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Driving in Santo Domingo

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Santo Domingo.
|-Driving in Santo Domingo

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Santo Domingo can be a challenging experience for newcomers. The traffic can be heavy and chaotic, and local drivers often disregard traffic rules. It’s not uncommon to see drivers running red lights, not using turn signals, or overtaking other vehicles in dangerous situations. Therefore, it’s crucial to drive defensively and always be aware of your surroundings.

2. Choosing the Right Car

Given the condition of some roads in Santo Domingo, a vehicle with good suspension and high ground clearance, like an SUV, is recommended. However, smaller cars can be easier to maneuver in heavy traffic and to park in tight spaces. It’s also advisable to choose a car with air conditioning, as the climate can be hot and humid.

3. Parking in Santo Domingo

Finding parking in Santo Domingo can be difficult, especially in busy areas. Some areas have metered parking, while others require a parking permit. Parking fees vary, but they are generally not expensive. However, it’s important to always park in designated areas, as illegal parking can result in fines or your car being towed.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in the Dominican Republic with an international driving permit for up to 90 days. After that, you will need to obtain a local driver’s license. It’s also important to note that driving without a valid license can result in heavy fines and possible deportation.

5. Obtaining a Local Driver’s License

To get a Dominican driver’s license, you will need to pass a written test and a practical driving test. The process also involves submitting various documents, including your passport, residence permit, and medical certificate. It’s advisable to contact the General Directorate of Traffic Safety and Land Transportation (DIGESETT) for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

6. Safety Precautions

Always wear your seatbelt and ensure that all passengers do the same. Avoid driving at night if possible, as roads are not always well-lit and pedestrians or animals may be difficult to see. Also, be aware that car theft and break-ins can occur, so always lock your car and do not leave valuables visible inside.

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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