Renunciation of US Citizenship – What is the Process?
Renunciation is a life decision taken by US citizens for many different reasons.
As an outline, the renunciation process will involve the following:
1. Attaining citizenship (and passport) of another country
Some US consular posts will request proof you hold citizenship of another country before you can proceed with the renunciation process. While this is not a legal requirement, you should have secured citizenship of another country before renouncing your US citizenship to avoid being rendered ‘stateless’ – and without a passport. Stateless people can also have significant trouble owning property, working, receiving medical help and attending school.
2. Select a US Embassy overseas to apply to
Renunciation has to take place outside the United States. You can decide which US consular post will you apply to. This is the post that will process your application and paperwork.
When considering your choice of diplomatic post, accessibility and location will be important since you will need to attend the post in person, potentially more than once.
While the legal process of renunciation has to be the same, different posts will have different policies and as such the specific steps to follow and resulting processing times can vary. Some US posts receive high volumes of renunciation applications, such as London, Dublin and other Western European posts, and have more formal procedures in place than those that rarely see renunciation applications, and who may be less familiar with the process.
3. Compile documents
Depending on the post where you file your application, you may be asked to submit copies of all your documents to the Embassy before your appointment, or may just need to take them with you when you attend the Embassy. You will need to complete and sign the DS-4079 questionnaire to request the loss of US citizenship.
4. Attend the US Embassy in person
You will be interviewed by a consular officer who will assess whether you are renouncing of your own free will and are not under duress. The officer will ask why you want to renounce your US citizenship. The officer will then explain to you the consequences of renunciation, and ask if you understand and have any questions. Depending on the post that is processing your application, you may at this stage be asked to return after a period to ensure you have fully considered and accepted the ramifications of renouncing your citizenship.
To formalize your loss of citizenship, you will then need to sign an extensive number of documents while at the Embassy.
The current renunciation process fee is $2,350. You may also have to account for the cost of travel to the consular post.
5. Oath of Renunciation
Once all documents have been signed, you will take the Oath of Renunciation. In the actual ceremony, the consular officer will ask you to raise your right hand and take the Oath in front of a US flag.
6. Certificate of Loss of Nationality
The final stage of the renunciation process will be the Certificate of Loss of Nationality. This is issued by Department of State in the Washington. This can take up to 3 or 4 months to come through.
What happens when I renounce my US citizenship?
Renouncing your citizenship is an irrevocable and irreversible legal process.
You will lose all rights conferred on citizens of the USA, such as the right to vote and the right to protection from the US government. You will also surrender your US passport and become subject to US immigration rules. This may mean you will need to secure a visa to travel to the US following loss of your US citizenship.
If you plan to travel to the US after taking the Oath of renunciation but before you have received your Certificate of Loss of Nationality, take advice from a US immigration specialist to ensure you take sufficient documents to evidence to the border official your current situation and avoid issues with entry.
Under current law, you have the right to renounce US citizenship regardless of any outstanding tax obligations you may have, although renunciation does not clear you of your past liabilities.
What does it mean to relinquish or renounce my US citizenship?
A number of terms are used in the context of ‘giving up’ citizenship.
Renunciation is an irrevocable and irreversible legal process.
It involves making an application at a US consulate for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. This incurs the renunciation fee. Renunciation will take effect as soon as the oath has been taken.
Relinquishing refers to circumstances where individuals perform an expatriating act with intent, without providing formal notice of loss of citizenship for immigration purposes.
- Joining a foreign army
- Acquiring citizenship of another country
- Taking office, post or employment of a foreign government
- Committing an act of treason 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.
For relinquished citizenship to be recognized for tax purposes, the individual must notify the Department of State and file form 8854 with the IRS, otherwise they remain subject to US taxation rules worldwide.
The individual will have to evidence to the US consulate that the expatriating act occurred in order to apply for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality and renounce citizenship. Applicants will be charged the prevailing renunciation fee. Relinquishment can therefore apply retrospectively, which can bring benefits in tax terms.
Surrendering citizenship is a general term, unrecognized in legal, immigration or taxation terms.
Renunciation of US citizenship for a child
You are not permitted to renounce citizenship of a child. Only individuals aged 18 or over can renounce citizenship, and this must be voluntarily, of their own free will and with full knowledge and understanding of the implications of this legal process.
Do you have a question about the renunciation process?
NNU Immigration specialize in US immigration matters. If you are considering renouncing your US citizenship, we can help. We can advise on what it means for you to renounce your US citizenship and guide you through the legal process.
As a London-based team, we regularly handle renunciation applications at the US Embassy in London, bringing in-depth knowledge and understanding of the process and policies for applications made in London. We will also identify and resolve any issues relating to your case, and advise on travel to the United States post-loss of U.S. nationality.
For advice with your renunciation application, contact us. Please note we do not offer tax advice.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.