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Renouncing US Citizenship

Are you a dual national seeking to give up your US citizenship?

Renouncing US Citizenship

Whatever your motivation for renouncing US citizenship, it will be critical to first understand the wider ramifications.

There are without question many benefits of holding US citizenship; the right to vote, unfettered entry and no US travel restrictions, access to the US job market, US government and consular protection while overseas. Given the irreversible nature of the process, these should all be factored into your decision to renounce US citizenship.

You must also ensure you hold relevant dual citizenship before undertaking the process, to avoid being deemed ‘stateless’.


NNU Immigration are here to help!

NNU Immigration are specialists across all areas of US citizenship and immigration, including renunciation of US citizenship.

Renouncing your US citizenship is a formal, legal and most importantly, irreversible act. It is a process to consider carefully.

If you believe you may wish to pursue this path please contact us for a comprehensive review of your circumstances and a detailed discussion about strategy, procedures, timing, and costs.

Contact our US immigration experts

For advice on any aspect of a US visa application, contact our US immigration attorneys.

Contact our US renunciation experts

For advice on any aspect of the US citizenship renunciation process, contact our US immigration attorneys. 

Contact our renunciation experts

For advice on any aspect of the US citizenship renunciation process, contact our US immigration attorneys. 


Renouncing US Citizenship Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people renounce their US citizenship?

There are a number of legitimate reasons why an American would renounce US citizenship, not least to avoid the laws that require US taxpayers to report foreign-held assets to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and to pay “double” taxes, both in the US and abroad.

Unlike most countries, the USA has citizen-based taxation, where citizens are taxed regardless of which country they live in or where their income is earned. These tax laws — including the reporting and filing obligations accompanying them — have resulted in many Americans opting to renounce their citizenship, not just because of the financial burden, but because they find the tax compliance laws inconvenient, onerous and unfair.

An individual may also choose to renounce their US citizenship for practical, personal and/or political reasons. This could be because of dual citizenship, where holding citizenship for two different countries may subject individuals to conflicting legal obligations and loyalties, including military service obligations. Other personal or political reasons to opt for renunciation could include, for example, if opposing a war that the United States is engaged in, or objecting to a particular political party or elected government official.



What is the impact of renouncing US citizenship?

The process of formally renouncing US citizenship is referred to as “expatriation”, where expatriation has serious consequences. This essentially means giving up all benefits granted to US citizens, including the right to vote in US elections, plus government protection and assistance should you need help while travelling overseas. Giving up US citizenship also means losing access to federal jobs, being denied unrestricted travel into and out of the country, plus the loss of US citizenship for any children born outside the United States.

Additionally, renouncing your US citizenship may have no effect whatsoever on any military service or US tax obligations, where you should first contact the US Selective Service and IRS for more information. In fact, some high-income US citizens may owe a form of exit tax when renouncing their citizenship, officially referred to by the IRS as “expatriation tax”.

Importantly, a decision to renounce US citizenship is typically permanent where, in nearly all cases, a renunciation is an irrevocable act, meaning that you cannot change your mind and regain US citizenship at a later date. Renunciation is also a lengthy, complex and costly process. It is not as simple as disposing of your US passport or letting your passport expire, but rather this process involves extensive paperwork, interviews and a hefty fee.

Renouncing one’s citizenship is therefore a significant decision with potentially far-reaching ramifications. If you are thinking of renunciation, you should carefully weigh up the benefits and drawbacks before going ahead. It is also strongly advised that you consult with an experienced US tax professional to understand the tax consequences of renunciation.



How will renunciation affect any future travel to the United States?

Once a person has renounced US citizenship they will be subject to US immigration and nationality law just as any non-US citizen would be.

This means that to gain entry into the US, the person will need to obtain a US visa or demonstrate they are eligible for admission into the US pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program.

Those who are ineligible for entry into the US for prior convictions for certain offenses (even if the conviction occurred while they were a US citizen) will need to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility prior to entry into the United States.

Anyone considering renunciation of US citizenship should retain a qualified US tax lawyer to ensure all reporting obligations have been met prior to taking a formal oath of renunciation.



Is renunciation reversible?

The act of renunciation is irrevocable and cannot be set aside absent a successful administrative or judicial appeal.

An exception exists if someone renounces US citizenship before the age of 18, they may have that citizenship reinstated if they make that desire known to the US Department of State within six months of attaining the age of 18.



What is the process to formally renounce US citizenship?

Those who wish to formally renounce their US citizenship may do so only outside the United States by appearing in person before a US consular or diplomatic officer and signing an oath of renunciation.

