Renunciation: Step by step

The Expatriation Process

So how do you actually renounce U.S. citizenship? What’s it really like?

There have been lots of changes over the last 100 years (see here for the history of expatriation law), but the current situation is clear.

To renounce U.S. citizenship, you must go in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. and sign before a consular officer an oath or affirmation that you intend to renounce your citizenship.

That’s it. According to current law, that’s all you have to do.

Now for the details of how it works in practice. We’ve broken it into 5 steps (click to jump to that section):

The information below is based on our experiences in renouncing with our families and the experiences of several others who went through the process and were willing to share their insight for this web site. Our (collective) renunciations range from the mid-1990s until 2010 and took place in numerous countries on 5 different continents. We describe the process in detail below so you’ll be prepared, but we want to emphasize that it’s an incredibly simple process (especially compared to most other government bureaucracy tasks we’ve had to do) and every one of us found the consular workers to be very helpful and professional.

Note that the Department of State charges $450 for “documentation of formal renunciation of U.S. Citizenship”. In the past, there was no charge and the whole process was free, but the Department of State began imposing the $450 fee effective on all renunciations after July 13, 2010. (We discuss the background and legality of this fee in detail in our FAQ here.)

Step 1: Choose a diplomatic post

The law says that you have to renounce in person outside the United States before a diplomatic or consular officer. In practice, this almost always means that you have to personally go to a U.S. embassy or consulate.

The embassy or consulate or diplomatic mission (we’ll just refer to them collectively as “diplomatic posts” from now on) where you go will handle all paperwork. Although the actual renunciation will be examined and approved by the Department of State in Washington, D.C., the diplomatic post you pick will control all other aspects of the renunciation.

Which diplomatic post is best for you depends on you and your needs. Location is obviously important, particularly if you have to make more than one visit. But there are quite a few other differences between diplomatic posts which could also affect your decision.

There are hundreds of U.S. diplomatic posts in the world, and each handles renunciation according to its own policies. The legal procedure is – and has to be – the same, but the actual steps involved can vary quite a bit.

The bulk of renunciations happen in a small percentage of the diplomatic posts, so those places tend to have much more formalized rules about the process. Ones we know of falling in this category are London, Dublin, Bern, Amsterdam, Seoul, Hong Kong, and the busier missions in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The advantage is that the consular officers in these posts are more familiar with the process; the disadvantage is that the whole procedure can be more bureaucratic and can take significantly longer.

On the other hand, most diplomatic posts have no formalized procedure for renunciations. This is the case for essentially all posts which are not in Western Europe, Canada or a few major cities in the Asia-Pacific region. The diplomatic post most likely has never actually handled a renunciation, or has done at most one or two over the last five years. The consular officers will rarely know what to do and will have to look up everything on-the-fly from their systems. We know personally of several situations where the individual renouncing had to explain the law and the procedure to the consular officer and guide him on the process. The advantage of renouncing in these diplomatic posts is this informality: you’ll face fewer of the bureaucratic obstacles which you’ll encounter in missions with more cases, so the whole process can feel more pleasant and it generally will end up taking much less time from start to finish. On the other hand, they most likely won’t be able to give you any information which you don’t already know.

The most important procedural steps we’ve found where diplomatic posts differ are:

