Most of the rights that I am aware of (at least in the USA) are rights that are granted to me free of charge, by virtue of being born here. I don't need to fill any paperwork or pay any fee. I can publish a newspaper without paying anything (other than business expenses of course). I can acquire a gun for no more than the cost of the gun. I don't pay to vote. And so on.

However, I came across one right that is actually very expensive, and that is the right to expatriate. Currently the fee that must be paid to the government is $2350, by very far the most expensive such fee in the world. Without paying this fee (and filling a mountain of paperwork) one cannot relinquish his United States citizenship.

My question now is, are there any other rights that cost money?

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    How about taxes? (Or how about fees due when you open a business?) IMHO every "proper" right comes with an obligation, although the "currency" need not be money.
    – Drux
    Nov 27, 2018 at 5:26
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    You can acquire a gun for the cost of the gun plus state and federal taxes, so do you not consider taxes on things a cost? Also, buying a gun isn't necessarily a right (owning guns certainly is), so what exactly are you considering a right, and what are you considering a cost?
    – Giter
    Nov 27, 2018 at 12:02
  • @Giter you are correct. Owning a gun is a right, and it is free. You don't need to obtain a license from the government to be allowed to own one. I suppose there can be an argument that taxes should not be applied to gun sales, but it's also reasonable to treat gun purchases as any other purchase. Nov 27, 2018 at 14:04
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    @CodyBugstein As far as I'm aware in (at least) many situations you do need to obtain a license from the government to be allowed to own a gun. I don't know the details so it might be a state government rather than the federal government; if you're only interested in costs imposed by the federal government that would be a good thing to add to your question. Nov 27, 2018 at 15:49
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    @KamilDrakari, in the United States, what you are describing would be an unconstitutional law that the Supreme Court must strike down, such as portions of the District of Columbia's 1975 Firearms Control Regulations Act. Nov 27, 2018 at 16:45

3 Answers 3


For context, I live in Minnesota.

I have the right to carry a concealed weapon, but must pay a small amount of money to get the permit.

Hunting is considered something of a right in this state (it's in the state's Constitution), but I would still need to pay for a permit.

Defending rights can be really expensive. Back in the 1970s, a magazine wanted to publish an article about approximately how nuclear and thermonuclear bombs work. It cost them a lot of money to get the courts to declare that they had the right.


Every right, that is enforced when it needs to be, cost money.

That's why citizens are obliged to pay taxes. There are things that governments spend money on, which are debatable; but there are certainly others that are essential.

One of the rights mentioned is free speech. Saying things does not cost money, publishing things, e.g. a newspaper carries the cost of printing, distribution, etc.; but me having the right to publish is free of charge.
The true cost comes in, when somebody challenges my right of free speech. That's when the right needs to be enforced. Mainly, in court to determine whether the challenge has merit or can be dismissed.
Another enforcement of the right of free speech is the police protecting a protest march.

For the society, the rights of the citizens definitely come at a cost, as rights need to be enforced. Thus, indirectly the individual covers the cost in form of taxes to pay law enforcement, the court system, etc.


The right to choice in your own health care is extremely expensive for the US health system. In the US our health care costs would be as low as they are in the UK or Sweden if we allowed the government to decide for us when "enough is enough". Instead, each individual person has the right to make that decision for him- or herself, and so the costs are extremely high.

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    The right to individual choice is not purchased but asserted. Human rights are "inalienable", meaning that a person has those rights by virtue of his or her nature and nothing else. Nov 27, 2018 at 15:39
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    Are there any laws by Congress affirming that choosing one's healthcare is a guaranteed right? Nov 27, 2018 at 16:48
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    @CodyBugstein Health care is listed in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights, which the US voted for. Nov 27, 2018 at 19:01
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    @DavidThornley: That is almost entirely unrelated to the choice mentioned above. Not that it's unique to the USA; in the UK going outside the NHS is expensive too. But the NHS is how the UK implements the right to healthcare.
    – MSalters
    Nov 27, 2018 at 22:27
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    The right to choose is free. But you have no right to someone else's labor. Actual doctors, like mechanics, gardeners, etc, cost money
    – user9790
    Sep 3, 2019 at 1:30

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