In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the process of renouncing your U.S citizenship, how to book an appointment, waiting times you might expect, forms you need and how to complete them, interview tips and we’ll discuss the most common concerns US citizens have when renouncing your US citizenship. Everything we refuse to charge additional fees for because we believe that you can do it all yourself.
We understand that renouncing US citizenship is a life-altering decision that comes with an enormous amount of stress, doubt, and anxiety. We get many requests each week to help people prepare for their renunciation appointment.
We firmly believe that equipt with the knowledge you’re about to process, you can eliminate the stress and ease your anxiety. In fact, the process is simpler than you might think. At the end of the day, it is your right to decide whether you consider yourself to be a US citizen or not.
Section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C § 1481) governs the right of a U.S.citizent to renounce his or her U. S. citizenship. A person loses his/her U.S. citizen status if he/she voluntarily gives up his/her U. S. citizenship with the intent of relinquishing his/her U.S. citizenship, making a formal renunciation before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state.
In order for you to legally renounce your U.S. citizenship, you must:
1) appear in person before a U.Ss consular or diplomatic officer
2) in a foreign country at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; and
3) sign an oath of renunciation
Renunciation applications that don’t meet the required criteria have no legal effects. U.S. Citizens can only renounce their nationality in person. They cannot renounce their nationality by mail, online, or with an assistance of an agent. You need to do every step yourself. You must appear before a U.S. Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General and sign the oath of renunciation voluntarily and intentionally.
To be eligible for an appointment at the Embassy, applicants must submit their own application forms and not have them completed by someone else on their behalves, e.g. their parents. We cannot schedule appointments for any relatives on the same date. Additionally, the Privacy Act applies, and the Consulate generally cannot communicate directly with anyone other than the applicant.
It is one of the reasons we decided to create this guide. We cannot help you with any of the steps to renounce your US citizenship (no agents can be involved or act on your behalf), but we can equip you with all the knowledge you need to do it effortlessly.
While some companies charge a lot for such a “preparation”, we’d like to equip you with all the necessary knowledge for free. In fact, we believe this information should be widely available to anyone thinking about giving up their citizenship. No “mock interview” is required. If you have friends that are also contemplating saying Goodbye to Uncle Sam, feel free to share this article with them.
In order to renounce your US citizenship, you must meet all of the following requirements:
- you are at least 18 years old,
- you are able to read or speak English,
- you do NOT have any developmental or intellectual disabilities, and
- you do NOT have a legal guardian appointed to you.
We will not speak about the tax side of the renunciation process (reminder, you need to be tax compliant for 5 years in order to renounce your citizenship, without being a covered expatriate and subject to the exit tax rules). If you haven’t a US tax return in a while, we offer a Renunciation Package that will bring you into compliance with US tax law without risking any penalties, and it all can be done in 2 weeks! If you’re an Accidental American (received citizenship at birth, but never lived in the US) who just found out about filing obligation, you might be interested in filing under the Relief Procedures For Certain Former Citizens. More about it in our next article.
Assuming you are U.S. tax compliant and have been filing regularly from abroad or you have a tax professional taking care of that for you, the first step to renounce your US citizenship will be to request an appointment.
Step 1. Request an appointment
Locate the nearest U.S. Embassy your country of residence and go to their website. The Renunciation Procedure looks slightly different depending on the country you live in. Some U.S. Embassies allow you to book a renunciation appointment online such as the U.S. Embassy in London.
However, most of the U.S. Embassies will ask you to schedule an appointment by email. There is no walk-in service for Loss of Nationality Services. The appointments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s not uncommon to wait for a response even several weeks. U.S. Embassies in Canada, the UK, and Switzerland have a large backlog of pending CLN cases and a long waiting list of US citizens waiting to be allocated for the next available appointment. U.S. Embassies in Germany still haven’t resumed accepting renunciation appointments since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Tip: You might want to consider traveling abroad to renounce your US citizenship. The waiting time for an appointment in Toronto or London might take even several months while in Warsaw, Poland you would wait for only a week or two.
Some U.S. Embassies will ask you to send an email together with copies of all the required documents prior to scheduling the appointment. Check with the embassy of your choice and schedule the appointment using the instructions on their website.
Once a loss of nationality appointment becomes available, applicants will be sent an e-mail informing them of their scheduled date and time for an interview along with detailed instructions on the required documents.
Okay, now that we’ve scheduled an appointment, let’s move on to the next step.
Step 2. Prepare the documents.
On the day of your renunciation appointment, you need to gather the following documents and bring originals to the interview:
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship: U.S. Passport, Original Birth Certificate, U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad, U.S. Certificate of Naturalization, or U.S. Certificate of Citizenship, as applicable to your situation
- Most recent U.S. passport (scan bio-page only), if available
- All current foreign passports (scan bio-pages only)
- Social Security Card, if available
- Evidence of any name changes, if applicable (for instance marriage or divorce certificates, or court orders)
- Any other documents your embassy might require.
