To Renounce Your US Citizenship And Become
By Jeff Berwick
I recently had the pleasure to speak
with Glen Roberts, a self-described
"techno-geek", blogger and the
author of How to Renounce Your US
Citizenship in Two Easy Steps. The
book was written as a guide to cut
through opinions and describe the
requirements and process of
renouncing US citizenship… something
in high demand lately. Glen
renounced his US citizenship after
living in various Central and South
American countries for more than a
decade and currently resides,
statelessly, in Paraguay.
His story is one of the most
interesting we’ve heard in the
neverending Escape from Amerika
struggle. Here was our
The Dollar Vigilante (TDV):
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your
background and how you ended up in Paraguay?
Glen Roberts (GR):
I was born in 1962 and lived in the midwest of
the US until the end of 2002. I worked in the
computer programming field as well as publishing
an alternative newspaper called Full Disclosure.
A secret FBI memo (which I received a censored
copy of under the Freedom of Information Act) in
1988 described it this way: “Full
Disclosure professes to be an alternative
newspaper dedicated to exposing excesses of
authority and providing information on citizens'
rights so that its readers will be prepared to
intelligently deal with intrusions into their
lives by the Government. One of Full
Disclosure's special concerns is technology and
Wow, they were that on top of things even way
back in 1988! I’m sure our dossier with them is
a few hard drives full today.
I think the underlying issue here is that the
FBI is both a criminal investigative agency and
also an intelligence agency. I think obviously
their intelligence mandate beyond whatever
legitimate intelligence activities they engage
in, also includes the investigation of and
maintaining information on US citizens who
exercise their constitutionally protected
rights. That information of course, then becomes
available for whatever political purposes might
arise in the future. I also believe that because
of their appearance as a law enforcement agency,
much of their intelligence activities under
cover of law enforcement, ie: in plain sight and
no one notices.
Which agency in the US government isn’t an
“intelligence” agency anymore! Anyway, please
go on about your background...
In 2002 I went on vacation several times in
Costa Rica, each getting longer. I hadn’t made
any specific plans to move, however. In early
2003, I visited the US and upon my return to
Costa Rica had planned to go back and forth
regularly. However, I found life more fulfilling
outside the US and have never been back since.
Rica ultimately was not the right place for me
and then I spent about 5-½ years in Uruguay.
Almost 4 years ago, I moved to Paraguay and find
that it is a comfortable fit for me.
We also find Latin America to be one of the most
enjoyable places to live. When, how and why did
you renounce your US citizenship?
I formally renounced my US Citizenship on June
21, 2013. The renunciation ceremony took place
at the US Consulate in Asuncion on that day. I
had previously met with the US Consul and he
read me a 12 point document on the consequences
of renunciation. The actual ceremony is very
I made a youtube video with a reenactment of it,
and the essential part of the ceremony takes
about 90 seconds!
However, that shouldn’t undermine the
significance of it. I believe that it is truly
profound not only on a legal level, but also on
a spiritual level. When I look back on things, I
would say that metaphorically, I had been an
eagle chained to a flagpole, and my renunciation
cut me free.
walked into the US Embassy that day as a poor
burdened human with the weight of the US and all
it does on my shoulders. I left free as an eagle
to explore new heights.
Eagle, nice metaphor!
I had researched the topic of renouncing my
citizenship various times over the years I lived
outside the US. However, it never quite clicked.
I think some of that may have been that I didn’t
have another passport. Some, was that I was
the 11 years I lived outside the United States,
I changed significantly. Much of the fear and
anger I had felt on a daily basis vanished. I
became more healthy, more self-content, more at
peace with myself. As I became more disconnected
from the American culture and as saw myself as
being less and less “American”, the label became
more and more of a burden for me.
mention my feelings of having lived in a lie
when I was active publishing Full Disclosure, ie:
being taught as a child I lived in a “free
country”, yet found whenever I exercised those
freedoms, I was “put down”, it not outright
harassed or threatened.
to day burdens of being an American also I
believe leave everyone walking around with a
black cloud over them. People seem to be
culturally engineered into a state of discontent
and the solutions, choices and opportunities for
change simply lead to more disillusionment.
