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  • Posts by Mathew Teagarden

    Mathew is an associate focused on the areas of trusts, estates and charitable organizations. He has worked on projects assisting clients, both domestic and international, with estate planning, gifting, and tax needs, including ...

Because this is an “International” blog, we need to talk about one of the most important aspects of international business –  travel.

And as you know, we are in the thick of the travel season. So it only makes sense to A) take stock of the best way to navigate the unpleasantness of flying, and B) to learn from the mistakes of others (me).

AirplacePeople immigrate to the United States for many different reasons. Many come here for work reasons and, somewhere along the way, obtain permanent resident status, otherwise known as holding a “green card.” They may work in the U.S. for most of their careers, raising children and becoming integrated into the social fabric of their community. But for various reasons, some will wish to “go home” when they retire. Maybe the home country offers better healthcare. Maybe even after many years in the U.S., they feel more comfortable speaking their native language. Maybe their closest relatives are in their home country, and they feel that they need a support network as they age. Maybe the food is better.

Whatever the reason, those who have been green card holders for a long time (specifically, 8 out of the previous 15 tax years) need to be mindful of the so-called “expatriation tax.” The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the “HEART Act”) imposes a tax at the time of departure on U.S. citizens who have renounced their citizenship and on those who renounce their long-term permanent resident status after June 17, 2008. The HEART Act expatriation rules apply to those who, at the time of expatriation:

As many of you probably have in these past few weeks, I’ve been enjoying the NBA playoffs. Perhaps not as many of you have been wondering what I have been contemplating: how is it that NBA players with criminal pasts are admitted entry into Canada to play against the Toronto Raptors NBA team? As a Washington resident, I’m aware, due solely to proximity, not experience, that U.S. citizens with criminal pasts have found trouble entering Canada. Specifically, I’ve heard stories of U.S. citizens being barred entry thanks to decades-old driving under the influence convictions. So how is it that I’ve never heard of a famous athlete being barred entry? Did I miss it?

A big part of international business centers on logistics. Shipping and transport are certainly important, but I’m talking about logistics of a more prosaic bent, personal travel. Specifically, the ways we get businesspeople from Country A to Country B. And as it so happens, a critical piece in how Americans travel abroad has been in the news quite a bit—the passport.

From news involving passports in terrorist activities, to marking passports of those individuals convicted of certain crimes, to passports with unflattering pictures of NBA players, passports are newsworthy. And as The New York Times recently explained, 2016 is expected to be a banner year for United States passport renewals. This is partly due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative taking effect in 2007. This Initiative was the first time passports were required for Americans traveling by air from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It’s now almost ten years later, which means that passports issued the year before the Initiative started, are expiring.

With that background in mind, it seemed useful to provide some basic information on U.S. passports and associated requirements.

  • It takes approximately six weeks to get a passport on a routine basis. One can arrange for expedited processing in three weeks, or eight business days at an agency (when need can be shown and certain restrictions don’t apply). If you have questions about the process, click here.
  • The U.S. permits dual citizenship (and therefore dual passports), but some other countries do not. Because citizenship can affect your rights and obligations, please be sure to consider any change in citizenship carefully.
  • The passport originally served primarily as a way of introducing the bearer aboard. Before World War II, the U.S. federal government required passports only during a few periods of war: around the times of the American Civil War and World War I.
  • During the 20th century, world governments worked to standardize the passport form. This work culminated in 1980 and resulted in the booklet used today.
  • Although it is unlawful for U.S. citizens to enter or exit the U.S. without a valid U.S. passport, U.S. border control will not deny U.S. citizens re-entry. That said, re-entry for U.S. citizens without a passport is unlawful and re-entry without a passport likely is not a gentle or quick process.

In a future installment we will introduce basic information about enhanced traveler programs for U.S. citizens.

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About Us
The International Practice Group of Garvey Schubert Barer is a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics, and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. The firm’s attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s. 
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