DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - PUNTA CANA
WHAT TO EXPECT UPON ARRIVAL
After arriving in Punta Cana, you’ll have to proceed through Immigration and Customs. Here are a few tips:
Departing the plane/Tourist Card:
The airport in Punta Cana is very small and open-air. You will depart the plane via stairs they roll up to the plane. There will be airport personnel there to direct you on where to go after departing the plane, or, you can just follow the other passengers!
Before you get to the immigration booth, you will be required to purchase a Tourist Card. The current cost of the card is $10.00 per person and can be paid in U.S. dollars. Please note, you won’t actually receive a card, you just pay your money and they will instruct you on where to go next.
Make sure you have filled out completely the Immigration/Customs cards given to you on the flight.
Have your Immigration cards and passports in hand when you approach the immigration booth. This will make things go much quicker.
Depending on how many other flights arrive at the same time as yours, the wait to get through Immigration could take a while.
After clearing Immigration, proceed to the baggage claim area (there will be someone showing you the way). Depending on how long it took you to get through Immigration, your luggage may already be off the carousel and just grouped together with lots of other luggage. This is when it’s handy to have some sort of colorful ribbon or something to distinguish your luggage from everyone else’s.
Once you have claimed your luggage, proceed to Customs. They may search your luggage before you proceed.
After clearing Customs, you’ll go to the area where all the transportation companies have small booths set up. Just look for the NEXXUS (Sunwing) booth and they will take care of you from there. The Sunwing reps will be in orange/blue and will have nametag/lanyard indicating that they are with Sunwing. Please note that there are some Timeshare representatives in the area that may try to get you follow them. Just firmly say “no, thank you” and proceed to the Sunwing rep.
Have a great trip!
When you are flying into the Dominican Republic you are allowed to bring 200 cigarettes or one box of cigars, two bottles of perfume (opened and for your own use), gifts up to $100 and one litre of liquor. Baggage is declared upon arrival on the island and when you depart. Do NOT bring illegal drugs, animal products and agricultural items.
Drink bottled water and always make sure the cap was secured before opening
The Peso is the National currency of the Dominican Republic. It comes in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500,1000 and 2000 Peso notes. In and around the tourist zones and resorts the American Dollar is well accepted even though the rate of exchange may not be ideal. Tourist Taxis, hotel stores and Excursions often publish their rates in U.S. Dollars and gladly accept them. Other currencies are not readily accepted or changeable at the resorts, and even if and when possible, the exchange rate will normally be very poor. Many currencies are exchangeable at banks in those airports which have banks (during banking hours). To change money from your currency to Pesos the best rates are offered at Banks or Money Stores (Casa de Cambio) such as Western Union and Caribe Express. Many travellers get Pesos from ATM machines all of which only dispense Pesos. Do know that your bank may have a surcharge or fee and that all the local banks now charge a transaction fee of 170 RD and up. People do get a better deal with goods when they use Dominican Pesos with the local vendors and in the markets shopping for souvenirs and food. Away from the resort areas, the U.S. Dollar is NOT widely accepted, and if it is a poor rate of exchange is to be expected. Tolls and Gas Stations around the country generally require Pesos only, although a few stations can now be found which take foreign Visa/Mastercards. Always ask first, never assume because acceptance is not the norm.
Also, be aware that most ATM machines have a 10,000 Peso per transaction withdrawal limit up to your own Bank's daily limit. So if you need more than 10,000 Pesos at one time you will need to make multiple transactions.
Be sure to check the currency exchange rates for the time you are in the country so you know exactly how much you are paying for goods and services. A good place to check daily exchange rates is on any currency exchange page on the internet. ATM's in the Dominican Republic only dispense Pesos. You can not get USA currency or your own countries currency from a bank machine in Dominican Republic. Buying U.S. Dollars or another currency back from banks can be done but at a low rate of exchange.
Lastly, be sure to tell your home bank where you are going so that they do not put a security hold on your cards when you use them in a foreign country. And a good rule of thumb is to always to use an ATM connected to a bank or at a resort so that assistance is available.
The electricity in the DR is the same as in North America. It's alternating current with a nominal voltage of 115/120 volts and the frequency is 60 hertz (cycles per second) Many guests ask if they will need a converter so that their appliance plug will fit the plugs: 1) If it's got a three prong plug on the cord, it's probably best to leave it at home. It's designed to be grounded, and you won't find one there.
No vaccines are required for travel to Dominican Republic. Please be sure to bring along bug spray to protect from mosquito bites. Many travelers to the Caribbean opt for the Twinrix shot to prevent Hepatitis, but this is a matter of personal preference. Please discuss with your family doctor.
Dominican Republic operates under Atlantic Standard Time. They do not observe Daylight Savings Time. Toronto operates on the same time zone. They are one hour behind Halifax time.
If any of you have a metal hip or knee replacement, cochlear implant or pacemaker, PLEASE be sure to obtain a physician's letter advising such and confirming that you cannot proceed through the metal detector.
If bringing any prescription medicines, please keep them in the original prescription bottle and carry them in your carry-on luggage. Aspirins, Imodium, etc are fine in your checked luggage.
Safes will be provided in your rooms. A better option, however is to bring along a combination lock and LOCK YOUR VALUABLES in your suitcase after arrival. From my experience the in-room safes are questionable as they CAN be opened by the staff in the event that you forget your combination.
Dominican Republic claims that their water is purified and safe to drink, however to avoid any tummy issues I would recommend drinking bottled water wherever possible, ESPECIALLY when off the resort. Remember that most tummy troubles are caused by something you have drank, not eaten. When off the resort, try to stick to alcoholic beverages that do not include ice.
Please take at LEAST two full sized bottles of good sunscreen. Aloe vera gel is also a good idea to soothe sunburned skin. Please bring along at least one hat that offers shade and of course sunglasses. Beach cover-ups or T-shirts are also a good idea to cover burning skin while sitting by the pool/on the beach.
WHAT TO PACK:
This list is not comprehensive as everyone travels differently, but here are a few items that you should consider packing:
- Sunscreen and aloe vera gel
- Imodium (or equivalent)
- a few bandaids
- Polysporin lotion
- antibiotic eardrops (pool water can cause ear infections - especially in children)
- Photocopy of your passport
- Address for Canadian Embassy (see below)
- Insurance card
- Men: at least one pair of long pants and collared shirts (for dinner)
- Men: at least one pair of closed toe shoes
- Women: Several light dresses or skirts, dressy slacks/tops for evening
- Women: Tampons or sanitary napkins if required
- elastics/bobby-pins, headbands, etc
- inflatable pool chairs or toys/frisbee
- combination lock or lock and key to secure your valuables in your luggage
- luggage scale
- hair straightener/curling iron
- good book
- Bubba Mugs or similar thermal insulated mug to keep your drinks cold and free of sand all day
- Camera or phone AND any applicable charger
WHAT TO EXPECT AT TIME OF DEPARTURE FROM PUNTA CANA
The tour bus will return you all to the airport for your return home. Here is what to expect at the airport:
Once you are checked in and paid your departure tax, you will proceed through security screening and Customs before entering the departure 'lounge' area. You will find duty-free shopping in two areas - one to your right as you walk into the departure area and also one to you left and down a flight of steps (in the air conditioned area). Duty Free does not carry many of the Dominican rums and liquors and prices can actually be higher for some liquor at the airport so keep that in mind if this is something that you generally like to bring home.
Enjoy the flight and have a safe journey home!
Office of the Embassy of Canada in Punta Cana
General Contact Information
Carretera Verón-Bávaro Km 2.5
Amstar Business Center Suite 521
Higuey, La Altagracia
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm