Simplifying the Process the Right way

To renounce US citizenship, you must go in person to a US embassy or consulate outside the US and sign before a consular officer an oath or affirmation that you intend to renounce your citizenship. It sounds easy when you put it like that, but because of the complexities of the process, and the far-reaching consequences involved, we’ve produced a simple, step by step guide of what you can expect.

5 Steps to Renouncing US Citizenship

When you want to be able to hand back your citizenship and start a new life for you and your family, you’re going to need to follow these 5 key steps. Once we’ve introduced them we’ll look at each in detail so you know exactly what to expect:

  • Select your diplomatic post
  • Make an appointment to submit your documentation

  • Visit the diplomatic post with your documents for an initial interview
  • Visit for a second time to conduct a final interview and sign all relevant documentation
  • Move forward after renunciation

Everything that follows is information and pointers collected through decades of helping US citizens navigate the renunciation process. It is intended to highlight the ease of the process when approached the right way and provides a robust starting point for anyone looking to understand what to expect.

Selecting Your 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 US embassy or consulate. The key thing is to understand that it’s not just location itself that matters. Whilst the law will be identical, the actual procedure followed is a matter for the post itself. It will vary substantially from one to the next, and in our experience only a select few posts have clear and transparent written procedures. These are London, Dublin, Bern, Amsterdam, Seoul, Hong Kong, and the busier missions in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and they are where the majority of renunciations take place.

When selecting your diplomatic post, there are 5 key points of difference that you will need to consider:

Residency: Some posts, particularly those in Western Europe, will only accept renunciations from individuals who have citizenship and/or permanent residency in that country
– Appointment Times: Some of the most oversubscribed posts will require you to book your appointment up to 3-6 months in advance. Other less popular choices will have appointments at just a few days notice
– Documentation: The busiest posts will require you to send all of your documentation in advance to reduce the processing time during your appointment
– Proof of Second Citizenship: Some posts will require to you to show a passport of a second country so that you do not become stateless within their borders by seeking renunciation
– Processing Time: The specific number of interviews and the time between each one is a matter for the individual posts. This means that a waiting time of 2-3 hours at one post could be up to 3 months at another

Making an Appointment and Submitting Your Documentation

This is largely a matter for the post you choose and can vary significantly from one to the next. Some posts will require you to submit everything in advance, others will request an online form be completed, whilst the rest will allow you to simply turn up at your appointment with everything they’ve requested. It’s important to note that at this stage all of our communication should be through the post itself, and not the State Department in Washington. If in doubt, ask a local member of the post for assistance and guidance on what to do and expect.

Visit the Post and Attend Your Initial Interview

To gain entrance you will typically be asked to show your US passport or some other proof of citizenship such as naturalization papers or a US birth certificate. Whilst it’s not a legal requirement, you can expect it to be a key part of the post’s on-site process. From there you will be directed through security before heading for American Citizen Services (ACS). You will then be greeted by a local member of staff who will request your documentation, or who will ask you to complete any additional documentation they require. You will then be asked to sign an oath that states you understand the consequences of renunciation and that it is permanent.

It is worth noting that at this stage there is no legal obligation or requirement to submit any tax or income documentation. We have heard of certain posts requesting it, but there is no legal obligation to provide it. Even in the event that a consular official disagrees, they are still legally obligated to submit your application to Washington, where it will be processed as normal.

The interview will then follow once your documentation has been preliminarily checked and verified. 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, and these would include: desire to buy weapons, coercion and a lack of understanding about what the process actually involves. Provided you give a valid reason, the law treats you no differently regardless of what it is.

The interviewer will then explain the consequences of renunciation and schedule a second interview. This is done to give you time to consider the decision you are about to make. The time that elapses can be anywhere from 2-3 hours to several months, and will depend to a large part on the existing procedures of the particular post.

Revisit For Your Final Interview

It is worth noting that at this stage everything has been centrally stored, meaning that if it is more convenient to do so you may attend your final interview at a different post. The legal formalities from this stage onwards will result in the same outcome. You will be asked to sign all relevant documentation, with some posts requesting you sign up to 8-10 copies of each, before the ceremony of renunciation begins.

Here you will be asked raise your right hand and take the Oath of Renunciation. This will typically be done in front of a US flag, but you will not lose your citizenship at this point. It will typically take the Department of State 1-2 months to cancel your passport before the process is completed.

Moving Forward After Renunciation

Once your passport has been cancelled you will be issued with the Certificate of Loss of Nationality, the Department of State. You are now no longer a US citizen and will be afforded the same rights and protection as any other citizen of the country in which you now hold citizenship.