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residency - naturalized citizenship
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Dominican Republic Residency - Citizenship

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Every country on the planet usually has some process or program whereby foreigners can come to apply for legal residency, and eventually at some point, naturalized citizenship as well.  In this regard, the Dominican Republic is no different, with the only notable difference being that you will probably find the requirements and time line easier and shorter than a number of other countries.
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With that said, since a number of people are confused by the difference in terminology when one talks about residency and citizenship we have attempted to clarify this in  general below, and of course also provide information as it directly relates to the process in the Dominican Republic.
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dominican republic passport

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What is the difference between residency and citizenship?

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Every country has some sort of process in place to allow foreigners who having an interest in either living or working inside the country (or both), to make an application for residency status.  Usually the residency status is granted for a specified amount of time, and must be renewed periodically (yearly, every five years, ten years or whatever the case may be).  What differs of course from country to country are the types of residency permits or status (if more than one) and the various requirements in order to qualify as well (not to mention waiting time).  However, residency is a permission to live or work inside a particular country, but it is NOT citizenship.  As a result, residency does not mean you are entitled to a passport, as a passport is an identification document issued to citizens, identifying them as such.  However, in most countries, residency of course is usually going to be the first step on the road to citizenship, should you choose (applying for citizenship on your part is voluntary once you get to that point).
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After someone has completed the time line and requirements of residency, the person can apply for naturalized citizenship.  Again, what will differ from country to country is going to be the amount of time you might have to wait before you are eligible to apply for citizenship (in some countries it could 7 years or even much more in terms of time line) and of course any other kinds of requirements as well (or lack thereof for countries that might be a bit easier in this regard).  Once someone becomes a citizen, then of course they are entitled to obtain a passport, which again is a travel document issued to citizens for identification purposes.  Usually once a person becomes a naturalized citizen, aside from of course obtaining a passport, they should also obtain a variety of documents certifying that they indeed have gone through the legal and proper channels to become a citizen.  Those documents will vary from country to country, as some might actually issue a naturalization certificate, whereas other countries issue other or similar kinds of documents.
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In the Dominican Republic for example, the approved applicant obtains certifications from the administrative branch of the national police certifying they have become naturalized citizens, a new Dominican Birth Certificate (that has ALL of the exact same information that was on the previous birth certificate from the country of birth), plus of course other additional documents and a Cedula Identity Card as well.  You might ask why a Dominican birth certificate that indicates birth in another country?  The answer is that the bureaucracy in the Dominican Republic flows off the birth certificate, so either you have a birth certificate if you were born in the country, or you ALSO will have one once you become a naturalized citizen (as you will need it to apply for your passport and renew your passport later on).  If a person does NOT have these documents that were mentioned, then chances are they obtained a passport in some other fraudulent manner (because if you became a citizen legally and correctly, you would have all of these things).
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About The Process For Residency & Naturalized Citizenship

