In Dominica the currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) although the US dollar is widely accepted. The EC$ is fixed to the US$ at the exchange rate of US$1 = EC$2.7. You will receive EC$2.67 to the dollar at the bank but you must accept that if you spend US dollars in shops or restaurants you will not get the official exchange rate and will usually only achieve EC$2.5 to the dollar or at worst EC$2 to the dollar. There are 3 ATMs in Portsmouth and many more in Roseau so you don’t need to bring much cash, just draw it as you need it. The ATM withdrawal limit is EC$1,000. A large number of shops and restaurants now take credit cards.
Telephone and Cell phone
Dominica has an excellent telecoms network – in fact it was the first country in the world to have a 100% digital network. The code for Dominica is +1 767. When dialling other Caribbean countries, USA or Canada dial 1 + area code + number, for all other countries dial 011 + international code + area code + number. If you think your roaming costs will be high while you are visiting, it is easy to get a local SIM with a call and data package for a reasonable price.
The power supply in Dominica is 220 volts with UK style socket outlets, although many rental properties have installed 110 volt American sockets for guests.
Value Added Tax on food, goods and restaurant meals is 15%; on services and hotels it is 10%. This is usually included in your bill but in some hotels, bars and restaurants it is added to the published prices (plus an additional 10% service charge in some cases).
You will be required to purchase a pass to visit some specific national park Eco-Sites. These include Indian River, Cabrits National Park, Syndicate Trail, Emerald Pool and several sites in the Roseau valley. A site pass is US$5 and a weekly pass for unlimited site visits is US$12. We would recommend the weekly pass for your visit to Dominica, they can be bought at Cabrits, Syndicate or the Texaco garage in Portsmouth.
Hire a Guide or book a Taxi Tour
Certified tour guides and taxi drivers have government issued identification badges and official stickers on their windscreens. Taxi rates for specific sites can be verified by the Dominica Taxi Association (449-8533). Tour guide rates are negotiable, ensure you agree a rate (and currency EC$ or US$) in advance.
Most car hire companies are located in or near Roseau. There are 3 companies with desks at the airport and 2 small rental companies in Portsmouth. The 3 companies at the airport are:
Courtesy car rental - http://www.dominicacarrentals.com
Island car rental - http://www.islandcar.dm
Valley car rental -http://valleyrentacar.com
The government requires the purchase of a visitors’ temporary driving licence. This can be bought from the car hire company for EC$30 for a one month licence. It can also be bought from Portsmouth Police Station. You will need to produce your own country's driving licence to hire a car and purchase the visitors licence.
It is worth contacting rental companies well before arrival, especially during busy periods around Christmas and Carnival.
Driving in Dominica will be an experience it itself. Watch out for lots of potholes and other drivers weaving across the road to avoid them. Also, use your horn liberally when taking blind bends, don’t be shy about it. You should also watch out for some very deep drainage ditches.
There is a Post Office in Portsmouth. This is the only place to buy stamps and to mail letters and postcards. To the US or Europe a letter is just EC$1.
Helping the Local Community
When visiting a relatively poor nation, you may wish to contribute something to the community. There are many charities operating here but we would like to suggest that you make a difference much closer and help our neighbours, village and the northern community. Simply by using as many of the small local shops and bars as possible helps to keep these small businesses alive - it is also a great experience. Buy fish straight from the fishermen, and arts and crafts that have been produced locally.
Here is a short list of things that would be welcome gifts if you brought any of them:
For children - clothing, sports shoes, reading books, colouring books, educational books, family games, an old laptop for school work, a back-pack, any school supplies and family movies on a USB stick or micro SD card.
For adults – old smartphone hand-sets, work boots, hand tools, clothing
If you are not sure or want to do something more significant, please contact us.