Banks in the Dominican Republic play a vital role in the country’s financial sector. As of 2021, there are 17 different financial institutions and banks operating in the Dominican Republic, which offer various services such as commercial banking, mortgage banking, state-owned banking, and savings and loan institutions.
Dominican Republic Central Bank
The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, called Banco Central de la República Dominicana (BCRD) is responsible for regulating the monetary system and banks in the country. The BCRD was established in 1947 and is governed by the Monetary and Financial Law.
Commercial Banks in Dominican Republic
When it comes to choosing a bank in the Dominican Republic, there are various factors to consider. One of the highest-rated and most popular banks is Banco Popular. The bank offers excellent online banking services and has a large number of branches. Banco Popular is also the most innovative bank in the country and has recently partnered with PayPal to offer its services via its network.
Opening a Bank Account
If you are interested in opening a bank account in the Dominican Republic, each bank and even each bank branch will have different requirements. Most banks in the Dominican Republic will allow foreigners to open an account with a current and valid passport for identity, but some might require a banking letter of reference from the home country, as well as previous account details. There are a few banks that may only allow foreigners holding legal residency status to open a new account, but if you find that to be the case and you do not have residency, then it is worth shopping around. To open an account at most banks in the Dominican Republic, it is typically necessary to provide proof of the source of your funds and income.
Online banking is available at most Dominican banks, allowing customers to check balances, pay bills, and transfer money. However, some of the smaller savings and loan types of institutions may not have an internet or online system in place. Still, all of the larger banks do, although different banks have different systems, and some allow you to do more online. They all also have different levels of security measures.
ATM’s and Bank Cards
If you need to withdraw money in the Dominican Republic, ATMs are widely available. You can find ATMs both inside and outside banks, at petrol stations, in supermarkets, and in shopping malls. The maximum withdrawal limit is usually RD$10,000 pesos per transaction (around US$208) and between RD$20,000 and RD$30,000 a day. ATMs usually accept all types of cards, including overseas credit and debit cards, but these incur withdrawal fees. Money is always issued in Dominican pesos. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in the Dominican Republic, but American Express is not always accepted.
You can transfer money to and from your local bank, but the usual limit is US$10,000. If you want to transfer more, the bank will want to see proof of the source of the funds and what it is to be used for. The usual time for the transfer to go through is five working days, but larger sums can take more time. Some banks allow you to do online transfers, whereas others prefer you to go into the bank itself.
There are various types of accounts available in the Dominican Republic. You can open a bank account in US dollars or Dominican pesos, and dollar accounts need a minimum balance of around US$500 to avoid monthly charges. You can choose a checking account with a payment book or a savings account that comes with a debit card. Savings accounts typically have an interest rate of around 4%, and there are certificates of deposit available that have an interest rate between 6% and 7%. Bank loans and mortgages are very expensive, with interest rates of around 14% to 18% and severe penalties if a payment is missed.
Here are some details about some of the top banks in the Dominican Republic:
Banco Popular Dominicano
Banco Popular Dominicano (BPD) was established in 1963 and provides a wide range of financial solutions to over two million customers, including savings, checking, loans, insurance, and investments. It operates the largest network of banks in the Dominican Republic, with more than 200 branches in Santo Domingo.
BanReservas is the largest bank in the Dominican Republic in terms of assets. It was founded in 1941 and offers personal and business banking solutions. BanReservas was named Dominican Bank of the Year by finance magazines Latin Finance, World Finance, and The Banker in 2016. In 2017, finance magazine Euromoney recognized BanReservas as the Best Bank in the Dominican Republic.
Banco BHD Leon
Banco BHD Leon is one of the largest banks in the Dominican Republic, holding a 19% market share. It was established in 1972 and provides a range of banking products through more than 133 branches and over 545 ATMs across the country. The bank serves over 980,000 customers and specializes in various segments, including individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, and corporations, as well as government departments. Banco BHD Leon was recognized with a Social Responsibility Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2013.
Banco Santa Cruz
Banco Santa Cruz was established in 1983 under the name Inversiones Santa Cruz, SA. It provides a comprehensive portfolio of financial products and services to over 140,000 customers in the Dominican Republic. The bank’s initial aim was to promote agro-industrial development and trade.
Scotiabank República Dominicana
Scotiabank República Dominicana was established in 1920 and provides personal and corporate banking products and services, with a focus on small and medium-sized companies and corporations in the country. The private financial institution operates as a subsidiary of the Scotiabank Group and manages a network of 74 branches and 20 sales points.