Many people are under the impression that in
order to renounce your US citizenship you had to
be a citizen of another country. Clearly that
is not the case. Was that brought up at all
during the renunciation process?
There are countless misconceptions about the
requirements and process of renunciation. Also,
many who haven’t gone through the process often
express views indicating that it is also an
adversarial process as well.
first indication that it not required that you
have to be a citizen of another country is by
reading the State Department guide called the
Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) which outlines the
process and requirements for all functions of
the US Consulate. That guide clearly states that
one is not required to hold another nationality
in order to renounce their US citizenship. It
only indicates the person should be told of the
consequences and if they still want to go ahead,
to process the renunciation.
book, I have included a complete copy of the FAM
section on renunciations, as well as a copy of
all the forms I was required to complete, along
with my answers. You can see exactly what
information you need to provide. Hint: it is not
very much, nor very detailed.
also see the 12 points they read you about the
consequences. One of those points is about
Statelessness. In my case, the US Consul and I
had a brief discussion of that topic and
he additionally gave me a page from the FAM
apparently not generally available to the public.
time did the US Consul express any issue or
personal concern with respect to my decision to
renounce or become Stateless. I would say that
my decision to become Stateless had no
significant impact on the process or the
information I was requested to provide.
common misconception is that you need to “pay
for the forms”. The forms are freely given to
you, and the administrative fee (now US$2,350 -
a 400% increase just recently instituted) is not
collected until immediately before the
Are you able to travel outside of Paraguay
without having any passports?
That is a question I am not prepared to answer
directly. I prefer to share my actual
experiences, not speculate on possibilities.
There is a UN treaty that was written in 1954.
The title is “Convention
Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons”.
28 of that treaty provides in part, “Travel
Documents. The Contracting States shall issue to
stateless persons lawfully staying in their
territory travel documents for the purpose of
travel outside their territory, unless
compelling reasons of national security or
public order otherwise require, and the
provisions of the Schedule to this Convention
shall apply with respect to such documents”. The
schedule then describes this document, and for
all practical purposes, it looks like and
functions as a passport. However, the cover
describes it as a travel document per the 1954
convention, and it specifically disclaims any
relation to the holders nationality: “This
document is issued solely with a view to
providing the holder with a travel document
which can serve in lieu of a national passport.
It is without prejudice to and in no way affects
the holder’s nationality.”
Paraguay became a party to that treaty on July
2, 2014 (see
a list of countries who have signed the treaty
here) and therefore has an obligation to
provide me with that travel document.
recently met with the Human Rights department of
Paraguay and they understand their obligations
under the Convention. They also explained and I
understand that not only am I the first
Stateless case they have, but also because they
only recently became a party to the treaty, they
have yet to develop any process, forms, or
anything else to implement it.
That is one of the great things about living in
many “underdeveloped” countries… a complete lack
of government size, ability or experience to
focus on many of these things. But, please go
They did accept an application from me to be
recognized as Stateless. They are also working
to help me update my immigration records to
reflect that status as well. I had previously
applied for and received permanent resident
decided to wait until Paraguay recognizes me as
a Stateless person and not an American before I
explore using my Paraguayan Cedula for
international travel. I also believe that as
they create a framework under the treaty, I will
receive a travel document.
renounced my US Citizenship, I did so with the
realization that it could be difficult to travel
internationally for sometime, if not forever.
This is a unique way to go about things. Most
people would apply for Paraguayan residency (and
therefore a cedula first) and then even get a
Paraguayan passport before renouncing. It seems
you have reverse engineered the entire process.
We don’t want to be negative nellies but we are
willing to bet it will not be an easy process.
But, we’ll definitely be curious to follow your
progress as will many of our readers. What other
rights does the 1954 Convention offer?
