- Published on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 13:26
by Mark Svoboda
[Editor’s note: This is information has been verified by IM correspondent Mark Svoboda’s on-the-ground research. Like many other countries, the Dominican Republic government may change its citizenship requirements. As always, do your own due diligence.]
The area of residency and citizenship providers in Dominican Republic is very crowded, and prices and levels of services vary significantly. One of the firms that I contacted, Ascot Advisory, has a very good reputation (at least from what I could find). They are actually on the ground and go through the process themselves. The total charge quoted for fast track residency (see option #2 below) is US$22,300.
Prices at Guzman y Ariza (henceforth, "Guzman") are significantly lower, compared to package providers like Ascot, and based on their reputation, I am as confident as a person can be without actually going through the process that they will get the job done. Please do your own due diligence when choosing a provider, as options are ample.
Guzman has offices in several locations in Dominican Republic, but all the immigration issues go through their main office in Santo Domingo. I personally visited their office in Santo Domingo and saw their signs in other cities.
There are 3 residency/citizenship options with varying requirements.
The shortest path to obtain a Dominican Republic passport and citizenship takes 2 years and costs US$6,642 in fees plus a US$200,000 refundable investment (see option #3 below).
(Editors note: The following is from the Guzman y Ariza law firm and Mark's personal research.)
The following is applicable to all types of residencies:
- Fees are the same for additional applicants as for the primary applicant.
- Applicant always needs to get a special "residency visa" issued in Dominican consulate of your home country.
- All fees are payable 70% in advance and the balance upon obtaining the applied-for status.
- Fees do not include travel or hotel costs in Dominican Republic.
Option #1 Regular Residency to Citizenship Process
- Approximate cost: $13,637
- Time to passport: 8 years
- Obtain a residency visa, issued by the Dominican Consulate of your country of origin or from the closest country with a Dominican Consulate
- Apply for temporary residency. That residency is valid for 1 year. You will need to renew it 4 times, for a total of 5 years of temporary residency. Costs at this stage: $1,738 (temporary residency application) + $5,596 (4 times of temporary residency renewal at $1,399 each) = $7,334
- After 5th year is complete, apply for permanent residency. It is valid for 2 years Cost at this stage: $1,478
- After 2 years of permanent residency, apply for renewal. At the same time, you may apply for citizenship. At the time of application for citizenship, the permanent residency should be renewed. Costs at this stage: $1,428 (permanent residency renewal) + $3,222 (citizenship) + $175 (passport issuance) = $4,825
Total approximate time to receive a passport: 5 years for temporary residency + 2 years of permanent residency + 1 year for all other various procedures = 8 years
Total approximate fees: $7,334 + $1,478 + $4,825 = $13,637
Obtaining regular residency in the Dominican Republic is a two-step procedure. First, the foreign applicant must obtain provisional resident status, valid for one year from the date the applicant receives his or her residency card, renewable once every year for a total of five years; then, upon expiration of the fifth year of the provisional residency, an application must be filed for permanent residence status. Once obtained, permanent residency must be renewed every two years.
Requirements for Dominican residency are easily met by anybody in good health, who is drug-free, and has a clean police record. The time involved in obtaining provisional residency is usually six months from the time the application is filed. This time estimate assumes that all required documents have been provided and authenticated.
To begin the residency process, the applicant must travel to the Dominican Republic with the following documents:
- Residency Visa, issued by the Dominican Consulate of your country of origin or from the closest country with a Dominican Consulate. (You cannot apply for this while in the Dominican Republic. If you are already in the Dominican Republic without this Residency Visa, you will have to fly back before you can apply for residency.)
- Original or certified copy of the birth certificate, apostilled in the country where it was issued, or authenticated at the Dominican Consulate nearest to the place of issue of the document. If such country is a party of the Hague Convention (as the US is), the birth certificate must be apostilled.
- If two spouses are applying together, original or certified copy of the marriage certificate, apostilled in the country where it was issued, or authenticated at the Dominican Consulate nearest to the place of issue of the document. If such country is a party of the Hague Convention, the marriage certificate must be apostilled.
