A tool for establishing a business
on the Navajo Nation



BUSINESS REGISTRATION Byron Shorty, founder of Navajo Word of the Day, shares how and why he registered his web-based business on the Navajo Nation. 

NAVAJO PREFERENCE CERTIFICATION Award-winning Navajo entrepreneur, Eunice Tso, founder of ETD Inc. shares how she applied for Navajo Preference Certification. 

BUSINESS SITE LEASE Edward Calnimptewa, co-founder of Terraform LLC, shares how he started the business site lease process in Tuba City, Arizona. 



Business Registration

If you have a brand new business: Registering your business is a requirement for all businesses in the US as well as the Navajo Nation. When you register you become recognized as an official business that pays taxes, can apply for a loan, apply for various certifications, etc. In order to register your business, you must have all of your organizing documents in order, which may include Articles of Incorporation, a business plan, Bylaws, and so on. Your organizing documents are dependent on the type of business you want to start: a C-Corp, an L3C, a sole proprietorship, etc. If you need help with these decisions, please visit the Legal Identities page. 

If you run an existing business: When you register on the Navajo Nation as a foreign-based business, you become liable for local taxes for all transactions on the Navajo Nation and are able to apply for permits and certifications (if eligible) regardless of whether or not you are based on the Navajo Nation.


Navajo Preference Certification

The Navajo Business Opportunity Act gives certified Navajo-owned businesses priority in the bid for projects. Businesses get certified according to the following classification system: Priority #1 and Priority #2.

Navajo Preference Certification was created to benefit Navajo-owned and Native American-owned businesses and therefore only select businesses are eligible. Certification is not a requirement for any business, however if you are eligible and want to apply for contracts with the Navajo Nation government it is highly recommended. You must be registered on the Navajo Nation in order to apply for certification. 

After you initial certification, you will need to recertify your business annually.


Business Site Leasing

Because the Navajo Nation is sovereign, individuals and companies are not allowed to purchase land on the reservation. If you want to build and maintain a physical structure on Navajo land you must apply for a Business Site Lease. If you plan to run a business from your home on the Navajo Nation, depending on the nature of your business (web-based vs. consulting vs. retail) you may be required to apply for a Business Site Lease. Note that you can convert your existing Home Site Lease to a Business Site Lease.

As an alternative, there are existing sites on the reservation that are already commercially zoned, and some with existing structures with utilities. Go to navajobusiness.org to explore existing “Industrial Site Leases” as an alternative to a new Business Site Lease.

Visit your nearest Regional Business Development Offices (RBDO) to start the process. Your local RBDO will help manage the majority of the process for you. A Business Site Lease can take from 3 months to several years. The timeline is dependent on a variety of factors, including how busy your local RBDO is and how quickly a Chapter Resolution can be approved by your local governing Chapter.

Not sure what legal identity best fits your new or existing business? Visit our Legal Identities page.
For frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ page.
For more information, contact your local RBDO or Chapter House. Visit our Navajo Agencies page for contact information.