Improving technical efficiency in agriculture can play an important role in meeting present and future demands for agricultural products, at the same time enhancing the long-term sustainability of land and water use. This paper examines the impact of household perceptions of land tenure security on technical efficiency using detailed household-level data collected in Minle County in northwest China. The authors find that the (perceived) tenure security provided by land certificates encourages part-time farming with relatively low technical efficiency. The renting out of land by households with migrant members can only partly make up for this negative effect, because land rental markets are thin and highly fragmented. Therefore, the provision of land certificates to rural households has a negative impact on technical efficiency. For tenure security provided by the expected absence of land reallocations in the near future, on the other hand, the authors find that it reduces temporary migration and thereby contributes to higher technical efficiency.