The most in-depth guide you'll find—Updated for 2023-2024

Getting a Visa, Residency Status & Citizenship in Dominican Republic 2023, 2024 

Everything you need to know, including steps to follow and the benefits you can get, plus how to fast track the process.

Who is This Guide For?'re seriously thinking about—or are now ready—to make your move to the Dominican Republic!

Maybe your planning to move here part time. Or maybe full time, either to enjoy a relaxing retirement or work remotely. 

Whatever your plan, you'll want to take advantage of the many benefits available to foreigners who own property in the DR. You need the right visa and your residency status.

In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know.  


Dominican Republic Retirement Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

The allure of sun-soaked beaches, vibrant culture, and a welcoming community has made the Dominican Republic a preferred destination for retirees. One of the most important considerations for retirees planning to move is understanding the visa process. In this guide, we delve deep into the Dominican Republic's retirement visa, often referred to as the "pensionado" visa.

What is the Pensionado Visa?

The Dominican Republic offers a special visa for retirees called the "pensionado" visa. This visa caters specifically to individuals who are planning their retirement in the country.

Applying for the Retirement Visa

The process of obtaining a retirement visa for the Dominican Republic is quite systematic:

  1. Initial Entry: Individuals can enter the Dominican Republic using a standard tourist visa. Once in the country, they can initiate the process to apply for the retirement visa.
  2. Online Application: Aspirants must register on the Dirección General de Migración service portal, where they can choose the relevant service and complete the "INFORMATION QUESTIONNAIRE FOR APPLICANT."
  3. Engaging Legal Assistance: Given that the process can take several months and requires various documents, many retirees recommend hiring a local lawyer. A local legal expert can help streamline the paperwork and ensure that all regulations are adhered to.

Duration and Terms

A Dominican Republic Retirement visa is typically issued for two years. However, it's crucial to note that within the first 30 days of the visa's validity, retirees should enter the Dominican Republic.


To be eligible for the pensionado visa, applicants must show a proof of income. As of now, this income should be at least $1,500 per month. Along with this, other necessary documents will also need to be presented.

Cost of Retirement in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic offers an affordable retirement lifestyle. A monthly budget of around $1,200 is sufficient for a comfortable life, while a budget of $2,000 provides added luxuries such as a spacious home, household help, and indulgence in pricier entertainment options.

Residency and Citizenship

For individuals who plan a more extended stay and wish to apply for residency, the Dominican Republic offers several avenues. The application for residency usually starts in the applicant's home country at the Dominican consulate. After initial approval, a Temporal Resident's Visa is stamped on the passport. For the first five years, this residency status needs renewal each year. Typically, the entire process takes about four months.

Retiring in the Dominican Republic is not just about soaking up the sun on its beautiful beaches; it's about becoming a part of its vibrant community. And while the visa and residency processes may seem daunting at first, with the right information and perhaps a little local assistance, it can be made hassle-free. Whether you're considering the Dominican Republic as your retirement destination or are already on your way, the pensionado visa is your key to a peaceful and enriching retirement.

Allrights lets start now with the Details.

Table of Contents

chapter 1

The always welcoming Dominican Republic

The first step is making an offer on the home you'd like to buy.

chapter 2

Visa for investors—including homeowners

The first step is making an offer on the home you'd like to buy.

chapter 3

visa for retirees—the pensionado visa

Arrange for the deposit. Usually $5K-$15K, to be held in trust.

chapter 4

how to get your visa

Outline your offer, as well as all terms and conditions. 

chapter 5

why get your residency Status?

Determine if property is free of liens and other claims.

chapter 6

How to get your residency status

Transfer final payment (or first instalment for pre-construction)

chapter 7

citizenship & 2nd passports

Walk through to see what details still need to be addressed.

chapter 8

BONUS: get help from expats who have done it already

Make sure you have the right professionals to help you.

chapter 1

The Always Welcoming Dominican Republic

The government of the Dominican Republic is extremely welcoming to foreigners.

They've laid out the red carpet for Americans, Canadians and other foreigners to come to the DR to live and invest. 

They want you to bring your hard earned money into the country. This will help to grow the economy and benefit its people.

As a foreign national in the DR, you can get a lot of great benefits.

Thankfully, the government has made it easy for you to take advantage of these benefits. 

The first step is getting the right visa. This will help you fast track your residency, which (if you want it) will accelerate your citizenship and 2nd passport too.

Visa > Residency > Citizenship > 2nd Passport

There are four stages for you as a foreign national to progress through.

At each stage, you can take steps to help you move more quickly to later stages.

  1. Get a visa: At the very least, you'll need a tourist visa to stay in the DR for an extended period of time. However, if you're planning to purchase a home, there are much better options. There's an visa for investors and a visa for retirees. Plus, getting the right visa will allow you to fast track your residency.
  2. Get residency status: You don't have to get your residency. But without it, you're missing out on a lot of amazing perks and benefits. 
  3. Get your citizenship: Becoming a citizen is optional too. But with your citizenship, you get a 2nd passport.
  4. Get a 2nd passport: There are advantages to having a 2nd passport. Think of it like an insurance policy: The future is uncertain, so calling another place home is always a good thing.
chapter 2

Visas for Investors—Including Homeowners

The Dominican Republic offers an investor visa.

