Is your current residence your domicile? It certainly can be, but it is not necessarily your domicile. Before looking at the relationship between domicile and residence a little more closely, it is important to understand the difference between the two terms. Domicile is the place where you have your permanent home and where you intend to return if you are not currently present. Residence, on the other hand, is the place where you live. At first glance it may be hard to tell the difference between domicile and residence, but the distinction is important.
Domicile has two overarching considerations: 1. residence and 2. intent to stay. To have a residence be your domicile, you must have the intent to stay at the residence or, if you are not currently present at the desired residence, intent to return to the residence. If you do not have the requisite intent to make the current residence your permanent home, then it cannot be your domicile. Also, remember that you can only have one domicile.
Now switching to residence, your residence is the place you are physically staying. Your residence does not require the intent to stay, but rather, just considers the location you physically are residing. That means you can be residing at one location, but your domicile can be in a completely different location. For example, say you grew and lived with your parents in Pennsylvania. You decide to attend college on the west coast of the United States, but you intend to return to live with your parents following college. The location where you attended college would be your residence while you are there, but your domicile would still be in Pennsylvania. The fact that you live across the country for a few months out of the year would not automatically make your residence on the west coast your domicile because you did not intend to remain there. Unlike your domicile, you can have more than one residence.
It is important to understand where you are domiciled because your domicile can impact particular aspects of your life. For instance, your domicile can have potential tax and estate ramifications. Also, your domicile is relevant for lawsuits. As one can tell, understanding if your current residence is your domicile is a critical fact to know.