“It’s better in the Bahamas – Combining your renunciation with a vacation

For years I have seen the slogan “It’s better in the Bahamas”. It’s a great place to vacation. It’s a short flight from Toronto. It’s relatively inexpensive to visit. It’s was the home of one Sir John Templeton (one of the most famous renunciants of U.S. citizenship). And when it comes to “renouncing U.S. citizenship”, it might be “Better in the Bahamas“, because you can schedule a renunciation appointment on a predictable date!

What follows are some recent reports about the renunciation process in Nassau, Bahamas.

Report 1 …

We corresponded with the Embassy in advance via Ms. Barbara Wallace, who set up our appointments. They only do relinquishment appointments on Tuesdays for some reason. Ms. Wallace emailed us 3 forms to fill out but not to sign: 1. an overview form which was not an official form but their own embassy generated form, which asks for basic information like name, DOB, where else you are a citizen, how long and when you lived in the US etc. 2. For DS 4080, and 3. Form DS4081
Our appointment was originally for 9AM. When we called the week before to confirm, Ms. Wallace told us to come in at 8AM but we did not get an email to that effect. When we arrived at the embassy at 8AM our names were not on the appointment list, and it took a few minutes to straighten things out. We first went through a security check, then once we cleared that we had to go through another security check to get to the main waiting room. We were told to go to Window 3 where we were met by the Consul. Both my wife and I were interviewed together and the process took about 5 minutes or so. The Consul confirmed that we were doing this without duress and that we knew what we were giving up (right to vote, right to live in or enter the US unfettered, right to consular assistance etc.), and told us to come back between 1230 and 1PM.

We arrived back at 1245. The cashier had gone home unexpectedly early and so they would not be accepting VISA payments. We had been warned that sometimes the VISA machines were down and had brought cash. We would highly recommend anyone going there brings cash for the fee. We confirmed to them that we intended to pay with cash, so we were allowed back inside the embassy. When we arrived back in the main area, we were directed to the Cashier to pay, and then back to the window to meet the consul again. Once again we were interviewed together. The Consul gave us a receipt for the payment, and then asked if we would affirm or swear the oath of renunciation, confirmed again that we were not doing this under duress and understood the consequences, etc. After that we signed all of the forms (3 copies of which we got to keep one as a receipt). This part of the process took total of about 10 minutes.

They kept our passports, and told us the CLN would take about 3 months to get.

Report 2 …

Nassau was mostly a breeze. … I got in, and was surprised that all my interactions with Embassy processing-personnel was done through bullet-proof glass, like at a teller station in a paranoid US bank.

My second meeting was rescheduled for 1 PM, but I was there, and got through the two security check points, at 12:45. Barbara Wallace then told me that I needed to pay in cash, because their cashier/registrar had to go home and they couldn’t take credit cards. Ms Wallace seem to think I could just go into a bank and get the money. I told her the ___________ did not have a reciprocal arrangement with any non-US bank. She went away and came back, having achieved special dispensation for me to use a credit card. Got it done, then the Consul asked me the same questions she had asked me in the morning, and I was done. [Had to go back to one of the security checkpoints to pick up my hotel roomkey/swipe card, which they were adamant that they would hold until I finished my business inside the Embassy.

Interesting that there were signs outside the Embassy saying photos/videos were not allowed. That instruction was repeated by my taxi driver when we drove by.

Thanks for your help. Glad it’s [almost] over…then there will be IRS interactions/forms…

Report 3 …

A few things to consider as freedom looms:

Bring cash:

Although U.S. cash or a credit card is acceptable, cash buys you peace of mind. As a result of the recent hurricane, there can be disruptions to electrical power. It’s not worth the surge of fear that your payment won’t go through.

Notify your credit card company:

If you prefer to pay by credit card, call your credit card company in advance and alert them that a payment will be going through.

Closest hotel:

For anyone who may have FOMR (fear of missing renunciation) and who plans on staying just one night, there is a Hilton hotel just down the street from the embassy.

Caffeine:

You can walk half a block to Smuggler’s Restaurant and get a Starbucks coffee or cappucino. There is a Macdonald’s next door that serves VBC. (A little puzzle to keep you company while you’re waiting at the embassy).

Security clearance:

No phones, electronics, cosmetics, lip gloss allowed inside. There is a security box service that-just -happens to be across the street.

Celebratory lunch:

After the cooling off appointment at 1pm is over, enjoy a celebratory lunch on the patio/courtyard at Cafe Matisse.

Congrats on being unamerican.
Best wishes and happier tomorrows.

Some thoughts …

I recommend that you bring cash to your appointment (regardless of Consulate) to renounce U.S. citizenship. I have had people report on the inability to pay by credit card at at least one other major Embassy/Consulate in the last month.

Make sure that you bring proof of both the fact of your Canadian citizenship and how you acquired Canadian citizenship (birth abroad or naturalization).

Overall, the Bahamas can give you a sooner (for those who want to renounce this year) renunciation opportunity than renouncing U.S. citizenship in  Canada. The savings of an additional year of filing U.S. taxes can pay for your vacation!

Don’t forget!!! After renouncing U.S. citizenship you must still:

  • File a final U.S. tax return for the year of renunciation; and
  • File Form 8854 (as per the instructions) by BOTH attaching it to  your final tax return AND sending it separately to the proper address!

John Richardson