“Not in my name”: voluntary renunciation of citizenship by birth

Tolstoy Center for Nonviolence

Dec 21, 2019

The first sign of any state’s respect of freedom of conscience and religion is the ability to freely renounce the citizenship that you were assigned at birth. The reasoning for such a decision may be the desire to cease participation in crimes of the state and society of which one, as a citizen, is a part (“Not in my name”).

In some countries this involves a lengthy procedure with many impossible conditions, the most important being the guaranteed availability of another citizenship. Other countries offer the possibility of a truly free and unconditional renunciation of citizenship over a comparatively short period of time.

An example of this is below.

Original: How do I become stateless?
Glen Lee Roberts, a Person without a state
(formerly a US citizen)
17 December 2016

I was born in the United States and I was American for the first 51 years of my life. I am now stateless. I made the choice to renounce my US Citizenship without obtaining another one first. That means I have no legal, political, diplomatic or other ties with the United States. They revoked my passport and I am not obligated to them, nor them to me.

I walked into a US Embassy on June 21, 2013 as an American, completed a renunciation ceremony and left stateless along with a sworn certificate issued by the Vice Consul that I was not American. Many people are unable to do that because the laws of their country don’t allow them to renounce under such conditions (becoming stateless) and/or they signed a UN Convention that prevents them from allow citizens to renounce if they will become stateless.

Now with respect to another answer from someone who listed things you would “lose”, that of course depends on your situation, and whether the country you are legally in signed the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, how well they adhere to it, and your immigration status (ie: legally in that country, or not legally in that country). I will address some of their points.

These are some of the things you will give up:

  • Government Social Insurance Number — not sure what the benefit really here;
  • Government ID number — The Convention requires them to issue all stateless people in their territory an ID card (regardless of whether they are there legally or not).

The Convention basically requires them to treat stateless people in their territory the same as other foreigners of the same immigration status:

  • Government benefits and protections — the same as other foreigners;
  • A driver’s license — I have on, which I obtained after I became stateless;
  • A regular job — the same as other foreigners;
  • Access to accredited schooling — the same as other foreigners;
  • A bank account or access to credit/debit — the same as other foreigners;
  • Probably most healthcare — the same as other foreigners…. I have the same health plan before I became stateless;
  • A place you rent or own yourself — the same as other foreigners;
  • Having your own utilities — the same as other foreigners. I have easily acquired services locally being stateless;
  • A passport — They are required to issue stateless people legally in their territory a “Travel Document” which is the same as a passport. The country I reside in has yet to fulfill their obligation so I traveled to a nearby country and obtained one;
  • Marriage or recognized partnership — the same as other foreigners;
  • International travel — See comment on “passport”.





Persons who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship should be aware of the fact that renunciation of U.S. citizenship may have no effect on their U.S. tax or military service obligations.


United States Government


Almost all men age 18-25 who are U.S. citizens or are immigrants living in the U.S. are required to be registered with Selective Service. U.S. law calls for citizens to register within 30 days of turning 18 and immigrants to register within 30 days of arriving in the U.S.


Selective Service


The Selective Service law has not been in effect since 1973 for the Vietnam war. If this law were to be activated and a man gets a notice that he has been found qualified for military service, he has the opportunity to make a claim for classification as a conscientious objector (CO). A registrant making a claim for conscientious objection is required to appear before his local board to explain his beliefs.

He may provide written documentation or include personal appearances by people he knows who can attest to his claims. His written statement might explain: how he arrived at his beliefs; and the influence his beliefs have had on how he lives his life.

The local board will decide whether to grant or deny a CO classification based on the evidence a registrant has presented. A man may appeal a local board’s decision to a Selective Service district appeal board. If the appeal board also denies his claim, but the vote is not unanimous, he may further appeal the decision to the national appeal board. Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don’t have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man’s reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man’s lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.

Two types of service are available to conscientious objectors, and the type assigned is determined by the individual’s specific beliefs. The person who is opposed to any form of military service will be assigned to alternative service. The person whose beliefs allow him to serve in the military but in a noncombatant capacity will serve in the Armed Forces but will not be assigned training or duties that include using weapons. Conscientious objectors opposed to serving in the military will be placed in the Selective Service Alternative Service Program. This program attempts to match COs with local employers. Many types of jobs are available, however the job must be deemed to make a meaningful contribution to the maintenance of the national health, safety, and interest. Examples of alternative service are jobs in: 

  • conservation
  • caring for the very young or very old
  • education
  • health care

Length of service in the program will equal the amount of time a man would have served in the military, usually 24 months.