Relinquishing US citizenship

Update February 28, 2020 – See the post here: Renunciations of U.S. citizenship in Halifax and Quebec City have been discontinued. It is really hard to imagine any defensible reason for this. At a bare minimum wait times to renounce will increase and renunciation will become much more expensive for dual citizens in Atlantic Canada.

Updates as of May 26, 2016 – See the post here!

Relinquishing U.S. Citizenship – Some Background
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (S. 349) prescribes how one can relinquish U.S. citizenship. It reads as follows:

(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—

(1) obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or
(2) taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or
(3) entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if
(A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or
(B) such persons serve as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer; or
(A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state; or
(B) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years for which office, post, or employment an oath, affirmation, or declaration of allegiance is required; or
(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; or
(6) making in the United States a formal written renunciation of nationality in such form as may be prescribed by, and before such officer as may be designated by, the Attorney General, whenever the United States shall be in a state of war and the Attorney General shall approve such renunciation as not contrary to the interests of national defense; or
(7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(b) Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Any person who commits or performs, or who has committed or performed, any act of expatriation under the provisions of this chapter or any other Act shall be presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily.

As you can see, “renunciation” of U.S. citizenship is ONE of the ways of relinquishing U.S. citizenship. When one takes the step of “renouncing” U.S. citizenship, one goes to the U.S.  consulate and relinquishes U.S. citizenship by renouncing in the presence of a U.S. government representative.

Please note that the time of the relinquishment depends on when the relinquishment takes place. Obviously when the relinquishing act is “renunciation”, the relinquishment takes place at the time of the renunciation.

The “timing of the relinquishment” does matter. Those who relinquished prior to February 6, 1995 may find this discussion to be of interest. Those who relinquished prior to 1986 should know that that S. 349 did NOT require that the expatriating act be performed “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality”. That said, the Supreme Court of the United States had ruled in 1967 and 1979 that “intention” was a constitutional requirement to be expatriated on the initiative of the U.S. Government! The 1986 amendments were an amendment that did NOT change the law. The 1986 amendments brought the U.S. Government legislation into compliance with the law!

Some of you may be entitled to a “back dated” Certificate of Loss of Nationality.
Take some time and read these forms …

Please think clearly and carefully about loss of U.S. citizenship. On the one hand U.S. citizenship can be a difficult burden if you are NOT living in the United States. On the other hand, U.S. citizenship is the only thing that gives you a permanent right to return to the United States. If you are NOT a U.S. citizen and wish to enter the United States, you are treated like any other non-citizen of your nationality. If you have a criminal record (of any type) this could affect your right of entry to the United States as a non-citizen.

Relinquishing U.S. Citizenship – Some Forms

Here are three forms that are part of the process:

1. Form 4079 – Purpose: to determine whether you may have relinquished your citizenship without a renunciation.


2. Form 4080 – Purpose: the actual renunciation form


3. Form 4081 – Purpose: to ensure you have been informed of the consequences of renunciation


4. Questionnaire – Purpose: Must be completed to make appointment


To renounce U.S. citizenship in Canada email:

and read this post.

This information is NOT legal  advice. Remember that the timing of the relinquishment matters. Those who believe they may be subject to the S. 877A Exit Tax need pay special attention!
If you need help …

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

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