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Renunciation of citizenship

Regardless of the reason a person should choose to renunciate their citizenship it is a very limiting and complicated process. The U.S. State Department has no record of the annual number of Americans who do renounce their citizenship. However, the IRS publishes their names in the Federal Register. The IRS's interest on the subject is a financial one; since 1996, the agency has tracked American expatriates to try to recoup tax revenue, which, in some cases may be owed for up to ten years when a person leaves the country. In any case, the actual number of people renouncing their citizenship, for example, in 2002 the Federal Register recorded only 403, of which many were merely longtime resident aliens who were returning home.

The most serious barrier for anyone wanting to renounce their citizenship is that the State Department, who oversees expatriation, does not want to allow U.S. citizens to become "stateless." Especially during these times of world duress, it is contrary to the security of world citizens for countries to release renounced citizens into the world without a citizenship. Before it allows expatriation, the department requires the individual to obtain either citizenship or legal asylum in another country, which is a complicated and expensive process. Would-be renunciants must also prove that they have no intentions to return to the U.S. in the future. Finally, the erstwhile renunciant cannot renounce inside U.S. borders; the declaration must be made abroad at the consul's office.

Crossing over the border to Canada or Mexico


In the search for alternate citizenship, the expatriate "wannabe" might think first of Canada and Mexico .

A Permanent Resident Visa is a document which allows a person lawfully reside and work in any province across Canada . Permanent Resident visa gives a holder most rights, privileges and social benefits accorded to Canadian citizens.  A person who is a Canadian Permanent Resident may apply for Canadian Citizenship after 3 years. Some reasons people have left the US for Canada are for socialized medicine and asylum from the draft in the late 60's and early 70's.

Canada is no longer a paradise for American dissidents. Reasons include the weakness of the dollar and the high cost of petroleum. For example, in 1970 nearly 20,000 Americans became permanent residents of Canada (draft dodgers, deserters, etc.), while in the last decade that number has dropped to just about 5,000. Currently, it takes an average of 25 months to be accepted as a permanent Canadian resident, and this is only the first step in what will probably be a five-year process of becoming a citizen.

The citizenship program of Mexico is equally complicated. Seniors know that Mexico offers a lenient program for retirees, who can stay as long as they want. However, while residing in Mexico , they are not allowed to work and, most important, they must remain an U.S. citizen for at least five years.

The Republic of France

There are many who want to relocate in France, a country that allows a very select few to "assimilate" each year. This assimilation is reserved for people who are of non-French descent who are able to prove that they are more French than American by having mastered the French language as well as its culture. Each case is determined on its own merit, and determination is made by the Ministère de l'Emploi, du Travail, et de la Cohésion Social. When the name of the expatriate is published in the Journal Officiel de la République Français, then he is officially a citizen. (Another extreme way of gaining French citizenship is to serve in the Legion Entragere, better known as the French Foreign Legion. After five years of service, the Legionnaire automatically acquires French citizenship.)

Caribbean Islands

Another solution would be to go to the Caribbean . One example is the twin-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis . Citizenship here can be purchased outright, with prices beginning at $125,000. This price includes a $25,000 application fee and a minimum purchase of $100,000 in bonds. The time it takes to process, including criminal record checks, takes about three months. The island of Dominica offers a program of "economic citizenship" as well.

However, should the expatriate want to live on a Caribbean island, he should hurry because the choice tropical paradises are fast dwindling.

Indian reservations

Native American reservations, which enjoy sovereign freedom from both state taxation and law enforcement, may seem like an ideal home for an "internal" expatriate. However, to become a citizen of a reservation is very difficult. Proof has to be given that you are a descendant of a member of the original tribal base roll.

Shipping out to Sea

This is literally moving offshore. For a little over $1 million, a person can purchase a cabin onboard the cruise ship, The World, which is a residential vessel that continuously goes to sea and stops at ports worldwide. However, once again the expatriation is only partial, because even the world sails under the flag of the Bahamas . Its cabin owners, who come from Europe, Asia, and the U.S. , retain the citizenship in their home nations. It sounds a bit bizarre, but about 100,000 people actually live full time on boats, recreational vehicles and vans, according to the 2000 Census. A person can declare a boat as a home or second home and qualify for certain tax relief.

Theoretically, a person can get lost in the masses and roam the seas never coming to port, never needing citizenship and never paying taxes, but this is a movie, not reality. Renouncing your citizenship is a very serious decision and most people make this decision for family, tax or political reasons.