for savings accounts, you will be provided with a debit card.

With savings accounts, you can get around 4% interest in the Dominican Republic. Certificates of deposit, on the other hand, pay around 6% to 7%.

Mortgages and bank loans in the DR are very expensive with interest rates of up to 18%. You will even incur a hefty penalty upon being late on the payments in the DR.

Banks

Both retail and commercial banks are available in the DR. The only international bank offering services in the DR is Scotiabank.

The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic is accountable for the monetary policy in the DR.

Banco Popular stands among the renowned as well as top-rated banks in the DR.

It is well-known for its internet banking services and has a considerable number of branches too.

In recent times, Banco Popular has partnered with PayPal to render its services.

Another popular bank in the DR is Banco Leon BHD. They were two banks namely Banco Leon and BHD Bank, which teamed up.

Government employees in the Dominican Republic are paid through Banco Reservas. It’s a government bank.

It is a good idea to avoid banks during the paydays in the DR, which come twice a month. So, expect the queues in the banks to be large on the 15th and the end of the month.

Taxes

One of the greatest aspects of the Dominican Republic is its territorial tax system.

The Dominican Republic isn’t a tax haven but you are not required to pay taxes on overseas income.

However, the residents of the country are subject to taxes on foreign sources as well. People who become residents of DR are only taxed after the third year of residence.

You’ll be considered a tax resident if you stay in the country for more than 182 days in a year. This doesn’t have to be consecutive.

For those who are liable for taxes in the DR, the taxes are as follows.

Up to an income of RD$416,000, there are no taxes.

From RD$416,000 to RD$624,329, the tax rate is 15%.

From RD$624,329 to RD$867,123, the tax rate is 20%.

From RD$867,123 and above, the tax rate is 25%.

There are no local income taxes on taxable income in the Dominican Republic.

Other Taxes and Contributions

In the DR, a contribution of 7.10% is required from employers and 2.87% from employees. This is for pension.

People with a contribution plan in their country must provide a certification of contribution. This should be obtained from the Social Security Ministry.

Unless this certificate is provided, the individuals are subject to double contributions.

This document is to be submitted to the Dominican Social Security Ministry. The employer can submit this while being the withholding agent of the employee.

Employees in the Dominican Republic should also contribute 7.09% of an individual’s salary for family healthcare.

The mandatory contributions for the pensions are 20 minimum wages. And the family healthcare compulsory contributions are 10 minimum wages.

Additionally, employers are required to contribute 1.2% of the salaries as labour risks insurance. The mandatory contributions for this purpose or four minimum wages.

Technical instruction and training of workers are also financed by a payroll-based contribution.

This contribution from the employers should be 1% of the monthly payroll. In the case of employees, the contributions are 0.5% of the bonuses received by them.

There is another tax known as the tax for the transfer of industrialized goods and services (ITBIS).

This is a value-added tax which applies to all industrialized goods (movable) and services. The tax rate is 18%.

As per the law, there are certain exemptions in the case of a few goods and services.

there is no net worth or net wealth tax in the Dominican Republic. Successors and beneficiaries are subjected to an inheritance tax of 3%.

Any type of gift provided to individuals in person is subject to a withholding tax of 27%.

Given below are certain useful links regarding the personal income tax in the DR.

Deductions

Foreign Tax Relief and Tax Treaties

Other Tax Credits and Incentives

The corporate income in the Dominican Republic is taxed at a rate of 27%.

Besides that, an additional 1% rate is incurred as assets tax. This is an alternative tax when the taxable corporate income tax is lower than the assets tax.

Dividends and profits remitted overseas or paid locally are subject to withholding tax (WHT). The WHT rate is 10%.

Corporate entities from the free trade zone (FTZ) are required to pay another 10% as WHT. This applies to profit remittance as well as dividend distribution.

Salaries

Based on various salaries reported, the average salary in the DR is RD$20,000 (approximately).

Around 25% of the employees in the DR earn less than RD$11,500.

25% to 50% of the employees earn up to RD$20,500.

50% to 75% of the employees earn up to RD$60,000.

The remaining 25% (75% to 100%) of the employees earn up to RD$88,500.

As of 31st October 2022, the highest monthly average (RD$88,500) is equivalent to USD 1636.24.

On the other hand, the lowest monthly average (RD$11,500) is equivalent to $212.

In the Dominican Republic, a person generally doubles their salary with 10 years of experience.

People with a PhD tend to earn more than those earning a high school education.

It has also been reported that men in the Dominican Republic earn 7% more than women.

