Departing Alien Clearance (Sailing Permit)
Before leaving the United States, all aliens (except those listed below under Aliens Not Required To Obtain Sailing or Departure Permits) must obtain a certificate of compliance. This document, also popularly known as the sailing permit or departure permit, must be secured from the IRS before leaving the U.S. You will receive a sailing or departure permit after filing a Form 1040C, U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return or Form 2063, U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Statement and Annual Certificate of Compliance.
Aliens Not Required To Obtain Sailing or Departure Permits
If you are included in one of the following categories, you do not have to get a sailing or departure permit before leaving the United States.
If you are in one of these categories and do not have to get a sailing or departure permit, you must be able to support your claim for exemption with proper identification or give the authority for the exemption:
- You are a representative of a foreign government who holds a diplomatic passport; a member of the representative’s household; a servant who accompanies the representative; an employee of an international organization or foreign government whose pay for official services is exempt from U.S. taxes and who has no other U.S. source income; or a member of the employee’s household who was not paid by U.S. sources. However, if you signed a waiver of nonimmigrants’ privileges as a condition of holding both your job and your status as an immigrant, this exception does not apply, and you must get a certificate.
- You are a student, industrial trainee, or exchange visitor, or the spouse or child of such an individual. To qualify for this exception, you must have an F-1, F-2, H-3, H-4, J-1, J-2, Q-1, Q-2, or Q-3 visa. Additionally, you must not have received any income from sources in the United States other than:
- Allowances covering expenses incident to your study or training in the United States (including expenses for travel, maintenance, and tuition),
- The value of any services or accommodations furnished incident to such study or training,
- Income from employment authorized under U.S. immigration laws, or
- Interest on deposits, but only if that interest is not effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.
- You are a student, or the spouse or child of a student, with an M-1 or M-2 visa. To qualify, you must not have received any income from sources in the United States other than:
- Income from employment authorized under U.S. immigration laws or
- Interest on deposits, but only if that interest is not effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business.
- Any of the following applies:
- You are on a pleasure trip and have a B-2 visa.
- You are on a business trip, have a B-1 visa or a combined B-1/B-2 visa, or are present in the United States under Visa Waiver, and do not stay in the United States or any of its possessions for more than 90 days during the tax year.
- You are passing through the United States or any of its possessions, including travel on a C-1 visa or under a contract, such as a bond agreement, between a transportation line and the U.S. Attorney General.
- You are admitted on a border-crossing identification card.
- You do not need to carry passports, visas, or border-crossing identification cards because you are (a) visiting for pleasure or (b) visiting for business and do not stay in the United States or any of its possessions for more than 90 days during the tax year.
- You are a resident of Canada or Mexico who commutes frequently to the United States to work and your wages are subject to income tax withholding.
- You are a military trainee admitted for instruction under the Department of Defense and you will leave the United States on official military travel orders. However, exception 4 does not apply if the Area Director believes you had taxable income during the tax year, up through your departure date, or during the preceding tax year and that your leaving the United States would hinder collecting the tax.
Aliens Required To Obtain Sailing or Departure Permits
If you do not fall into one of the categories listed under Aliens Not Required To Obtain Sailing or Departure Permits, you must obtain a sailing or departure permit. To obtain a permit, file Form 1040-C or Form 2063 (whichever applies) with your local IRS office before you leave the United States. You must also pay all the tax shown as due on Form 1040-C and any taxes due for past years. Refer to the information discussed under the heading entitled, Paying Taxes and Obtaining Refunds, later in this section.
Getting a Sailing or Departure Permit
It is advisable for aliens who have been working in the United States to get the permit from an IRS office in the area of their employment, but it also can be obtained from an IRS office in the area of their departure.
When To Get a Sailing or Departure Permit
You should get your sailing or departure permit at least 2 weeks before you plan to leave. You cannot apply earlier than 30 days before your planned departure date. Do not wait until the last minute in case there are unexpected problems.
Papers to Submit
Getting your sailing or departure permit will go faster if you bring to the IRS office papers and documents related to your income and your stay in the United States. Bring the following records with you if they apply:
- Your passport and alien registration card or visa.
- Copies of your U.S. income tax returns filed for the past 2 years. If you were in the United States for less than 2 years, bring the income tax returns you filed for that period.
- Receipts for income taxes paid on these returns.
- Receipts, bank records, canceled checks, and other documents that prove your deductions, business expenses, and dependents claimed on your returns.
- A statement from each employer showing wages paid and tax withheld from January 1 of the current year to the date of departure if you were an employee. If you were self-employed, you must bring a statement of income and expenses up to the date you plan to leave.
- Proof of estimated tax payments for the past year and this year.
- Documents showing any gain or loss from the sale of personal property, including capital assets and merchandise.
- Documents relating to scholarship or fellowship grants including verification of the grantor, source, and purpose of the grant.
- Documents indicating you qualify for any special tax treaty benefits claimed.
