Renunciation is the act of purposely giving up or renouncing one's citizenship. Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the section of law that governs the ability of a United States citizen to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship. That section of law provides for the loss of nationality by voluntarily performing the following act with the intent to relinquish his or her U.S. nationality:
"(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".
A person wishing to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:
Appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer in a foreign country (normally at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and
Sign an oath of renunciation.
Renunciations that do not meet the conditions described above have no legal effect. Because of the provisions of section 349(a)(5), Americans cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States. In fact, U.S. courts have held certain attempts to renounce U.S. citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds, as discussed below.
*As of July 13, 2010 a fee of $450 has been established for documentation of formal renunciation of U.S. Citizenship. This fee is payable upon collection of the Certificate of Loss of Nationality.
Renunciation of Children's Citizenship
Parents cannot renounce U.S. citizenship on behalf of their minor children. Before an oath of renunciation will be administered under Section 349(a)(5) of the INA, a person under the age of eighteen must convince a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer that he/she fully understands the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation and is voluntarily seeking to renounce his/her U.S. citizenship. United States common law establishes an arbitrary limit of age fourteen under which a child's understanding must be established by substantial evidence.
Tax & Military Obligations/No Escape from Prosecution
Also, persons who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship should also be aware that the fact that a person has renounced U.S. citizenship may have no effect whatsoever on his or her U.S. tax or military service obligations (contact the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Selective Service for more information). In addition, the act of renouncing U.S. citizenship will not allow persons to avoid possible prosecution for crimes which they may have committed in the United States or to escape the repayment of financial obligations previously incurred in the United States.
Irrevocability of Renunciation
Finally, those contemplating a renunciation of U.S. citizenship should understand that the act is irrevocable, except as provided in section 351 of the INA, and cannot be canceled or set aside absent successful administrative or judicial appeal. Section 351(b) of the INA provides that an applicant who renounced his or her U.S. citizenship before the age of eighteen can have that citizenship reinstated if he or she makes that desire known to the Department of State within six months after attaining the age of eighteen. See also Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, section 50.20).
Renunciation is the most unequivocal way in which a person can manifest an intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship. Please consider the effects of renouncing U.S. citizenship before taking this serious and irrevocable action. If you wish to renounce your U.S. citizenship, please contact the American Citizen Services Section of the consulate.