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Dominican Republic Travel Guide

New Travel Warning Issued Against Another Popular Destination

The advisory warns of a 'high level of criminality on the broader scale' and specifically highlights concerns over meeting people through dating apps.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the Dominican Republic, warning U.S. citizens traveling to the country to be vigilant toward violent crime and sexual assault. The Travel Advisory, issued on June 6, does not change the country’s advisory level, which was already at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution, but repeats advisories for travelers.

According to the State Department: “Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic.” The advisory goes on to note that resort areas, such as La Romana, Puerto Plata, and Punta Cana may be better policed than urban centers like Santo Domingo. The advisory also refers to a “high level of criminality on the broader scale.” Cruise ship passengers on excursions arranged by the cruise lines are also at relatively low risk, but they should maintain vigilance when exploring ports.

There is a specific warning for robberies perpetuated via dating apps. The State Department reports that several Americans traveling in the Dominican Republic have reported that they were robbed by people they met on dating apps. As a result, it is recommended to use the apps with caution, and meet in public places instead of isolated locations.

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The report pays particular attention to isolated locations, noting that travelers should not be alone in secluded places, even on resort properties, and should also avoid drinking alone or with new acquaintances.

U.S. citizens have been victims of sexual assault in the Dominican Republic, and the State Department warns that “sexual assault victims in the Dominican Republic should not expect the totality of assistance offered in the United States. Rape kits are often not available until the following morning and must be administered by Dominican authorities,” and that “victims often have to request medication to avoid transmission of STDs and reduce the chances of pregnancy.”

The government of Canada issued a similar updated advisory in May, with even more detail. Travelers are advised not to accept snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances.

Both governments advised that petty theft was the most common concern for travelers, particularly pick pocketing and bag snatching, particularly during holiday seasons when tourist numbers in the country increase. Travelers can reduce incidence of petty theft by not wearing flashy or expensive looking jewelry or watches or wearing conspicuously luxurious clothing or carrying luxury handbags. Travelers are also cautioned against slinging bags over a shoulder, or if they do, they should keep their bags on the side of their body facing away from the street, as some bag snatchers employ vehicles or motorcycles.

Related: Why Has the U.S. Issued Level 3 Travel Warnings Against These Popular Countries?

It’s important to explain that although the majority of travelers from the United States and Canada may be visiting the Dominican Republic for leisure visits of short duration where they will mostly spend time on resort properties, government travel advisories are written for all citizens traveling to the country for all reasons, and all travel styles. This includes business travelers, humanitarian travelers, and even long-term residents in the country—the travel information sheets are meant to be as comprehensive as possible, to serve as many citizens as possible. Several of the reports advise travelers to avoid the borderlands between the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti—a region virtually no short-term leisure travelers will find on tourist itineraries or listed in guidebooks.

Travelers who are victims of petty theft, assault, or violent crime in the Dominican Republic should remember not to fight back, as this increases risk of injury. Reports should also be filed with the Dominican authorities (local police will not investigate unless a report is filed) and the embassy or consular office of their country of origin. U.S. consular offices and embassies can help U.S. citizens navigate local legal systems including providing basic information on how the system works and what is considered customary, but cannot give legal advice or pay for legal counsel.

It’s also worth noting that neither the United States nor Canada, nor the United Kingdom’s Home Office advise travelers avoid travel to the Dominican Republic. UK authorities note that “The Dominican Republic is friendly and welcoming and the vast majority of visits to the country are trouble-free.”

fouDor June 10, 2023

dating app? you should be careful anywhere!