What Determines Your Legal Address?

By Jane Meggitt ; Updated June 05, 2017
Doorway of an American house

Your legal residence affects your voting rights, tax matters, estate planning and your ability to file certain lawsuits. If you travel extensively or maintain two or more residences, you must often determine which is your legal address for these purposes. As the Massachusetts Department of Revenue points out, you can't make one place your home for general life purposes and another for tax purposes.

Your Legal Address

Government officials consider several factors when determining your legal residence. If you have more than one home, your legal residence is the municipality in which you are registered to vote. If your homes are in different states, your legal residence is the one for which you claim a homestead exemption if the state of your primary residence provides for one. Your driver's license would typically be issued by the state of your legal residence.

Domicile versus Residence

Your legal residence may not always be the same as your domicile, and some states make a distinction in certain matters such as when you're filing for divorce. You may have more than one legal address, but only one is your domicile -- the place where you primarily live and where you intend to return if you leave it for a period of time.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.