Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Expatriation Definition:

The voluntary renunciation or abandonment of citizenship.

Related Terms: Ex Patriate

In their 1987 International Law Dictionary, professors Bledsoe and Boczek define expatriation as follows:

"An act whereby an individual loses or renounces his or her former citizenship, breaking the tie to the country of origin or last nationality.... The key to expatriation lies in a voluntary action undertaken by the individual rather than by a government."

Numerous American cases have reiterated this definition of expatriation, the following incarnation being that of Chief Justice Hughes of the Supreme Court of United States in Perkins v. Elg:

"[T]he right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people. Expatriation is the voluntary renunciation or abandonment of nationality and allegiance.

It has no application to the removal from this country of a native citizen during minority."

Further, in Mendelsohn v. Dulles, Justice Wilbur Miller of the United States Court of Appeals:

"There need be no explicit renunciation of nationality, but the act which by statute results in loss of nationality must have been voluntarily done; if it was not, nationality is not lost because of it."


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