Do you know where you are really domiciled?

It might not be where you think…

Domicile & residence

The terms “Domicile” and “Residence” are terms often interchanged and mistaken as the same. However, the two have different legal definitions and implications. “Domicile” is your “permanent home,” while “Residence” is your “temporary home


  • A residence is any place where you live or own
  • You can have one or more residences
  • Can be either temporary or permanent


  • A domicile is your true and permanent home and your legal address

  • You can only have one domicile

  • Permanent and legal address

What is domicile?

The term ‘domicile’ might seem foreign to you, or you may simply equate it with your place of residence. However, domicile, from a legal perspective, is more intricate and carries significant implications for personal rights, obligations, and especially tax statuses.

Have you ever asked yourself ‘Where am I domiciled’?

Let’s explore what domicile truly means, and why it might not be where you think.

The term ‘domicile’ in law refers to a person’s permanent legal home, which they consider to have no genuine intention of changing. Not to be mistaken for residence (your current place of living), your domicile ties you to a legal jurisdiction, impacting various aspects such as marriage, wills, and taxation.

Understanding domicile isn’t complete without examining its four primary types: domicile of origin, domicile of choice, and deemed domicile and domicile of dependency. Each has unique rules and repercussions.

Domicile of origin: The starting point

Your domicile of origin is akin to your birth right, automatically assigned at birth. If your parents were married when you were born, you typically assume your father’s domicile. If not, you adopt your mother’s.

This domicile of origin sticks with you, regardless of where you roam. This is irrespective of where you were brought up or where you live now.

Ever wondered how your domicile can impact your finances and your legacy?

We can help you erase those doubts and paint a clearer picture.

Domicile of dependency

You acquire this domicile if your parent (who determined your domicile of origin) acquires a new domicile whilst you are under the age of 16.

Domicile of choice: A conscious shift

Then, there’s domicile of choice. This status is your right to sever ties with your domicile of origin and declare another place as your permanent home. However, it isn’t as easy as simply packing your bags and moving to sunny Spain, for instance.

To establish a domicile of choice, two primary conditions must be met:

  • residence and intention of permanent or indefinite residence

  • you need to live in a new place and have an undeniable intention to remain there indefinitely.

For example, if you moved to Spain and bought a property, changed your banking arrangements, registered with local doctors, and expressed the intention to remain there indefinitely, you could argue for Spain as your domicile of choice. However, it’s worth noting that the burden of proof falls on you. Authorities often view claims of changed domicile with scepticism, especially if it seems like a strategic move to avoid taxes.

And if you do wish to elect a new domicile of choice it’s important you ensure this is possible. You can seek a legal opinion on whether it is achievable and obtain an official legal domicile opinion. This can be held on file with your Will so as to avoid any challenges during the probate process.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you have lived somewhere outside of your original domiciled country you can simply elect that to be your new domicile.

Finances can be moulded by your domicile

Get clarity on your domicile status today.

Deemed domicile: The imposed status

Finally, we come to deemed domicile – a concept particularly prevalent in the realm of tax law. Deemed domicile is not where your heart calls home, but where the taxman says you belong.

In certain jurisdictions, like the UK, you can be deemed domiciled for tax purposes if you were resident in the country for at least 15 of the past 20 years, or if you had your domicile of origin in that country and resided there at any point in the past three years.

This concept ensures that long-term residents can’t dodge their fair share of taxes by claiming a foreign domicile of choice. It’s essentially a legal assertion that says, “You’ve been here long enough; it’s time to pay up like a local.”

Changes since the UK Spring Budget

Following the UK Spring Budget 2024, a consultation is underway for a nose-to-tail arrangement regarding inheritance taxes on worldwide assets. The proposed plans under consideration are that once a non-UK domicile has been resident in the UK for more than ten years, they will automatically be liable to UK IHT on their worldwide assets. Conversely, for those who are UK-domiciled but reside offshore, the proposal is that such individuals will no longer be subject to IHT on assets they hold outside of the UK.


Non-domicile (non-dom) is a British tax status that dates back to colonial times. The domicile rules have been part of the UK tax system since 1914.

But following the UK Spring Budget unprecedented changes are coming to UK tax policy.

The old non-domicile rules meant a person who is registered as non-domiciled with HM Revenue and Customs but is tax resident in the UK does not have to pay UK tax on income and capital gains earned overseas – including on company stocks or cash made from selling a second home – unless they bring their money into the UK or deposit it into a UK bank account.

However, non-doms still have to pay taxes on money earned within the UK. Non-doms had to specifically apply for a tax exemption on foreign income.

If an individual was a UK resident but had a non-dom status, they could choose to be taxed on either the arising or remittance basis. Which worked like this:

  • Arising basis – income is taxed in the year in which it arises or is received. It makes no difference whether such income is brought back to the UK or kept overseas (i.e. taxable on worldwide income and gains).
  • Remittance basis – Foreign income is only taxed in the UK if it is brought back (i.e. remitted) to the UK or is enjoyed in the UK.

