Renunciation of US Citizenship

  1. How does one renounce their US citizenship?

Renouncing one’s US citizenship is exactly what the word implies; it is a formal sworn declaration renouncing US citizenship.  To renounce US citizenship, one must currently be a US citizen.  Renunciation of US citizenship can never be retrospective; it can only occur as of a date in the present.

  1. How does one relinquish their US citizenship?

A US citizen will lose their US citizenship by performing certain specified acts, known as expatriating acts, voluntarily and with the intention to thereby relinquish US citizenship.  In effect, relinquishment involves formal confirmation of an expatriating act committed with the intent to set aside citizenship, usually after an individual has turned eighteen years old.  Relinquishment can be retrospective, meaning an individual can seek formal recognition of expatriation and their status as a former US citizen to a prior date.  Under the right circumstances, if a relinquishment claim can be made it could allow the individual to avoid liability for any penalty under new US tax initiatives.

  1. What are expatriating acts for purposes of relinquishment?

There are seven acts that are considered expatriating acts, which include the following:

  1. Naturalizing in a foreign state after reaching the age of eighteen;

  1. Taking an oath, affirmation, or some other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign country after reaching the age of eighteen;

  1. Serving in foreign armed forces if the individual serves as a commissioned or noncommissioned officer, or that armed force is engaged in hostilities against the US;

  1. Accepting a foreign government position after reaching the age of eighteen if (1) the person has or acquires the nationality of that state, or (2) service in that position requires an oath of allegiance;

  1. Formally renouncing US nationality before a US diplomatic or consular officer while abroad;

  1. Submitting a formal written renunciation of US nationality while in the US during time of war; or

  1. Conviction of treason, armed insurrection, or similar offense.

For most of the expatriating acts, simply committing the act is not alone sufficient to extinguish US citizenship if that was not the individual’s intent.  This rule has developed from a series of US Supreme Court decisions on the issue.  Thus, the mere committing of an expatriating act is not sufficient to expatriate, one must intend to expatriate when the act is committed.