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DR - Current Entry Procedures

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 19, 2009 08:56 PM

Published: 2009-11-19 20:56:33
Countries: Dominican Republic

This is the latest information concerning Clearance Procedures for the DR. The previous report posted on noonsite on 27 October was incorrect and has been removed.
Dated: 19 November 2009

The new entrance law that was put into effect last spring by the Dominican Republic was recently revoked. The main reason that the new law was revoked is because it created conflicts with commercial shipping coming into the Domincan Republic as to both clearance procedures as well as administrative authority. In addition, the "new law" did not address foreign flagged boats that were anchored.

As a result, everything at this point reverts back to the "way it was" prior to the institution of the new law, with some changes.

Under the "old law" a boat entering had to pay $15.00 per person for a 30 day visa and $43.00 to enter the boat. Under the current law, there is no charge at all at the present time. Immigration must clear all crew members in at no charge and there is no charge for the boat.

Whether it will continue this way is uncertain at this time.

The current entry procedure is as follows:

  • Arrive at an authorized entrance port. You will be visited by Marina Guerra, M-2 and Department of Drugs, who may or may not check your boat. There is NO CHARGE FOR THEIR SERVICE.
  • Be boarded by or visit the office of Immigration to have the passports of the entire crew stamped. The visa is good for 30 days and there is NO CHARGE for either the boat or the crew.
  • Some ports may assess charges pertinent to the harbour, such as refuse disposal or a harbour anchoring charge. However, most harbours do not impose such charges.
  • Also some ports may try to assess charges for immigration or Coast Guard services; however these charges are not consistent with the current law.
  • As to a Despacho. One must obtain a Despacho to move to another official entry harbor (Puerto habilitado). The Despacho is given at no charge, however it has been customary to give the Coast Guard a $15.00 tip for this service.

With regard to whether boats can anchor along the way before arriving at the next official harbour, the answer is YES. However, the boat must have a reason to stop prior to the next dispatched harbour (harbour named in the Despacho). The reasons can range from "I needed rest", to "I need to buy something", to "I had to make a repair". Any reasonable reason that is given courteously is acceptable.

However, yachts must show their papers to the official that will come out to visit the boat after it anchors. There is no charge for this service either, however we have been advised that in the DR, a small tip to the official and perhaps the fisherman that brought him out, is considered customary.

Review of Clearance Procedures

A committee has been formed to review clearance procedures into the Dominican Republic in order to seek uniform entry at every port. The committee includes Marina Guerra, M-2 and Drugs as well as Immigration officials, and interested parties from the private sector.

Luperon and Samana have officials who have assessed charges that are not consistent with the current law. Some cruising boats simply pay and others have refused to pay. The committee advise the following:

"If you choose to take the time, and effort to follow the entrance procedures above, and refuse to pay unwarranted charges, be sure to remain polite, courteous and patient. Regardless of statements that have been made that "you must pay" because the coast guard is armed, there is no truth to the implication that you will be in harms way. Many cruising boats around the world refuse to pay unauthorized charges. However, the charges for clearing in are not the same as "local charges" and some harbours do charge for anchoring (Dept. Of Ports) and for services like refuse disposal. Whenever approached for a charge, remain polite, and always ask for a receipt that is clearly written. Every official in the DR has identification. Ask to see it before you pay."

Complaining about Unauthorized Charges

The new website for the Dominican Republic Cruising Guide (offering free download of the guide) has a direct email link to the Coast Guard to file complaints about harbour officials that demand unauthorized charges.

Frank Virgintino, author of the DR Cruising Guide, says, "The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country to cruise and the anchorage's are reminiscent of the Caribbean In the 60s; virgin and uncrowded. While some of the harbors contain a few officials who want to be paid beyond what is required, the majority of harbors are in compliance with the entrance procedures indicated above".