Once this is completed, the US Department of State will issue a Certificate of Loss of Nationality.

The particular process and the timing will vary depending on the US Embassy or Consulate where the oath of renunciation takes place.



How do I renounce US citizenship in the UK?

If you wish to renounce your United States citizenship in the UK, you will need to submit a properly completed request for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. You will also be required to attend an appointment with a consular officer and pay the $2,350 non-refundable fee, payable at the time of your appointment. You can request an appointment at the US Embassy in London, the US Consulate General Belfast or US Consulate General in Belfast.

At your appointment, a consular officer will interview you and, if necessary, administer the Oath of Renunciation and forward your application to the US DOS for review. The DOS is authorised to approve a properly completed request for a Certificate of Loss under INA 349(a)(5) if the US citizen establishes that they took the oath voluntarily and with the intention of relinquishing US nationality. Voluntariness is presumed, although this may be rebutted based on the facts and circumstances of your individual case. However, the DOS will generally view taking the oath to be an unequivocal statement of intent to relinquish.

You may be required to undergo two interviews, where most consulates require that you return for a second interview, either as a cooling-off period and/or to provide the consular officer with the opportunity to review your paperwork. However, different consulates may handle this process differently, depending on which country the expatriation takes place. At the end of the renunciation process, once you have been approved for expatriation by the Department of State, you should receive your stamped Certificate of Loss of Nationality.


What is a Certificate of Loss of Nationality expatriation?

The Certificate of Loss of Nationality expatriation, or Certificate of Loss, is created on Form DS-4080, where this form is signed before a consular officer. A renunciation of United States nationality or citizenship is effective only upon approval by the DOS but, once approved, the loss of nationality/citizenship occurs as of the date the oath was taken. If your request is subsequently approved by the DOS, your certificate will reflect as the date on which you took the Oath of Renunciation as the effective date of expatriation.

In addition to Form DS-4080, you will also be asked to sign Form DS-4081. This is a written statement of understanding concerning the consequences and ramifications of renunciation or relinquishment of US nationality, and will include a signed attestation from the consular officer that the irrevocable nature of the act of renunciation has been explained to you.

Importantly, any person who wants to renounce US citizenship cannot decide to retain some of the privileges of that citizenship, as this would be logically inconsistent with the concept of renunciation. This means that if you attempt to retain some rights, you will be regarded as lacking a full understanding of renouncing citizenship and/or the necessary intent to do so. The DOS will not approve a loss of citizenship in such instances.



How long does US citizenship renunciation take?

The renunciation process has many steps to it, including attending two consular interviews and your completed package to request a Certificate of Loss of Nationality being sent to the DOS for final determination. The DOS will review your request to determine whether there is a legal basis to approve it, where this process may take several months or more.

The embassy or consulate may contact you for further information before the DOS decides your case and should then email you once your renunciation request has been approved. If your request is denied, you will be sent an email by the embassy attaching a denial letter.



How much does it cost to renounce US citizenship?

Due to the increase in US citizens seeking renunciation, in 2014 the US Department of State (DOS) raised the fee for individuals to apply for renunciation from $450 to $2,350, representing about 5 times more than the average cost in other high-income countries, like the United Kingdom, where the fee to renounce citizenship is currently set at just £372.

In significantly increasing the fee to renounce US citizenship, the DOS argued that documenting a citizen’s renunciation is extremely costly, requiring consular officers overseas to spend a great deal of time processing and adjudicating cases. In particular, consular officers must confirm that the potential renunciant fully understands the consequences of their decision, including losing the right to reside in the US without documentation as an alien. Officers must also conduct at least two intensive interviews with the potential renunciant and review at least three consular systems. The final approval of the loss of nationality must then be undertaken by the DOS, following which the matter is returned to the overseas officer for final delivery of the Certificate of Loss of Nationality.

It was determined by the DOS that there was no public benefit or other reason for setting the renunciation fee below cost, where the original $450 fee had been set at less than one quarter of the cost to the US government of providing this service. Demand for the service had also increased dramatically, consuming even more consular officer time and resources.



Do I need to be a dual national to renounce US citizenship?

Anyone intending to renounce US citizenship should be aware that, unless you already possess a foreign nationality, you may be rendered stateless and, thus, lack the protection of any government.



Can I renounce my child’s US citizenship?

A parent may not renounce US citizenship on behalf of their minor children.

If a person under the age of 18 wishes to renounce US citizenship, they must convince the US diplomatic or consular officer that they fully understand the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation, that they are not subject to duress or undue influence, and are voluntarily seeking to renounce their US citizenship.