- Passport of the applicant (with the visa stamp, when applicable, and the stamp of his entrance into the Dominican Republic).
- A certificate of no criminal record from the authorities in the applicant's country of origin, or, if the applicant has been residing outside his country of origin for five years or more, from the authorities in the applicant's country of residence. The certificate should be apostilled in the country where it was issued, or authenticated at the Dominican Consulate nearest to the place of issue of the document and the authentication apostilled if the authentication country is in the Hague Convention.
- Eight pictures (2" by 2"), four front and four profile, white background required, accessories such as earrings or sunglasses not allowed.
All residency applications are filed through the Guzman Santo Domingo office, since the immigration authorities are based there. At your first meeting in the Guzman office, you will provide Guzman's attorney or paralegal with the documents listed above. The passport will be returned to you immediately after being photocopied.
The first phase of the provisional residency consists of medical tests (blood sample, urine sample, and chest x-rays) at a government-designated location. The Immigration Department requires that these tests be preauthorized. To obtain this preauthorization the applicant must provide Guzman with a copy of the passport and a copy of the visa stamp.
Once the authorization has been granted, Guzman will schedule your medical appointment for the following business day, at which time you will meet a paralegal at Guzman's office, who will take you to the location where the tests are performed. The appointment time will be 8:00 a.m. at the Guzman office, at which time the paralegal will review your file with you. At approximately 9:00 a.m., you will depart with the paralegal for the medical tests, which take approximately three to four hours, including waiting and travel time.
As a part of the medical test preauthorization, Guzman must provide the Immigration Department with the applicant's original birth certificate duly translated into Spanish and legalized. If the translation was completed by you, then it must be either apostilled in the country where it was translated (if a Hague Convention country), or authenticated at the Dominican Consulate nearest to the place where the document was translated, and the authentication apostilled if such country is a party of the Hague Convention. On the other hand, if you request the translation from Guzman, they will need approximately 5 working days (before the medical tests) to complete the translation and the required legalization of the translation.
After the medical tests, Guzman will prepare the documentation to submit your application to the Immigration Department. This phase normally takes ten to fifteen days. In addition to documents (a) to (e) listed above, Guzman will file on your behalf:
- A notarized letter of guarantee from a Dominican person or corporation
- An affidavit regarding the solvency of the guarantor, backed by evidence of solvency, such as bank deposits, property titles, etc.
- A Power of Attorney
- A certificate of good behavior from the Dominican authorities
- Completed application forms
(All forms submitted with the application become part of the government file and will not be returned to the applicant.)
Once the application is filed, attorneys have no knowledge of the internal process at the Immigration Department or at other entities (such as Interpol), until the application has been approved or rejected, or more information is required from the applicant (for example, when an individual with the same name appears in an international criminal records database).
Guzman will contact you promptly when a decision has been made on your application. If approved, your presence will be required in Santo Domingo in order to receive your residency card and cédula (the Dominican national I.D. card). Upon obtaining provisional residency, you will have a 6-month period during which you can bring your household goods into the Dominican Republic duty free.
Option #2 Fast Track Residency Program
- Approximate cost: $6,051
- Time to passport: 3 years
In this option, the applicant skips the temporary residency altogether and gets permanent residency right away. This process is specially designed for retirees and people who can prove stable monthly income (rentistas). The amount of income that needs to be proved is $1,500 for retirees or $2,000 for persons with means, or equivalent amount in Dominican pesos. This category is probably the most advantageous in term of cost vs. time, and I was told that most people applying for residency and citizenship in the country go this route.
After holding the permanent residency for 2 years, applicant may apply for citizenship.
Total approximate time to receive a passport: 2 years of permanent residency + 1 year for various other procedures = 3 years
Total approximate fees: $2,654 (for residency application) + $3,222 (citizenship) +$175 (passport issuance) = $6,051
According to the Special Incentives to Retirees and "Rentistas" Law No.171-07, individuals with income derived from a non-Dominican source that match either of the two descriptions below will be allowed to obtain their provisional Dominican residency in 45 days and receive certain customs and tax exemptions:
Retiree: any individual who receives a minimum monthly income of $1,500 (or its equivalent in DR pesos), derived from a pension or retirement income from a foreign source (government, official organizations, or foreign companies) who is interested in permanently relocating his residency to the Dominican Republic and will thereon receive the benefits of his pension or retirement income in the country.
