Where am I domiciled?
Working out which country you are domiciled in can be complicated, and there are many factors which need to be considered.
HMRC’s booklet ‘RDR1 Guidance Note: Residence, Domicile and the Remittance Basis’ contains useful flowcharts on domicile.
There are three types of domicile – domicile of origin, domicile of dependence and domicile of choice. We explain each of these below.
Normally you acquire a domicile of origin at birth; this is usually the same as the domicile of your father at that time, that is, the country that your father considered to be his real or permanent home at the date of your birth. As a result, your domicile may not be the country where you were born.
If your parents were not married when you were born, you will take your domicile from your mother. If you are adopted, you take your domicile from your adopted father – if there is no adopted father, you take the domicile from your adopted mother.
Until an individual is 16 years old their domicile is described as a ‘domicile of dependence’.
It is very difficult to change, displace or lose your domicile of origin. Your domicile of origin will continue until you acquire a new domicile of choice. Your domicile of origin also returns if your domicile of choice ceases but you have not yet made a new domicile of choice.
Most international students to the UK are likely to have a domicile of origin outside the UK, meaning that they are not domiciled in the UK (‘non-dom’). Unless you choose to remain in the UK permanently or indefinitely, you will continue to be not domiciled in the UK.
Until you reach the age of 16, your domicile follows that of the person on whom you are legally dependent.
If you were married before 1 January 1974, the wife would automatically acquire the domicile of her husband.
From the age of 16 (earlier in Scotland), an individual may be able to acquire a new domicile. This is called a domicile of choice. In order for you to acquire a domicile of choice, the following must apply.
- You must show that you have settled permanently in the country in which you now consider yourself domiciled.
- You must show you intend to stay there for the rest of your life.
- You do not have to break your ties with your domicile of origin. For example, you may not necessarily have to become a UK citizen or passport holder, but these factors will be taken into account.
You will have to prove that you have chosen to live in the new country on a permanent basis, and provide strong evidence of your intention to stay there permanently or indefinitely.
Factors such as your intentions, your will, your permanent place of residence, and your business, social and family commitments will be taken into consideration when looking at whether you have acquired a domicile of choice.
In most cases it will be fairly obvious what your domicile status is, but it can be very complex in some cases. If a lot of tax is at stake, you should seek professional help.