Important: If you don’t have the original documents, you can bring certified copies instead. They do not accept notarized copies of documents. They can only be certified by the custodian of records.
Some embassies may require you to complete form DS-4079 prior to your renunciation appointment. Regardless of the embassy policy, be prepared to complete Form DS-4079, DS-4080, and DS-4081 on the day of your appointment.
The form DS-4079 is a questionnaire about the applicant’s intentions to give up US citizenship. Your answers to these questions will help determine whether or not you lose U.S. citizenship. It is technically only for a “Relinquishment” filing, but may also be requested for a “Renunciation” filing.
You need to prove by a preponderance (more likely than not) that you performed an expatriating action voluntarily and with the intention to give up your status as a US Citizen.
The form is pretty self-explanatory. The first part of the questionnaire asks for your personal information.
Then, it moves to questions about your ties with the country of your second citizenship and it examines your relationship with the United States.
You will most likely complete this form at the Embassy during your appointment. You can always ask for guidance from the consular staff.
Form DS-4080 is the formal request to renounce American citizenship pursuant to section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.
- Form DS-4081: Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Renunciation or Relinquishment of U.S. Nationality
Form DS-4081 is a “Statement of Understanding” that the applicant knows and understands the consequences and ramifications of giving up US citizenship, and that doing so is irrevocable.
For a Renunciation proceeding (but not for a Relinquishment), the consular officer also prepares DS-4082, the Oath of Renunciation. The Oath is administered orally after which the applicant as well as the consular officer signs the DS-4082.
Once the oath is administered, the consular officer prepares a DS-4083, Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN). However, the applicant will not receive a copy of the CLN until the application is approved by a U.S. State Department Bureau in Washington. The processing time of your renunciation of citizenship request might take several months.
Renunciation Appointment at the U.S. Embassy
On the day of your appointment, you will have to present all the original documents we mentioned above. Arrive 15 minutes earlier to your appointment to allow some extra time. If your documents are incomplete, the appointment will need to be rescheduled.
Then, you pay the non-refundable fee of $2,350. Depending on the U.S. Embassy, various forms of payment are available. You might be able to make payment in cash (in USD or the local currency), and/or by a credit card issued in your name. Again, if for some reason you’re unable to make the payment by card, the embassy reserves the right to reschedule your appointment.
Once you pay the fee, you will be interviewed by a consular officer. You must show the consulate that you understand the nature and consequences associated with giving up your U.S. nationality, that you are not under any kind of pressure or undue influence, and that you’re doing so voluntarily and intentionally.
Next, you will review and sign Form DS-4081 and Form DS-4080. In case of renouncing U.S. citizenship, the consul will also prepare DS-4082 for you to sign. After all the documents have been completed, you will take the oath of renunciation.
The Oath of Renunciation of Nationality
The U.S. Embassy will hold an actual renunciation of citizenship ceremony. The consular officer will ask you to raise your right hand and take the Oath in front of a US flag.
Once you formally renounce, the consular officer will prepare Form DS-4083 Certificate of Loss of Nationality. However, you will not receive a copy of the certificate of renunciation at this time. Instead, your application for renunciation will be forwarded to the U.S. State Department Bureau in Washington together with all your original documents and the consular’s recommendation.
Important: Your renunciation of citizenship request will not be finalized until the original documents are reviewed in Washington and the application for renunciation was approved by the U.S. Department of State.
You will remain a U.S. citizen and you cannot travel to the U.S. on a foreign passport until your renunciation of citizenship request is approved by the Department of State. After the interview, your U.S. passport will be retained by the U.S. Consulate General.
TIP: If you have planned to travel to the U.S. please wait to schedule your appointment until you return from your trip. Please request an appointment only once you are ready to proceed.
However, if you have emergency travel to the U.S. you can contact the Consulate for help to have your U.S. passport returned.
Date of Expatriation
If approved, the date of expatriation is the date on which you signed the oath in front of the consular officer. The final approval process may take several months to complete. The Certificate of Loss of Nationality is the sole legal document establishing your loss of nationality.
As soon as the embassy or consular office receives confirmation from the State Department in Washington that the applicant’s filing has been approved, the embassy/consular office will provide the applicant with an approved, sealed copy of the CLN.
Delivery of your Certificate of Loss of Nationality
The Certificate of Loss of Nationality will be sent to you by mail.
Renunciation Interview tips
The U.S. consular officer’s job during this interview is to ensure that you fully understand the nature and consequences of renunciation, and in doing so you are not subject to duress or under the influence. The U.S. consular officer must determine that you are voluntarily and intentionally seeking to renounce your American citizenship.
You can renounce your U.S. citizenship once you turn 18 years old. However, if you cannot demonstrate the requisite maturity and knowledgeable intent because of your young age, your application for renunciation might be rejected.
