What Is an IRS Clearance?

An IRS clearance is a document that the IRS requires resident and non-resident aliens to complete if they are leaving the United States. Also known as a sailing permit or a departure permit, the document assures the IRS that you have paid your tax liability before you depart. The rules for aliens and non-resident aliens differ, and some groups are exempt from the regulation entirely.


Diplomats and their families are not required to get a tax clearance document or complete Form 2063. Their servants can receive their clearance document and avoid a tax audit if they attach to their completed Form 2063 a letter from their country's chief diplomat stating that the servant is on the "White List" and owes no U.S. taxes. Employees of international organizations, as designated by the president of the United States through executive order to qualify for the privileges, exemptions and immunities provided in the International Organizations Immunities Act, are also exempt from the departure permit requirement. These employees must have earned their income in an official capacity that is exempt under U.S. tax law and must have no other income from U.S. sources. Foreign students, their families, industrial trainees and exchange students with various classes of visas are also exempt from the clearance document, if their income is only for school expenses or from interest on deposits of funds to cover those expenses.

Form 2063

When you leave the U.S., you may be required to file Form 2063 with the IRS. With this form, you must produce your resident alien card and copies of the last two years of tax returns, along with the supporting documentation such as receipts and W-2 forms. Also bring the receipts that prove you paid your taxes, if applicable. You'll need proof of your current year's earnings, estimated payments made, tax treaty benefits, your departure date -- for example, an airline ticket -- documents related to grants and scholarship, and proof of your taxpayer identification number. Resident aliens must only complete this form if they had taxable income for the current year and previous year. Non-resident aliens must complete it regardless. Upon IRS acceptance, your clearance document will be issued.

Form 1040-C

If you are a resident alien and the IRS has reason to believe you are leaving the country to avoid paying your taxes, it can require that you complete Form 1040-C, in addition to the 2063. On Form 1040-C, you must include all income you have earned and expect to earn up to your intended departure date. You must pay the tax owed for that year, and all previous years, before you can receive your IRS clearance document. If you can satisfy the IRS of your intent to return to the United States, the IRS may allow you to sign a bond for the taxes owed. If both forms are required, your clearance document will be issued upon completion.

Special Visa Categories

The purpose of the IRS tax clearance form is to certify that the IRS will be able to collect the taxes resident and non-resident aliens owe. Certain categories of people exempt from Form 2063 can still be required to complete it if the IRS believes they might leave to avoid paying taxes. You are in this special category if you are an alien conducting business in the United States or its possessions on a B-1 or B-2 visa and you don't stay longer than 90 days; an alien here for pleasure on a B-2 visa; a certain category of alien in transit traveling on a C-1 visa such as a contract worker; or an alien on a border-crossing ID card.