The Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and aqua water that caresses you as much as it washes over you. Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is a popular travel destination because of its years round warmth and beautiful scenery. All-inclusive resorts pack the landscape offering fantastic activities food and other amenities. The ever-popular Punta Cana area is home to several of these all-inclusive resorts as well as a lot of the islands fantastic water activities. Scuba divers and snorkelers will enjoy the rainbow of colorful fish swimming below, providing a wonderland just below the surface.

History buffs will enjoy Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo. The largest city in the Dominican Republic and, indeed, in the Caribbean as a whole, Santo Domingo is home to much of the Spanish colonial history that the island possesses. Christopher Columbus arrived there in 1492, but that was long after the Taino people called it home. The Spanish settled in the Dominican Republic in 1496.

The Dominican Republic is unique in that it has the best of both worlds: a lively epicenter in Santo Domingo and tropical oases in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Nightlife is abundant in both areas, the food is meticulously prepared in West Indian, Spanish, and other international traditions, and the Merengue is out of this world. Shopping for smokes and Dominican rum is the order of the day if those things tickle your fancy. You can even visit Santiago, the island’s cigar-making region. Amber jewelry and art galleries dot the landscape as well. You can also visit an interesting recreated 16th-century village Altos de Chavon which is located in La Romana.

If you want to get away from it all and be pampered by attentive staff, swim the ocean blue, and understand what it truly means to be on vacation, the Dominican Republic will not disappoint.

Size: 18,704 square miles
Population: 9 million

Language: Spanish
Demonym: Dominican

Government: Unitary Presidential Republic
Currency: Dominican Republic peso (RD$) also United States dollar (US$) accepted at some places

Main City: Santo Domingo
Main Airports: Aeropuerto Internacional Las Americas, Aeropuerto Internacional Punta Cana, Aeropuerto Internacional Gregorio Luperon and Aeropuerto Internacional El Catey

Telephone Country Code: 809

Local Beers: Presidente, Presidente Light, Bohemia Especial, The One and Quisqueya
National Dish: La Bandera (the flag which consists of white rice, red beans, stewed meat, salad and fried green plantains).

Entry Visa: All visitors to the Dominican Republic must have a valid passport and an onward or return ticket. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. If a more extended stay is needed, apply for a new tourist card two weeks before the current one expires.

When To Go: The weather in the Dominican Republic is warm throughout the year. Perpetual summer, but without the oppressive heat, the Dominican Republic’s climate ranges between 66 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest seasons are from November to April, and the warmest is from May to October. The main tourist seasons are during Semana Santa (the week before Easter); also December to February and July to August. February is a good time to visit as you can enjoy Carnaval and the whales in Samaná. For baseball fans, the best time to visit is in November.

Marriage Requirements: The necessary paperwork is required to be submitted before the Oficialía del Estado Civil (Civil Registry Office) for the preparation of your civil marriage certificate. Allow three months for the processing. It is recommended that scanned documents or photocopies be sent in advance and the originals brought for the final processing. Note that the documents need to be translated into Spanish by an official translator and legalized by the Dominican consulate.

Documents Required: In addition to the completed application for marriage, both the bride and groom will need their:
• passports
• birth certificates along with driver’s licenses or other forms of identification
• certificates of no impediment or single status report

Also if applicable:
• divorce papers, i.e., decree absolute and/or death certificate of spouse
• proof of parental consent if under 18, stamped and signed by a solicitor
• proof of name change by Deed Poll stamped and signed by a solicitor

NOTE: Priests at Roman Catholic churches in the Dominican Republic can perform legal weddings for both locals and foreigners. In keeping with church rules, priests will not officiate weddings on the beach, but they may celebrate a wedding inside a closed area of the resort. For a wedding at a church, a mutually convenient date needs to be set and will depend on church availability. In addition to the same standard documents required for a civil wedding, a Roman Catholic Church wedding will require authorization from the local parish in the couple’s country of residence. Also required are baptismal, communion and confirmation certificates and church certificate of annulment (if applicable). Catholic ceremonies have the same legal implications as a civil marriage, and the issuing of the marriage certificate follows the same procedure.

Residency Requirement: None but would recommend a few days on the island before the ceremony.

Fees: If both people are not from the Dominican Republic a fee of RD$20,000 (Approximately US$460) will be required.

Witnesses: Two or more witnesses with valid passports; relatives cannot be witnesses.