  • Residency requirement
    Most diplomatic posts accept renunciations from any U.S. citizen. But we’ve found that several missions, particularly those in Western European countries which have many American expatriates, will only accept renunciations from individuals who have citizenship and/or permanent residency in that country. This is not correct: a diplomatic post has no legal grounds to refuse renunciations solely because the individual is not resident in that country. But it’s the policy they follow.If you still wish to renounce there, you could force the issue. As there is no law requiring residency as a prerequisite to renunciation in a given diplomatic post, we’d imagine that your challenge would eventually succeed, but it will undoubtedly take time to resolve.
  • Appointment
    The most popular and busy diplomatic posts and those which regularly handle renunciations require special appointments which can be months in the future (we know of cases of up to 3-6 months). In contrast, other diplomatic posts can give you an appointment within only a few days at most (the only reason it might even take a few days is that there aren’t many U.S. consular officers in most missions, and the local staff who handle your initial inquiry will have to find a time when one of the officers will be available). And in really small diplomatic posts, you can just walk in without an appointment and renounce your citizenship on the spot, although you might have to wait a while while they research what to do.
  • Documentation required beforehand
    We know of several diplomatic posts which require that you send copies of all your documents before coming in person. These missions are the ones which handle lots of cases, and they want to prepare their paperwork before you come. In contrast, diplomatic posts which do not handle many cases will simply complete their paperwork on the spot while you wait.
  • Proof of non-U.S. citizenship required and recorded
    According to current U.S. law, you may renounce U.S. citizenship without having another citizenship (see here for details on stateless-ness). We don’t recommend it, but legally you may do it. However, some diplomatic posts disagree with the law and require that you prove that you have another nationality, that you will not be rendered stateless after renunciation, and that you will be able to remain legally in the country where you renounce after your U.S. expatriation. Generally, the only proof these diplomatic posts will accept is a valid passport from another country together with a visa, if necessary, for the country in which you renounce. They photocopy these and add them to your file. In contrast, in other diplomatic posts, there is no requirement to prove another nationality and no record is made of any other passport(s) you have.If the diplomatic post requires upfront proof of non-U.S. citizenship and you don’t want to comply for whatever reason, you could force the issue. We know of one case where a renunciant prevailed on this issue. And we’d imagine that your challenge would eventually succeed as well as the law is extremely clear that you don’t need another citizenship before renunciation, but it will undoubtedly take time to resolve. If you can make the trip to another diplomatic post which doesn’t insist on this, it might save you significant time.
  • Number of interviews & wait time between interviews
    The consular officer must conduct a personal interview with you to determine if you are renouncing of your own free will and are not under duress (details about the interview itself below). Every diplomatic post will do this interview. However, each diplomatic post handles it differently. Many posts require an initial interview, then a waiting period where you’re supposed to reflect on what you’re doing, followed by a second, final interview. The required waiting period can be an hour or two at some diplomatic posts up to three months at other places. And some diplomatic posts don’t bother with a waiting period at all and only do one interview.

If you’re thinking about which diplomatic post is best for you, our suggestion is to call around. Pick a few that are geographically convenient and call them (ask for American Citizen Services). Find out how they handle each of the issues we list here. Every person considering renunciation has different requirements, so think about which issues in the list above are important to you and pick the place which best fits your needs.

One side note: we’ve noticed several “consulting services” which offer to “introduce” you to more favorable diplomatic posts. We hope it’s obvious, but you don’t need an introduction to a U.S. embassy or consulate. Just pick up the phone and call the missions yourself. Never pay money to anyone who offers to “introduce” or “guide” you to the ‘better” posts.

Step 2: Appointment / Submissions of Documents

After you’ve chosen which diplomatic mission you’ll use, you’ll have to follow their procedures before the renunciation. Depending on which diplomatic post you choose, you might have to make an appointment, either on the phone or via an online scheduling system. And they might email you some forms which you’ll have to fill out and send back to them (there are links to all required forms in our Resources section).

Generally, it will be the local staff who will handle your initial inquiries, appointments, and all pre-visit documents.

Step 3: First Visit to the Diplomatic Post: Documents and Interview

On the day of your appointment – or your walk-in visit, if it’s allowed – go to the diplomatic post with your U.S. passport. An old one, expired or canceled, is fine if that’s all that you have. If you don’t have a U.S. passport, then you’ll need some form of identification (probably your current non-U.S. Passport). And if you don’t have a U.S. passport, it’d help to have some proof that you are a U.S. citizen – birth certificate, naturalization papers, military documents, etc – although it’s not a legal requirement.

At the embassy or consulate, you’ll have to show the guards identification to enter the building. If you have a U.S. passport, we suggest you use it to enter instead of your non-U.S. passport. It usually speeds things up in getting through security, especially if it’s a diplomatic post with lots of non-U.S. citizens applying for visas.

