What if your client wants to do a 'Megxit'?

  • Describe the challenges for those planning to move abroad
  • Explain what domicile means
  • Describe the other issues relating to those moving abroad
What if your client wants to do a 'Megxit'?

With almost daily reports in the press, it would be hard to ignore the fact that Harry and Meghan are off to Canada.

This is of course an interesting time for the Royal family as the Sussexes seek to forge their independence, but it is not only the likes of Harry and Meghan who make decisions to build a life in pastures new.

Accordingly to the Office of National Statistics, emigration was a reality for some 343,000 people in 2018.

Of those leaving the UK, some do so for family reasons.

Others might be following an exciting job opportunity.

Others still may have felt insecure over the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Migration statistics


Whatever the reason for a move abroad, the impact of such a decision on the individual’s personal life – family, friendships, career - will likely weigh heavily in the decision-making process.

But what about the less obvious financial consequences of such a decision, for example the impact on the individual’s tax status, matrimonial position and current succession planning?

For those considering their own personal ‘Megxit’, what factors should be taken in account and what advice sought before they set sail for a new life?

First and foremost, it is key to establish the individual’s current domicile and residency position.

These two factors are key not only in determining how the individual is taxed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and how this might change when he/she departs the UK, but also for matrimonial and succession issues.

So what is domicile?

Confusingly, the term ‘domicile’ is used in many jurisdictions but it does not always have the same meaning.

The UK concept of domicile is not related to citizenship, habitual residence or even tax residence; rather it is an entirely separate concept based on a combination of intention and residence.

Under the general law, everyone starts out life with a domicile of origin.

A person’s domicile of origin is the domicile that his/her father had at the time of the individual’s birth.

For Prince Harry, the position is clear cut.

Prince Charles had an English domicile in 1984 and so Harry’s domicile of origin is England.

However, an individual may have a foreign domicile despite being born in the UK if his/her father had a foreign domicile at the time of his/her birth.

Once an individual reaches the age of 16, he/she can acquire a domicile of choice in another jurisdiction by moving to that jurisdiction with a fixed intention to remain there.

It is not possible to ‘elect’ or ‘claim’ a domicile of choice; it is a matter of fact based on contemporaneous evidence which supports the subjective intention.

This is why the concept of domicile is so nebulous.