Domicile Vs Residence – What’s The Difference And Why Does It Matter?

domicile vs residence

Domicile and residence are two terms frequently used in the legal realm, and it’s not uncommon for people to use them interchangeably. However, they are not the same, and understanding the difference between them is important, particularly when it comes to issues such as taxation, voting rights, and legal proceedings. In this article, we’ll delve into the nuances of domicile and residence and why it’s important to get them right.

What Is Domicile?

Domicile is primarily a legal concept and refers to the place where a person has his or her permanent home, and to which he or she has the intention of returning whenever absent. It is the place where an individual has or intends to have his/her permanent residence, and it is also the place where a person is deemed to be a legal resident for tax purposes. Domicile is a concept that is not easy to change, and it is usually determined by a combination of factors, such as one’s physical location, the place where one has registered to vote, and the location of one’s legal documents.

What Does Residence Mean?

Residence, on the other hand, simply means the place where a person is currently living. It can be temporary or permanent, and a person can have several residences at the same time. For example, a person may live in one country but have a second home in another country. For tax purposes, residence is usually determined by the duration of stay in a particular location.

Why Does It Matter?

Understanding the differences between domicile and residence is essential because it has real-world implications in various fields. For example, for tax purposes, residents are typically taxed where they earn their income, while domiciles are taxed in the country where they are considered to have their permanent home. The distinction between the two can be vital to determining whether or not an individual is eligible for certain types of tax exemptions or deductions.

Additionally, domicile is critical for determining where an individual’s will is executed after death and which court has jurisdiction over legal matters. It also determines where a person can cast their vote in elections, access social benefits, and participate in local elections.

How To Establish Domicile

Establishing domicile is not easy, and there is no one definitive way to do it. It is usually a combination of factors such as where an individual pays taxes, the location of their permanent residence, where they are registered to vote, where their legal documents are stored, and what their intentions are.

To establish domicile, a person needs to demonstrate that they have a long-term commitment to living in a particular place. The person must be able to show that he/she has a physical presence in that location and has no intention of returning to their former address. It can include things such as registering to vote, owning a house, joining a local community group, or placing all legal documents at a location in that area.


In conclusion, the difference between domicile and residence may appear subtle, but it is crucial to understand in legal matters. Domicile is a more legal term; it holds much more weight when determining jurisdiction, eligibility for tax deductions, social benefits, and much more. Whereas residence is a more flexible concept and is determined by where a person resides for a specific period. Therefore, individuals must take the effort to understand the distinctions and ensure that they are correctly defining their domicile or residence in any legal matters.