Determination of Domicile

Frequently Asked Questions on Domicile Determination

MSF’s pay structure is determined partly by salaries of other international NGOs (check Global Salary Grid) and partly by comparable salaries in the country of domicile (check home based top-ups). In addition, domicile determines where the contract will be issued for all countries where there are MSF Contracting Sections, in order to better integrate staff, whenever possible into their home social systems. For countries where MSF does not have a Contracting Section, staff continues to be contracted by their Operational Centre.

A person’s domicile will determine many of his/her legal rights and obligations.

The domicile is the driver for

  1. where the contract is issued
  2. which salary grid is applied
  3. social benefits and insurance coverage which are linked specifically to the Contracting Section

It further defines

  1. the return-ticket destination (going to and returning back from the field)
  2. the country to which Expats (and when applicable dependents) are going to be repatriated

Note that those elements do come as a package. It is not possible, for example, to claim domicile in one country but then request a flight back “home” to another country.

The domicile is defined as the country in which the “epicenter” of one’s personal vital interests is located. The term “residency” is often used synonymously, but it is not the same. One person can have several residencies, but only one domicile. Joining MSF means becoming mobile and change – often frequently – the locations where international staff stay. However, this does not automatically mean that the domicile is changed likewise. The domicile is usually the place where someone has voluntarily fixed the habitation for him-/herself (and family) with the intention to stay there permanently, not for a mere special or temporary purpose.

The following is a not exclusive list of factors which can help determining domicile and eventually documents which help supporting them:

  • The country where the person pays taxes (based on documents from tax offices)
  • The country in which the person continues to have a (own or rented) house at their disposal (based on bank statement, utility bills, other official documentation, etc.)
  • The country where a person is legally able to work (based on work permit or passport or Social Security number)
  • The country in which the person’s dependent family is domiciled (based on international staff’s self-declaration)
  • The country to which the person wants to be repatriated in case of a medical evacuation (based on international staff’s self-declaration)
  • The country where the person is registered in the municipal population register (based on municipal registration certificate or electoral vote register)
  • The country in which the person has a bank and/or savings account, and cash withdrawals are regularly made (financial ties) (based on bank statement)
  • The country in which the person takes out private insurances (based on certificate from the insurance company or from private pension plan company)
  • The country that have issued the passport or visa of the person (if showing an official home address)

The documents mentioned above might be necessary to “prove” one’s domicile. However, it is not possible to define a minimum number or required criteria as it largely depends on individual situation and the legal situation in country of that Contracting Section, as is the documentation needed to be able to issue a contract for international staff with domicile in a certain country depends on the legal situation in each  Contracting Section.

Note: If the international staff member has no link with the country of nationality, but cannot prove domicile elsewhere either, the mission country will become the domicile for the duration of the mission. Pay will be positioned corresponding to the mission country, whilst the managing section involved (OC) will issue the contract. These situations will be assessed on a case by case basis.

When possible, a contract in the country of domicile provides substantial advantages in terms of access to social benefits and retirement benefits in particular.