The good news is that there's a broad definition of investor.

Even if you have investment income from somewhere else or purchase a home in the DR, you could very likely qualify for an investor visa.

Option 1: Make a Lump Sum Investment (e.g. purchase a home)

With this option, to get your investor visa:

Show you’ve made a local investment in the DR of at least US$200,000.

This investment can be in:

  • real estate (i.e. buy a home)
  • local financial instruments
  • a business enterprise
  • a deposit of at least US$200,000 in a Dominican Republic bank (as long as you maintain the balance for at least 3 years)

Most foreigners (at least non-retirees) apply for the investor visa as a property investor. By purchasing a home in the Dominican Republic for at least US$200,000, they're considered investors.

Option 2: Have Investment Income from Abroad

You qualify for your investor visa if you’ve got at least US$2,000 of monthly income from any investment or non-salaried source abroad. 

This income could be from:

  • bank account interest
  • a brokerage account
  • rental income
  • royalties
  • any other investment or non-salaried source

The Benefits: Income Tax Exemptions for Investors

If you have your investor visa, then you'll qualify for some serious tax exemptions.

As a foreign investor, you DON'T pay:

  • Real property transfer taxes for the first property acquired
  • 50% of the Mortgage Registration Tax, if the secured creditor is a financial institution subject to the regulations enacted pursuant to the Monetary and Financial Law
  • 50% of the Real Estate Property Tax
  • Taxes on dividends and interest payments, whether from a Dominican or non-Dominican source
  • 50% of the capital gains tax, provided you're the majority shareholder of the company and the main corporate purpose of the com­pany is not commercial or industrial
  • Import duty on home furnishings, office and professional equipment
  • Import duty on motor vehicles (for 1 vehicle)

That's right, with your investor visa you get all of these tax exemptions!

If you don't qualify for either the investor visa or the retiree visa (detailed below), you can still apply for a standard residence visa.

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chapter 3

Visas for Retirees—the Pensionado Visa

The Dominican Republic's offers a visa designed specifically for retirees.

It's called the pensionado visa.

How do you qualify?

  • Have a pension or social security income that pays you at least $1,500 USD per month
  • To include a spouse or children, the required amount is only an extra $250 in income per person. 

You can even have your benefits sent directly to your Dominican address or bank account.


The Benefits: Income Tax Exemptions for Retiree

If you have your retiree visa, then you'll qualify for some serious tax exemptions.

First, what about taxes on your pension?

Short answer: there are no taxes!

Usually, foreign residents have to pay taxes on their global income after a certain amount of time.

However, if you’ve got your retiree pensionado visa, you only pay taxes on any local income. Your pension or social security income won’t be taxed in the Dominican Republic at all, ever.

Additional Benefits:

You also get all the exemptions given to foreign investor.

Which means:

  • There’s no tax on household and personal items that you bring here.
  • When you buy your home, you don’t pay the usual property transfer tax
  • Get a 50% tax exemption on mortgages (in some circumstances)
  • Get 50% tax exemption on Real Estate Property, when applicable.
  • Pay no taxes on dividends and interest generated in the DR or abroad
  • Get a 50% exemption on capital gains tax in certain situations

If you don't qualify for the pensionado retiree visa or the investor visa (detailed above), you can still apply for a standard residence visa.

chapter 4

How to Get Your Visa

Whether you're applying for a normal residence visa—or the investor visa or retiree visa—there are 2 main steps in the process.

It's the same two-step process whether you're an American or a Canadian.

Step 1

Apply for a residence visa (or investor visa or retiree visa) at an embassy of the Dominican Republic located in your country. Once issued, this visa will be valid for 60 days. 

Step 2

After you complete step 1 and have your visa in hand, you have 60 days to visit the the Dominican Republic to apply for temporary residence status (or if you have an investor or retiree visa, apply for permanent residency). This is done at the Ministry of Immigration in the country's capital, Santo Domingo.

  • For americans
  • For Canadians

the parties involved

The first section names the buyer, and the seller and describes the property, including size, rooms and location. The rest of the document then lays out various terms and conditions.

price details

The first set of conditions states the total price to be paid and details about payment, including number of instalments, timing of instalments and how payments will be made (say, for example, via an escrow account.

deposit details

Outlines the release of the deposit to the seller, with any conditions. Once you sign this document on the dotted line, you’re agreeing to release your deposit from wherever it’s being held.

taxes & adjustments

States that the seller is responsible for any outstanding taxes on the property. If you’re exempt from any expenses or taxes related to the sale this will be clearly outlined here too.

property title

Title to the property: This will state that the seller is responsible for providing the title to you, free of liens and other claims.


