Renouncing U.S. Citizenship – A Detailed Guide

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People renounce their U.S. citizenship for a variety of reasons. Depending on your situation, renunciation can be very beneficial or even necessary. However, don’t expect the process to be easy.

The U.S. takes many steps to counter people renouncing their citizenship. Some are for the protection of the people, while others are for the benefit of the government.

If you are considering renouncing your U.S. citizenship, it is crucial that you understand what doing so will mean for your future. Renunciation is irreversible. You should not take this step without first giving it careful consideration.

What Does Renouncing U.S. Citizenship Mean?

Renouncing U.S. citizenship means you are giving up the rights you possess as a U.S. citizen. A renunciation is a permanent act, so it should not be taken lightly. If you don’t have citizenship in another country when you renounce your U.S. citizenship, you will become stateless.

Statelessness could result in several hardships, including making it difficult to travel, work, own property, and marry. Additionally, you will not have the protection of any government.

Why People Renounce Their U.S. Citizenship

Many people fighting to obtain U.S. citizenship may find it difficult to understand why anyone would give up this citizenship.

People renounce their citizenship for a variety of reasons. The government does not release details regarding people’s decisions to renounce citizenship, so it is hard to know exactly why people are renouncing their citizenship. However, there are several reasons why people are most likely to renounce U.S. citizenship.

Applying for Citizenship in a Country That Does Not Recognize Dual Citizenship

If you are living in a country that does not recognize dual citizenship, you might consider giving up your U.S. citizenship in order to become a citizen of your new country. However, this is not officially renunciation. Instead, this is an act that results in the termination and relinquishment of your U.S. citizenship rather than renunciation.

Avoiding Double Taxation

The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that taxes based on citizenship rather than where you live. That means that many expatriates living and working in other countries are still subject to paying taxes on their income, both in the country where they live and in the United States.

Recently, taxation laws for citizens living abroad have changed to make it more difficult to avoid paying taxes on foreign income, which is likely a key factor in a recent rise in renunciations.

Making a Statement

For some, renouncing citizenship is simply done to make a statement. U.S. citizens who leave the country because they disagree with the direction the country is heading may renounce citizenship as a statement of their dissatisfaction with the country.

Things to Know Before Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

Before renouncing your U.S. citizenship, you need to be aware of the pros and cons of doing so.

Benefits of Renunciation

One of the primary benefits of renouncing U.S. citizenship is that you won’t have to pay U.S. taxes on the income that you earn abroad. Additionally, that means that you won’t have to deal with the complicated bureaucracy that can go into paying expat taxes. However, you will have to get caught up on any taxes you already owe before renouncing your U.S. citizenship.

Relinquishing your U.S. citizenship can also allow you to become a citizen of another country that doesn’t allow dual citizenship.

Drawbacks of Renunciation

A big drawback of renouncing your citizenship is that the cost of renouncing U.S. citizenship is quite high. In the past, there was no fee to renounce citizenship. However, in July of 2010, a fee of $450 was established. That fee then increased to $2,350 in September of 2015, in what was seen as an apparent effort to curb the rising number of renunciations.

Another downside of renouncing U.S. citizenship is that your passport will be invalid. If you do not have dual citizenship or are not relinquishing U.S. citizenship as you obtain citizenship in another country, you will become stateless and have no protection from any government. It will also become very difficult to travel, work, buy property, get married, etc.

You also need to realize that renunciation cannot be reversed. Once you have given up your U.S. citizenship, you will be unable to regain it unless you were under age 18 when you renounced and appeal to the Department of State for your citizenship to be restored within six months of turning 18.

How to Renounce U.S. Citizenship

Before renouncing your U.S. citizenship, you should talk to an immigration lawyer who can make sure that you meet all the legal requirements for renunciation. Your attorney can also ensure you fully understand the ramifications of renouncing your U.S. citizenship. You should also establish citizenship in your new country before renouncing to avoid becoming stateless.

You will need to file several forms to renounce your citizenship. Forms involved in the renunciation process include:

  • Form DS-4079: Request for Determination of Possible Loss of the United States Citizenship
  • Form DS-4080: Oath of Renunciation of the Nationality of the United States
  • Form DS-4081: Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship
  • Form DS-4082: Witnesses’ Attestation Renunciation/Relinquishment of Citizenship
  • Form DS-4083: Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States

You must fill out Form DS-4079, then schedule your renunciation appointment at a consular office and bring the form with you to your appointment. You will also need additional documents like your birth certificate, your new passport, and other identification documents.

The other forms will be filled out at your renunciation appointment, and you will be given Form DS-4083. This renunciation certificate form proves that you have completed the process. Before your renunciation is approved by the U.S. Department of State, you will need to file your final tax return.

Required Documents to Renounce U.S. Citizenship

Required documents for renouncing U.S. citizenship include Forms DS-4079 through DS-4083 along with:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship)
  • Bio-pages of all current foreign passports
  • Naturalization or citizenship certificates for any other countries
  • Evidence of any name changes (if applicable)

Cost to Renounce U.S. Citizenship

Renouncing U.S. citizenship has become quite expensive in the last several years. Once a free process, renunciation now costs $2,350. While the government claims this is equal to the administrative costs associated with renunciation, many view it as a deterrent created to prevent people from renouncing their U.S. citizenship.

Make Sure Renunciation Is Right for You Before Applying

While renunciation may be the best choice for you, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Make sure you fully understand the consequences of renunciation before applying. Since this is an irreversible process, it is critical that you take your time and talk to an immigration lawyer and your loved ones who might be affected by your decision before moving forward.

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