I think as a brief general overview of the
treaty, one might describe it by saying that
basically it ensures that Stateless people will
be treated the same as another other legal
resident. That Stateless people cannot be
discriminated against because they have no
nationality. However, it does have one provision
that may be of particular interest to those who
are seeking to change their nationality from US
to something else.
32 provides: “Naturalization. The Contracting
States shall as far as possible facilitate the
assimilation and naturalization of stateless
persons. They shall in particular make every
effort to expedite naturalization proceedings
and to reduce as far as possible the charges and
costs of such proceedings.”
it doesn’t obligate a party State to grant
citizenship. However they are required to make
it an easier process. And, depending on the
country, it may well be that the process of
obtaining citizenship would be significantly
facilitated by becoming Stateless first. The
risk, of course, is that according to the US
State Department renunciation of citizenship is
the most unequivocal way to lose citizenship and
"such action is final and irrevocable."
What have been the positives and negatives of
renouncing US citizenship for you?
Though many people bring up the issue of
international travel, I don’t see that as a
particular negative. Throughout my life, I’ve
gone decades without any international travel.
So, whether it is another year, two or more
before I am free to travel internationally at
will, I am content with my life here in
negative aspect of course is going through the
more complicated IRS paperwork for the year of
renunciation, but I believe that is more than
balanced by being free of those obligations
(Editor’s Note: For those looking
to renounce who have substantial assets and may
be liable for an egregious “exit tax” from the
TDV Wealth Management
has solutions to make this process much easier
and less ‘taxing’ so to speak)
time I renounced, I felt that maybe some of my
old friends from the US would “attack” me as
being unpatriotic, an idiot, etc. However, I was
surprised that I didn’t get any reaction of that
kind, not from my friends, or even strangers. Of
course, not everyone agreed with my decision,
but everyone seems to support it.
We aren’t that surprised. There is a massive
swell of people in the US realizing that the US
isn’t the land of the free, at all, anymore… and
many are jealous if you can get out.
I would even to an extent include the personnel
at the US Embassy when I renounced. I can only
describe their interaction with me as
professional and in some cases friendly. Much
different that what I often read in articles,
blogs and comments from people who have not
personally been through the process.
positive aspects of it, it was for all accounts
a process of death and rebirth. I was simply
able to cast off the the nonsense of the past
and start a new. I don’t feel burdened by the
label of being an American.
You sound like you are an anarchist, or at least
your actions have been very anarchist like. Are
I don’t wish to apply that label or any other to
myself. Even the label “Stateless” takes away
from people seeing me as the individual I am and
grouping me with others that may or may not
reflect my personality.
took my Certificate of Loss of Nationality to a
translator he glanced at the document and then
we were discussing other things. He
asked me if I was a libertarian. I
replied that I didn’t like to use labels, but
that would fit better than “republican” or
“democrat”. Then he noticed the document again
and commented that, “this looks really
important”. I replied yes and suggested he read
had a lengthy discussion on the topic. He had
been a university student in the US, so was well
versed in the politics and culture from his
experiences. As we concluded the conversation,
he said, “I am sorry that I asked if you were a
libertarian. I can see you are an earthling”.
the impression one gets from the term
“anarchist” is a society that is in a constant
state of chaos. I also think that if you look
around, or particularly, if you read the
newspaper or watch the news, that you could only
conclude that we are now living in a
constant state of chaos!
believe that our culture of citizenship,
particularly based on birth and geography
creates a system that is inherently dependent on
conflict and fear. If not for a constant state
of conflict and fear there would be no purpose
or need for our “leaders”.
