State Department Estimates, Citizenship Renunciation, and US Expats

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is an agency tasked with protecting the lives and interests of US expats overseas. You may be familiar with them if you or someone you know has experienced births, deaths, disasters, arrests, or medical emergencies during your time abroad. Infrequently, they release data about how many expats are estimated to currently live abroad. We’ve extrapolated these numbers with the growing number of citizenship renunciations; find out what the trends say!

The State Department

The State Department doesn’t publicly keep track of how many expats are living abroad. They do have internal estimates, though. Citing security reasons, they don’t often release the information they do have. The last time their estimates for the expat population were released was in 2016, and before that, they hadn’t ventured a public guess since 1999. The only number publicly made available are births and deaths overseas, as well as citizenship renunciation.

US Expat Statistics

For fiscal year 2016, the State Department estimates that there were nine million Americans living abroad, a significant increase from four million in 1999. Further, there were 70,666 registered births of US citizens abroad. 1,218 US citizens were repatriated, and 50,307 emergency passports were issued. A more unfortunate statistic is that the State Department provided aid to the families of 10,992 US expats who passed away while overseas during the year.

Citizenship Renunciation Statistics

Quarterly, the Federal Register publishes the number of American citizens that have chosen to renounce. We keep you up to date on these numbers, because citizenship renunciation is often directly tied to tax obligations. The annual tax filing requirements is one of the reasons most often cited as Americans decide to renounce. Last quarter the numbers dipped, but US expats have been renouncing at a record clip ever since the enactment of FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.)

What Does This Mean for You?

The ever-increasing number of (estimated) expats means that you are in good company. The global economy continues to create jobs with unprecedented flexibility – so, more people than ever are choosing to reside in different countries. Expat opinions are impacting politics in a major way, and expat issues have more visibility than ever before. However, expat tax issues are not going away any time soon.

Editor’s Note: This article was written in 2018 and updated on November 18, 2019.

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