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Domicile (law)


In law, domicile is the status or attribution of being a lawful permanent resident in a particular jurisdiction. A person can remain domiciled in a jurisdiction even after he has left it, if he has maintained sufficient links with that jurisdiction or has not displayed an intention to leave permanently (i.e. if that person has moved to a different state but has not yet formed an intention to remain there indefinitely).

Traditionally many common law jurisdictions considered a person's domicile to be a determinative factor in the conflict of laws and would, for example, only recognize a divorce conducted in another jurisdiction if at least one of the parties were domiciled there at the time it was conducted.

In early societies, there was little mobility but, as travel from one state to another developed, problems emerged: what should happen if different forms of marriage exist, if children became adults at different ages, etc.? One answer is that people must be given a connection to a legal jurisdiction, like a passport, that they carry with them wherever they go.

Domicile is governed by lex domicilii, as opposed to lex patriae which depends upon nationality, which is the relationship between an individual and a country. Where the state and the country are co-extensive, the two may be the same. However:

Domicile is distinct from habitual residence where there is much less focus on future intent. Domicile is being supplanted by habitual residence in international conventions dealing with conflict of laws and other private law matters.


Type How acquired
Domicile of origin
  • the father's domicile, where the father was alive at the child's birth
  • the mother's domicile, where the father was not alive at the child's birth, or where the child was illegitimate
  • where the parents were not known, the domicile was the place in which the child was found
Domicile of choice
  • when a child reached the age of majority, and had subsequently settled in another jurisdiction with the intention of making it his permanent home
  • when a person moves away from a domicile of choice with the intention of settling in another jurisdiction, but has not yet done so, his domicile reverts to the domicile of origin until settlement in a new permanent home has taken place
Domicile of dependency
  • a child's domicile would change when the relevant parent had acquired a new domicile of choice
  • a wife would acquire her husband's domicile upon marriage
  • a person born mentally incapacitated, or becomes mentally incapacitated while still a minor, continues to be treated in the same way as a dependent child until the incapacity no longer exists

