Renouncing your U.S. citizenship isn’t free. In fact, you have to pay as much as $2,350 for the renunciation fee alone. In addition to that, you will also have to travel to a US consulate at least once for the interview and renunciation oath. FYI we have en entire guide to the tax implications of renouncing US citizenship.
Furthermore, if you have not been tax compliant in the previous 5 years, you must file and pay back taxes. The exit tax is another expense of renunciation for a US citizen who has a covered expatriate status.
How to Renounce US Citizenship
Renouncing US citizenship entails making an appointment with a consular officer, paying a substantial fee, and convincing the consular official that you understand the ramifications of your action and are renouncing out of your free will.
You can even owe tax on your final tax return in some cases. It may appear intimidating at first, but it is not that difficult. But if you choose to renounce, it is extremely difficult to get US citizenship back after renouncing. To renounce citizenship, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Secure a Second Passport
To renounce your U.S. citizenship, you’ll need to secure a second passport. Otherwise, you might become stateless which will lead you to severe difficulties, such as obtaining a new passport, traveling to other countries, receiving medical services, and renting property.
Aside from securing a passport, it is also highly recommended to obtain legal status in your new home country to prevent becoming stateless during your renunciation journey.
Step 2: Prepare Form DS- 4079 and other Pertinent Forms
If you are already decided to renounce your U.S. citizenship, you must prepare Form DS-4079 (Request for Determination of Possible Loss of United States Nationality). This form should be completed before your appointment. Besides that, here are other pertinent forms to be filled out:
- DS-4080 (Oath of Renunciation of the Nationality of the United States)
- DS-4081 (Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship)
- DS-4082 (Witnesses’ Attestation Renunciation/Relinquishment of Citizenship)
- DS-4083 (Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States)
Step 3: Make a Renunciation Appointment
Once all pertinent documents are ready, make a renunciation appointment at the nearest U.S. embassy. The schedule of your appointment varies among different locations. As such, if the Embassy near you has a particularly long waiting list, you can make an appointment in another city or state.
Thus, Americans living abroad may schedule an appointment with the U.S. embassy in the country they live in. When you have successfully scheduled an appointment, you will have to attend in person and pay the corresponding fees.
You will also have to go through an interview to ensure your decision to renounce U.S. citizenship was of your free will and not because of your tax obligations or income tax liability.
Here are the documents you’ll need to bring when renouncing your citizenship:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship (such as U.S. birth certificate and U.S. passport)
- If applicable; U.S. consular report of birth abroad, certificates of naturalization, or citizenship for any country, including the United States.
- Bio-pages of all current foreign passports
- Evidence of any name changes ( for example, your marriage or divorce certificates, deed polls, and court orders)
- Filled -out Form DS-4079
- Completed Loss of Citizenship questionnaire
- Completed Informal Loss of Citizenship Acknowledgement, which must be dated/signed and sent as a scanned document.
Step 4: File Final Tax Return with Form 8854
For tax reasons, Americans abroad will still be considered a US person until they file Form 8854 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is part of the Final Return they will have to file the following year. The Final Return comprises of Dual-Status Statement for the time they were still a US person and Dual-Status Return for the remaining part of the year together with the 8854.
Citizenship Can Also be Terminated without Renouncing It
Americans have periodically renounced their citizenship in the past for a variety of reasons (and there’s actually a difference between “renouncing” and “relinquishing” US citizenship). For example, during the Vietnam War, opposition to US government policy. Certain activities can also cause an individual to lose US citizenship without explicitly renouncing it.
Citizenship can be terminated (and thus relinquished, not renounced) for a variety of reasons under the Internal Revenue Code and/or the Immigration and Nationality Act, including:
- Making an oath of allegiance to another state;
- Applying for and becoming a naturalized citizen of another country;
- Renouncing U.S. citizenship during the war, with the U.S. Attorney General’s approval;
- Working for a foreign government while simultaneously a citizen of that county;
- Accepting employment by a foreign government in a job where an oath of allegiance, affirmation, or other formal declaration of allegiance is required;
- Joining the armed services of another state engaged in a war against the United States, or joining the armed services of another country as an officer
- Committing any forms of treason or an attempt to overthrow the U.S. government by force (and being convicted by court-martial or a civil court).