Legal Professional?
Build Your Business

Citizenship Abroad

You do not give up the rights of your United States citizenship when you live or travel abroad. This is true whether you are a natural-born citizen or a naturalized citizen.

Rights of U.S. Citizens Living Abroad

United States citizens living abroad retain the same rights as if they were living in the U.S. Here are a few important ones.

The right to vote: Living abroad does not mean you cannot vote in a U.S. election. Almost all U.S. citizens who want to may vote absentee in federal elections from anywhere in the world. Some states also allow you to vote in state and local elections from other countries.

U.S. citizenship for children born abroad: If you are a U.S. citizen and give birth in another country, your child will almost be a U.S. citizen, regardless of the place of birth. This is true for childen of naturalized citizens, as well.

Receive Social Security benefits: As long as you meet the usual requirements, you can receive benefits, including Social Security disability insurance, retirement or survivors benefits almost anywhere in the world—except in a few restricted countries.

Spend unlimited time outside the country: There is no requirement that you spend time in the U.S. to retain citizenship. At one time, naturalized citizens risked losing U.S. citizenship if they moved to another country too soon after naturalization. This is no longer the case.

Responsibilities of Citizens Living Abroad

Unites States citizens also have responsibilities. Just as you do not give up your rights when you move to another country, you do not lose your responsibilities.

  • Pay income taxes: Regardless of where you live or earn your money, you will still owe U.S. federal income taxes. You may also owe state taxes, if you still have ties to a state, such as a home or bank account.
  • Marriage: Before getting married abroad, check with your U.S. state of residence to be sure it will recognize your marriage.
  • Birth: Although your child born abroad is technically a U.S. citizen, you will need proof to obtain a passport or claim other citizenship rights for that child.
  • Current U.S. passport: U.S. citizens need to show current U.S. passports to reenter the country, so keep yours up-to-date, even while living abroad.

In most cases, the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate can prepare the correct documentation, authenticate your foreign marriage or record your child's birth.

If you plan to live or travel abroad and have specific questions about your situation, an attorney familiar with laws regarding citizenship can help.