Generally there will be an x-ray machine similar to what’s in airports. In smaller diplomatic posts, you can take all your belongings with you after security. In larger missions, you’ll have to leave your phone, camera and often all your belongings at the desk. (Note: some diplomatic posts no longer allow you to leave your belongings at the guard post, so they recommend that you come with no phone, no camera and no bags).

You will go to the section of the diplomatic post called American Citizen Services (ACS).

The first worker you speak to in the ACS area will generally be one of the local staff (i.e., a national of the country where the diplomatic post is located). Depending on how much was arranged beforehand, you will either give them your renunciation documents or they might print out the documents there and ask you to fill them out.


Links to all the documents you need to fill out are in the resources section of this website. It’s the same forms whether you have to fill them out beforehand or during your visit at the diplomatic mission. The information requested is fairly basic: name, date of birth, previous U.S. address, last U.S. passport number/issue date, how you became a U.S. citizen (born in the U.S., born outside the U.S. to U.S. parent(s), naturalized), and when and where you have lived outside the U.S. You also have to sign either an oath or affirmation (you choose which) that you understand the consequences of renunciation.

One form presented some confusion for most of us, as well as many of the consular officers we dealt with. It’s the “Questionnaire”. The problem with this form is that it’s designed both for people who want to renounce citizenship, and for people who feel their citizenship was taken away unjustly and wish to reclaim it. Some consular officers, not realizing this dual-use, have tried to make people complete Part III, the section for people who committed a “potentially expatriating act” but did not voluntarily intend to renounce citizenship. One of these “potentially renouncing acts” is actually renouncing citizenship in a U.S. diplomatic post. So in one instance we know of, a person wanting to renounce U.S. citizenship was made by the consular officer to fill out Part III, and then the Dept. of State in Washington rejected the renunciation because they thought the person was either not voluntarily renouncing or that he had already renounced and was now trying to claim back his citizenship. The whole situation was a bit silly and apparently took months to sort out. (To be fair to the consular officer in question, the form itself is very poorly written.) So our advice is to skip Part III, despite what any consular officer says. You’ll be better off for it.

No tax forms are required by the Department of State during renunciation. Legislation from 1996 attempted to require consular officers to obtain tax documents from renunciants, but the proposal was unworkable and probably illegal (no challenge was ever presented, most likely because the rule was never enforced and didn’t affect anyone).

The Department of State cannot require submission of any tax forms as a condition for renunciation. As the U.S. law currently stands, you have the right to renounce U.S. citizenship regardless of any tax obligations you have, although the expatriation does not clear you of your past obligations.

Note that the Department of State also does not require or record your Social Security number during the renunciation process. (Under current U.S. law, you need to submit an expatriation form to the IRS after your renunciation, on which you need to write your Social Security number).

Several individuals with whom we’ve spoken tried to submit tax documents during their renunciation, but the consular officer specifically stated that he/she would not accept any tax forms on behalf of the IRS.

In contrast, in two expatriations out of the numerous of which we’re aware, the individual was required by the consular officer to certify that he had met his tax obligations for the previous 5 years. This is unusual and not in accordance with U.S. law, but it does happen. A Congressional report in 2003 noted that although consular officers are not required to collect tax information or social security numbers, many do.

In the event that a consular officer requests you make a similar certification and/or states that you must submit IRS documents (typically Form 8854), we suggest that you explain the law. The Department of State’s own Guide for embassy staff regarding renunciation is particularly useful if this becomes an issue; you can point out paragraph c) on page 2. Even if the consular officer still incorrectly believes he needs tax forms from you, he is nonetheless obligated to take your renunciation and forward it to Washington. And your renunciation will still be approved: not submitting tax documents will not in any way affect the Department of State’s acceptance of your renunciation.

