Broadly, domicile can be summarised as an individual’s permanent home. Domicile is relevant in matters of personal law (eg. estates and tax matters) and where there is a conflict of laws. In law, the meaning of ‘domicile’ is beyond the normal dictionary definition of “place of residence”.

An individual’s domicile is not necessarily the same as their nationality, or the country in which they happen to be living. A Singapore citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident may not necessarily domiciled in Singapore.

Where there is uncertainty or dispute in determining a person’s domicile, this may have to be adjudicated by the relevant court of law.

For examples:

  • A person can be a British citizen who has been resident in the Singapore for many years and also a permanent resident in Singapore, and yet be domiciled in the UK where he intends to return to Cornwall to retire in and live there for the rest of his life.
  • A Singapore citizen who has been working in the UK and a resident there for many years and intends to live there for the rest of his live, but occasionally visits his family in Singapore. He is likely to be domiciled in the UK, unless in his later years, he changed his mind and decided to return and live in his HDB flat in Singapore and took effort to relocate back to Singapore.