Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has always been known as a great family vacation destination. The beaches here are really idyllic with white sand, crystal blue waters and swaying palm trees. There are plenty of all inclusive family resorts offering plenty of activities for every age group of kids.
For families vacationing in Punta Cana, airport arrival has always been less than idyllic. The arrivals terminal is a small, thatched roof, open air building. This means parents need to carry their children and belongings down airport stairs which takes a bit of navigation. Arriving passenger must then line up and take a welcome photo with women dressed in their native costumes while a local band plays. Before reaching customs and immigration there is still one more step...obtaining a tourist card.
There are a few Caribbean countries that charge an addition tax on tourists arriving in their country. This tax is in the form of a tourist card that must be purchased by everyone. The Dominican Republic is one such country. Unfortunately, travel agents or the airlines are not allowed to include this tourist card fee with any of your ticket prices. It must be paid, IN CASH upon arrival at Punta Cana airport. No traveler's checks or credit cards are accepted. If you didn't have cash in hand you were not allowed into the country.
To obtain a tourist card, every single person arriving in Punta Cana airport would need to stop, grab a pencil and a form. This form could not be filled out in advance like other customs forms handed out while on the plane. Each passenger would be required to fill out all of their contact information. Parents would need to do this for each child. Then everyone would line up again to present their form and each pay their $10 cash. In return, folks would be given a tourist card. Everyone then walks about 20 feet and lines up again to have their tourist card collected by an official before finally proceeding thru immigration and customs.
FINALLY...this entire operation has been made easier!
Now travelers to Punta Cana can go online in advance to purchase a tourist card. Families can select the number of cards needed for both parents and children, fill out the necessary contact information details, pay online and print out their tourist cards to bring along with them. The website accepts Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.
With pre-paid and pre-printed tourist cards, families can by pass the tourist card application line which will save a significant amount of time. They can proceed directly to the tourist card collection official heading straight to immigration and customs.
From their, families can proceed to the baggage carousel to collect their luggage. One word of advice, there are usually