Certificate of residence vs. certificate of residency — which one to use, when and why? Please quote a reputable source.

  • I don't understand this one at all. If OP is in charge of assigning a name to his own new form, he can call it whichever he wants. Or more sensibly, something else where he actually knows what the words mean. If not, the people that want him to produce one of these certificates will have their own idea of what they want. And that's what he'd better give them. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 3:32

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “certificate of residency” is not used in British English whereas in American English “certificate of residence” has been in great decline with the gentle rise of “certificate of residency” almost meeting it.

So I might answer if your audience is British you have no option but if your audience is American you can choose between the older British term and the newer All-American term (-:

certificate of residence v. certificate of residency in American English

(Disclaimer: I'm Australian and don't recall ever dealing with either such certificate.)

  • Excellent answer, covering US/UK usage differences and the historical trend. I think what it nets down to is in UK we've always been happy to let the word residence cover both the state of residing and the place where you do it. The US (probably mainly govt. and the real estate industry) is moving to split these two meanings consistently between the two alternatives. I guess the rest of the Anglophonic world (incl. Aussies) will end up following suit. So if OP wants to stay ahead of the curve he should go for residency. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 13:23

It would depend on the terminology used by the authority issuing the certificate. Both are used widely.

If you're talking about such certificates in general, I'd go with certificate of residency. Residency usually carries an official connotation, and can either be used to indicate the jurisdiction in which you currently live, the length of time you have lived there, or both. Residence is a bit broader, and can be taken to indicate just your current street address, for example.

  • There may be a tendency either/both sides of the pond to favour residency in officialese. Or possibly to favour residence, I've no real idea. But I can't really see that makes the words themselves acquire different scope. In this context, they're interchangeable except for what some government department chose to call their bit of paper. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 3:44

Depends what you mean :

Certificate of residence is a certificate for your residential location.

Certificate of residency is a certificate for your residence at all at a particular location.

A change in the way we say something changes the meaning of what we say.

  • Idiot: In the absence of any corroborating references for your distinction, I have to say I think it's complete tosh! No offense. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 3:36
  • It's alright, I'm not offended. I'll try look up a reference. – Thursagen May 21 '11 at 4:12
  • Idiot: Spurred by @hippietrail's answer, which quite rightly looks at OP's specific expression rather than any supposed difference in meaning, I looked into it a bit myself. It seems UK English still accepts residence for both the state of being resident and the location - though the less common alternative residency always means the former. US usage is moving towards more consistent use of residence only for the location at which one resides, and residency for the state of being resident there. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 13:38

Statistically, residence means both and residency means only the state of being resident without location connotation. It would be wrong saying "someone's residency is somewhere".

Hence - both certificate of residence and certificate of residency are correct.


I wouldn't use residence, but residency.

Certification of U.S. Tax Residency

  • It wasn't me that downvoted you, but for a possible reason: here's the equivalent UK form, which uses residence. – psmears May 21 '11 at 8:33
  • I believe both two are used quite broadly here, in U.S., I was just trying to post the link I've ever found with the highest flavor of authority. – Jamie May 21 '11 at 17:26
  • Sure - I'm just pointing out that a similarly official authority in the UK chose the other one :) – psmears May 21 '11 at 17:36
  • Yeah, I saw your point. And now I am convinced that my answer deserves a downvote due to lack of information and comparision, and being too objective. – Jamie May 21 '11 at 17:53

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