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How to renounce your US citizenship

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photo: Marian Weyo (Shutterstock)

Last week, Green Day frontman Billie Joel Armstrong told a London audience he plans to give up his US citizenship because the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. calf, Repeal federal abortion law in the country. It’s not exactly shocking that the man whose band is responsible for the 2004 hit “American Idiot” proclaims he’s done with the whole country, but ordinary people can — and do — give up their citizenship, too.

How to give up your citizenship in America

If you wish to renounce your citizenship, the government helpful has a website Dedicated to information for you, but it contains much of what you probably already know: You will no longer be a citizen, so you will lose all rights and protections afforded to you as an American. You could also lose your citizenship for reasons other than an active renunciation, including the following:

  • If you are running for public office abroad.
  • If you do military service abroad.
  • If you are applying for citizenship in a foreign country with the intention of renouncing your US citizenship.
  • If you commit an act of treason against the United States.

The first two only apply “under certain conditions”. So if you are planning to run for office or join another military, you should carefully research your specific circumstances.

The government also warns that if you give up your citizenship, not only will you lose your rights and responsibilities here, you could also risk becoming “stateless” if you don’t become a citizen elsewhere. That means you have no protection somewhere, and might even have difficulty traveling as you are not entitled to a passport anywhere. Think of everything you need your ID for, from renting a house to looking for a job, and don’t rush into anything that makes you “stateless.” You’ll also likely need a visa to visit the US, so keep that in mind if friends or family are here – or other commitments – that would often call you back. If you fail to qualify for a visa, you may be barred from entering the United States permanently

Finally, if the Department of Homeland Security determines that your relinquishment is motivated by a desire to avoid taxes, you may also be expelled from the country. Nor does the waiver magically exempt you from tax or military service obligations, or allow you to avoid possible prosecution for crimes or the payment of financial obligations, such as child support, previously made as a US citizen or in the country. Despite all this, renouncing your citizenship cannot always prevent a foreign country from deporting you back to the USA as a non-citizen anyway.

Once you are sure of your choice, contact the US embassy or consulate in the country where you wish to live to renounce your US citizenship. here is the list embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.

There will be paperwork and even some fees. Although you no longer have to pay taxes, it is important to be up to date on all your past taxes. Be prepared to also pay a $2,350 fee to relinquish your citizenship and possibly an exit tax if you qualify as a covered expatriate.

Remember this is irreversible. The only time you can get citizenship the back after the waiver, this is the case if you did so before the age of 18. This not only affects you, but also your children, who no longer have the right to live and work in the United States.

How to give up your citizenship abroad

You can also do this abroad. According to the State Department, if you want to give up your U.S. citizenship:

  • Appear in person before a US consular or diplomatic officer.
  • Appear in front of an embassy or consulate abroad.
  • Sign a waiver.

Waivers abroad that do not meet these requirements are not legally binding. You must do this in person, so check the list of embassies and consulates above to find one near you and do it legally. You cannot do this in writing, electronically or through a third party. Show up in person and Absolutely make sure you want to do this first and create a plan to become a citizen elsewhere before taking any steps.

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