It’s also important to note that many consular officers are not aware that the law has changed regarding the tax liability of renunciants. Prior to June 18, 2008, renunciants’ tax obligation continued until Form 8854 was filed. But the HEART act of 2008 changed that. Under current law, the tax liability of all individuals who renounce after June 18, 2008 ends on the day of their expatriation. Because many consular officers are not aware of this change, we’ve observed that they often still ask for Form 8854 during the renunciation process, even helpfully suggesting that submitting it is the only way to stop the renunciant’s tax liabilities immediately. Again, if you want to submit Form 8854 to them during the process, you may (and it saves you from having to send it to the IRS the next year if the diplomatic post does this for you), but you aren’t obgligated to give it to them if you don’t want to.


If the local staff have not already finished the paperwork before you arrive (using any information you’d already sent them), they will ask you to wait while they complete everything. They enter into the computer the information you give on the forms, then print out multiple copies of the same forms you already filled out.

A consular officer will interview you once all the papers are ready. He or she is a U.S. citizen who became a Foreign Service Officer and has been posted by the Department of State to the consular section of the diplomatic post where you are.

In our experiences, the majority of consular officers who conduct the interview have very little experience with expatriation cases and throughout the process often need to consult their manual to confirm the next step. Consular officers in the handful of diplomatic posts which frequently handle renunciation cases are the exception.

The interview itself is very brief and professional. The officer asks why you want to renounce your U.S. citizenship. Their task is to ensure that your renunciation is voluntary and intentional.

You can explain your reason(s) for renunciation in the interview in any way you wish as long as you show voluntary intention and understanding of the consequences of renunciation. There are very few reasons which will be rejected.

It’s obvious, but some things you could say which would cause your renunciation to be rejected are: you desire to live permanently in the U.S. as an illegal alien after renunciation, you are being forced against your will to renounce, you only want to renounce your U.S. citizenship temporarily, you hope to buy weapons or transport hazardous materials in the U.S. after renunciation, or you desire to attack or harm the U.S.

Note that many sources on the internet claim that you can’t – or shouldn’t – cite taxes as a reason for expatriation. It’s debatable to what extent it used to matter, but it is clearly not correct now. Since June, 2008, it makes no legal difference whatsoever if taxes are a reason, or even the sole reason, for your expatriation. There are no differences in the renunciation process, your tax situation, or your ability to visit the U.S. later.

The officer will then explain to you the consequences and ramifications of renunciation, and ask if you understand and have any questions. The list of consequences will be similar to the document Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship (see the resources section for links to all the documents). In fact, in several of our experiences, the consular officer simply read the full text of this document aloud.

The location of the interview will vary based on the diplomatic post. A few people who renounced in diplomatic posts with large numbers of visa applicants told us their interviews were conducted in a small, private room which is used for visa interviews (there may be fingerprint machines in the room, but no fingerprints or photographs are taken in a renunciation). In other cases, the interviews are simply conducted while you stand at the counter of the ACS area.

One question that many people have asked us regards the attitude of the consular officer. In our experiences, the officers have been very professional and very courteous. Individuals we know who have also expatriated confirm that in no instance has the consular officer ever made any personal comments, any veiled insults, or attempted to talk the person out of renouncing. They are workers just doing their job professionally. The only criticism that anyone we know has made is that the officers often do not know the renunciation procedures and almost never know the law. Nonetheless, they look up the information they don’t know in their systems and try their best to assist you in the process.

In most renunciations of which we’re aware, you will be required to wait for some period of time after the first interview to think about the seriousness of renunciation.The time could be anywhere from an hour to several months, depending on the policy of the particular diplomatic post and the whims of the officer involved.

As there is no general policy set by the Department of State, the consular officer and the diplomatic post where you renounce have very large discretion on this point based on how they perceive your situation.

Step 4: Second Visit to the Diplomatic Post: Final Interview and Signing of Documents

In the second interview, the consular officer will confirm that you have thought about the gravity of expatriation and are still certain you want to renounce. He or she will verify again that you are renouncing voluntarily and of your own free will. If the consular officer is different than in your first interview, or if some time has passed since the first interview, the officer may ask you to explain again why you want to renounce. Almost any reason is acceptable; the goal is only to verify that you still intend to renounce and understand what you are doing.

