The Dominican Republic is a safe country to visit, with crime rates among the lowest in Latin America. Street crime is rare in most tourist areas, especially during the day, however be alert for pickpockets. Avoid walking on beaches or non-tourist areas late at night, and consider taking a cab if you’re returning home late from clubs and bars. Theft in cars is not unheard of, so it’s best to not leave any valuables inside your car when parking.
The number one annoyance amongst visitors is not being given the proper change after a purchase, for instance at gas stations or mini markets. It could always be an accident, but it’s not entirely uncommon for waiters, taxi drivers and shop owners to ‘accidentally’ give you less than warranted. If something’s missing, say so right away.
Buying drugs in the DR should be avoided at all times as any transactions involving large amounts can result in significant prison time.
Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic, however brothel ownership and ‘pimping’ are illegal. Prostitution is a big business in the Dominican Republic, the towns Boca Chica and Sosúa have the highest visible presence. Sexual diseases are a problem in the prostitution industry, therefore it is advisable to stay away from this when taking care of your safety in the Dominican Republic.
Safety in the Dominican Republic – Important to know:
The Dominican Republic has three police forces. The Policía Nacional known as the national police, the AMET known as traffic police and the Policía Turística know as tourist police and commonly referred to by its abbreviation ‘Politur’.
Politur officers are generally friendly men and women whose job is specifically to help tourists. Many speak English or other foreign languages. They wear white shirts with blue insignia and can usually be found near major tourist sights and centers. Contact Politur first in the event of theft, assault or if you are the victim of a scam, but you can equally ask them for directions to sites, which bus to take etc. the National alarm number is 911 in the Dominican Republic.
If a police officer stops you, be polite and cooperate; armed roadway checkpoints aren’t uncommon, particularly in regions bordering Haiti. They may ask to see your passport, in the Dominican Republic you’re not required to have it on you but it’s a good idea to carry a photocopy. Police might ask in some cases for a ‘tip’ in cash or merchandise; just act like you do not understand or simply politely decline. More often than not, you’ll simply be waved through.