But this is all set to change. What does this major shift mean for UK residents’ global income?

The non-dom status allowed certain UK residents, who could claim their permanent home (domicile) outside the UK, to limit the tax paid on income and gains generated outside the UK. This status has been a fixture of the UK tax system for over a century,

Key Changes Announced:

Residence-Based Taxation: Individuals tax-resident in the UK for more than four years will now be subject to UK tax on their worldwide income and gains, irrespective of where these earnings are generated.

Transitional Arrangements: The government has planned transitional arrangements to smooth this transition, including a rebasing of capital assets’ value to 5 April 2019 for existing non-doms and a temporary 50% exemption on foreign income taxation for the first year under the new regime.

Temporary Repatriation Facility: A two-year facility will enable individuals taxed on the remittance basis before April 2025 to bring foreign income and gains into the UK at a favourable 12% tax rate.

Existing non-domiciled UK tax residents who have been UK tax residents for less than four years will be eligible to opt into the new scheme and will benefit from relief until the end of their fourth year of tax residence.

Under the new system, regardless of where an individual is domiciled, anyone who has been a tax resident in the UK for more than four years will pay UK tax on any newly arising foreign income and gains,

This seismic shift in policy will necessitate a reevaluation of tax and wealth management strategies for those affected. A lot of people who are currently non-doms are going to see 50% of their overseas income subject to UK tax as soon as April 2025.

What’s the situation for inheritance tax for non-domiciled?

In simple terms, the rules stated that the estate of a non-dom would only be chargeable to UK inheritance tax in respect of UK situs assets.

But the government is also consulting on introducing changes to inheritance tax (IHT) so that it is based on the new residence-based regime.

To provide certainty for affected taxpayers, the treatment of non-UK assets settled into a trust by a non-UK domiciled settlor prior to April 2025 will not change – these assets will not fall within the scope of the UK IHT regime. If you are a non-dom living in the UK with assets abroad, there is a small window of time to make use of such structures. Excluded property trusts are typically used here broadly, it is an arrangement whereby you (the settlor) part with the ownership of specific assets (which become the trust fund) by transferring them to a third party (the trustee) who is bound to hold them for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries, which can include the settlor).

Currently, liability to IHT depends on domicile status and the location of the assets. Under the current regime, no IHT is payable on non-UK assets of non-domiciled taxpayers until they have been UK residents for 15 out of the past 20 tax years, but this may change after the consultation period.

The abolition of the non-dom status represents a significant change in the UK’s approach to the taxation of international individuals.

Non Dom IHT

Non-doms remain entitled to the nil rate band (set at £325,000 per individual). However, they are not entitled to the full spousal exemption. UK residents and domiciled individuals can leave/transfer assets to spouses without incurring any IHT charges. This is limited to £325,000 for non-doms.

IHT Planning for a Non-Dom Spouse

If you are UK domiciled and your spouse is non-UK domiciled,, you must be mindful of the rules relating to UK IHT. If you plan to transfer your estate to your non-domiciled spouse, you could be heading for a hefty tax bill.

The United Kingdom’s perspective on domicile and inheritance tax (IHT) is complex. For UK domiciles, worldwide assets are subject to IHT. Conversely, for your non-domiciled partner, this rule applies solely to their UK assets.

UK-domiciled spouses or civil partners transferring assets between themselves, and non-UK domiciled individuals transferring assets to a spouse or civil partner (regardless of domicile), can transfer any value of assets free of Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Why does this hold significance?

The United Kingdom permits transfers between UK-domiciled spouses devoid of IHT, however, this benevolence is not bestowed upon their non-domiciled counterparts. There exists a limit, which is alarmingly effortless to exceed.

Where a spouse is UK-domiciled and the recipient spouse or civil partner is non-UK domiciled, the spouse exemption is capped at the amount of the nil rate band (currently £325,000) Any gifts in excess of this amount may be subject to IHT.

So it’s imperative to understand the rules of passing on wealth if your domiciles are different.

Choosing to be recognised as UK-domiciled for IHT considerations could turn the tables in favour of your non-dom partner. Indeed, it subjects their global assets to IHT but simultaneously, provides access to unrestricted spousal transfers.

The number of ‘mixed’ domiciled marriages has significantly increased, and yet (albeit understandably), many married couples are unaware of the IHT ‘trap’ awaiting them. As a consequence, the opportunity to undertake appropriate planning is overlooked.

A crucial factor when it comes to tax

Determining your domicile for tax purposes

It’s important you understand your domicile status.

Domicile is a crucial factor in the UK taxation system because it impacts how an individual is taxed, particularly for income earned abroad, inheritances, and capital gains.

