Residency (domicile)

Residency is the act of establishing or maintaining a residence in a given place. Residency is a concept which heavily affects the legal rights and responsibilities that are available to a person, including eligibility to vote, eligibility to stand for political office, eligibility to access government services, responsibility to pay taxes, and on and so forth.

Political office

It is important in terms of politics, as in many jurisdictions candidates must maintain residency within the district in which they intend to run. Requirements vary by jurisdiction, and sometimes by the political office for which a person runs. The cutoff may be as little as a month or as much as several years. Once elected, the office-holder must remain resident in the appropriate district, or may usually be forced to resign.


To run as a candidate for election to the House of Commons of Canada, a candidate must have established residency in Canada — however, a person does not need to have established residency in the specific district where they are running.[1] In most elections, in fact, virtually all of the major political parties run at least a few paper candidates in districts where they do not have a strong organization or a viable local candidate; a paper candidate may be from almost anywhere in the country.

As well, when a political party with representation in the House of Commons selects a new leader who is not a sitting Member of Parliament, it is common for a member of that party's caucus to resign his or her seat so that the leader can run in the resulting by-election.[1] The leader may, at their own discretion, continue to represent that district for the duration of their career in politics, or may run in a district closer to their home in the next election. As of 2012, for instance, Stockwell Day continued to represent the same district in British Columbia to which he was elected in 2000 when he first entered the House of Commons as leader of the Canadian Alliance, even though he was a resident of Alberta at the time of his initial election. Conversely, Joe Clark was elected in a by-election in Nova Scotia on the very same date as Day, following his reelection to his second stint as leader of the Progressive Conservatives, but held that seat only until the 2000 election and then stood in the Alberta riding of Calgary Centre.

In still other cases, a politician may run in a district other than the one they live in for personal reasons — such as having an established power base in that area from a prior political office, or simply not wanting to get drawn into a nomination contest with an existing incumbent. For instance, Jack Layton represented the electoral district of Toronto—Danforth for the entirety of his term as a member of the House of Commons, even though his personal residence was in the nearby district of Trinity—Spadina. Trinity—Spadina was concurrently represented by Layton's wife, Olivia Chow, and both districts corresponded to the areas that Chow and Layton had previously represented on Toronto City Council.

However, a non-resident candidate may sometimes face accusations of being a parachute candidate, which may or may not compromise their ability to win the election depending on the circumstances. In recent federal elections, some non-resident candidates have won election while others have lost. A non-resident candidate who does win election is generally expected to establish a residence in or near the district soon afterward, although this is by public expectation rather than legal requirement.

To be eligible for appointment to the Senate, a person must officially reside in the province which they are being appointed to represent. However, this criterion has historically been interpreted quite liberally, with virtually any form of property holding — including primary residences, second residences, summer homes, rental or retail holdings or even lots of undeveloped land — having been deemed to meet the requirement, as long as the senator listed it as their primary residence on paper regardless of whether they actually resided there in any meaningful way.[2] Again, however, controversy may result among the general public around the definition of residency — for instance, Senator Pamela Wallin faced some controversy in 2008 around whether she was truly a resident of Saskatchewan, although she does own property in the province.[2] In 2013, however, a Senate committee launched a review, ordering all senators to provide documentation confirming their residency status following allegations of irregularities in some senators' housing expense claims, including those of Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Mac Harb and Mike Duffy.[3]

All provinces and territories have a similar requirement by which a person must be a resident of that province or territory to be eligible for election to the provincial or territorial legislative assembly. Depending on the province or territory, however, there may or may not be a legal requirement to be a resident of the specific district where one is standing as a candidate.

United States

As a general principle, in the United States residency for federal politicians is defined as the intent to return to the particular district or state they represent following their term in office. For example, the purchase or occupancy of a home in the DC metro area, for proximity to the Capitol and the Congressional offices, does not change an Iowa congressman's or congresswoman's legal residency in his or her state.

Conversely, to be eligible for election to a state-level office, such as a state assembly or a governorship, a person must be resident within the state where they are running for office; however, states vary in whether or not an assembly candidate is required to reside in the specific district where they are running. In one noted recent case, Nevada Assembly candidate Andrew Martin's eligibility for office was called into question due to ambiguity regarding his residency status.[4] Martin owned two properties, a condominium in the district where he was running for office and a house in a neighboring district, and his campaign was affected by conflicting claims about which property should be regarded as his primary residence.[4] A judge ruled Martin ineligible to run on November 5, 2012, just one day before the election — but as the decision came too late for Clark County officials to reprint the ballots, Martin's name remained on the ballot and he won the election.[4] Martin was allowed to take his seat in the legislature without a formal challenge being filed against him.[5]

Rights of citizenship


The Malaysia My Second Home program (commonly abbreviated "MM2H") is an international residency scheme enacted by the Government of Malaysia to allow foreigners to live in the country on a long-stay travel visa of up to 10 years. To qualify for the program, applicants must meet certain financial and medical criteria. Successful applicants are then entitled to enter and leave the country on a largely unrestricted basis, and also benefit from other incentives aimed at making their stay in Malaysia more convenient. Certain restrictions may apply.


In Malta, residency has been interpreted to include not only the physical presence in the country, but includes and allows periodic absence from the country. A person who is temporarily absent from Malta because of work, study, illness or mission, must not and cannot be considered as not resident in Malta. A person who goes abroad to study or for work purposes is still 'directly and continuously concerned' with the political activity of the country of residence and therefore has the right to vote.

United States

Voting by the general public (the electorate) is also defined by residency, with most people being prohibited from doing so except at the precinct for their primary residence. There are sometimes exceptions for this, such as so that expatriates can vote in the country where they maintain their original citizenship.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides specific protections to military service members who are domiciled outside their home states.

It is also important in terms of other law, such as requirements that vehicles and other things which must be licensed in the place which the owner resides. There is a grace period normally around 30 days for persons moving into the area.

In addition to such responsibilities, certain benefits also come from residency. Discounts on tuition usually are allowed for students who are resident within the state or province (or country) for a year or more, if it is a public university or the like. Other forms of public assistance such as welfare may also have a waiting period, to prevent abuse.

Residency in any given U.S. state is recognized by the United States Constitution as "citizenship" of that state, a somewhat unusual arrangement known as "dual citizenship" (though not in the original multi-national context).


Latvia as participant of Schengen Agreement gives permission for citizens and those with a residency permit to travel to any other agreement participant. However there is a difference between a citizen and a holder of a residence permit in Latvia.[6]


A residence permit holder is not entitled to hold governmental office or to vote in any elections. The person cannot join the army or a police force. Anyone who wishes to gain citizenship is allowed to do so after 5 years living in Latvia and passing language and history examinations.

See also


  1. Marleau, Robert; Montpetit, Camille. "The House of Commons and Its Members". House of Commons Procedure and Practice (2000 ed.). Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  2. O'Connor, Kevin (February 17, 2009). "Senator says she won't talk more about Sask. residency". CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  3. McGregor, Glen (January 31, 2013). "Senators ordered to provide concrete proof of primary residence". Ottawa Citizen. Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  4. Rogers, Keith; Jourdan, Kristi (November 6, 2012). "Martin's win in Assembly District 9 race clouded by residence controversy". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  5. Atkinson, Cathleen (February 7, 2013). "Assembly names Brooks panel; assemblyman takes three weeks off". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Stephens Media LLC. Archived from the original on 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  6. "Once I have obtained my residence permit in Latvia, can I live in other Schengen area countries?". Immigration Services & Residence Permits (ISRP). Retrieved 18 December 2014.
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