What is Renunciation of Citizenship?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Renunciation of citizenship, or expatriation, has to do with voluntarily choosing to abandon or relinquish the privilege of citizenship and identification with a given country. This act of renouncing citizenship is very different from the process of denaturalization, in which a country chooses to remove the citizenship of an individual without his or her permission. The renunciation of citizenship is the direct opposite of naturalization, a process that allows an individual to achieve citizenship within a country.

The decision to renounce citizenship can occur for several reasons. One common thought process behind the renunciation of citizenship is that the individual chooses to leave the country of birth to seek a better life in another country. Rather than retain citizenship in the country of origin, the individual builds a life in a different country, and wishes to become a full citizen of his or her adopted homeland.


A second common reason for the renunciation of membership has to do with choosing to avoid tax burdens imposed by the country where citizenship is currently held. It is not uncommon for persons to seek citizenship in countries with more favorable tax structures, allowing the individual to retain more income and pay less in taxes. In a few instances, the motivation for the renunciation of membership has to do with business functions. An individual may choose to renounce his or her citizenship in order to avoid the application of laws that would limit business movements or practices in some manner.

Each country formulates their own policies regarding citizenship. Some countries allow a dual citizenship, especially in situations where a child is born to a couple where each parent is a citizen of a different country. Others do not recognize this dual type of citizenship, and require that the individual formally renounce the citizenship of one country or the other. It is not unusual for a country to ensure that the individual already has pending citizenship in another country before granting the renunciation of citizenship.

If you wish to renounce your citizenship, the process can often be implemented at an embassy of the country involved. Generally, there is extensive paperwork involved, a period of evaluation, and then a final decision regarding the request. Most countries take steps to ensure the reasons for choosing to request a renunciation of membership are well thought out, and that the action is not being conducted in haste.


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