Rentista: a foreign individual who receives a minimum fixed monthly income of $2,000 (or its equivalent in DR pesos), derived from a foreign source, created by one of the following:
- Deposits and/or investments in banks abroad
- Remittances from banks or financial institutions abroad
- Investments in foreign companies established abroad
- Remittances derived from real estate properties
- Interest derived from securities issued in foreign currency abroad, which are deposited at financial institutions legally authorized to operate in the Dominican Republic
- Profits realized from investments in securities issued in foreign and/or national currency by the Dominican Government or its institutions. The source of the invested capital must be from abroad, and the currency exchange needs to be performed locally at any Dominican financial institution
- Interest, income, or dividends derived from investments (or real estate transactions) in the Dominican Republic, whose principal amount has been generated or earned abroad
The applicant's spouse and unmarried children up to 18 years old, as well as adults with disabilities, or adults who are able to show proof of being college students and economically dependent on the main applicant, can also apply for this program as dependents.
Please note that for each dependent who applies jointly with the main applicant, an additional monthly income of $250 (or its equivalent in local currency) would be needed.
Documents required to apply for the Fast Track Residency Program are:
- Completed application forms, duly signed by the representative of the foreign company/institution or government entity.
- Passport (one complete photocopy), valid for a minimum of 3 months. It must show the date of the applicant's last visit to the Dominican Republic. A Certification issued by the Department of Certifications of the Dominican Immigration Department stating the day of the last entrance is also required.
- Original of the birth certificate duly authenticated in the country of origin, or at the nearest Dominican Consulate to the country of origin. If the document is in another language than Spanish, a translation into Spanish must be provided, duly authenticated at the nearest Dominican Consulate. These documents must be later authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo. If the applicant's country of origin only issues one original birth certificate, then a true copy must be provided by the applicant.
When the foreign applicant is a "rentista," they are required to provide a document that confirms the registration of their foreign investment in the Dominican Republic. This requirement varies depending on their type of investment, as follows:
- Direct investment: the applicant must show the original (or the request of) registration of the investment, issued by the Center for Exports and Imports of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) or the pertinent institution in the Dominican Republic.
- Free Zones: the applicant must provide the certification issued by the National Council of Free Zone of Exporting (CNZFE), stating that the company is operating as a free zone.
- For companies domiciled in-country undertaking, promoting, or investing in tourist destinations and/or provinces and/or municipalities in accordance with special tourism incentive laws, such as Law #158-01, or are hired by the Dominican Government, the applicant must provide either
a) an original of the approval by the Executive or the Executive decree that authorizes them to operate
b) the resolution given by the corresponding Dominican government entity which is doing the project, or
c) a document that certifies the approval of the contract by the Dominican Congress, as long as it mentions the project and the parties involved.
Only one certification per company is required.
- Retirees must provide a certification issued by the government, official organization, or private foreign company, where they have worked, duly authenticated by the nearest Dominican Consulate of the country of origin and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic (Cancillería) in Santo Domingo. Its translation into Spanish must also undergo the same authentication process. This document shall contain the personal information of the applicant, time worked in the institution, his/her position in the company, and total amount of the monthly income received as a pension or retirement income.
- Rentistas must provide the documentation that confirms that they have, for a minimum period of five (5) years, received a stable and permanent monthly income derived from a foreign source. This document can be a copy of the fixed income contract/certificate of deposit along with a Spanish translation, both duly authenticated by the nearest Dominican Consulate of the country of origin and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic. In addition, rentistas are required to show that they are currently receiving this income in the Dominican Republic, by way of copies of the checks and/or wire transfer receipts issued by the foreign bank institution.
- All applicants 16 years of age and up are also required to obtain a Certificate of Good Behavior issued by the local Dominican authorities. If the applicant has been in-country less than 30 days, the certificate of good behavior must be issued by the appropriate authorities of the country of the applicant's last residency, duly translated into Spanish (if needed) and authenticated at the nearest Dominican Consulate of the country of origin of the applicant and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo. This document is valid for only 30 days.