What’s the difference between renouncing and relinquishing US citizenship?

Renouncing US citizenship is the formal, legal process of giving up US nationality.

‘Relinquishing’ refers to a native-born or naturalized US citizen losing their citizenship by voluntarily performing any of the following expatriating acts with the intention of ‘relinquishing’ citizenship:

  • Obtaining naturalization in or taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign state after the age of 18;
  • Entering or service in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the US or serving in any foreign army as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer;
  • Accepting, serving in or performing duties of any office, post or employment of a foreign government;
  • Making a formal renunciation of US citizenship before a diplomatic or consular officer on a US Department of State form or making a formal written renunciation whenever the US is in a state of war; or
  • Committing an act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow or bearing arms against the US.

Therefore, an individual who has relinquished their citizenship may choose in time to renounce in formal and permanent recognition of their non-US status.



Can you live in the US after renouncing American citizenship?

Any person claiming loss of US nationality must renounce all the rights and privileges associated with that nationality, including the right to live in the United States.

The US government maintains a federal register of individuals who have renounced their American citizenship, where once you renounce citizenship, you will be formally losing the right to reside in the United States without documentation as a foreign citizen. This means that you will need a suitable visa to live in the United States once again. If you are visiting the United States, depending on your nationality, you may also need a visitor visa or be able to show that you are eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

If you are denied authorisation for visa-free travel under the VWP, or you are unable to qualify for a US visa, you could be permanently prohibited from entering the United States. It is also worth noting that if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determines that the motivation for requesting a Certificate of Loss of Nationality was to avoid paying US taxes, you may be found inadmissible to the United States under INA 212(a)(10)(E).



What does US law say about renouncing citizenship?

Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) details a US citizen’s right to renounce their citizenship by voluntarily making a formal renunciation of nationality before a US consular officer in a foreign state and by signing an Oath of Renunciation. US law effectively provides that those wishing to renounce their citizenship must do so in person before a US consular or diplomatic officer while in a foreign country. This means that you cannot renounce your citizenship by mail, via a third party or while in the USA.

After submitting your request for renunciation, the DOS must officially determine whether to approve or deny that request after evaluating the facts and applicable law. If your request is approved and Certificate of Loss of Nationality is issued in your name, that constitutes a final determination of loss of United States citizenship. However, if the DOS denies your request, you will still remain a US national, where loss of nationality is not automatic.

It is also worth noting that unless you already possess a foreign nationality or you are assured of acquiring another nationality shortly after your renunciation, you would become stateless. This means that, in the absence of a second nationality, you would not be entitled to the protection of any government and may find it difficult, or even impossible, to travel as you would probably not be entitled to a passport from any country. Statelessness can also present severe hardships, where the ability to own or rent property, to work, to marry, to receive medical or other benefits, and to attend school can all potentially be affected.



Can American citizenship be relinquished rather than renounced?

American citizenship can be relinquished for a number of different reasons, such as becoming a citizen of a different country, fighting in a war for another country against the United States or attempting to overthrow the US government. This is essentially where a person performs an expatriating act with the intention of relinquishing US citizenship.

Under United States law, a native-born or naturalised citizen can lose their US nationality by committing a statutory act of expatriation as defined under section 349 of the INA by voluntarily performing the act with the intention of relinquishing their citizenship. As such, US citizenship can be relinquished for any one or more of the following reasons:

  • Applying for and becoming a naturalised citizen of another country, with the exception of where dual nationality is permitted, and with the intention of giving up US citizenship
  • Making an oath of allegiance to a different country
  • Joining the armed services of a different country engaged in a war against the US
  • Joining the armed services of a different country as an officer
  • Working for a foreign government while also a citizen of that country at the same time
  • Accepting employment by a foreign government in a job role where an oath of allegiance, affirmation or some other formal declaration of allegiance is required
  • Committing an act of treason or attempting to overthrow the US government by force.

Equally, it is possible for naturalised American citizens to be de-naturalised by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). This could be where someone has unlawfully obtained their citizenship status by fraudulent means. It could also be due to the commission of other offences, including but not limited to fraud against the US government. The ability to denaturalise a US citizen guilty of serious criminality is a bid by the DOJ to bring justice not only to immigration fraudsters, but also to terrorists, war criminals and sex offenders.

Importantly, relinquishment of US nationality by performing certain potentially expatriating acts, which include taking the Oath of Renunciation, voluntarily and with the intention of relinquishing citizenship, is a personal right which can never be exercised on your behalf.


Need specialist advice? Speak to our experts.

Need specialist advice? Speak to our experts.