Nononymous wasn’t sure if he wanted to renounce his citizenship, but he wanted to look into his options. He decided to book an appointment at the US embassy in Calgary to conduct the first interview of the renunciation process.
Helpfully, he wrote about his experiences so that anyone else in the Calgary area might know what to expect should they decide to renounce.
So I just returned from the consulate.
I did not in fact decide to renounce, at least not yet. It didn’t make a lot of sense – would have been an emotional, not rational, decision. At this point in time it’s far more trouble to renounce than to simply file three 1040s and an FBAR and renew my passport and be done with it. There are implications in terms of future travel, I still could derive some benefit from US citizenship, and at least for now the reporting requirements for me are not so onerous. So I will wait until Christmas when I have a planned meeting with my parents around estate planning, and possibly take their lawyer’s advice. The consulate will keep the file for a year, if I change my mind I can pop down and sign the forms and take the oath and be done with it.
In other words, I didn’t let moral outrage get the better of me. Realistically, given that I’m a small fish who doesn’t and likely won’t ever owe US taxes, renunciation is probably overkill. As for my parents’ estate I’m assuming it could be a problem down the road, but I don’t in fact know that, so it makes sense to get a professional opinion before tearing up the passport.
This has been described elsewhere. First up you bring to the window your documents and the questionnaire they e-mail you ahead of time. They take a few minutes to prepare the forms, you read them, then wait to speak to a consular official (i.e. diplomat rather than support staff). Then the consul essentially gives you a sales pitch on why the citizenship will still be useful to you. After which you sign the forms and the process begins. Or you do not, in which case you get your passport back. In the latter event they do not act as though you have wasted their time, quite the opposite.
Overall it was very friendly and pleasant (I have some foreign service connections – we had mutual acquaintances). I said that my coming down and taking up half an hour of his time was my way of registering my unhappiness about this situation, which he fully understood and accepted. I had a few questions about future travel after I renounced and he answered them as best he could.
What I learned:
The State Department probably isn’t very happy with the IRS right now. This is taking up a lot of their time. I was not the first appointment of this nature, nor the last. They really don’t know how the FATCA and FBAR situation will play out, and in a rather wink-and-nod (or just wishful thinking) way suggested that these laws might not be implemented quite so severely as is currently feared, given all the resistance.
They are both shocked and touched that Canadians are so decent and honest. This would not be a problem in Italy, he felt – everyone would keep their citizenship and continue lying and life would be far simpler for the embassy.
Once you have renounced, in theory you should not be treated any differently than any other Canadian citizen. However, border crossings and airlines are not always predictable, and like it or not, having that US birthplace will always cause questions to be asked, even if you carry a letter or certificate.
You absolutely do not need to have done your taxes first. The renunciation form simply states that you agree to contact the IRS and get it squared away at some point. Presumably you don’t receive the certificate of renunciation until the returns have all been processed, so there’s an incentive to do it in a timely fashion.
Also you don’t pay the $450 up front!
To book his appointment, Nononymous sent an e-mail to the consulate (found on the website, as well as on the automated phone recording). The online form to book appointments does not cover renunciation.