Note that you may use a different diplomatic post for your second visit than you used for your first. All information from your first visit is recorded in a computer system which is accessible at any diplomatic post worldwide. Just confirm beforehand with the second diplomatic post, confirm they can access your file, and arrange an appointment. In some cases, the second diplomatic post may have to contact the first.

You will begin the formal renunciation after completing the second interview. You will sign numerous copies of every one of the documents which the diplomatic post prepared. [All documents are in our resources section here. As explained above, the forms and the information is exactly what you give them, but they enter it into their systems and print out the forms themselves]. The number of copies has generally been 5, as proscribed by the Dept. of State foreign services manual, but a few people have reported to us that they were asked to sign 8 and even 10 copies of everything.

In the actual “ceremony” of renunciation, the consular officer will ask you to raise your right hand and take the Oath of Renunciation. The foreign services manual suggests that this “ceremony” take place in front of a U.S. flag in order to emphasize the gravity of the occasion.

There is a divergence of experiences regarding what the consular officer should do with your U.S. passport if it is valid. In some situations, the officer has taken the passport and canceled it on the spot. This technically is not correct, as you do not actually lose citizenship until the Department of State approves the renunciation a month or two later. In one situation, the officer took the passport and agreed to cancel it upon notification from the Department of State that the renunciation was approved. And in several cases, the officer did not take the passport; the expatriate had to return a few months after the renunciation was approved in order to have the passport canceled to complete the process.

Step 5: After the renunciation “ceremony”

The diplomatic post which conducted your renunciation ceremony will forward all documents to Washington, D.C., where the Department of State will decide whether to accept your expatriation. Approval generally takes 1-2 months.

If your forms were filled out correctly and you showed voluntary intent to renounce, your expatriation will be approved. It is your right.

However, we do know of situations where the renunciation was initially denied by the Department of State because of errors in paperwork or misinterpretation of the applicant’s reasons for renunciation. In one case, an individual had to redo his renunciation 3 times because he insisted that he would go after his expatriation to the U.S. to live and work. This is legal, but it took some time to explain that he intended to go as a foreigner with a green card, and not as an illegal alien. (Beyond the issue of whether renunciation is the most advisable path if this is your plan, we would recommend that in a similar circumstance you explain your intentions clearly so your expatriation can be approved more smoothly.)

It’s important to note that you are still a U.S. citizen until the Department of State approves the renunciation.

After the Department of State approves your renunciation, you will be issued a document called Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States. You may also receive back your canceled passport, if you choose. The diplomatic post will give you both items. Some posts require that you come in person to pick them up, but in our experience, most posts are willing to send them to you by mail, if you wish. One person reported to us that the diplomatic post where she renounced made her pay for the postage; this was the only such case we’re aware of.

If the way you’ll get back your document is an issue for you, we recommend discussing this with the consular officer before the renunciation.

After your renunciation, your name will be flagged in the Department of State’s consular lookout computer system so that passport officers will know not to issue you a passport in the future.

After issuing the Certificate of Loss of Nationality, the Department of State will forward your name to the IRS. By law, the IRS must publish quarterly in the Federal Register a list of all renunciants. It uses the information it receives from the Department of State to create this list. (Please note that the published lists are riddled with errors: numerous names are omitted, some names are double- or triple-published, etc. See here for details of the lists and the errors they contain).

12 thoughts on “Renunciation: Step by step

  1. Tony

    Is this correct? Note that many sources on the internet claim that you can’t – or shouldn’t – cite taxes as a reason for expatriation. It’s debatable to what extent it used to matter, but it is clearly not correct now.

    Under 8 U.S.C. 1182, “any alien who is a former citizen of the United States who officially renounces United States citizenship and who is determined by the Attorney General to have renounced United States citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation” is inadmissible to the United States, that is ineligible for entry to the United States.