Individuals who are domiciled in the UK, even those that live abroad and have done so for many years, are still subject to IHT on their worldwide assets. So if you believe you may have an IHT liability, don’t think your beneficiaries will get away with not paying the tax because you live abroad. And certainly, where the intent of domicile of choice can’t be proved, you should seek advice on tax-efficient wealth transfer strategies.

Foreign tax residency or dual tax residency

You may live abroad and pay income tax in another country. Or you may even be a dual tax resident of two countries. If you live in the UK and another country and both countries tax your income, you’re a dual resident.

You can claim full or partial relief on UK tax if the 2 countries have a double taxation agreement that allows you to do so. You need to look at the particular terms of your double taxation agreement to find out if you can claim relief from UK tax.

But despite this the domicile rules, separate to residency rules still apply and if you are UK-domiciled you will still be subject to IHT on your worldwide estate

One’s domicile can significantly influence financial affairs, often unnoticed.

This seemingly obscure term can wield considerable influence over your tax liabilities.

Get in touch to find out more.

Leave your details & I’ll call you back

Why your domicile matters

Your domicile, be it of origin, choice, or deemed, holds sway over many aspects of your life. Most significantly, it plays a key role in taxation. Different jurisdictions have varying tax laws, and your domicile can significantly affect your liability.

Additionally, your domicile impacts your legal capacity and rights. It can determine the law applicable to your marriage and the distribution of your assets upon death. Therefore, it’s crucial to comprehend where your domicile is truly situated and the implications it carries.

A key point to understand is that the common law concept of domicile is completely distinct from residence.

An individual must have a domicile but can only have one country of domicile at a time. By contrast, it is perfectly possible to be considered a resident of more than one country in a tax year or indeed a resident of no country.

Domicile may be challenged on death, Those claiming non-dom status should share any evidence of intentions with family members or others who may find themselves defending a domicile challenge.

It’s important to understand the legal concept of domicile.

What is your domicile status?

Often individuals mix up the distinctions of residency and domicile and they are inherently unique. There are clear distinctions and differences between domicile and residency. Your domicile is more than your residential address.

It’s a complex legal concept that traverses the boundaries of international law, taxation, and personal rights. It could very well be different from where you live or even where you think your home is.

What are the tests for domicile?

There is no formal process for agreeing your domicile status with HMRC, But you can seek clarity on what your domicile status is. And in some cases seek an official legal domicile of opinion for your records and for the avoidance of doubt.

Domicile is a complex area of law, particularly for inheritance tax purposes. If you’re looking to claim a change of domicile, or if there’s a significant amount of UK inheritance tax at stake, you should take expert advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Whether or not you have UK domicile status, there are tax planning arrangements available to reduce your liabilities to inheritance and other taxes and steps you can take to minimise unnecessary taxes for your heirs.

So, take a moment and ask yourself, “Do I know where I’m really domiciled?”

The answer might surprise you.

Jessica Cook LLB (Hons) Chartered MCSI
Private Client Adviser, Pensions Specialist

Meet Jessica Cook

It starts with a client’s life and ends with their investments, not the other way round. Helping people live rich and without regrets, rather than dying rich and with regrets. To help people improve their lives by bringing truth, understanding, and discipline to the choices they make every day.

I’m Jessica Cook, Wealth Adviser to international professionals and families across the globe. Featured in the 2022 Times Newspapers’ Guide to the UK’s top-rated Financial Advisers.

My background is law, and a former career with the Financial Times. I’m also a regular financial columnist for multiple publications.

Working in partnership at AES International as a Private Client Adviser means delivering the next generation of demonstrably beneficial services to our clients and creating positive change.

I work with absolute integrity and dedication to my clients’ needs. With an ongoing commitment to providing professional excellence in every aspect of the advisory role.

Reviews and Ratings for Financial adviser Jessica Cook, London

Speak with an expert today

Read more about the subject of domicile

  • Published On: June 5, 2023|3.9 min read|

Establishing a Domicile of Choice: A Guide to Finding Your Legal Home

    Your domicile, often referred to as your legal home, holds significant implications for various legal matters, including taxation, inheritance, and jurisdictional matters. While your domicile is typically determined by your place of birth or origin, it is possible to establish a domicile of choice in a different location.

    Read more

  • Published On: November 19, 2021|6.3 min read|

    A Short Guide to UK Inheritance Tax

    These tips and tricks are all great ways to increase the efficiency of your estate after your death.

    Read more


Let’s start the conversation

Online enquiry form

*We value your privacy. Read our privacy policy

Book a discovery call today

Office address


51 Dorset Street
United Kingdom


Level 2, Exchange Tower

Al Mustaqbal Street (Future Street)

PO Box 191905


United Arab Emirates

Disclaimer: The content provided does not constitute advice nor does it constitute any offer or solicitation to offer a recommendation. It is for general purposes only and does not take into account your individual needs, and specific circumstances. The law of domicile is very complex. Advice should always be sought from a lawyer or practitioner with expertise in this area.