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Tips for Expats Driving in Puerto Plata

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Puerto Plata.

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic can be a bit chaotic for newcomers. The traffic rules are not always strictly followed, and drivers often use their horns to communicate. It’s important to stay alert and be prepared for unexpected maneuvers from other drivers.

2. Recommended Car Type

Given the condition of some roads, especially in rural areas, a 4×4 vehicle is often recommended. However, in the city, any type of car would be suitable. It’s also worth noting that fuel is quite expensive, so a fuel-efficient car would be a good choice.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Puerto Plata can be challenging, especially in the city center. However, there are usually paid parking lots available. The cost of parking is not typically expensive, but it can add up if you’re parking daily in the city center.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive with an international license in the Dominican Republic for up to 90 days. After this period, you will need to obtain a local driver’s license.

5. Obtaining a Local Driver’s License

To get a local driver’s license, you will need to go to the General Directorate of Traffic Safety and Land Transportation (DIGESETT). You will need to provide your passport, a medical certificate, and proof of residence. You will also need to pass a written and practical driving test.

6. Be Aware of Motorcycles

Motorcycles are a common mode of transportation in Puerto Plata, and they often weave in and out of traffic. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or turning.

7. Be Prepared for Police Checkpoints

Police checkpoints are common in the Dominican Republic. Always carry your driver’s license, passport, and vehicle registration with you when driving. Be polite and cooperative if you’re stopped.

8. Avoid Driving at Night

It’s generally recommended to avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas, as roads are not always well-lit and hazards like potholes or animals on the road can be hard to see.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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