Make sure you understand the consequences of renunciation and state clearly that you no longer identify as a U.S. citizen.
Important: You should not say that the reason why you want to give up your U.S. citizenship is the complicated tax system. Renouncing U.S. citiznehsip to avoid taxes is not a good reason to renounce your citizneship and your renunciation request might be rejected.
Understanding the consequences of renouncing your U.S. citizenship
Total Loss of Rights of Citizenship
If someone wants to give up their U.S. citizenship, they cannot choose to keep some of the benefits of having it, because this would be illogical. In other words, someone who tries to retain some rights doesn’t fully understand the concept of giving up their US citizenship status or has no intention of doing so. The Department of State won’t approve a loss of US nationality in such cases.
Example: An individual wants to renounce his U.S. citizenship, but he also wants to travel to the U.S. visa-free in the future. His immigration status will depend on the other foreign citizenship that he holds.
Dual nationality / Statelessness
If you renounce U.S. citizenship and don’t already hold a foreign nationality, you could become stateless and lose the protections afforded by any government. You will definitely face extreme difficulty traveling if you don’t hold a valid passport from any other foreign country. In a best-case scenario, it would mean obtaining a travel document for a stateless person and a visa for every country visited, as a worse case, leaving your country would be impossible.
Even if you are a citizen of a country than the U.S., you would still need to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. under normal circumstances. However, you may qualify for entry into the U.S. without a visa if you meet certain criteria under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP).
Nevertheless, renouncing U.S. citizenry may not prevent a foreign government from deporting, someone, back to the United States.
Tax & military obligations /no escape from prosecution
Renunciation of your U.S. citizenship will not affect your prior U.S. tax or military service obligations. It will not allow you to avoid possible prosecution for crimes that might have been committed in the United States, or escape your financial obligations to Uncle Sam. In fact, you must formally renounce your “tax citizenship” by filing Form 8854 with the IRS. Form 8854 is a part of your Final Tax Return and it is filed the year after you renounce your citizenship.
Irrevocability of renunciation
The decision to renounce U.S. citizenship is irrevocable and cannot be canceled.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you get U.S. citizenship again if you renounce?
Those who renounce between the age of 16 y/o and 18 y/o can recover their U.S. citizenship by requesting it during the 6 months window between the age of 18 y/o and 18.5 y/o.
As for everyone else, loss of citizenship is irrevocable and cannot be canceled/recovered. Based on the other foreign citizenship you hold, you will be subject to immigration law specific to that country upon entry to the United States.
2. Do you lose Social Security if you give up citizenship?
No. You will receive your social security distributions like you normally would. You might have tax filing obligations if the distributions exceed the tax-exempt threshold. If you have federal tax obligations because of the large social security distributions or you receive other US-sourced income after you renounce your citizenship, you will need to file form 1040NR (Non-Resident Alien Income Tax Return)
Related: Who needs to file form 1040NR – Non-Resident Alien Income Tax Return?
3. Can you renounce U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes?
Yes, the complicated tax system is one of the leading reasons why American citizens decide to give up their citizenship. Although you might not technically have any income tax liability to the United States, as a U.S. citizen you still have extensive tax filing obligations and you need to report your worldwide income to the IRS.
Important: You should not say during your interview that the reason behind your renunciation of citizenship request is putting an end to your U.S. tax obligations. Saying so is essentially the only way the US would invoke the Reed Amendment and prevents you from traveling to the US in the future. Unless you voluntarily say as much, they don’t have a procedure to invoke the Reed Amendment against former citizens.
4. Can you enter the US after renouncing your citizenship?
Yes, you will need to follow the same rules as any other nonresident alien. You will not be able to visit the United States for the period between when you submit your renunciation application at the U.S. Embassy and before you receive your Certificate of Renunciation.
5. What are the benefits of giving up your U.S. citizenship?
Once you file your Final Tax Return, you will no longer be considered a U.S. person for income tax purposes. As such, you will no longer have to file any U.S. tax forms.
It will be easier for you to open a bank account abroad or start investing in foreign companies as the financial institutions will no longer be required to share your information with the IRS.
Your compliance costs will significantly decrease. If you have been contemplating renouncing your citizenship for a while, it might be the best time for you to do so. Those who haven’t filed in years might be eligible for the stimulus payments the US government issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will certainly help to cover expensive renunciation fees.
If you have questions about your Federal Tax Requirements, check out our FAQ page on Renouncing U.S. Citizenship.
6. Do you still have to pay taxes if you renounce U.S. citizenship?
Once you file the Final Tax Return and cease to be a U.S. person for tax purposes, you will only be taxed on your U.S.-sourced income.
As such, you would only report your U.S.-sourced income on form 1040NR, this would be the case for instance if you own a rental property in the US.