The Puerto Rico Constitution establishes a democratic and republican form of government, divided into three branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, each of equal importance and equally subordinated to the sovereign power of the people.

The legislative branch consists of a bicameral Legislative Assembly with a Senate (27 members) and a House of Representatives (51 members). A constitutional provision requires the total membership in the assembly be expanded, if necessary, to increase minority representation whenever one party controls more than two thirds of the seats. A Resident Commissioner, who serves as the island's sole delegate to the U.S. Congress, holds limited powers as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Executive authority is vested in a governor.

The island is divided into 78 municipalities, each administered by a mayor and municipal assembly. All of the aforementioned positions are elective, with balloting conducted on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, in years divisible by four; with victorious candidates taking office the following January. Resident U.S. citizens, age 18 and older, are eligible to vote; voter turnout consistently exceeds 80% of the electorate.

The Governor holds nomination power over executive branch and public corporation leadership positions, under a highly centralized structure. The Secretary of State (who serves as acting governor in the chief executive's absence) must be confirmed by a majority vote of both chambers of the Legislative Assembly; other senior nominees require confirmation only by the Senate.

The constitution vests judicial power in the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, and such lower courts as may be established by law. Members of the judicial branch are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Decisions rendered by municipal, district, and superior courts may be appealed, until they reach the Commonwealth Supreme Court composed of nine justices. Lower court judges serve fixed terms; Supreme Court justices serve until retirement. The court system is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Seven judges, nominated by the U.S. president and confirmed by the stateside Senate, serve on Puerto Rico's Federal District court. Its decisions may be appealed through the federal court system to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and on to the U.S. Supreme Court. Decisions of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court may be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Government Development Bank (GDB), the government's fiscal agent, zealously guards the investment grade quality of Puerto Rico's bonds, observes applicable government debt limits, and follows the bond market's high demand of the island's long term obligations with institutional bond buyers. By law, the government must balance its budget.

The GDB also finances various capital and infrastructure improvements for the central government, its agencies and dependencies, and its public corporations. It also helps finance private economic development projects. Afica (the Spanish acronym for the Puerto Rico Industrial, Tourism, Educational, Medical & Environmental Control Facilities Financing Authority), a GDB subsidiary, provides long term (bond) financing for multimillion dollar hotels, office buildings, and other projects. The Economic Development Bank, an adjunct of the GDB, helps finance smaller projects with loans, guarantees, or equity.

The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco, formerly known as Fomento), promotes Puerto Rico as an ideal industrial site by facilitating local tax exemption under the local Tax Incentives Law and assisting industrial investors through required permit processes. Pridco also leases government owned factory buildings at preferential rates and otherwise helps investors establish operations on the island.

Press Releases

Press Release Download PDF

Contact Information

Physical Address
#257 Tetuán Street, 2nd Floor
Old San Juan, PR 00902

Postal address
PO Box 9022487
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00902-2487

Phone: 787.725.8080
Fax: 787.725.8860
Email: ufg@ufglaw.com