Or no need for rulers, so to speak. Ahem, carry
Yet, from the first moments of our lives we are
locked into and taught that because of our
citizenship we are obligated to, bound to and
subservient to our leaders. That of course is
contrary to the teachings that we are free
willed, or have liberty. We get emotionally so
caught up by the pledge of patriotism that we
never see the reality, or if we do, have no
opportunity to reconcile the difference.
question is how we can shift from that kind of
system to one where we live in co-respect of
each other. Not that we would live in a lawless
situation of chaos, but rather the “law” would
be for our protection, not the empowerment of
We like your perspective on things and agree! A
big part of our writing here at TDV focuses on
transitioning to a new, better system. An
asystem, in fact. Of course, the word “anarchy”
has been promoted by governments (and their
mainstream media arms) to sound like it would be
a terrible existence. It would be… at least for
a time, for the government and their employees
as they’d actually have to go out and get a
real, productive job.
aside, TDV has a large global network of
likeminded people around the world like yourself
and we have a number of people in Paraguay.
I’ll make sure to connect you with that network
(Editor’s Note: You can get access to TDV Groups
a basic subscription to The Dollar Vigilante).
have any final comments or things you’d like to
let our readers know?
With respect to the process of renunciation,
keep in mind that it is a simple process. The
reason why is not important. It is not a
question on the forms. There is no need to rant
about FACTA or any other ill actions of the
United States. You can be sure the personnel in
the Embassy are completely aware of the
consequences of FACTA and all the other bad
activities of the country. Their job is to
process your paperwork, not address those
concerns. Your renunciation is a political
statement enough, and once it is complete you
are free of all the drama and nonsense of that
country. There is no need to try and make the
ultimate exit an adversarial process. Step
through the door and into your new life.
decision is important, whether you have a second
citizenship or not. As stated above, it is "is
final and irrevocable." You cannot go
back next month and get your citizenship back.
book I don’t address the issue of Statelessness
beyond how it affects (not at all) the
renunciation process. I will address the issue
of being Stateless when I have sufficient
personal experiences to make a proper report.
first place to study that topic is the 1954
Convention and the list of countries that are a
party to it.
think that just like becoming an expat, it is
more important to focus on where you are going
than where you are coming from. I’ve seen many
expats who although are physically outside the
US, seem to be emotionally engaged at the same
level they were before. There are many great new
experiences awaiting and they are much more
fulfilling than remaining trapped in the
emotional drama of the US. However, as an expat
you always have the option to simply return.
ex-American will have a very difficult time
returning to live in the US and in some cases it
may also be extremely difficult to even visit. I
made the choice after being outside the US for
11 years. I recently heard from another
ex-American who renounced a decade ago, also
after having been outside the US for 11 years.
Yes, we’ve heard varying accounts on the degree
of ease of returning to the US to visit if you
have renounced. As with all things government
related it is a fairly grey area and mostly
depends on what new passport you carry and if
you need a visa. If you do need a visa then
your fate on receiving a tourist visa to the US
lies in the hand of a government bureaucrat who
may or may not be in a bad mood that day.
case, this has been simply fascinating and we’ll
be watching how things progress with you. Thank
you and please keep in touch.
There are not many stories of Americans who have
renounced their citizenship without already
having acquired a new owner (country). One of
the only cases we know of was
Jeff Knaebel, an American who lit his passport
on fire in India… and then soon after, himself.
Glen seems to have taken a much more pleasant
course and is living happily in Paraguay and has
written about his experiences in How To
Renounce Your US Citizenship In Two Easy Steps (you
can purchase the book here).
definitely a trailblazer in this regard but we
would caution others to be careful if you follow
in his footsteps. Entering into unchartered
waters can often be uncomfortable… But if you
are considering getting a second citizenship
and/or renouncing we advise you to both check
out Glen’s book as well as contacting
TDV Passports who can give you some
consultation on your options.
Hopefully a day soon comes where no slave card
(passport) is needed to travel or live freely.
But in the meantime, people like Glen are
blazing new trails to try to shed their owners.
him all the best!
Jeff Berwick is the founder of
The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of
TDV Media & Services and
host of the popular video
Anarchast. Jeff is a
prominent speaker at many of the
world’s freedom, investment and
gold conferences including his
Anarchapulco, as well as
regularly in the media including
CNBC, CNN and Fox Business.