However, it has been proven that the average salary in the Dominican Republic is low. Particularly low when compared to most other expat destinations.

Thinking of going to the Dominican Republic so that you can retire can be good. Looking for a job as an expat in the Dominican Republic may not be profitable.

Nevertheless, you might be able to come across certain positions that pay more. By more, I mean that the salary might be enough to lead a comfortable life in the DR.

Insurance

Let us now know about the healthcare system as well as medical insurance options. Especially, for the expats thinking of moving to the Dominican Republic.

People moving to the Dominican Republic must have sufficient health insurance coverage.

Healthcare in the DR can be too costly in some tourist areas such as Sosua and Zona Colonia in Santo Domingo.

Consider this!!! Even though you can acquire efficient healthcare services, it may not be possible all over the country.

In most hospitals, you might have to pay cash in order to access medical services.

Most residents as well as travellers and global citizens opt for international health insurance.

Some of you may not be familiar with international health insurance and how it works.

For such people, we have created a guide that provides some information. Click here to access it.

International health insurance in the Dominican Republic also tends to be a cheaper option.

To get information on the global citizens’ health information in the Dominican Republic, click here.

Overview of Healthcare

In the Dominican Republic, the quality of healthcare varies depending on the location.

Private hospitals are equipped with advanced medical technology and efficient staff. in simple words, the standards of healthcare are usually higher in private hospitals.

General medical practitioners are found very rarely in the country. This means you come across an internist who refers to a specialist.

In the DR, the healthcare financing system operates in the following ways.

To begin with, there is the subsidised tier. Those who opt for a subsidy come under the category of poor, disabled or unemployed.

Only the people under these categories are eligible for subsidized healthcare.

There is another tier, i.e., contributed, which is financed by employers as well as employees.

Apart from these two, there is a contributed subsidized tier. This is particularly for people who are technical workers or self-employed.

Such people have wages exceeding the national average income of the Dominican Republic.

For Expats

Most expats in the DR belong to the category of contributed subsidised tier.

If you are an expat in the DR, discuss this with the employer to know under which tier you fall.

Before moving to the Dominican Republic, it is wise to get a vaccination for the following diseases.

Measles
Mumps
Diphtheria
Chicken Pox
Polio

We also recommend that every expat should get medical insurance before moving.

As we already said, the quality of healthcare in the DR is not so effective.

Widespread diseases such as malaria make it essential to have private healthcare.

Even most of the digital nomads and expats go ahead with international private healthcare policies.

Public Healthcare

You can get access to public hospitals in every large town in the Dominican Republic.

Healthcare services are free, yet medical services require you to pay money. Certain medical services that aren’t included in the free healthcare facilities are as follows.

Stitches
X rays
Medication

Not just these, but the individuals would also have to pay for the following.

Food
Pillows
Sheets
Toilet Paper
Other essentials

The chances at public hospitals are very low to find staff who speak English.

Private Healthcare

Most people, even the residents, opt for services offered by private hospitals.

The common categories of people who visit private hospitals are tourists and expats.

At such hospitals, you can even get access to staff who can speak English.

These types of hospitals are available in major cities like Santiago and Santo Domingo.

Even surgeries, speciality operations as well as organ transplants are available.

Financial Advisors

In the DR, you can find local financial advisors, i.e., either banks or individuals.

Bank-related financial advisors in the DR help in short-term and long-term investment planning

However, choosing an online financial advisor proves to be a much better option.

By choosing an online financial advisor you can get the following benefits.

Lower prices for the services
Interaction with a real person
Comfort
Efficacy

To provide a better understanding of the financial advice situation, we have created an article.

Given below is the link to the information about expat financial advisors in the Dominican Republic.

Expat financial advisors in the Dominican Republic

Bottom Line

Salaries and other estimates provided in this article have been collected from Internet sources. Although they are reliable, there is a good chance for the information to be inaccurate or outdated.

Certain estimates such as taxes are accurate, yet they might change by the time you read this.

Instead of considering the estimates as actual advice, try considering them as a reference.

We will provide another part of this article where we will discuss other aspects such as:

Education
Crime Rate
Cost of Living
Visa
Retirement

Finally, we hope that the information provided in this article was helpful. Especially for the expats living in the Dominican Republic or those willing to move there.

Are you looking for a financial advisor or wealth manager? We provide the best possible solutions for people who are facing financial difficulties.

You can even opt for our services if you are looking for someone to take care of your investment needs.

To get access to our best-in-class services, feel free to get in touch with me. You can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 492.2 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon

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