in The Dominican Republic


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When trying to make a comparison between the process available in the Dominican Republic and some other jurisdictions, it is important to note that Dominican Republic does NOT have an instant or economic citizenship program (in fact, they never did).  Meaning, the Dominican Republic does NOT offer a legal and government sanctioned program or process whereby you could obtain legal citizenship and a passport within 30 days, or 90 days, or any such time frame (and beware of any such offers claiming this).  However, with that said, unlike some other permanent residency - citizenship processes, the Dominican Republic offers a situation that is fairly simple, straight forward and quick (in terms of the time you must wait to apply for Citizenship after having obtained Residency, in comparison to the waiting time in other jurisdictions), making this one of the most convenient, most affordable and least taxing programs available (in terms of taxation benefits).
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When also comparing the process in the Dominican Republic to some of the other so-called instant or economic programs, you will find that if you are willing to wait in order to complete the normal and correct process, the cost is dramatically lower in the Dominican Republic.  Along these lines, one can ask the question: What do you have more of - Time or Money?  If money is no object, then one of these other so-called instant citizenship programs offered elsewhere may be of interest to you (although such programs can cost upwards of US$80,000 or so, which is a substantial amount of money).  But, if you are like most people, and you would rather not clean out your bank account for a dual citizenship or second passport, then the Dominican Republic may be appealing.   
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In addition, legislation passed in June 2007, now allows for a very attractive process for retirees and investors, allowing for applicants to benefit from Tax-Free Pension or Retirement Income regardless of source (Foreign or Domestic), reduced taxation for Title Transfer (if you purchase a home, regarding your first purchase) and zero taxation for other kinds of foreign source income, plus possible tax-free local rental income as well.  When compared to the taxation benefits as they stand with the programs in Costa Rica and Panama - The Dominican Republic now has one of the best programs of this kind in all of the Caribbean or Latin America.
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In terms of the different application avenues, there is no investment requirement for those clients wishing to pursue the regular or normal process (see more information below) but qualified investors DO benefit from a faster track citizenship application process (6 months after obtaining special investor residency status with the purchase of real estate as the qualifier, 2 years of completion of retiree or independent income residency status or 90 days for persons purchasing a farm property).  To contrast this with other jurisdictions, some programs elsewhere may cost US$70,000 (or more), or require a US$300,000 (or more) investment in real estate ? and such programs may still take perhaps 6 months or more to complete.  However, in the Dominican Republic, clients have the opportunity to pursue a process that costs less than US$25,000 ? which is less than ONE THIRD the cost of some processes in other countries.
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With the immigration regulations codified into law on October 19, 2011 by the President of the Dominican Republic, the result is a few different residency application processes in the country.
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One process of course being the regular or normal process (no investment is required) which involves approximately 7 years of combined provisional and permanent residency to qualify for naturalized citizenship (Five years of provisional residency, renewed annually and two years of permanent residency).  This process is probably more appealing to clients that would prefer not to make any kind of larger investment in the country and that may not be in a rush to obtain a dual citizenship.
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The second and much quicker process involves an expedited investor status residency through the qualifier of a local real estate purchase in the country (there are no requirements as in some other country that you buy a so-called government approved real estate property because in the Dominican Republic you can buy whatever real estate you wish), or proof of independent income from investments, etc.  In addition, in order to qualify for this status, there is no age requirement, with obviously the time line of eligibility for naturalized citizenship application shortened down to 6 months from the date your investor residency card is issued.
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Regardless of which avenue you may wish to consider, the first phase or part of the process is in the Dominican Republic is the application for residency.  Depending upon how or what category you elect in terms of the residency process, how quickly you can file the naturalized citizenship application will be determined by that.  Presidential Decree grants citizenship in the Dominican Republic, and once a month the Presidents office prepares a decree with all the persons granted citizenship accordingly.  Once a person has of course become a citizen, then at that moment they are entitled to obtain a passport as a citizen of the country as well.

All told, this general process we mentioned is in reality the exact same process that exists in most countries (residency first and then application for citizenship) albeit with a much reduced time line.  For example, in some countries the waiting time before someone could apply for citizenship might be 6, 7 or even up to 10 years. This is not the case in the Dominican Republic.  In addition, there might be some very stringent economic or other requirements attached to the naturalization or citizenship process in other countries as well, which is not the case in the Dominican Republic (and also one of the benefits). 
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However, keep in mind applying for citizenship is voluntary and some clients may of course wish to become legal residents of the Dominican Republic without taking the final step of becoming a citizen.  Others of course might be interested in having a dual citizenship in order to take advantage of the various benefits it might offer.   Along these lines, it may be surprising for you to learn that additional countries have been added to the list of visa free travel in recent years for holders of a passport from the Dominican Republic.  In other words, the case of a passport from a so-called developing or third world country becoming more valuable as a passport for visa free travel.
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Should you have any additional questions, please fee free to use the link for our contact reply form directly below.
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residency and naturalized citizenship
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Dominican Republic Info 2013