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FAQs

Home Business

Question: I am opening an allowable business in my home. Do I need a zoning permit?

Answer: Yes

Question: I am babysitting children in my home for free. Do I need a zoning permit?

Answer: No

Question: I am babysitting children in my home and being paid. Do I need a zoning permit?

Answer: Yes. You are operating a business and need a zoning permit.

Question:  How long do I wait before I get my Home Business permit?

Answer: There is no waiting period - Your Home Business application will be your Home Business permit if you meet the requirements under Home Business.

Question: What if I don't meet the requirements for Home Business?

Answer: Then your business is not a Home Business and you should apply for a regular commercial Zoning permit. 

Nonconforming Use or Structure

Question: I have a building that has been vacant for more than six months but the kind of use I want to do there isn’t allowed under the Zoning Law. What can I do?

Answer: You should discuss this with the Zoning Office to consider possible options.

Question: The Zoning Law says that a nonconforming use cannot start up again if it is discontinued or abandoned for six months (Section 1203(c)). Are there any exceptions such as pending litigation?

Answer: Zoning Law doesn’t mention any exceptions.

Question: Is it allowable to substitute or change one nonconforming use for another?

Answer: In some cases. You should visit the Zoning Office for more information.

Question: Can I set up new business in a nonconforming structure?

Answer: This depends on the type of use and why the structure is nonconforming. Please discuss this with the Zoning Office.

Opening or Moving a Business

Question: I am opening a business in Chalan Kanoa, and a branch in Garapan. My business is permitted in both districts. Do I apply separately and do I pay twice?

Answer: A zoning permit and application fee is needed for each location.

Question: I am changing the location of the business to a zoning district that allows my use. Do I pay fee?

Answer: You need to apply for a zoning permit and pay a fee if you are opening a business that is new, or moving a business from one location to another.

Question: I am buying an existing business. Do I need zoning permit?

Answer: If the company is already registered with Zoning, then you do not need a zoning permit just to transfer ownership or to renew a business license. The Zoning Office can provide you with a clearance form to take to the Business License office.

Question: What do I do when I want to set up a business, such as retail or restaurant, on my own property and the business is not permitted in my area?

Answer: You may not open a business that is not permitted. Please visit the Zoning Office to discuss any options.

Question: We are going to rent a space in the XYZ building but the owner is not on island. Can I still submit this application?

Answer: If the owner designates an agent, the agent may submit the application on behalf of the owner.

Question: I have a client who is registering a new business on Saipan but she doesn’t yet have a business location and is using my address temporarily. Do I still need to submit a zoning application?

Answer: Your client does not need to submit a zoning application if they are only using your address for registration or mailing address purposes. Your client will need to apply for a zoning permit when she starts doing business.

Permits, Processing, Fees

Question: How much is the fee for a Zoning Inquiry or clearance?

Answer: None

Question: Is it okay to call and follow-up our application?

Answer: Yes but please don’t call every day. We will call you as soon as your permit is ready for pickup.

Question: How many days does it take for a permit to be issued?

Answer: This depends on our workload and the complexity of the permit. Most permits are issued within 1-3 weeks.

Question: Can I pay the zoning fee together with my business license fee?

Answer: You can pay at the same location but the payments go to separate accounts.

Question: Do I need to pay separate fee for sign on top of fee for my new business?

Answer: You may combine your sign application with another zoning permit application and just pay one fee.

Question: If I designate x as my agent, can x sign the permit on my behalf?

Answer: Yes.

Signs/ Banners

Question: Can I put a public service sign in the road right-of-way?

Answer: The only signs allowed in the right-of-way are “traffic signs” regulating the flow of traffic. A public service sign may be considered to be a traffic sign if approved as such by DPW.

Question: Can I install a sign anywhere on my property or next to the road?

Answer: No.  You should apply for a sign permit

Question: Do I need a permit to install banner to advertise event for less than 30 days?

Answer: No. You will only need a zoning clearance with requirement to put installation date on your banner.

Temporary Permits

Question: How long is a temporary permit good for?

Answer: Temporary permits may be issued for up to one year, after which time they will be discontinued.

Subdivision of Land

Question: Does the Zoning Law apply to subdivision of leaseholds?

Answer: Yes. See the Commonwealth Zoning Code (2 CMC sec. 7212(b)(1)) and the Saipan Zoning Law (Section 201(a)) and the definition of “Development” in Section 103).

Massage Parlor

Question: The Zoning Law says a massage parlor located in a hotel with more than 20 rooms is not considered as an adult business (Section 103, Definition of “Massage Parlor”). Does the massage parlor have to be inside the hotel?

Answer: Yes