    That would indicate to me that if you cite tax reasons, or even if you don’t but the Attorney General decides that you renounced because of tax reasons, then you aren’t going to be allowed back into the country…

  2. Davoli

    Anybody else shocked by the fee, which is not mentioned here, of $2,350 to process this paperwork??!!!
    Is this fee the same everywhere, does anybody know how to avoid paying what is essentially blackmail, for me to exercise my right by law???

    1. Dottie

      Renunciation used to be free, then went to $450, and recently to $2,350. Fortunately, I got mine done under the $450 fee. People here talk about relinquishing (free) but I’m not sure if that works re the IRS. Myself, I feel better about renouncing. If you’re going to do it, I suggest biting the bullet, paying the $2,350, and getting the process started before t he raise the blackmail fee still again, or worse, declare it illegal to renounce. It took 20 months before I received the CLN. In the meantime they had my money and I had no US passport (not that I wanted it anyway). Most people here have said it didn’t take them nearly as long, but people are divorcing the US in droves and there are very few people in the state department that process renunciations.

      1. zeev613

        So the answer is no? There is no way to fight the fee on constitutional grounds? Has anyone tried hiring an immigration attorney to do this?

        1. Dottie

          A lawyer would cost you more than the $2,350, lots of time, and I’m almost certain you’d lose in the end. Best just to bite the bullet and get it done before they increase the cost even more. The Constitution? What a laugh. Haven’t you noticed that they don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to the Constitution any longer? It’s no more important to the US government than toilet paper.

          1. zeev613

            From what I’ve read, it IS possible to declare renunciation without obtaining the Certificate of Loss of Citizenship, which is what the fee pays for. Can anyone verify this?

  3. Leonard Campaigne

    Consider the UAE for Renunciation

    I was born in Canada, to Canadian citizen parents in 1952 at the border city of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and so I was no stranger to living near the USA, seeing it and crossing into it often. I grew up with hockey, baseball, football, Buffalo radio and television, Macy’s Parade and The Parade of Roses, and JFK. And space — I followed several missions of the space program as a young teenager, watching television coverage for hours on end. You might say that I was sensitized to the issues of the Isaac Brock Society at an early age by growing up near where he was killed, and seeing his monument and reminders of the War of 1812-14 regularly.

    My family moved to Alberta in 1966 and I joined the military that year as an Army Cadet, then two years later as a Militia (Reserve) soldier, and on completion of high school in 1970, as a full-time member of the Canadian Armed Forces. My military duties for the next 26 years put me in regular contact and in direct support of US-Canada intelligence gathering and aerospace operations. In 1974 I began the first of four assignments in the USA, arriving at Syracuse, New York the day President Nixon left the White House in disgrace. For the next three years my adult eyes were opened to the politics and scars of the USA through travel and working with US military personnel, several of them Vietnam War veterans, from all over the country.

    My next US assignment was a two-year tour at Colorado Springs, Colorado from 1986-88, during which I married my US citizen wife, and shortly after we were transferred to Winnipeg, Manitoba where I served as a space flight commander and chief instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Studies.

    How I became a US citizen through naturalization.

    In 1990, I was selected for a fully-subsidized graduate degree in space studies at the University of North Dakota (1991-92) and after that was transferred back to Colorado Springs where I completed a four-year tour then retired from the Canadian Forces in July 1996. During my final tour, I was recruited to teach a graduate course in space systems engineering which required me to have a social security number, and to get that I needed a permanent resident ‘green card’ both which I received in May 1993. Although the university offered to sponsor a green card, I chose instead to apply for it through my spouse’s sponsorship.

    In May 1996 I was preparing for military retirement and had job offers from US companies which required me to have a US security clearance, and the only way to do that was to gain US citizenship. Being married to a US citizen meant I would need three years of US permanent residency to qualify and that was exactly what I had just completed after obtaining a green card back in 1993 in order to teach.

    My spouse-sponsored application for US citizenship was submitted at Denver in May 1996 and I swore allegiance during a US naturalization ceremony four months later in October 1996.

