Facts about Puerto Rico

Q: Are persons born in Puerto Rico U.S. citizens?
Yes, all persons born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.  In 1917, the U.S. Congress passed the Jones Act which extended U.S. citizenship to persons born on the island.

Q: Is Puerto Rico a U.S. State?
Puerto Rico has been a Commonwealth of the United States since 1952, when its residents chose that political status upon their adoption of its Constitution.  Puerto Rico is represented in the U.S. Congress by a Resident Commissioner in the House of Representatives, who votes in committees, but does not have a vote on the final disposition of legislation before the full
House.  Judicial matters in Puerto Rico are handled by the Commonwealth judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, and the federal district court.

Q: In What Way Is Puerto Rico Autonomous?
The Constitution of Puerto Rico provides for self-government with respect to internal affairs and administration, subject to relevant portions of the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States.  The Constitution of Puerto Rico establishes three branches of government for the Commonwealth in which voters elect their own governor and legislators.

Q: What are some other aspects of the U.S.-Puerto Rico Relationship?

  • English and Spanish are the official languages of the Commonwealth government.
  • Most federal laws and regulations apply to Puerto Rico.
  • Residents of Puerto Rico do not pay federal income tax for income derived from the island, but make contributions to the Social Security and Medicare systems.
  • All federal agencies are represented on the island.
  • There are no customs or immigration requirements between Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States.
  • Over 200,000 American citizens from Puerto Rico have served in the U.S. Armed Forces in every conflict since World War I. Currently, more than 10,000 active duty military personnel from Puerto Rico serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.


Q: Does Puerto Rico want to become an independent country, or a U.S. state?
From time to time, the residents of Puerto Rico have considered the question of whether the island should continue with its current political status, become a state of the United States, or become independent.

  • The residents of Puerto Rico have voted on their political status four times: in 1967, in 1993, in 1998, and in 2012.
  • The vast majority of voters in these referenda have voted for political status options calling for Puerto Rico’s union with the United States either as a Commonwealth or as a State of the Union.
  • Support for independence in these referenda has ranged from 0.6 percent to 5.49 percent.
  • The United States believes that the question of political status is a matter of self-determination for the residents of Puerto Rico.  The holding of free elections in which the residents of Puerto Rico have had an opportunity to openly and vigorously debate their political status with respect to the rest of the United States reflects U.S. democratic traditions and the value Americans place on open governance.