While it is customary to use the terms domicile or residence interchangeably, in law these two concepts cover very different situations.


Home is the place where a person is legally attached. Article 102 of the Civil Code specifies that "The domicile of any French person as regards the exercise of his civil rights, is at the place where he has his principal establishment".

Its location has legal effects, such as the determination of the place of taxation, the right to vote, the exercise of its rights (take legal action, etc.) and its obligations (place of performance of a contract) .

The principle

The place of residence comes from a freedom of choice, but any change must be declared to the administration (town hall, public treasury, social security, caf, etc.).

The home is inviolable, its protection is linked to private life and its violation is penalized. Home foreclosures and searches are strictly regulated.

The exceptions

The place of residence may be imposed for legal reasons. Non-emancipated minors are domiciled with their fathers and mothers, and the adult under guardianship is domiciled with his guardian.

Just as the spouses may be authorized to live in separate accommodation, article 108 of the civil code specifies that "The husband and the wife may have a separate domicile without thereby violating the rules relating to the community. of life. ".

But the principle remains that the domicile is unique: There is only one per person, which is what differs it from the residence.

The residence

Residence is a place where a person stays or resides at provisional title (holidays, accommodation with a third party, for the needs of his profession, etc.).

Residence is a de facto situation which does not produce any legal effect, but which allows them to be exercised, thus:

  • 1 month of residence in a municipality is sufficient to get married there
  • 6 months of residence in a municipality is sufficient to register there on the electoral rolls

Election of domicile

The choice of domicile makes it possible to give an address which is not one's own, in particular for the needs of a legal action.

Thus, in the event of domestic violence, the victim may be domiciled with his lawyer or with the public prosecutor to hide his real address.

Several other provisions exist for people who do not have a fixed or stable domicile, foreigners in an irregular situation, travelers, detainees, etc. who come under specific legislation: Domiciliation.

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  1. Since Covid and co., I have been living in a so-called secondary residence, to escape these critters as well as possible. At the town hall, I am offered to establish my residence there, which seems normal to me. What steps to take ?Thank you for your advice!

    1. hello to be hired on an indefinite contract, I must be domiciled in the city where I work, but I already have a house where I live and for which I am repaying a loan for another 4 years. How can I do ? thank you

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