Expatriate definition

An expatriate is a name for a national citizen who has decided to live or work abroad in another country. It is functionally similar to the term migrant, although differs slightly as expatriates often only live abroad temporarily or relocate for work purposes.

In this quick explainer guide, we’ll look at some of the implications that expatriates may face as US citizens living overseas. This covers a number of considerations such as declaring taxes both at home and abroad, attaining vital records to prove their identity, and highlighting a few reasons why citizens choose to live abroad.

What is an Expat?

An ex-pat is the shortened form of the term expatriate. The term itself is derived from “expatriatus”, a Latin expression to refer to people who live in another country after being brought up as a resident and citizen of another nation.

Why Do American Citizens Become Expatriates?

There are many reasons that Americans may decide to emigrate and live overseas for either the short or the long term. However the most common of these is for work purposes.

Companies will often offer or require employees to take up a job opportunity abroad to help facilitate their international expansion. However, other reasons that Americans will often live and work abroad for a period of time include the following:

  • To marry a foreign national
  • To learn a language in its native environment
  • To experience different cultures and places

Securing Vital Records as an Expatriate

It may become necessary to access your vital records to provide proof of identity when living abroad or in order to register as an overseas resident. If this happens you may need to provide documents such as your passport or birth certificate.

If your birth certificate has been lost or destroyed, you will need to order an official replacement. To do so you can easily order a new copy of your birth certificate online which can then be used to provide proof of identity.

What Happens to Your Tax Obligations if You Become an Expatriate?

If you are living abroad as an American citizen you will still need to submit a tax return to the IRS as you would normally. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that expats will pay tax on their foreign earned income in the US.

According to the IRS, if you spend over 330 days outside the United States in any 12 month period, you will be able to apply for a foreign earned income exclusion. You will also normally be able to exclude around $107,000 of your earnings from abroad in this way.