CNMI Land Ownership
Can I own land in Saipan, Tinian, or Rota?
Land restriction is limited to persons of Northern Marianas Descent (Pacific Islanders from here). This means that you are only allowed to lease the land for an initial period of 55 years. This lease can be renewed.
However, the law will be up for review in 2011 and will possibly be changed. Recently, Governor Fitial came out in the press and announced that he supports a change in the law allowing unrestricted ownership of land.
ARTICLE XII: RESTRICTIONS ON ALIENATION OF LAND
Section 1: Alienation of Land. The acquisition of permanent and long-term interests in real property within the Commonwealth shall be restricted to persons of Northern Marianas descent.
Section 2: Acquisition. The term acquisition used in Section 1 includes acquisition by sale, lease, gift, inheritance or other means. A transfer to a spouse by inheritance is not an acquisition under this section if the owner dies without issue or with issue not eligible to own land in the Northern Mariana Islands. A transfer to a mortgagee by means of a foreclosure on a mortgage is not an acquisition under this section if the mortgagee is a full service bank, Federal Agency or Governmental entity of the Commonwealth and does not hold the permanent or long-term interest in real property for more than ten years beyond the term of the mortgage.
Section 3: Permanent and Long-Term Interests in Real Property. The term permanent and long-term interests in real property used in Section 1 includes freehold interests and leasehold interests of more than fifty-five years including renewal rights, except an interest acquired above the first floor of a condominium building. Any interests acquired above the first floor of a condominium building is restricted to private lands. Any land transaction in violation of this provision shall be void. This amendment does not apply to existing leasehold agreements.
Section 4: Persons of Northern Marianas Descent. A person of Northern Marianas descent is a person who is a citizen or national of the United States and who is of at least one-quarter Northern Marianas Chamorro or Northern Marianas Carolinian blood or a combination thereof or an adopted child of a person of Northern Marianas descent if adopted while under the age of eighteen years. For purposes of determining Northern Marianas descent, a person shall be considered to be a full-blooded Northern Marianas Chamorro or Northern Marianas Carolinian if that person was born or domiciled in the Northern Mariana Islands by 1950 and was a citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands before the termination of the Trusteeship with respect to the Commonwealth.
Section 5: Corporation. A corporation shall be considered to be a person of Northern Marianas descent so long as it is incorporated in the Commonwealth, has its principal place of business in the Commonwealth, has directors one-hundred percent of whom are persons of Northern Marianas descent and has voting shares (i.e. common or preferred) one-hundred percent of which are actually owned by persons of Northern Marianas descent as defined in Section 4. Minors, as defined by applicable laws of the Commonwealth, may not be eligible to become directors of a corporation. No trusts or voting by proxy by persons not of Northern Marianas descent may be permitted. Beneficial title shall not be served from legal title.
Section 6: Enforcement. Any transaction made in violation of Section 1 shall be void ab initio. Whenever a corporation ceases to be qualified under Section 5, a permanent or long-term interest in land in the Commonwealth acquired by the Corporation after the effective date of this amendment shall be immediately forfeited without right of redemption to the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Registrar of Corporation shall issue regulations to ensure compliance and the legislature may enact enforcement laws and procedures.