  • Where the country is federated into separate legal systems, citizenship and domicile will be different. For example, one might have United States citizenship and a domicile in Kentucky, or Australian citizenship and a domicile in Tasmania.
  • One can have dual nationality but not more than one domicile at a time. A person may have a domicile in one state while maintaining nationality in another country.
  • Unlike nationality, no person can be without a domicile even if stateless.
  • A marriage is valid only where properly performed under the law of the jurisdiction in which it takes place, as well as under the law applicable to each of the participants in effect in their respective domiciles.
  • If someone is an infant and therefore has reduced contractual capacity, that reduced capacity will tend to apply wherever they go.
  • When a person dies, it is the law of their domicile that determines how their will is interpreted, or if the person has no valid will, how their property will pass by intestate succession.
  • Historically, divorce could only take place in the domicile of the parties concerned.
  • the ability to settle permanently in another place, and
  • the intention to remain there permanently.
  • Effective 1 January 1959, the domicile of origin for an adopted child was declared to be that of its adoptive parents, "as if the adopted child had been born in lawful wedlock to the adopting parent."
  • On 31 March 1978, the doctrine of illegitimacy was abolished, as well as the rule deeming a married woman's domicile to be that of her husband's, and the rules governing the domicile of minors were simplified.
  • Effective 1 March 1986, the rules governing the domicile of minors were simplified further.
  • For income tax purposes, those who are UK-domiciled are taxed on their worldwide income, while those who are UK-resident but not UK-domiciled can opt to have taxed on a remittance basis non-UK income that is repatriated from abroad, subject to the payment of a remittance basis charge.
  • For inheritance tax purposes, those who are UK-domiciled are taxed on their worldwide estate, while those who are not can be taxed on that part of the estate that is located there. UK domicile is deemed to exist where a person has been UK-resident for at least 17 of the past 20 years, and is deemed to continue to exist for up to three years after the acquisition of a new domicile. A spouse or civil partner may elect to be deemed as so domiciled.
  • For all tax purposes, members of the British House of Commons and the House of Lords are deemed to be resident and domiciled in the UK for each tax year in which they hold such office, but there is still scope for tax planning opportunities for such officeholders.
  • For purposes of income tax and capital gains tax:
    • Where an individual was born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin, and is UK resident in the relevant tax year, or
    • Where an individual has been UK resident for at least 15 of the last 20 tax years immediately preceding the relevant tax year, except where that individual is not UK resident in the relevant tax year and there is no tax year beginning after 5 April 2017 and preceding the relevant tax year in which the person was UK resident.
  • For purposes of inheritance tax, where an individual has been UK resident for at least 15 of the last 20 tax years immediately preceding the relevant tax year, and for at least one of the four tax years ending with the relevant tax year.
  • Where the country is federated into separate legal systems, citizenship and domicile will be different. For example, one might have United States citizenship and a domicile in Kentucky, or Australian citizenship and a domicile in Tasmania.
  • One can have dual nationality but not more than one domicile at a time. A person may have a domicile in one state while maintaining nationality in another country.
  • Unlike nationality, no person can be without a domicile even if stateless.
  • the father's domicile, where the father was alive at the child's birth
  • the mother's domicile, where the father was not alive at the child's birth, or where the child was illegitimate
  • where the parents were not known, the domicile was the place in which the child was found
  • when a child reached the age of majority, and had subsequently settled in another jurisdiction with the intention of making it his permanent home
  • when a person moves away from a domicile of choice with the intention of settling in another jurisdiction, but has not yet done so, his domicile reverts to the domicile of origin until settlement in a new permanent home has taken place
  • a child's domicile would change when the relevant parent had acquired a new domicile of choice
  • a wife would acquire her husband's domicile upon marriage
  • a person born mentally incapacitated, or becomes mentally incapacitated while still a minor, continues to be treated in the same way as a dependent child until the incapacity no longer exists
  • A marriage is valid only where properly performed under the law of the jurisdiction in which it takes place, as well as under the law applicable to each of the participants in effect in their respective domiciles.
  • If someone is an infant and therefore has reduced contractual capacity, that reduced capacity will tend to apply wherever they go.
  • When a person dies, it is the law of their domicile that determines how their will is interpreted, or if the person has no valid will, how their property will pass by intestate succession.
  • Historically, divorce could only take place in the domicile of the parties concerned.
  • the ability to settle permanently in another place, and
  • the intention to remain there permanently.
  • Effective 1 January 1959, the domicile of origin for an adopted child was declared to be that of its adoptive parents, "as if the adopted child had been born in lawful wedlock to the adopting parent."
  • On 31 March 1978, the doctrine of illegitimacy was abolished, as well as the rule deeming a married woman's domicile to be that of her husband's, and the rules governing the domicile of minors were simplified.
  • Effective 1 March 1986, the rules governing the domicile of minors were simplified further.
  • For income tax purposes, those who are UK-domiciled are taxed on their worldwide income, while those who are UK-resident but not UK-domiciled can opt to have taxed on a remittance basis non-UK income that is repatriated from abroad, subject to the payment of a remittance basis charge.
  • For inheritance tax purposes, those who are UK-domiciled are taxed on their worldwide estate, while those who are not can be taxed on that part of the estate that is located there. UK domicile is deemed to exist where a person has been UK-resident for at least 17 of the past 20 years, and is deemed to continue to exist for up to three years after the acquisition of a new domicile. A spouse or civil partner may elect to be deemed as so domiciled.
  • For all tax purposes, members of the British House of Commons and the House of Lords are deemed to be resident and domiciled in the UK for each tax year in which they hold such office, but there is still scope for tax planning opportunities for such officeholders.
  • For purposes of income tax and capital gains tax:
    • Where an individual was born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin, and is UK resident in the relevant tax year, or
    • Where an individual has been UK resident for at least 15 of the last 20 tax years immediately preceding the relevant tax year, except where that individual is not UK resident in the relevant tax year and there is no tax year beginning after 5 April 2017 and preceding the relevant tax year in which the person was UK resident.
  • For purposes of inheritance tax, where an individual has been UK resident for at least 15 of the last 20 tax years immediately preceding the relevant tax year, and for at least one of the four tax years ending with the relevant tax year.
  • Where an individual was born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin, and is UK resident in the relevant tax year, or
  • Where an individual has been UK resident for at least 15 of the last 20 tax years immediately preceding the relevant tax year, except where that individual is not UK resident in the relevant tax year and there is no tax year beginning after 5 April 2017 and preceding the relevant tax year in which the person was UK resident.
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Wikipedia

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