By which of course I’m referring to Vietnam, where media reports state that 1,077 people renounced Vietnamese citizenship during the first quarter of 2017, while by counting notices in the official gazette I came up with a somewhat higher figure of 1,382. Since Vietnam’s population is roughly 92.7 million, I guess we can say, using FATCA-natics’ logic, that 92,698,618 people chose not to renounce their citizenship and so Vietnam is 99.999% perfect, right?
Sarcasm aside, Vietnamese nationality law and bureaucracy have several praiseworthy aspects. First, there are a few provisions which try to prevent “accidental citizenship”, meaning that some of the diaspora can avoid going through renunciation procedures in the first place (though as one case from the United Kingdom demonstrates, these provisions haven’t always worked very well). They even issue certificates of non-citizenship to people who never had Vietnamese nationality but need to convince other disbelieving governments or private institutions of that fact.
For those who do need to renounce, Vietnam does things relatively efficiently. The Vietnamese embassy in DC says that they accept renunciation forms by mail. The law requires them to respond to an application for renunciation within 60 working days. And the Vietnamese government managed to issue a press release about their Q1 renunciation statistics less than four weeks after the end of the quarter.
In contrast, the U.S. State Department’s unilateral demand for in-person renunciation appointments, and strict rationing of those appointments, makes the waiting list ten months long in some places. You might wait more than a year after that to get your Certificate of Loss of Nationality. They certainly don’t issue certificates of non-citizenship. And while 26 USC § 6039G(d) requires the U.S. government to publish a list of renunciants within 30 days after the end of each quarter, there was nothing relevant in Friday’s Federal Register and nothing scheduled for Monday’s either.