Virginia, US
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| Kari Foss

Looking to Renounce your US Citizenship?

Whether it be tax or moral implications, US citizens sometimes wish to voluntarily renounce their citizenship.  Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5)) states that "(5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State". So we know what the law states, but how does one practically speaking, renounce?

Below are the summarized steps to renounce your US citizenship: 
 
STEP 1:  Dual Nationality / Second Passport 

In order to renounce your US passport in Germany, you will need a second passport. You are required to bring this with you to your renunciation appointment. If you are intending to renounce US citizenship, be aware that, unless you already possess a foreign nationality, you may be rendered stateless and, thus, lack the protection of any government. Statelessness can present severe hardships: the ability to own or rent property, work, marry, receive medical or other benefits, and attend school can be affected. As those are all negative attributes, most, if not all, Consulates will not place a person in a stateless position (even though you have the legal right).  For the stateless reasons, the US Consulate posts will most likely deny anyone the right to renounce their US citizenship if they do not have a second passport or already posses a foreign nationality. Ensure that the passport you acquire is directly issued by the government authority.  

STEP 2: Fill Out Renunciation Forms 

The documents listed below are the ones required by the State Department to process your renunciation. Fragomen attorneys are specialized in filling out the necessary forms with the correct information. 

The DS-4079 is needed to be completed before your appointment. The other forms to be filed will be the DS-4080, 4081, 4082 and 4083. These forms should be reviewed and filled out beforehand; however, completed at the appointment. They have will need dates and signatures.

DS-4079 - Information for Determining Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship, US Department of State.

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 US 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 at a Local Embassy/US Consulate

Preferably the appointment would be booked at the embassy or consulate in the country where you plan to live once you renounce your passport. However, other embassies and consulates will allow you to renounce, if you will be legally present in the country. This means that Germans citizens could renounce their US citizenship in an EU country, as a German citizen has the right to freely travel and work in the EU.

A recommendation is to speak to a Fragomen lawyer about what Consulates/Embassies are the best options. Some EU Consulates handle more renunciations than others, and therefore have a more streamlined approach. The streamlined approach provides for faster booking of appointment, wait times, and an overall simpler process.

STEP 4: Attend your Renunciation Appointment

You will need to take both of your passports and the forms listed in Step 2 to your renunciation appointment. Some consulate posts will request that 5 copies of each document is provided, others will request 8 copies. The Consulates require that you provide your US birth certificate and if you have a certificate of naturalization from the country of your second passport. Once the documents are in order and to the Consulate's liking, there will be a ceremony that takes place. An oath will be said and the Consulate will ensure you understand the ramifications of the decision...Thereby, making your voluntary act of renunciation legal and fixed. 

Speak with your Fragomen attorney about the questions that will be asked when at the appointment, as different EU consulates have a preference for the amount of forms and different of procedures for the interview. Once the appointment is completed the Consulate will send all of the forms to the Department of State for the final decision. The Department of State reviews the forms and makes the decision in 1-2 months.

After the approval by the Department of State, the Consulate officer will provide your with the DS-4083. The DS-4083 is the Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN). The CLN is the one piece of physical proof that you have completed the process of renouncing your US citizenship.  

STEP 5: File your Final US Tax Returns

When renouncing your US citizenship, always be aware of the fact that renunciation may have no effect on your US tax or military service obligations. Renouncing does not mean you can escape the repayment of financial obligations, including child support payments, previously incurred monies in the United States or incurred as United States citizens abroad.

You will have to file a final tax return. The time period will be from January 1st through the day you renounce. That’s because on the day you renounce, you are no longer a taxable person to the IRS. Inclusive with your final tax return, you will have to file IRS Form 8854, the Expatriation Information Statement. This form is the exit tax form.

IRS forms are periodically updated, so talk to your Fragomen lawyer or your tax advisor on the best strategy forward.

Conclusion: 

Overall, renunciation is a major decision, so ensure that you are fully confident that renouncing your US citizenship is the right thing to do for you and your family. For guidance or advise speak with a Fragomen attorney, who can best prepare you for the effects and strategies for renouncing your US citizenship abroad. 

If you have questions about this topic or article, you may contact Kari Foss at kfoss@fragomen.com