    As a US-Canada Dual Citizen.

    My interim security clearance was bestowed in January 1997, and final clearance granted in October 1997, a year to the day of receiving US citizenship. I obtained a US passport a few months after becoming a citizen, but did not renew my Canadian passport in 1997 on advice from my company security officer.

    I worked over the next 12 years as a defence contractor for big firms such as Hughes Aircraft Company, IBM, CIBER and CSC, plus some smaller businesses in between. After 9/11, I became very disillusioned about US foreign policy, and saw the hypocrisy of US policy toward other nations. I did not agree with the invasion of Iraq, nor the continuing campaign in Afghanistan; the treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Cuba was disgusting to me, and the ridiculous TSA meddling in air travel made my weekly commuting a new challenge.

    Thinking ahead about final retirement, we decided that we would most likely retire in Canada, so purchased a new condominium apartment in Windsor, Ontario in 2004, and closed the deal on its completion in 2007.

    But, the beginning of my real souring started in 2008 when my dual citizenship prevented me from working on an assignment with the US Army, and I was forced to give my company security officer an 11-year expired Canadian passport so that he could destroy it, and give me a receipt that stated I surrendered it because I no longer considered myself a Canadian citizen, and that I only recognized US citizenship from then on. This was clearly a new condition of continued employment within the defence industry. I notified the Canada Trade Commission in Denver in writing about the circumstances of having to give up my Canadian passport.

    With the dual citizenship issue resolved, I was next assigned to a job at The Pentagon where I served from January 2009 to June 2011, and continued to hold very high security clearances. My spouse remained in Colorado Springs where she worked with the US Air Force as a clinical therapist, and so we were in a long-distance commuting situation and maintaining two residences plus the Windsor condo, which was not ideal financially. Because of my high security clearances, even trips to Canada were no longer routine affairs, and I had to advise in advance my intended movements outside the USA, and on return to report any contacts with foreign nationals (including my own relatives in Canada). One final insult in 2011 was having to report internet contacts with foreign nationals, including some help groups I ran for space studies students, a genealogy and a military reunion site, plus Facebook and LinkedIn contacts, and ultimately I was required to shut all of those down!

    Now, in May 2011, a colleague sent me a notice that people with my background were being sought for work in the UAE. The pay and benefits were said to be very good, and this gave an opportunity for my spouse and I to be together full-time, and to recover income lost from the Pentagon posting. I was accepted for a project management role in June 2011, left DC and went unaccompanied to UAE in July 2011 to prepare for a project. After two months, we decided we would sell our Colorado home, and the Canadian apartment, and after a 3-month probation, I was confirmed as a permanent employee and my spouse and I began planning for her to join me in UAE.

    Meanwhile, a review with my tax accountant of the US tax liability for my new job opened my eyes to the unjust system of US expatriate taxation. He pointed out that my dual citizenship offered an alternative, and after reading the “American Expatriation Guide: How to Divorce the US Government,” in September 2011 I was convinced it was the right thing to do. This 26-page informative paper can be found online at:

    Divorcing the US Government.

    I applied for a new Canadian passport at the Windsor, Ontario passport office at the end of October 2011, and received it in one week! Armed with that, a firm job in the UAE, plus a UAE residence visa now tied to my Canadian passport, I contacted the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE, toward the middle of January 2012 and requested an appointment for renunciation. The consulate staff responded within a week, and an appointment for February 6th was agreed. I offered to send my completed forms in advance but that was declined, so I had them printed out and with me and signed them in front of the embassy clerk. I also brought US passports, the current Canadian passport, my original Naturalization document, and a credit card to pay the USD 450 blood money – the passport was taken from me, but no payment required until the next step.

