Why the Dominican Republic?
That’s the question I put out to the group the opening morning of last week’s Live and Invest in the Dominican Republic Conference I hosted in Santo Domingo. Then we spent three days together drawing out the answers.
In short, the answer is that this island nation is your best option for an affordable life in the Caribbean and one of the best places in the world right now to invest in a rental property, both because of the growing demand and also because the property market is undervalued. In some places, you can buy a rentable one-bedroom apartment for as little as US$70,000… and you can even finance your purchase.
Another reason to be looking at the Dominican Republic right now is its approach to residency. You don’t have to live in the country to be a resident and enjoy the associated benefits, making this a great choice for a backup residency.
Furthermore, after you’ve been a permanent resident for two years, you can apply for naturalization.
In fact, the country has a fast-track program for foreign investors. Qualify for residency as an investor and you can apply for naturalization after just six months of being a permanent resident. The naturalization process can take less than a year. This country is very eager to attract foreigners.
Attendees in the room with me in Santo Domingo last week had a lot of questions in response to all the information my local team and I presented. I share some of their questions here to help give you a better idea of the opportunities and possibilities available in what has become my favorite Caribbean destination…
Q: Do you have to be a resident to open a bank account?
Q: Is there a minimum-deposit requirement when opening a bank account?
A: No, not always. Depends on the bank.
Q: Where is the Dominican Republic in relation to FATCA? Are banks compliant?
A: Yes, banks are compliant.
Q: We’re residents of Panama. Would any Panamanian document be required for us to establish residency in the Dominican Republic?
A: Yes, you would need to show your Panama residency card and to obtain a certificate of good conduct from Panama if you’ve been residing in that country for five years or longer. If not, then you’d need good-conduct certification from the United States (assuming that’s where you were residing before Panama).
Q: Panama restricts many professions. Are there such restrictions here?
A: No, there are none at all. You can practice any profession or start any kind of business you want here, so long as you are qualified to do so. If you are an attorney back home, for example, you could practice in the Dominican Republic after having your license validated here. In that case, to obtain that validation, you would need to be a resident.
Q: Would passive income count toward an investor visa residency?
A: Yes, if you have US$2,000 or more per month in passive income (dividends, interest, rental income), you can qualify for investor residency. You simply must be able to show that you have been receiving this income for at least five consecutive years.
Q: What is the minimum investment amount to qualify for residency?
A: The minimum amount required for domestic investor residency status is US$200,000. Historically, this had to be invested in government bonds. However, now you can qualify by making an investment in a company and very recently it’s become possible to qualify by investing the US$200,000 in bank CDs.
Q: We’re interested in permanent residency in the Dominican Republic. We’re planning to buy a condo in Las Terrenas. Is the US$200,000 we’re spending on that condo enough to qualify us for residency?
A: Not directly. You’d have to purchase the property through a company.
Q: If I obtain Dominican Republic citizenship, am I required to give up previous citizenships?
A: No, the Dominican Republic allows you to keep up to three citizenships.
Q: Can you get provisional residency and still travel back and forth to the United States freely?
Q: What is the required time in country to maintain residency once I’ve established it?
A: You need to come back to renew every four years if you have permanent residency (any permit through the investment office at immigration). If you get residency outside of the investment office, it will be temporary where you have to renew annually for the first four years. Don’t renew on time and you’ll have to pay a fine when you renew… but you’ll still be able to renew.