- Document verifying your date of departure from the United States, such as an airline ticket.
- Document verifying your U.S. taxpayer identification number, such as a social security card or an IRS-issued CP 565 showing your individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Note: If you are married and reside in a community property state, also bring the above-listed documents for your spouse. This applies whether or not your spouse requires a certificate.
Forms To File
If you must get a sailing or departure permit, you must file Form 2063 or Form 1040-C. Employees in the IRS office can assist in filing these forms. Both forms have a "certificate of compliance" section. When the certificate of compliance is signed by an agent of the Field Assistance Area Director, it certifies that your U.S. tax obligations have been satisfied according to available information. Your Form 1040-C copy of the signed certificate, or the one detached from Form 2063, is your sailing or departure permit.
This is a short form that asks for certain information but does not include a tax computation. The following departing aliens can get their sailing or departure permits by filing Form 2063:
- Aliens, whether resident or nonresident, who have had no taxable income for the tax year up to and including the date of departure and for the preceding year, if the period for filing the income tax return for that year has not expired.
- Resident aliens who have received taxable income during the tax year or preceding year and whose departure will not hinder the collection of any tax. However, if the IRS has information indicating that the aliens are leaving to avoid paying their income tax, they must file a Form 1040-C.
Aliens in either of these categories who have not filed an income tax return or paid income tax for any tax year must file the return and pay the income tax before they can be issued a sailing or departure permit on Form 2063.
The sailing or departure permit detached from Form 2063 can be used for all departures during the current year. However, the IRS may cancel the sailing or departure permit for any later departure if it believes the collection of income tax is jeopardized by that later departure.
If you must get a sailing or departure permit and you do not qualify to file Form 2063, you must file Form 1040-C.
Ordinarily, all income received or reasonably expected to be received during the tax year up to and including the date of departure must be reported on Form 1040-C and the tax on it must be paid. When you pay any tax shown as due on the Form 1040-C, and you file all returns and pay all tax due for previous years, you will receive a sailing or departure permit. However, the IRS may permit you to furnish a bond guaranteeing payment instead of paying the taxes for certain years. The sailing or departure permit issued under the conditions in this paragraph is only for the specific departure for which it is issued.
Note: Lawful permanent resident aliens (green card holders) with no definite plans to return to the U.S. must notify the Department of Homeland Security of their termination of residency and file Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Information Statement, with the IRS if they:
- plan to surrender their green card, and
- have been a lawful permanent resident in at least 8 taxable years during the previous 15 taxable years, including the taxable year during which they surrender their green card
See the Expatriation Tax information in IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more detailed information.
Returning to the United States
If you furnish the IRS with information showing, to the satisfaction of the IRS, that you intend to return to the United States and that your departure does not jeopardize the collection of income tax, you can get a sailing or departure permit by filing Form 1040-C without having to pay the tax shown on it. You must, however, file all income tax returns that have not yet been filed as required, and pay all income tax that is due on these returns.
Your Form 1040-C must include all income received and reasonably expected to be received during the entire year of departure. The sailing or departure permit issued with this Form 1040-C can be used for all departures during the current year. However, the Service may cancel the sailing or departure permit for any later departure if the payment of income tax appears to be in jeopardy.
Joint return on Form 1040-C
Departing husbands and wives who are nonresident aliens cannot file joint returns. However, if one spouse is a resident alien, they can file a joint return on Form 1040-C if:
- Both spouses can reasonably be expected to qualify to file a joint return at the normal close of their tax year
- The tax years of the spouses end at the same time
Paying Taxes and Obtaining Refunds
Except when a bond is furnished, or the IRS is satisfied that your departure does not jeopardize the collection of income tax, you must pay all tax shown as due on the Form 1040-C at the time of filing it. You must also pay any taxes due for past years. If the tax computation on Form 1040-C results in an overpayment, there is no tax to pay at the time you file that return. However, the IRS cannot provide a refund at the time of departure. If you are due a refund, you must file Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR, or Form 1040NR-EZ, as appropriate, at the end of the tax year.
Filing Annual U.S. Income Tax Returns
Form 1040-C is not an annual U.S. income tax return. If an income tax return is required by law, that return must be filed even though a Form 1040-C has already been filed. The tax paid with Form 1040- C should be taken as a credit against the tax liability for the entire tax year on your annual U.S. income tax return.
You are generally required to enter your social security number (SSN). To apply for an SSN, get Form SS-5 from a Social Security Administration (SSA) office or you may call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. Fill in Form SS-5 and return it to the SSA. If you do not have an SSN and are not eligible to get one, you must apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). For details on how to do so, see Form W-7 and its instructions. It usually takes about 4-6 weeks to get an ITIN. If you already have an ITIN, enter it wherever your SSN is requested on your tax return. If you are required to include another person’s SSN on your return and that person does not have and cannot get an SSN, enter that person’s ITIN.
Note: An ITIN is for tax use only. It does not entitle you to social security benefits or change your employment or immigration status under U.S. law.