    The appointment went well, and I answered any questions calmly and with authority of knowledge, so the clerk was sympathetic to my request for expediting the process. Having all the forms ready was a compelling factor to show I had already contemplated and reflected on the seriousness of what I was doing, so we agreed to do the second (and final) interview within a few days if it could be scheduled — and it could be done two days later on February 8th, 2012. This time, I met the same consular staff member, signed the completed forms, received my US passport back, paid the USD 450 fee, and then met a US consular officer in a separate area. She went over the consequences document and had me sign that and the Certificate of Loss of Nationality then to swear that I knew what I was doing. The only snag was a request from the State Department a few weeks later to re-do the oath since the embassy had used an outdated form. That was done on 01 March 2012, and everything was still back-dated to the original date of 08 February. I was called 25 March 2012 to pick up my CLN freedom document at the UAE Embassy – it was stamped approved by Department of State on 01 March 2012.

    In 2013, I filed a US tax return for the period 01 January – 08 February 2012, and submitted the I-8854 document completing the final step under the renunciation process. My name was published in the renunciation list of The Federal Register in July 2013.

    The whole process, from first appointment to receipt of CLN was 45 days, including a slight delay due to the Embassy using an outdated form.

    Conclusions and Recommendations.

    The process in the UAE was easy and quick when I did it in February 2012.Things that helped speed it along:
    •preparing for the appointment by reading the “American Expatriation Guide: How to Divorce the US Government” (2010) paper was a key motivating step (
    •having a second citizenship (passport) was essential – for those who don’t have a second citizenship, start the process to obtain one immediately
    •having original documentation of citizenship with me was useful
    •preparing the renunciation forms in advance was helpful to resolving it quickly (in three days)
    •maintaining a cordial but business-like rapport was important – remember, the clerk has no stake in the outcome
    •sticking to facts and no chit-chatting contributed to a straight-forward process – resist saying any more than required
    •answer the question of why? with a simple: “because it’s my right to do so.”

    In short, I would highly recommend working the process through the UAE if possible, and planning to complete it while visiting over a two-week period. US citizens can arrive in the UAE without a visa and stay for up to 30 days, and this can be extended for a few months with short out-and-back road trips to Oman (about 1.5 hours away). Letting the embassy staff know in advance what my timeline was seemed to help.

    1. Dottie

      The link Leonard posed above does not take you to “American Expatriation Guide: How to Divorce the US Government.” Doug Casey used to provide good information, but now he wants you to pay for every thing. He also had an expat forum where people could offer and exchange ideas about useful things. That’s long gone too. Thumbs down to Doug Casey.

      As for “biting the bullet” and paying the $2,350, yes, it’s extortion, but you have no choice unless you go the relinquishment route, which I’m not sure works these days. I don’t think the US government cares one way or the other about “forcing people into poverty.” The government is flat broke and will use every means to collect a few extra dollars. In any case, it’s too late. The US government is doomed. They have caused their own demise.

  4. Biny

    “I suggest biting the bullet, paying the $2,350” That is easy for you to say if you have the money! Unless you are wealthy, income in most countries is far less than what you earn in the US. Not everyone with dual-citizenship have the resources of a mainland American. Converting my foreign wage to US Dollars is $8,000 a year. A $2,350 fee is 29.3% of my yearly income! This fee should be means based because if I pay that to renounce US citizenship I will either starve to death or live with no utilities for a year. Was it the intention of the US government to force people into poverty with such extravagant fees?

  5. Leonard Campaigne

    I will gladly provide the file to this board or any individual – it is free of charge and free to distribute as declared by the original author. Casey should not be charging for it! If the Admin wishes to have the file for archiving, I will be happy to provide it.

  6. Kristien Garrett

    I have a question. I am in a situation to where my parents moved to Israel when I was a baby and claimed that they renounced their citizenship to the U.S. does this mean that I am not a citizen of the U.S.? I read that parents cannot renounce their childrens citizenship, but does this go in my situation, I never would have done that if I was older. Now I am 23 and would like to come back to the U.S. and live.

  7. Daniel Hamann

    I renounced at a U.S. Consulate General in Germany and was given no option for return of my cancelled U.S. Passport/delivery of my CLN other than registered mail, for which I was instructed to provided a stamped, self-addressed envelope.


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