Bona Fide Resident Law & Legal Definition


A bona fide resident refers to a person who has stayed in a particular state or country for a duration that is required by the applicable statutes or state laws. This is required for the purpose of a variety of rights, like the right to vote, right to run for public office, determining taxes etc. A bona fide residency requirement asks a person to establish that he or she actually lives in a certain location. This can be established by the address listed on the driver’s license, voter registration card, income tax return and the like. Some states in U.S recognize a person who has conducted sufficient amount of business in a state as actual resident. Bona fide residence is not the same as domicile.

The U.S. Treasury Department specifically allows a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion for bona fide residents of a foreign country. To be eligible for this exclusion an individual must meet the Internal Revenue Service's bona fide residence test. Under the bona fide residence test a person must either be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident alien who is a citizen or national of a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty in effect. That person must also be bona fide resident of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire tax year. An entire tax year is from January 1 through December 31 for taxpayers who file their income tax returns on a calendar year basis. One does not automatically acquire bona fide resident status merely by living in a foreign country or countries for 1 year.

Example of a piece of Federal Legislation on bona fide residents of the U.S.

48 USCS § 1502

§ 1502. Previously acquired lands; bona fide resident aliens; mining or incorporated village lands

This Act [48 USCS §§ 1501-1507] shall not apply to land now owned in any of the Territories of the United States by aliens, which was acquired on or before March third, eighteen hundred and eighty-seven, so long as it is held by the then owners, their heirs or legal representatives, nor to any alien who shall become a bona fide resident of the United States, and any alien who shall become a bona fide resident of the United States, or shall have declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States in the manner provided by law, shall have the right to acquire and hold lands in either of the Territories of the United States upon the same terms as citizens of the United States: Provided, That if any such resident alien shall cease to be a bona fide resident of the United States then such alien shall have ten years from the time he ceases to be such bona fide resident in which to alienate such lands. This Act [48 USCS §§ 1501-1507] shall not be construed to prevent any persons not citizens of the United States from acquiring or holding lots or parcels of lands in any incorporated or platted city, town, or village, or in any mine or mining claim, in any of the Territories of the United States.