- Medical Exam.
- Pictures: Applicant and dependents over 16 years of age are required to file nine (9) 2" x 2" pictures (6 front pictures and 3 right profile). For children under 16, five (5) 2" x 2" pictures are required (3 front and 2 right profile). For all pictures, a white background is required, and accessories such as earrings or sunglasses are not allowed.
- A certificate of no criminal record from the authorities in the applicant's country of origin, or, if the applicant has been residing outside his country of origin for five years or more, from the authorities in the applicant's country of residence. The certificate should be apostilled in the country where it was issued (if in the Hague Convention), or authenticated at the nearest Dominican Consulate.
- If the applicant is a shareholder of a Dominican company, he/she shall provide an original of the resolution from the Administration Council (Consejo de Administración) of the company, certifying the status of the applicant as a shareholder of the company, duly legalized by a Notary Public and authenticated at the Attorney General's Office.
- If the applicant is an employee of a Dominican company, he/she shall provide an original copy of his/her Employment Agreement, duly registered at the Labor Department, along with a letter signed by the employer, legalized by a Notary Public, and legalized at the General Attorney's Office, showing the personal information of the applicant, his/her position in the company, date of entrance, and salary. If the Employment Agreement comes from abroad, it must be translated into Spanish (if needed) and authenticated at the nearest Dominican Consulate and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo.
- If any co-applicants are economically dependent on the main applicant (domestic employee, individual person subject to guardianship, children of 18 years of age or more), a letter needs to be provided and signed by the main applicant, stating the condition of the dependent, and must specify that the main applicant is responsible for expenses and repatriation costs, if any.
When the application includes the spouse and children (under legal age), all documents listed in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 above, must also be provided for each of them. In addition, an original of the marriage certificate (and its translation into Spanish, if needed), authenticated at the nearest Dominican Consulate and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo is required.
Option #3 Fast Track Residency/Citizenship (by Investment)
- Approximate cost: $6,642 + $200,000 refundable investment
- Time to passport: 2 years
This option is by far the fastest way to obtain citizenship but requires a large investment of $200,000 into Dominican Republic's financial system. You will be able to withdraw your investment after citizenship is granted.
Total approximate time to receive a passport: 2 years
Total approximate fees: $3,245 (residency application) + $3,222 (citizenship) +$175 (passport issuance) = $6,642 + Incorporation fees for Dominican company
The process is mostly the same as obtaining regular residency. The only difference is that you will need to obtain a Certificate of Investment from the Dominican Republic for a value of $200,000.00, which can be obtained with a fixed deposit in a Dominican bank, and following a process with The Center for Export and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD).
That investment can be a personal Dominican bank account, or a Dominican bank account in the name of a Dominican corporation that the client could incorporate for this purpose. For technical reasons, Guzman recommends the client form a Dominican Limited Liability Corporation for this process, as it will be easier both to open the bank account and to obtain the paperwork for residency. The money must be deposited until you are fully a citizen.
Following is the time line for the process of the investment residency. (The "PA" refers to Personal Appearance, which means that you must come personally to complete that step in the process.)
- Form a Dominican company. Guzman will first need to incorporate one for you. This can be done with a Power of Attorney, so no personal presence is required.
- Open a bank account in the name of the corporation. Time: 3 business days, but completely dependent on the bank efficiency. PA.
- Deposit the $200,000.00 in the corporate bank account and get a reference letter. Time required: 3 business days.
- Obtain the Certificate of Investment. This can be done by filing some forms that Guzman should already have at this point. Time: 1 month.
- Start the Investment Residency.
- Complete necessary documents, which are the same as for the normal residency (birth certificate, certificate of good behavior, etc.), apostilled in the country where it was issued.
- Medical exams at the Immigration Department of the Dominican Republic. To be able to complete this part, you will need to enter the country with a Residency Visa. Time: 1 business day. PA.
- File preparation and deposit. Time: 3 weeks.
- Receive residency. Time: 1 business day. PA.
- After you get the Investment Residency, you would need to wait for a period of 6 months before you can apply for Citizenship.
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