Where is my domicile?

man looks at earth, searches for domicile

A domicile is the country that a person treats as their permanent home, or alternatively, a country that a person lives in and has a significant connection to. A domicile is a permanent or semi-permanent legal residence.

The term “domicile” is distinct from the term “residence”. A residence is any place where an individual dwells – temporarily or permanently – which may or may not be their domicile.  You can have multiple residences, but can only have one domicile at any one time.

An individual’s provincial and federal domicile determines many of the laws which apply to them (including tax, estate, family, etc.). In Canada, there are two different types of domiciles:

  1. Domicile of Origin: where a person is born
  2. Domicile of Choice: where a person takes up residence with the intention of residing there permanently

Can I change my domicile?

Generally, a person can change their domicile at their discretion. The following two factors must be satisfied in order to carry out a change in the domicile:

  1. A person must acquire a residence in the new jurisdiction; and
  2. Intend to settle there permanently and indefinitely

Both elements must be present in order to effect a change in domicile.

Why does my domicile matter?

A person’s domicile determines what laws apply in certain situations.  For example, the formal validity of your will, the distribution of assets under your will, who can challenge your will etc.

If you are uncertain of your domicile or require any additional information please consult a TEP.

Disclaimer

An article of this kind can never provide a complete guide to the law in these areas, which may be subject to change from time to time. The opinions and suggestions made within this article should not be interpreted as specific advice in relation to any particular individual or individuals. Neither STEP, the article author or their firm accept responsibility for any loss occasioned by someone acting or refraining to act on the basis of the opinions and suggestions contained in this article. More