How to relinquish your US citizenship?

If you are a citizen of the United States but consider relinquishing your citizenship, then you need to know how this is done. But firstly, we would like to clarify the difference between renouncing and relinquishing your US citizenship. In fact, both terms mean the same thing: you become an expatriate meaning you cease to be a permanent resident of the United States. The difference between the terms concerns how you cease to be a resident.

Formally, when you renounce your US citizenship, you show up in front of an official (read: a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States) in US Embassy in another country and inform the official that you don’t want to be a US citizen anymore. The paperwork includes signing a document, more specifically, an oath of renunciation. In such a way you relinquish your nationality effective immediately.

But to relinquish your US citizenship, you can also:

  • Willfully naturalize in another country when being an adult or taking an oath of allegiance to another country;
  • Entering the armed forces of another country and serve as an officer or engage in hostile actions against the United States;
  • Performing any duties under the other country’s government; and
  • Send a formal written renunciation of nationality when the United States are in a war.

More information about losing US citizenship can be found in this article.

Keep in mind that your renouncement of citizenship must be done voluntarily, and you need to get a certificate of loss of nationality. If not, you are still counted as a US citizen.

There are other situations when you can lose your US citizenship, but they are less likely to happen. You should also take into consideration that if you lose your US citizenship, and you did not acquire dual citizenship, then you lose protection of any government.

What we strongly recommend is lawyer up when you officially renounce your US citizenship in front of a consulate. The problem you may face concerns the tax obligations, and the overall tax consequences can be very substantial.

In all, if you choose to renounce or relinquish your US citizenship, it is best to be prepared. Consult a lawyer, calculate the tax consequences, get citizenship of a foreign state, and only then decide whether you do want to get rid of US citizenship.

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