Details the date you can take possession of the property, and conditions that must first be met, typically a dollar amount that must be paid.

chapter 5

Residency Status: Why Get It & How to Fast Track It

Why get your residency status?

If you're an American or Canadian (or any other foreign national), with your residency you can live as long as you want in the Dominican Republic.

First, don't worry...

When you get your residency, you don't have to give up citizenship in your home country.

When you have residency, you get lots of benefits: 

  • Legal status in the country and an identification card (Cédula de Identidad Personal
  • A more favorable tax structure
  • Enter the country without the need to buy a $10 tourist visa upon arrival
  • Access various tax breaks
  • Get a full Dominican driver’s license (foreign driver’s licenses are only valid for 90 days), allowing you to get car accident insurance
  • Attend any Dominican school or university and pay in pesos instead of dollars (usually, international students pay tuition fees in dollars)
  • Work and do business in the Dominican Republic
  • Facilitate many business transactions in the DR, including getting bank loans and applying for credit

Residency for Americans

The United States does NOT allow for dual residency. It requires American citizens to be a resident of one country at a time.

BUT even with your Dominican residency, you're still an American citizen.

The United States has rules in place to prevent you from being double taxed.


Canada DOES allow for dual residency, as long as you still have significant ties to Canada.

This means one or more of the following:

  • a permanent residence or personal property in Canada
  • spouses or dependants in Canada
  • Canadian driver's licence, bank account, health card and/or social membership

Canada has a tax treaty with the DR to prevent you from being double taxed.

The Usual Timeline for Residency 

  • You hold temporary residency status for five years, then you qualify for permanent residency status.
  • After two years with permanent status, you can apply for citizenship. 

That's 7+ years. 

This actually isn't bad compared to other countries. Some Caribbean islands won't let anyone become a resident at all, let alone a citizen.

How to Fast Track Your Residency Status

If you qualify as a foreign investor or a retire, you can skip temporary residency status and instead apply right away for permanent residency.

This will save you five years!

You can learn how to qualify as a foreign investor in this guide here.

And to learn how to qualify as a retiree, see this chapter.

chapter 6

How to Get Your Residency Status in Dominican Republic

You can apply for residency even before you leave for the DR. After applying, you'll wait 3 to 6months before it's finalized and you get your status card.


As an added bonus, the DR has pretty lax in-country requirements. If you're away from the DR for more than four years, you only pay a small fine to renew your residency status.
Beautiful pool and deck in villa backyard

chapter 7

Step 6: Final Inspection

Before officially taking possession of your new home, you’ll need to do a final walkthrough with your agent and the builder, developer or current owner to make sure everything looks good. 

This is especially important for pre-construction.

You’ll likely have visited one or more times during construction to monitor progress and inspect the build as key milestones are reached.

But the final inspection is your last chance to make sure everything has been built to your specifications. 

For the final inspection, you’ll fly down and stay within the development or at a place nearby. Some developments will cover the cost of your stay, others won’t.

With your own vacation home, you too can enjoy the North Coast lifestyle.

There’s absolutely no reason to rush the final inspection. You want to take your time. Be a stickler. Make sure you’ve spoken with your agent and know exactly what you need to look for. Before you go in, put all the details you need to inspect into a thorough checklist, and as you do the walk-through, write any deficiencies you see down on paper. Take pictures.

Many real estate agents don’t understand construction and what’s involved in building a home in the DR. So they don’t know what to look for or which questions to ask. You need to make sure your representative does.
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chapter 8

Step 7: Sign Final Agreement

It’s now time to sign the final agreement, which is called the Agreement of Final Sale. 

If you’re financing through the seller, the final agreement will include a mortgage addendum outlining the rate, term and payment schedule.

At this point, the title will be transferred, meaning the developer’s name or previous owner’s name is removed and yours is added to the title.

You’re now the sole owner of the property.

Your new home is now yours!

Exterior front of villa at Tisu development
chapter 9

Bonus: How to Choose an Agent or Lawyer

First, find an agent who can represent your interests.

  • Your agent should REALLY know the real estate market on the North Coast
  • Not just what’s for sale and how prices compare. That’s pretty standard. 
  • Your agent should also know the specifics and the pros and cons of each development.
  • And a good agent will understand construction, how homes are built in the DR, and be able to spot quality building.

A good agent will want to find you the home that’s best for you.

And of course, once you’ve found a good agent, make sure you follow his or her advice!

As well, you’ll need a lawyer who’s familiar with real estate law in the Dominican Republic. Because the DR has a rules-based real estate market, a lawyer is critical. 

The lawyer will prepare documents and make sure the process follows the proper legal path. All the paperwork will be prepared in Spanish and can be translated into English for you. 

Ideally, don’t use a lawyer offered by the development you’re buying into. The best thing is to hire an independent lawyer who can represent you without any conflict of interest. For example, Dreaming DR works with a reputable, independent lawyer who’s represented many foreign buyers over the years.